Poll Shows Boston-Area Catholics Remain Critical of Church
In an attempt to regain lost credibility, the Archdiocese of Boston last week announced it would publicly disclose-via media, print, and online-details of its fiscal 2003 and 2004 budgets. Chancellor David W. Smith told the Boston Globe, "There have been people uncertain-or unconvinced-about where we're spending the money that's sent in... It's fair to say that we don't enjoy the same level of trust with the community that we did years ago. That needs to be rebuilt." Still, Smith limited the disclosure to the archdiocese's 80 ministries, excluding separately incorporated affiliates like Catholic Charities, Caritas Christi Health Care, and Catholic schools and parishes.
Meanwhile, a Boston Globe telephone poll conducted earlier this month found that 57 percent of 400 self-identified Catholics in Boston supported criminal prosecution against former archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law. Interviewee Donna M. Fasciano told the Globe, "It was a coverup...he knew about these priests and sent them all over the country. It was really criminal." Attitudes towards the Catholic lay group Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) received positive responses from 61 percent of those polled, with sixty-nine percent favoring archdiocese acceptance of donations from the organization.
At a meeting last Tuesday of the National Federation of Priests' Councils, President Bob Silva called for greater protections for priests accused of abuse. "Even as the mood of the country makes the defense of civil rights the subject of editorials, within the church the right to confidentiality, the right to reputation, the right to application of justice within a reasonable amount of time, the right to appropriate defense are items needing more consideration," he argued according to the Nation. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) supports laicization, or the removal of abusive priests from clergy, saying "Confidentiality on the part of the accused has over and over again led to more abuse... A priests's repuation, while important, absolutely pales in comparison with a child's safety. It's far easier for a priest to repair his reputation than a child to repair his or her emotional, psychological and spiritual life," reported the Nation.
Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a woman claiming she was sexually abused by a priest in 1958 when she was in high school, could not sue so long after the incident, reported the New York Times. The state statute of limitations stipulates charges must be made within three years of the abuse or three years after the abused minor turns 18.
Media Resources: Boston Globe 5/1/03, 5/7/03, 5/12/03; NY Times 5/1/03; Nation 5/7/03