Mass. Attorney General Tom “Am I on camera?” Reilly is running for governor. Okay, no surprise there since he’s had his eye on the governor’s office for years. But some people are questioning whether Reilly is overstating his role in dealing with the Scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. More specifically, he takes credit for nearly singlehandedly forcing Cardinal Bernard Law to resign in December 2002. Really Reilly?
‘‘There weren’t many other people in politics that were willing to stand up to the Archdiocese of Boston in the sexual abuse of children,” Reilly said at the forum. ‘‘You’re looking at someone who did, and changed things forever. It changed things forever. With the guts to send state troopers into that chancery. And two days later, [Law] was in Rome, and he never came back. He never came back. That’s what a difference leadership can make.”
The reference is to the troopers delivering grand jury subpoenas to Law after he had already gone to DC to talk to the apostolic nuncio about resigning.
Moreover, lots of people think Reilly’s grand jury report let Law off the hook, giving him a minor verbal slap on the wrist. Many think he should have indicted Law, although I’m not sure that was a viable legal option. I do know that there were several times when Reilly spoke out harshly against the Church, then when there was some backlash, he backed down.
And if you’re looking to give credit to someone who forced Law out, I’d say it was the unrelenting wave of lawsuits, coupled with the eroding respect of his priests and people. Not so much the 58 priests, led by Fr. Walter Cuenin, who asked him to resign, because no one was surprised by them, but the rest of the priests of Boston who were realizing that we wouldn’t be able to move on with Law in place.