Sex Abuse Victim Decries Promotion

By Kimberly Atkins and Marie Szaniszlo
Boston Herald
February 23, 2006

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley has won praise in some quarters for his handling of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston. But some victims called his promotion an "insult," saying the newly named cardinal broke his promise to reach out to the those abused by priests and to smooth a rift between them and the church.

"He hasn't kept his word to the victims," said Alexa MacPherson, 31, who was abused repeatedly by a priest as a child. She is one of 550 victims who took part in an $85 million settlement in 2003.

"You can't just heal people by opening up your wallet, writing a check, and passing it on to us," she said. "I feel like he's being promoted for a job not well done, just as Cardinal Law was," said MacPherson's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.

Abuse victim Alexa MacPherson, 31, believes Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley should not be made cardinal.
(Staff photo by Tara Carvalho)

In a conference call with reporters, O'Malley defended his dealings with abuse victims.

"We have tried to respond to their needs, and I've had many meetings ongoing with suvivors and their families," he said.

Victims said O'Malley's elevation makes them question whether Pope Benedict XVI is rewarding him for protecting the church at the expense of the abused.

"From a survivor's standpoint, he doesn't deserve this stamp of approval," said Ann Hagan Webb, a psychologist and New England coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "He's put the Mother Church first, and that's what he's being rewarded for."

Susan Gallagher, a member of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors and the governor's Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence, said,"He'll wear a different hat - that's all."


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