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Mystery Group Bails Boston Priest Out of Jail

Dec 12, 2002 | AP

The Rev. Paul Shanley, a central figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was jeered by angry protesters Wednesday as he left a courthouse free on $300,000 cash bail put up by a mystery group of friends, relatives and supporters.

Shanley, who has pleaded innocent to 10 counts of child rape, was released after spending seven months in jail. The retired priest must remain in Massachusetts and cannot have contact with anyone under 16, or with alleged victims or witnesses.

Shanley, 71, was silent and stared straight ahead as he was jostled by a media throng and jeered by about a dozen protesters outside court in Cambridge.

''Sick excuse for a Catholic priest!'' protester Phil DeAlbuquerque yelled. ''For something like this to happen--a person as evil as he is, we definitely have a problem in our judicial system.''

Later Wednesday, leaders of a large group of lay Catholics voted to join a growing chorus calling for the resignation of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.

The group, which has been banned from meeting in most parishes by bishops skeptical of their motives, said recent revelations detailing the extent of the crisis left them with no choice but to publicly declare the archdiocese in need of new leadership.

It was an abrupt shift: Voice of the Faithful, which has grown to 25,000 members nationwide since forming in January, had for months favored working with church officials on change.

Law remained at the Vatican, where he has been meeting with church hierarchy this week amid speculation that he may resign or get approval to declare bankruptcy in a bid to keep the Boston archdiocese from financial ruin.

The cardinal was not seen Wednesday at John Paul's weekly general audience, which is often attended by visiting prelates. The two are expected to meet Friday.

Fifty-eight priests delivered a letter to Law's residence Monday asking him to resign, and more priests have endorsed the document. The 300-member Boston Priests Forum may issue its own resolution urging Law's resignation at a meeting Friday.

The scandal has engulfed Boston for almost a year and pressure on Law has only increased since the archdiocese was forced to release 11,000 church personnel documents to attorneys representing hundreds of alleged victims.

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