During an ongoing review of church personnel records, the Boston Archdiocese identified at least 60 priests who have allegedly molested and abused children over the span of forty years. The names of these priests have been turned over to civil authorities and 38 names have been forwarded to a total of six district attorney offices. The Archdiocese had previously settled sex abuse cases for many of the priests identified. According to the Boston Globe, the Archdiocese has settled child molestation claims for at least 70 priests in the last decade.
The spotlight has been on the Boston Archdiocese since the prosecution of defrocked priest John Geoghan, convicted last month of indecent assault on a minor and facing two other charges of child rape and molestation. Geoghan’s trial resulted in increased publicity for numerous other reports of pedophilia among Boston-area priests. Cardinal Bernard Law then admitted that the Archdiocese was aware of allegations made since the 1970s against Geoghan, and now other priests, of child abuse and pedophilia and knowingly did not remove the priests from their posts or notify civil authorities. Law has since apologized for “mistakes in judgment.” Catholic parishioners are calling for his resignation.
Massachusetts legislators are now considering laws that would require clergy to report allegations of abuse to civil authorities. The Boston Archdiocese moral authority has been severely compromised since the allegations. Some political pundits suggest that this scandal coupled with the preoccupation of the Archdiocese may have played a role in the passage of another piece of legislation in the Massachusetts House. At the end of last month, Massachusetts passed a bill that would require insurance plans that already cover prescription drugs to cover prescription contraception. The House also rejected an amendment 106 to 49 that would have allowed religiously affiliated organizations to forego the requirement based on moral objections.