Disgraced Former Cardinal Bernard Law Has Died

Former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law has died in Rome at age 86. As Cardinal of the Boston archdiocese from 1984 to 2002, Bernard Law handled complaints and accusations by youths against molesting and abusive priests by transferring them to other parishes where many of the priests then went on to molest and abuse other children, mainly boys.

Throughout the whole year of 2002 hundreds and hundreds of victims of these abusive priests came forward to tell their stories and publicly make their accusations. Some of the alleged incidents go back to the 1950s! At the end of 2002 Bernard Law finally resigned in disgrace, and he fled to Rome where he was then protected by the Vatican and obviously by Pope John Paul II, a tarnish on an otherwise great Pope’s record. Bernard Law literally escaped what could very well have been criminal charges of aiding and abetting child abuse and molestation by the priests he covered up for and protected. (The Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team covered the whole scandal.)

I guess Cardinal “Law” and his cohorts didn’t realize what emotional and psychological damage that adult molesters, rapists and abusers of children cause in their victims. Those sickos cause the innocent young people post-traumatic stress disorder, and cause them to have issues involving trust, personal security, and future relationships. More recently the accusers of conductor James Levine‘s molesting and abuse have described such issues. Just what is it with these sickos and their sexual perversions? Why do they have to inflict all that on kids?

Since 2002, the Boston archdiocese paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements, parishes lost membership and entire churches had to close down.

Among the perpetrators, defrocked priest John Geoghan was sentenced to 9 to 10 years in prison but was murdered by another inmate who stomped on him. Oh, well. The Rev. Paul Shanley was a “street priest” or “hippie priest” and also was a regular priest in a Newton, Massachusetts church. The archdiocese transferred Shanley to a San Bernardino, California parish along with a signed affidavit assuring his fitness for contact with kids, knowing of the allegations against Shanley of child molestation, assault and rape. Shanley had also owned a “bed and breakfast” for “gay customers” and also was known to advocate sex between adult males and boys. Shanley was convicted of assault and rape of a minor in 2005 and sentenced to 12 to 15 years behind bars. The now-86-years-old miserable wretch was released from prison earlier this year. So where the hell does this guy live now, and are there children around him? Yech.

Does the record of Cardinal Bernard Law and his underlings, for years covering up for child molesters and abusers and rapists, indicate something about the Catholic church? A lot of people grew up Catholic and no longer consider themselves Catholic, or they consider themselves “cafeteria Catholics.”

Cardinal Law was very authoritarian and doctrinaire when it comes to church teachings. Do authoritarians generally defend those in the hierarchy or in positions of authority when they engage in wrongdoing? (Sorry, that was a rhetorical question.)

When he met with investigators Cardinal Law had testified that he had sought the assessments of psychiatrists and psychologists to determine the mental health or suitability of his priests regarding allegations of their molesting or abusing children. What? You have multiple accusers against specific priests, and in some cases the priests themselves admitted that they were “attracted” to little boys. You need a psychiatrist’s assessment to determine whether that’s bad, or whether that’s a warning sign? And what, the multiple accusers just didn’t like a priest so they were conspiring against him?

We are seeing now how people in other organizations have covered up for their “bad apples.” With the reports about conductor James Levine’s perv behavior with minors we are now seeing how orchestra personnel and management and other associates had been covering up for Levine for decades as well. And the show-biz people like Harvey Weinstein and how people in that industry covered for him, and many people in the news media particularly managements looked the other way regarding media abusers, including Tom Ashbrook, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose et al.

For some reason, I expect the show-biz, news media and politics industries to act in such lewd or illicit ways, because they are mainly performers, people with a camera focused on them much of the time, i.e. narcissists who love attention and are conditioned or trained to get away with whatever they can. But priests?

Cardinal Law’s legacy may very well include civil rights activism and immigrant advocacy, but his judgment was very bad in dealing with criminally abusive priests, and he may have had criminal guilt himself as an aider and abettor. He was a terrible shame from the Catholic church.