The Boston Globe broke the story of the sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church in Boston. After the story broke, many more came forward with allegations against priests in that diocese until it was a full-blown scandal in the United States and Ireland.
Insurance companies refused to pay for the damages by the abusive priests; stating it was a deliberate act on the priests part. Therefore, the Church had to pay for the damages. Law-suits won by the accusers totaled a whopping $100 million! It became necessary for the Boston Diocese to sell off property to Boston College to cover the cost of all the law-suits.
Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston was at the center of the cover-ups of sexual abuse. All the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops were brought to the public’s attention because of the actions and inactions of Cardinal Law. He and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston claimed they didn’t have the expertise to deal with pedophilia, so they sought advice from doctors. Cardinal Law announced in 2003 that he had a policy in place to deal with sexual abuse of minors and the clergy. He claimed the “policy has been most effective.”
Cardinal Law resigned in 2002, but remained cardinal, and took part in the 2005 conclave.
Bishop Richard Lennon followed Cardinal Law as apostolic administrator of the Boston Archdiocese. This brought criticism from some sex-abuse victims’ group and only increased after the Frontline documentary Hand of God. (The movie depicts the history of Salem, Massachusetts sex scandal). When movie makers attempted to film the outside of the building Bishop Lennon refused any comment except for a discussion on private property rights. Lennon closes the Salem, Massachusetts parish even though it was not losing money.
Bishop Sean O’Malley became the Archbishop of Boston in 2003 familiar with sexual abuse scandals in the dioceses of Palm Beach and Fall River. The archbishop’s residence and the chancery and surrounding ground were sold off to Boston College to defray the costs associated with the sexual abuse cases.
In 2011, Cardinal O’Malley made public a list of 159 priests who had been accused of sexual abuse.
Father Joseph Birmingham spent 23 years sexually abusing children and was moved from one parish to another. When a mother questioned Cardinal Law about the priest, he assured her he’d talked to the priest and nothing was going on between the priest and her son.
Archdiocese of Boston lost millions of dollars in law-suits and settlements. The Archdiocese closed sixty-five parishes before Cardinal Law stepped down.