The 'hurt is still there,' says Cardinal O'Malley at news conference

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory L. Tracy, the Pilot

By Mark Labbe

BRAINTREE, Mass. (CNS) — Journalists
crowded into a room in the Archdiocese of Boston’s Braintree headquarters Dec.
20 as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley answered questions following the death of
Cardinal Bernard F. Law, whose death was officially announced by the Vatican
earlier that day.

The former archbishop of Boston,
Cardinal Law resigned in 2002 amid allegations of mishandling cases of sexual
abuse of minors by priests in the archdiocese. In 2004, the cardinal was named archpriest of a basilica in Rome, where he died at age 86.

“This is a very difficult day
for survivors and all of us in the Archdiocese of Boston and for me,” said Cardinal
O’Malley at the news conference.

“We have anticipated this day,
recognizing that it would open a lot of old wounds and cause much pain and
anger in those who have suffered so much already, and we share in their
suffering,” he continued.

“As the church must always do,
we seek forgiveness for the sins of the past and for all the things that were
done or not done that have contributed to the suffering of so many,” he said.

The archdiocese has a continued
commitment to “provide for the assistance and support for victim survivors and
their families, and to strive to maintain safe environments in all of our churches,
schools, institutions, and agencies,” said Cardinal O’Malley, who succeeded the
late cardinal as Boston’s archbishop.

For victims, the “hurt is still
there, the healing is still necessary,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “We must all be
vigilant, particularly for prevention of child abuse and to create safe
environments and to be constantly monitoring how we’re doing following our
policies, our commitment to the whole community to take this very seriously and
do whatever we can to guarantee safe environments for our children.”

Asked to comment on Cardinal
Law’s appointment as archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
following his resignation in Boston, a move that many victims saw as almost a
reward, Cardinal O’Malley said he doesn’t believe that would happen today.

“I think there’s been enough
growth and consciousness of this problem in the Holy See that that would not
happen,” he said.

Responding to a journalist’s
question on a statement issued earlier that day in which Cardinal O’Malley touched
briefly on the positive aspects of Cardinal Law’s legacy, which has angered
some victims, Cardinal O’Malley said, “All of us are more than one-dimension.
To be realistic, we have to recognize there was more to this man than his

“We tried to craft a statement
that would be fair and, at the same time, sensitive to the particular suffering
of people in the archdiocese,” he said.

In response to a question on
whether he can forgive Cardinal Law, Cardinal O’Malley said that “forgiveness
is what Christianity is all about, and that doesn’t make it easy.”

“Christmas is about healing,
relationships and forgiveness, and a big part of healing is being able to come
to grips with our own difficulty in forgiveness,” he said.

Asked if he believes Cardinal
Law’s soul will be welcomed into heaven, Cardinal O’Malley said he doesn’t know
if anyone can answer that question, but added, “I hope that everyone goes to

“This is what the mission of the
church is, to work so that everyone will go to heaven, but I am not here to sit
in judgment of anyone,” he said.

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Labbe is a reporter at The
Pilot, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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