Note: This article is from the Globe’s original online special section on the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.
Even for priests not accused of sexual abuse, it has been a difficult year in the Boston Archdiocese. Clergy faced the anger of parishioners, the shame of association with pedophile priests, and concern over false accusations. Morale plummeted as the scandal widened, though many priests were reluctant to openly criticize their archbishop, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, or the church hierarchy.
Some of the more than 20 priests removed from service over the course of the year complained that they were not given due process by the archdiocese. One priest, Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, was suspended twice before the church determined abuse allegations against him were unfounded. Upon his return, Smith expressed disappointment with church leaders. A group called the Boston Priests Forum representing about 250 of the archdiocese’s 900 priests organized to fight for the rights of clergy.
After damaging new revelations of deviant behavior in the church surfaced in December 2002, 58 priests drafted a letter to Cardinal Law demanding the archbishop’s resignation. This act of defiance against a leader to whom priests had sworn obedience resonated loudly.
With Law now gone, a saddened priesthood continues to tend its wounded flock.