Kevin Cullen, one of the investigative reporters for the Boston Globe who helped break the story of sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese, said at an Adams House lunch yesterday that Cardinal Bernard F. Law ’53 played “musical chairs with predatory priests.”
The Globe investigation revealed that Law knowingly relocated pedophile priests only to have them repeat their abuses in other parishes.
Cullen, who is currently a Nieman Fellow and a member of the Adams House Senior Common Room, was a major contributor to the Globe’s Spotlight series on abuse in the Catholic Church over the past year.
The investigation revealed that Law transferred serial pedophiles such as Father John Geoghan in addition to “codling and protecting” others, Cullen said.
“At first people thought it was only one or two priests, but when we accessed the files we realized there were over a hundred that are alive and that we know of,” Cullen said.
Cullen also reported on individual cases of abuse, such as the case of a boy who was allegedly raped by a priest from the ages of 10 to 15, for the Globe series.
Cullen yesterday presented Adams House with a copy Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, a compilation of the coverage. All profits from the sale of the book will go to charity, according to Cullen.
Cullen said that since the beginning of his tenure as cardinal, Law failed to identify with the majority of Catholic Bostonians—“the people who fill the collection boxes.”
He said that Law overemphasized abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and divorce to his congregation, despite the fact that many practicing Catholics view such issues as “personal choices.”
Law’s obvious ambition to climb the hierarchical ladder of the Church also prevented him from being a better leader to the Boston Catholic Community, according to Cullen.
In addition, Cullen said that Law did not focus enough on reducing racial prejudice, which remained a problem in the primarily white Boston area.
“Law could have said, ‘Look, I’m one of you, blue-eyed with some Irish blood in me and I went to Harvard. This [prejudice] just can’t go on,” Cullen said.
Cullen also discussed Law’s time as an undergraduate here, where he “roomed with two Jews and a Southern Baptist” in Adams House.
The lecture was attended by a handful of religious leaders on Campus, including the Reverend George Salzman, graduate chaplain at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church and Undergraduate Chaplain Jacqueline L. Landry.
“I am grateful to The Globe for breaking this story,” Landry said. “They shed light on the issue which is the only way we can bring about change. How can that be bad?”
Salzman declined to comment for this article.
Cullen said is using his time as a Nieman Fellow to take a break from deadlines, to study international human rights and to attend lectures and discussions.
“The talks are a great reflection on the masters,” Cullen said. “I keep blowing off classes to come to them.”