Cardinal's supporters hold strong as calls for resignation grow louder

Thursday, April 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Supporters including an alleged abuse victim came to the defense Wednesday of Cardinal Bernard Law as pressure mounted for his resignation over his handling of child sex cases involving priests.

Law, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston since 1984, has apologized for shifting defrocked priest John Geoghan, an accused pedophile, from parish to parish. Documents made public Monday show Law handled the case of another accused priest, the Rev. Paul Shanley, in much the same way.

On Tuesday, two Democratic candidates for governor, Robert Reich and Warren Tolman, said Law should step down. On Wednesday, The Boston Globe and The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., joined the Boston Herald in calling for Law's resignation.

Ray Flynn, a former Boston mayor and ambassador to the Vatican, said that while Law's mistakes are indefensible, he should remain on the job to repair the damage suffered by the church.

``He's the one that's most in pain,'' Flynn said. ``He's the one who has the most to lose. He will put his heart and soul into it.''

Ralph DelVecchio, one of Geoghan's alleged victims, agreed that Law might be the best person fix the problems, provided there isn't evidence Law acted maliciously in shuttling priests between churches.

``I don't really believe he intentionally meant to be devious,'' DelVecchio said. ``I think he could do more good staying there because he knows what's going on.''

The cardinal has also earned loyalty for his years of work with the poor and immigrants. Law has made frequent visits to Latin America, including Cuba, to speak out against social injustice.

``His resignation will not solve the problem,'' said Dr. Roger Jean-Charles, chairman of the board at the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Boston. ``This is a case where the cure is worse than the disease.''

Elsewhere Wednesday:

_In Seattle, a priest who adopted several children and took in numerous others from 1979 to 1989 has been placed on leave following an allegation of sexual abuse, church officials said.

His accuser, now 43, says the abuse took place when he was a high school student in the mid-1970s.

_In New Hampshire, a former altar boy sued the Diocese of Manchester, claiming he was sexually abused by a priest at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in New London.

_In North Carolina, Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Raleigh diocese asked members of the 88 parishes he oversees to mark Sunday as a ``day of prayer for the church in crisis.''