WESTON (CBS) — Cardinal Sean O’Malley met with about 300 local priests on Tuesday as the Catholic Church continues to deal with new allegations of sex abuse. Protesters also gathered outside the Saint Julia Church in Weston where the meeting took place.
“It was an acknowledgment of reality of failures of the past,” said Father Stephen Zukas.
The meeting comes amid an investigation into abuse allegations at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and as reports circle that Cardinal O’Malley may have received a letter about alleged abuse at the hands of D.C. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Some priests stopped to speak with the protesters. “I wanted to greet these people to let them know that they are part of the people of God,” said one priest.
Some critics are calling for Cardinal Sean and Pope Francis to step down.
Bob Hoatson of Road to Recovery said, “Cardinal Sean O’Malley, you had to have known about these things. You’ve been too high up in the church hierarchy.”
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian is a Boston attorney who has represented dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests. On Tuesday he said, “it’s time for transparency so that victims can try to heal.”
Priests came out of the meeting standing by their leader but also agreeing with critics that more must be done.
“We need to not only be willing to talk with God’s people, the people that we serve but also to be willing to take action,” said Father Joe Mozer.
Father Kevin Leaver said, “We can’t remain stagnant. We have to pick up the pieces and move on and we can’t do that if all our leadership resigns.”
Cardinal O’Malley did not speak with the media following Tuesday’s private meeting. A church spokesperson said the meeting was a chance for the Cardinal to connect with and support priests.