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3.8.03

Glaring at Cardinal Law

There was a memorial Mass for Bob Hope at the National Shrine this afternoon, so I was there singing with the choir. (See coverage by Fox News and BBC News.) Bob Hope's wife, Dolores, is a devout Catholic and had been involved with the Shrine for many years. The Hope's were here at the Shrine in 1994 for the dedication of the Chapel to Our Lady of Hope, which they donated, and so it seemed quite fitting to honor his memory today. Much to my chagrin, one of the guest prelates at the Mass was the former archbishop of Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law (not mentioned in either news article), who has been making regular appearances at the Shrine since I started singing there. I am ashamed to admit how I once admired Cardinal Law, now that so much damning information about him has come to light. I think Catholics everywhere should thank the Boston Globe for the work their reporters have done to uncover and publish the truth about what was going in Boston. (For all the documents relating to the investigation of the scandal, see the Globe's feature Abuse in the Catholic Church.) I wish the Washington Post and other newspapers would do the same thing in other dioceses. I am afraid that the scandal so far represents only the tip of the iceberg. Still, the truth, no matter how sickening, is better than the darkness. Sadly, the only way that the leadership of the church will change their ways is if they feel threatened.

When Cardinal Law finally resigned his post last December, a move that was several months too late in my opinion, I was relieved. From what he said and what was reported, I thought he would go to Rome or to some monastery somewhere and ponder his immense failure as a shepherd, and I would never have to see him again. So when I saw him at the Shrine today, happily yucking it up with other priests and being welcomed by my own archbishop, I was upset. This creates for me a sort of artistic crisis: do I perform with the choir when someone like Cardinal Law, whom I despise, is there? Or do I sacrifice my own livelihood to withdraw? I faced this problem last November at the annual Mass for the Bishops' Conference meeting in Washington, when Cardinal Law was still in office and his cronies did not censure him or even criticize him. I decided then, as I decided this afternoon, only to glare at Cardinal Law and loudly announce in the sacristy to the other choir members, "That's the former archbishop of Boston, the one who repeatedly protected pedophiles." The fact is that it would really not make sense not to sing for Bob Hope because of Cardinal Law. The person to whom I need to address a letter is Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, who welcomed Cardinal Law to concelebrate.

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