The Boston Globe reports that Cardinal Law’s appointment book lists meetings with 35 priests who had been or would be accused of abuse when he had said his role in supervising priests was limited. Plaintiff’s lawyer Roderick MacLeish and the Globe paint that as sinister.
- The entries do not indicate whether Law kept every appointment, but they do show Law had scheduled meetings with more than 35 priests who had been, or would be, formally accused of sexual misconduct – a pattern that seems to contradict pretrial testimony in which he repeatedly described his role in supervising accused priests as limited.
Just because the cardinal sat down with his priests—probably many hundreds more than just these 35—doesn’t mean he was dealing with personnel matters. Perhaps he was discussing pastoral matters or something else. I just don’t see the smoking gun that the Globe and MacLeish apparently want to see.
There’s a case that was in the Globe early last year about a priest who had been suspended from his parish because of allegations. Several years ago, he was working as an organist in a parish, but didn’t wear a collar or made known to the parishioners that he was a priest. He had a meeting with the cardinal at some point where they discussed music and other topics. The cardinal, out of the blue, said, “I’m going to assign you to that parish as a priest.” The priest objected, “What about the suspension?” Law demurred and said, “I trust you.”
And that’s the problem. In important things the cardinal delegated too much to his subordinates, but then sometimes would swoop in and make decisions that—while within his rights as archbishop—he shouldn’t have made because he didn’t have all the facts or have a clear mind about it.
I don’t think the appointment book is evidence that the cardinal lied in his deposition, just that he never understood what he was doing.