Bishop Urged Cardinal to Defy Victim's Demand
By Eric Convey
February 12, 2003
Bernard Cardinal Law considered granting a molestation victim's demand that he refrain from celebrating her abuser's funeral Mass, but was urged by Bishop William F. Murphy to defy her, church records released yesterday indicate.
"Bishop Murphy . . . feels the cardinal should not back down to the threat, that (the victim) does not have the right to demand he be absent," according to a 1999 memo filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court.
The victim, whose name is redacted from the records, had threatened to make a spectacle because she believed the Rev. James McDonald did not deserve the honor of a public funeral presided over by a cardinal.
Law celebrated the funeral.
Murphy, who is now bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y., could not be reached yesterday. He is scheduled to appear today before a Massachusetts grand jury investigating the church's role in the scandal.
McDonald, whose parish assignments included the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End, admitted to abusing a half-dozen teenage girls and having two long-term relationships with adult women.
In one case, he granted a request from a woman that he apologize in writing.
"I will always pray that God will bless you in many ways to make up for the pain I have caused you," he wrote.
But for reasons that were redacted by the church's lawyers, archdiocesan officials declined to give the woman the letter.
Instead, a church official visited with her to pass on McDonald's apology.
While she never saw the letter in the 1990s, the woman was to receive it yesterday from the law firm of Roderick MacLeish Jr., which won the record's release as part of a civil case, MacLeish said.
The file also includes a letter from an unidentified woman detailing the emotional damage that she attributed to being molested by McDonald.
"He not only violated me, but violated the trust my parents and family had (placed in him)," she wrote.
The woman said she told two other priests, and neither even asked the name of the offending clergyman.
She described a lifetime of medication and shock therapy.
McDonald, who was ordained in 1953, admitted to abusing children while serving at St. Michael in North Andover, St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham and St. Ann in Peabody.
McDonald also served at St. James in Stoughton.
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