December 23, 2017
By Tovia Smith
When the cardinal’s residence was built in the 1920s atop a hill in the leafy, most western outpost of Boston, it was modeled after an Italian palazzo. The grand mansion, replete with ornate mahogany and marble appointments, stood as a testament to the Boston Archdiocese’s stature in the very Catholic city of Boston. Political candidates — local and national — would come calling, and even the pope came to visit.
When Cardinal Bernard Law took up residence in the Renaissance Revival mansion, Boston’s Roman Catholic movers and shakers would flock to the backyard for his garden party fundraisers.
Today, a steady stream of students hauling backpacks and members of the public traipse across that same property. The mansion, now owned by Boston College, has been gutted and converted to an art museum and meeting rooms — a remarkable fall from grace that parallels that of the Boston Archdiocese itself.
A total of 65 acres of prime church property — possibly its most valuable in Massachusetts — was sold in a fire sale after the clergy sexual abuse crisis, when the church was struggling to pay some $85 million in settlements to victims. In the years since, the cost of settling claims surpassed $200 million, and the church’s declining fortunes have been more than just financial.
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.