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Apology to abuse victims is new Boston archbishop's first act

At Wednesday's installation ceremony, Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley thanked clergy abuse victims for attending, and once again apologised for the harm done by priests and bishops.

He told the congregation that victims have done a service to the church in exposing the clergy sex abuse problem. He said it is the job of all US parishes, dioceses and schools "to avoid the mistakes of the past" and establish safeguards to protect children in the future.

The white-bearded archbishop asked that the "bitter medicine we have had to take to remedy our mismanagement" of the crisis help the church and other sectors of US society "in eradicating this evil from our midst."

The pain of victims "will not be in vain if our church and our nation become a safer place for our children," he said during his homily. "I again ask forgiveness for all the harm done to young people by our clergy, religious or hierarchy."

Then yesterday, O'Malley replaced the legal team representing the Archdiocese in more than 500 civil lawsuits instituted by alleged victims of clergy sex abuse. He appointed Boston attorney Thomas Hannigan as lead counsel for the archdiocese in handling the sex abuse claims. Hannigan is the attorney who helped O'Malley settle abuse cases in O'Malley's former diocese.

Lawyers for alleged victims of clergy abuse had complained that lawyers at Boston Archdiocese's Rogers firm took an unrealistic hard line in settlement negotiations.

O'Malley, 59, succeeded Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in December amid mounting evidence that church leaders shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish to keep allegations against them secret and shield the church from scandal.

Catholic News Service/AP


St. Francis to the Rescue (Beliefnet)
Text of the archbishop's homily (Boston Globe)
Laying blame for sex abuse (Catholic Leader)
A new leader reaches out (Boston Globe)
'Good priests' moved to tears at archbishop's words of comfort (Boston Globe)
New archbishop replaces lead legal team (AP)
Archdiocese of Boston | Archbishop O'Malley's Installation Homily and Words of Welcome

32 Aug 2003