Child Abuse Protest Surrounds Mass for Pope

April 12 16:33 2005 Print This Article

Sharon Jacobsen
Tuesday April 12th

The Catholic Church has faced grave accusations of child abuse in the past and today the rumble of incrimination came back to haunt them in St. Peter’s Square.

What should have been a place of peace and mourning became an area of demonstration against American Cardinal Bernard Law when two women claiming to have been abused by Catholic priests as children breathed life back into a cover-up story from 2002.

An investigation of child abuse found that Boston’s archbishop had been aware of dozens of allegations against priests in the archdiocese and had transferred them to new parishes in a huge concealment operation.

Cardinal Bernard Law was forced to resign his post when more than 50 of his own priests publicly called for him to step down. The archdiocese later agreed to an $85m settlement with 500 victims.

Following Law’s resignation, the late Pope appointed him archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, one of four basilicas under direct Vatican jurisdiction.

Protesters Barbara Blaine and Barbara Dorris, both members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), felt it was inappropriate to choose Cardinal Law for such an honourable role in the series of nine masses to be held in memory of the late Pope John Paul II.

The two women flew to Rome from their homes in the US after hearing of the disgraced cardinal’s function, arriving in Rome just hours before the mass.

Although the protest was peaceful, several uniformed officers escorted Ms Blaine off the piazza when she started to hand out fliers showing pictures of herself as a child with the priest professed to have sexually abused her and other alleged victims.

Law declined to comment.

There have been many past stories of church members being disenchanted by the failure of the Catholic Church to take appropriate action when such allegations are made.

It is hoped that the protests of Ms Blaine and Ms Dorris will help bring these issues to the attention of the public and force the next Pope to change the attitude of the church towards priests accused of paedophile activity.

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