As his archdiocese restarts negotiations with alleged sex abuse victims and works to implement a new clerical molestation policy, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law now faces discontent from fellow bishops.
Law apologized to his colleagues for his role in the national abuse crisis during a closed-door session at last week’s summit in Dallas.
Yet some clergy came away from the meeting saying they were disappointed with him. One prelate, Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet, Illinois, suggested Law resign — although he says he now profoundly regrets making the statement.
In an interview with WBZ television on the final day of the bishops’ Dallas meeting, Imesch said he felt Law should step down.
He is believed to be the first bishop to say so publicly since January, when Law acknowledged shuffling a priest accused of molesting children from parish to parish. That admission started a crisis that has consumed the church and put every U.S. bishop under scrutiny.
“In conversation among the bishops, it was more than one that felt he (Law) should resign, but no one said that publicly but Joe Imesch,” Imesch told The Associated Press on Thursday. “It was probably not good judgment on my part to say that. … I regret having said what I said.”
Imesch said what was really on his mind when he made the statement was that “I think it would be very difficult for someone to minister in that kind of a climate.”
Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, would not comment on Law at the meeting, but said that in the closed-door sessions bishops generally spoke of their anger and “we asked each other some very candid, direct questions.”
Meanwhile Thursday, the Rev. Paul Shanley, a retired Roman Catholic priest, was indicted on multiple counts of child rape and indecent assault for allegedly abusing four boys.
The allegations against Shanley span from 1979 to 1989, when he was at St. Jean’s parish in a Boston suburb. The indictment Thursday includes 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery.
Prosecutors said Shanley would take one of the boys, who is now 24, out of religious classes and abuse him in the rectory, the bathroom of the church and a confessional.
Shanley, 71, has been jailed since May when he was arrested and returned from California to face three counts of child rape, which were included in Thursday’s indictment. He has pleaded innocent to those charges and was being held on dlrs 300,000 bail.
Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said she had not yet seen the indictment and could not comment.