BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston whose failures to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked what would become the worst crisis in American Catholicism, has drawn little sympathy from survivors.
Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who has represented dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests, said Law’s death has reopened old wounds.
“They feel cheated by Bernard Cardinal Law’s death,” Garabedian said at a news conference Wednesday, saying he’s concerned how abuse victims will handle the news, knowing Law was never charged with a crime.
“Society has not lost a great protector of innocent children with the passing of Bernard Cardinal Law,” he said.
Alexa MacPherson, who says she was a victim of clergy sex abuse for six years as a small child, had no words of sorrow at the news of Law’s death.
“He never fully addressed the crisis. He never reached out to us. He never inquired about our well-being,” she told reporters. “With his passing, I say I hope the gates of hell are open wide to welcome him.”
MacPherson’s mother Barbara Sidorowicz, whose two sons were also abused, also was not mourning him.
“I’m a person, I cannot ever turn my back on my faith, but I can’t find it in my heart to forgive,” she told the Associated Press. “I cry over what happened to my children, but I can’t cry over him. I can’t even get myself to say a prayer for him. He should have been in jail.”
“When I think of Cardinal Law I think of the wasted opportunities that he had and he was so smart, he had so much power, there was so much good that he could have done while he was here in Boston and he squandered those possibilities to watch over these couple hundred child molesting priests,” abuse survivor Phil Saviano told WBZ-TV.
Saviano, whose story was part of the Oscar-winning movie “Spotlight,” was just 11 years old when he was molested by a priest in Worcester.
“Yesterday was the 25th anniversary I first found the courage to go down to the Boston Globe and speak for the first time about my own childhood abuse,” Saviano said Wednesday.
“I feel it’s a cosmic connection of some sort and makes the day all that much more powerful for me.”
For more than 20 years Saviano has dedicated his life to helping connect and support survivors through SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
In this moment, he’s focusing on those who aren’t here anymore.
“So many of them died of suicide, drug overdose, died of alcoholism because of the trauma those priests put them through when they were so young,” he said.
“I’m thinking of them, I’m mourning them today more than I’m thinking of the legacy of Cardinal Law.”
Since 1950, more than 6,500, or about 6 percent of U.S. priests, have been accused of molesting children, and the American church has paid more than $3 billion in settlements to victims, according to studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops and media reports. As the leader of the archdiocese at the epicenter for the scandal, Law remained throughout his life a symbol of the church’s widespread failures to protect children.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)