Church Paper Criticizes Gov. Keating

Friday, August 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ An editorial in the Boston Archdiocese's newspaper accused Oklahoma's governor of calling on Roman Catholics to ``commit a mortal sin'' when he urged parishioners to stop donating money or attending churches in dioceses that don't respond to the priest sex-abuse scandal.

The editorial in Thursday's edition of The Pilot, for which Boston Cardinal Bernard Law serves as publisher, criticized remarks Gov. Frank Keating made last week about what Catholics should do if they see their bishop shunning his moral duty.

Law has come under fire for not acting quickly enough to remove priests accused of sexually abusing children.

Parishioners unhappy with their bishop, Keating said, could attend Mass in a different diocese or use ``the power of the purse'' by halting donations. ``In effect a strike, if you wish, a sit-down until things change,'' he said.

Keating, a lifelong Catholic, is chairman of an all-lay review board monitoring performance on the priestly abuse cleanup policy U.S. bishops approved in June.

Keating didn't refer specifically to Law, whose archdiocese has been at the center of the sex abuse scandal that erupted in the Catholic church this year. But the newspaper's editorial attacked the remarks.

``His well-known, no-nonsense attitude may play well in the secular media, but there are certain things that are not admissible in the Church,'' the editorial said.

``For a Church appointed leader to publicly orchestrate a kind of protest that would call for the faithful to stop contributions or, worse, to boycott Sunday Mass _ in effect calling all Catholics in a diocese to commit a mortal sin _ is just surreal,'' it said.

The Pilot stopped short of calling for Keating to be removed or step down as chairman of the National Review Board on Clergy Sexual Abuse, which was formed after bishops voted to enact a zero-tolerance abuse policy.

Neither the newspaper's editor nor a spokesman for the archdiocese returned phone messages seeking comment Thursday.

Keating was in Europe on Thursday for an economic development trip. But spokesman Mike Brake said the governor was appointed to chair the oversight board ``because of his no-nonsense attitude.''

He said Keating's comments reflected the significant number of letters, e-mails and phone calls from Catholics who are already doing precisely what he talked about in an effort to get their local dioceses to implement the zero-tolerance charter.

``It would seem that Cardinal Law might direct his attention to that policy rather than this little nonsensical dustup,'' Brake added.

In other developments Thursday:

_ A Catholic priest was indicted for allegedly abusing a 15-year-old boy in the rectory of a Cambridge, Mass., church in 1987 and 1988. The Rev. Paul Hurley, 59, faces two counts of rape of a child. He is on administrative leave and restricted from practicing any public ministry, the Boston Archdiocese said. Hurley referred questions to his attorney, James Coviello, who denied the allegations against his client.

_ In Tampa, Fla., police arrested a defrocked Episcopal priest on charges he sexually molested a boy more than 25 years ago while serving in two Tampa Bay-area churches.