Long Lent Church Abuse
Title: Anna Farrow: Church’s ‘Long Lent’ of clerical abuse
Author: Anna Farrow
Entering the season of Lent can seem like a blessed relief. The harsh mark of ash on the forehead, the stark words of truth, “you are dust,” the stripping away of the distractions and pleasures of our earthly life to stare our mortality square in the face — all these can be received with a bracing joy.
But as Ash Wednesday passes and the Sundays of Lent are one by one ticked off, we begin to feel the full weight and heft of our sin. We embark on Lent thinking it will act like a spiritual cold shower. Before long we are reminded that we are walking the Way of the Cross, and this isn’t some spa treatment we have signed up for.
This year marks 20 years since a group of journalists, part of an investigative team at The Boston Globe dubbed Spotlight, broke the story of the widespread and long-standing sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Boston archdiocese and, more disturbing still, the actions of the Church hierarchy to cover for the offending clergy.
The first Globe article was published in January 2002. By year’s end, Cardinal Bernard Law, head of the Boston archdiocese since 1984 and the senior ranking prelate in the U.S. Catholic Church at the time, had resigned his position. His action was precipitated by the release of some 3,000 pages of documentation that demonstrated Law routinely transferred known predator priests between parishes.