Boston Clergy Abuse Victims: Next Pope Faces Unfinished Work


By Deborah Becker February 28, 2013

BOSTON — Among those closely watching as Catholic cardinals gather in Rome to choose the next pope are clergy abuse survivors and their advocates in Boston.

The survivors say the next church leader faces unfinished work on the clergy abuse scandal since it first erupted in Boston 11 years ago. Some of them say that the man who led Boston through the crisis should go on to do the same as head of the world’s Catholics.

Bernie McDaid was among the first clergy abuse survivors to meet directly with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. McDaid says while that event was important, it was largely symbolic for survivors and for the pope.

“When I confronted him he grabbed my arms and he wouldn’t respond to anything I said — he would just say ‘Yes, yes, my son,’ ” McDaid said. “There was no dialogue. He was there in a spiritual fashion for his church and that’s understandable, but that’s not why I was there.”

One of the reasons McDaid was there was because Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley arranged the meeting, bringing not only survivors like McDaid but a book with the names of 1,000 survivors from Boston that he asked the pope to bless. McDaid says O’Malley’s experience in Boston prompted the Vatican to appoint him to help with Ireland’s abuse scandal in 2010. …

“This is a man who has a record of being brought in to the diocese in an uproar over sex abuse and of quieting the anger and restoring calm. He has restored calm but he has not been transparent,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, with the group Her group started tracking abusive priests around the world once the scandal broke in Boston.

Barrett Doyle points out that it took years for O’Malley to release a list of accused abusive priests in Boston and when he did, in 2011, it was not complete.

“What’s disturbing is that his public relations is so successful that he is now being considered as pope,” she said. “As pope he would be nicer to victims but just as protective of accused priests.”

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