Support the news

Pope meets with Abuse Victims

This article is more than 12 years old.

Text of story:
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Two of the men who were chosen to meet the Pope, Bernie McDaid and Olan Horne, had already met with other high level church officials, including Cardinal Bernard Law, Manchester Bishop John McCormack and Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

They are part of a group called the Survivors of Joseph Birmingham. Birmingham was a priest north of Boston was who accused of molesting at least 50 boys. One of the victims in the meeting, Olan Horne told NPR the Pope promised to hold Bishops accountable for their involvement in covering up the scandal.

OLAN HORNE: I left there with a promise and I can guarantee you that I will hold this man's feet to fire on the promise that he left me with today.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: That's music to his ears says Terry McKiernan, the President and founder of Bishops Accountability dot org, a group that has documented the abuse scandal.

TERRY MCKIERNAN: One hopes the Pope knows that is a sacred promise. Olan and the other survivors have been terribly treated by this church for a Pope to promise that he's going to hold the Bishops accountable is a very sobering commitment.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: McKiernan cites a Dallas Morning News investigation that found 2/3 of American Catholic Church leaders have actively enabled child abuse by moving priests into other parishes after they were accused. He estimated that nationally more than 5000 priests molested 13,000 children. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which was not involved in the meeting, called it a long overdue but welcome first step. But SNAP New England Coordinator Ann Hagen Webb says in order for it to be more than a public relations move, the Pope needs to follow with concrete action.

ANN HAGEN WEBB: I see it more as something as a symbolic move that will move Catholic along to say its ok that's done let's put this behind us now let's take this gesture and let it help you heal. The truth is we don't need to heal so much as we need safety for the children of the future.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented 350 alleged victims, criticized the secrecy of the meeting and encouraged the Pope to meet with more victims for a longer period of time. And Garabedian says he needs to do something about the Bishops who were invovled.

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN: To send a clear message he really has to dismiss negligent supervisors who are in the ranks now such as Bishop McCormack in Manchester New Hampshire. To allow these Bishops who knew about the sexual abuse of innocent children and did not do anything to remain as Bishops sends a message that the Pope is just talking and not acting.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Others, such as Rodney Ford, called the meeting phony. Ford took the archdiocese to court over his son Greg's alleged abuse by Father Paul Shanley. It was his lawsuit that deposed Cardinal Law and other church officials revealing a pattern of shifting around abusing priests. Rodney Ford said the first person the Pope should punish is the former head of the Boston Archdiocese.

RODNEY FORD: Cardinal law was the one that pushed all the predators around and this pope should understand that but yet Cardinal Law is being well taken care of now. It's a disgrace I think this a farce and hypocritical as far as I'm concerned.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Cardinal Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 and now oversees the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. Yesterday's meeting was orchestrated by Law's replacement Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

For WBUR I'm Monica Brady-Myerov

This program aired on April 18, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Support the news