Boston, Dec. 12--(UPI) Cardinal Bernard Law and top subordinates who worked with him in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston have been subpoenaed to testify before a state grand jury investigating possible criminal violations in their mishandling of priests who allegedly sexually abused children, reports said Thursday.

Meanwhile, a lay reform group formed as a result of disclosures that priests accused of molesting children were transferred from parish to parish, the Voice of the Faithful, voted 71-2 Wednesday night to call on Law to resign.

In another development, alleged victims of abuse expressed outrage that a retired priest at the center of the scandal, Paul R. Shanley, was released on $300,000 bail Wednesday. Shanley, 71, had been in jail since his arrest seven months ago on charges of raping four boys in his parish in the 1970s and '80s.

State troopers in the office of Attorney General Tom Reilly delivered Law's subpoena to his residence on Friday, the day he left for Washington and later Rome where he is conferring with Vatican officials, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald newspapers said. Law reportedly is to meet with the pope on Friday.

While the Vatican has not characterized the purpose of Law's visit, reports indicate he has been discussing the possibility of filing for bankruptcy to protect the assets of the archdiocese in the wake of more than 400 lawsuits filed on behalf of alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, as well as his possible resignation.

Seven current and former bishops, one nun and other archdiocese officials have been subpoenaed, according to the Herald. They included Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans; Bishop J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis.; and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; and Sister Rita McCarthy. The names of two other bishops summoned were not immediately available.

Reilly would not confirm that the subpoenas were issued, saying only that his investigators will "go where the evidence takes us." A spokeswoman for the district attorney, Ann E. Donlan, also declined to comment other than to say, "We have an active and ongoing criminal investigation."

Earlier this week Reilly said the archdiocese was using "every tool and maneuver" to impede his investigation. Reilly has said it would be difficult under state law to bring criminal charges against Law and others who protected the reputation of the church by transferring sexual abusers from parish to parish where they had continued access to children, rather than intervene on behalf of the minors.

It was unknown when those subpoenaed would appear before the grand jury, but Law is scheduled to be deposed on Tuesday in Boston in the civil suit brought by alleged victims of Shanley.

Shanley, who is facing trial on 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery, had no comment Wednesday as he made his way through a crush of reporters and photographers outside the Middlesex Superior Court. Across the street a group of protesters yelled insults at him, calling him a pervert who should "go back to jail."

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents Shanley accuser Gregory Ford and Ford's parents, Rodney and Paula, said they were appalled that anonymous donors came up with the $300,000 cash to bail Shanley out. "They are absolutely devastated," MacLeish said. "All I can say is I hope he returns for trial."

"It's very disturbing," Rodney Ford said Thursday on CNN.

At a meeting Wednesday night in Newton, the Voice of the Faithful voted to demand Law's ouster and to petition the Vatican to appoint a new archbishop of Boston. "We do this with some pain but with a complete sense of confidence that the only way that the church can reclaim its moral integrity is for its people to stand up and insist that sunlight be brought to these matters," said the group's president, James E. Post. He called Law's leadership a "moral cancer."

The group, formed earlier this year in the wake of the clergy sex-abuse scandal, now claims 25,000 members nationwide, including 13,000 in Massachusetts.

Earlier this week some 58 priests signed a letter demanding that Law step down. In New Jersey Wednesday, a jury convicted the Rev. John Banko, 56, of molesting an altar boy and could face up to 35 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 7. Banko was the first priest in New Jersey to be tried since the church scandal broke out in January.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus