Religion

Religion In The 2012 Race

By Bob Seay   |   Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Jan. 6, 2012 


BOSTON — New Hampshire is not Iowa, and perhaps no other issue reflects their differences than the role of religion in politics. Social conservatives are credited with helping Rick Santorum surge in Iowa and they're standing by to help him again in South Carolina.

But in between is New Hampshire and the Dec. 10 primary. While Mitt Romney may get a one-week reprieve from facing a religious voting block, his Mormon faith is something he's been forced to address, as he did in this 2007 speech.
 
"When I place my hand on the Bible, and take the oath of office. That oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I’m fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States," he said.


That was then. "This time you can't get a quote out of the Romney campaign about religion. They don't want to deal with it," said professor Mark Silk, who studies the role of faith in politics.
 
During the last presidential race, Silk said, Romney met with evangelicals and "asserted that like them he accepted Jesus as his lord and savior. It didn't work." That's in part because evangelical Christians consider their religion to be very different from Mormonism. "When you claim to be like them, that gets their hackles up."
 
So it might not be a bad strategy for Romney to steer clear, Silk said — if he can keep from being forced to address the issue. 

More videos on religion in politics:

Candidate Rick Santorum, favored by evangelical Christians, rang notes of faith in his speech the night of the Iowa caucus.  

John F. Kennedy gave the grandaddy speech on faith during his presidential run in 1960:

‘Knee-Jerk’ Changes Won’t Prevent Abuse In Church, Expert Says

By WGBH News   |   Thursday, December 1, 2011
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Dec. 1, 2011

bernard cardinal law

US Cardinal Bernard Law celebrates Mass in Rome in August 2010. (Andrew Medichini/AP)


The Boston Catholic Archdiocese continues to deal with fallout from the 2002 child abuse scandal. On Nov. 21, Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, resigned from his most recent position at the Vatican. The announcement re-ignited passions in the Boston area, especially from those who say Law and the Church avoided addressing the cause of the abuse, and didn't adequately punish wrongdoers.
 
Psychologist Carlos Cuevas, a faculty member at Northeastern University, added to that criticism on “The Callie Crossley Show” on Dec. 1. Cuevas said the few policies the Catholic Church has agreed to change haven't done anything.
 
“The motivation isn't surrounding ‘How do we help people not be victimized.’ The motivation is ‘How do we not get busted for this again.’ And I think that's part of what I take issue with,” he said.
 
Cuevas, who works with sexual offenders as well as survivors of abuse, thought that the church had a knee-jerk reaction to the scandal that won't effectively prevent future victimization.
 
Journalist Walter Robinson oversaw the Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s coverage of the abuse scandal. He agreed that the culture of the Catholic Church had driven the decisions during Law’s tenure and kept action from being taken at the necessary time.
 
An examination of the church personnel files shows that Law and his subordinates knew "pretty much everything that was going on with these priests and that their overriding concern in all of their correspondence was keeping the reputation of the church from being harmed,” Robinson said. “And that’s what allowed this to go on for so long.”
 
Robinson saw parallels to the abuse scandal at Penn State, where culture also seemed to play a role in keeping matters under cover. 
 

Cardinal Bernard Law Retires, And Some Cheer

By WGBH News & Wires   |   Monday, November 21, 2011
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Nov. 21, 2011

bernard cardinal law

US Cardinal Bernard Law celebrates Mass in Rome in August, 2010. The Vatican announced on Nov. 21 that Law has retired from his most recent position. (Andrew Medichini/AP)


BOSTON — Lawyers and advocates for victims of Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse have welcomed news that former Boston archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law has resigned from his position in Rome.
 
The Vatican announced on Nov. 21 that the 80-year-old Law had resigned his post as archpriest of St. Mary Major basilica. Spanish Monsignor Santos Abril y Castello has been named as Law’s replacement.
 
Law stepped down as Boston's archbishop in 2002. Critics have said he did little to protect children from predatory priests. The archdiocese deferred comment to the Vatican. 
 
Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for many sex abuse victims, told The Associated Press that now is the time for Law to return to Boston to apologize for his "immoral actions," but acknowledged that was "highly unlikely."

McKiernan gives his take on Law's retirement.

Terence McKiernan of bishopaccountability.org told WGBH News, “It’s good to see the back of Cardinal Law and I think that anyone experienced his time in Boston and has seen how he’s been honored in Rome despite what he did here is happy to see him go.”
 
McKiernan read significance into the way the Vatican announced the news.

“I think it’s also important that he was removed unceremoniously — that his replacement was announced and no great trouble was taken in announcing the fact that he was no longer going to be the archpriest,” he said. “All of that indicates to me that Pope Benedict and his people are really deciding that this is the end of the Cardinal Law era, that Cardinal Law is no longer going to be a patronage boss in the Catholic Church.”
 
Material fromThe Associated Press was used in this report.

Boston Archdiocese Releases List Of 159 Accused Priests

By The Associated Press   |   Thursday, August 25, 2011
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Aug. 25, 2011

BOSTON — Cardinal Sean O'Malley on Thursday released a long-awaited list of priests accused of child sex abuse in Boston in the last 60 years, but he opted not to include certain priests, including ones who died without being publicly charged.
 
In a letter, O'Malley said 248 of Boston's priests and two deacons have been accused of child sex abuse since 1950. But he said he decided against releasing 91 of the names, including the deceased priests who weren't publicly accused; those working in Boston under religious orders or other dioceses; and priests named in unsubstantiated accusations that never went public.

At a protest in Rome, Bill Gately, center, of Boston, holds a photo of himself at the age he says he was when he was abused by a member of the clergy. The preist he accused may be on a list of 159 names released by the Boston Archdiocese on Thursday. (AP)

Each of the 159 names published Thursday has been made public previously, though not necessarily by the archdiocese. They include still-active priests who were cleared of abuse after being publicly accused.
 
O'Malley acknowledged that some people may have wanted him to "go further" and release more names. But he cited concerns about due process and the damage to the reputations of priests - alive and dead - when accused of decades-old crimes that are difficult to verify.
 
"In the present environment, a priest who is accused of sexually abusing a minor may never be able to fully restore his reputation, even if cleared after civil or canonical proceedings," O'Malley said. "Reputational concerns also become acute in cases concerning deceased priests, who are often accused years after their death with no opportunity to address the accusations against them."
 
O'Malley said the archdiocese's effort to compile a single list of accused clerics was another step toward taking responsibility for clergy sex abuse and preventing a repeat of a scandal that broke in 2002 in Boston and spread across the country. The scandal revealed church leaders had shifted pedophile priests between parishes while hiding their crimes.
 
"I carry with me every day the pain of the church's failures," O'Malley said.
 
Several other dioceses have released similar lists, and Boston has been pressured to publish its own since O'Malley said in a 2009 letter that the archdiocese was considering improving its policy on releasing information about accused clergy.
 
In recent months, prominent victims' attorney Mitchell Garabedian, and the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org have independently released new names of accused priests, while expressing doubts the archdiocese ever intended to be truly forthcoming. BishopAccountability.org has estimated at least 350 religious workers in Boston have a substantive abuse accusations against them, based on the percentages from other dioceses that have disclosed their number of accused.
 
Advocates for abuse victims say such public lists ensure that credibly accused priests don't remain in active ministry. They also say that publicly releasing the names is validation, consolation and a crucial step toward healing for victims. They accused O'Malley of inflicting more suffering on victims as months passed with no list.
 
The Rev. Richard Erikson, outgoing vicar general at the Boston Archdiocese, said the time it took to release the list reflect exhaustive efforts to ensure it was complete, fair and accurate.
 
"These are very sensitive, emotional, painful realities and the cardinal has done a great job of listening to the various perspectives," he said. "The amount of man hours and woman hours that have gone into the project have been extraordinary."
 
In his letter, O'Malley said of the 91 names he didn't release, 62 were deceased clergy. Twenty-two were priests - nine of them now in active ministry - who faced an abuse accusation that was never substantiated or made public. Four were priests or ex-priests under preliminary investigation. Three were defrocked or dismissed by the time they faced accusations that haven't been made public.
 
O'Malley said the decision to withhold certain deceased priests' names doesn't mean the claims against them aren't credible. He said in many cases, the accusers were compensated or provided with counseling.
 
He said he didn't release names of accused religious order priests or priests from other dioceses "because the Boston Archdiocese does not determine the outcome in such cases; that is the responsibility of the priest's order or diocese."
 
But BishopAccountability has said religious orders are secretive, and called it a matter of "common decency" for O'Malley to release the names, since no one else will.
 
In his letter, O'Malley also gave statistics he said showed the church was making progress protecting children through steps such as immediately reporting any allegation to law enforcement and training children and staff to spot abusers. He said of the 198 clergy sex abuse allegations reported to the archdiocese in the last six years, 4 percent involve incidents that allegedly happened since 1990. The percentage is consistent with prior analysis that showed the most of the abuse occurred between 1965 and 1982, he said.
 
O'Malley said he wasn't trying to downplay the "heinous" abuse or the church's mistakes, but rather "give the faithful some confidence that the policies adopted by the church to protect its children starting in the early 1990s have been effective."

Report Finds Muslims Loyal To U.S., Optimistic

By Frannie Carr   |   Wednesday, August 3, 2011
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Aug. 3, 2011

BOSTON — Local Muslims are responding to a the findings of a new Gallup poll comparing the attitudes of Muslim Americans to Americans of other faiths.

The decorated exterior of the Islamic Society of Boston. (jooleeah_stahkey via Flickr)

The report found that ten years after the 9/11 terror attacks, the vast majority of Muslim Americans are loyal to the United States and are more optimistic than other major faith group about their future.
 
Ali Asania professor of Islamic Religion and Culture at Harvard University, said while the results are heartening, there is still a larger construct of Muslim Americans as “the other” that needs to be broken down.
 
"People are afraid of what they don't know. When somebody sees a woman in a hijab, and they assume she's fundamentalist, but if they had a conversation with her, they get a very different impression," Asani said.

"We need to be thinking about what it means to be American in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial society. We can all be different, but we can also be united in our differences, in our loyalty to the country”

The poll included interviews from about 2,500 people, a fifth of whom identified themselves as Muslim. 

Parishioners At Churches Slated For Sale Fight On

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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Jul. 19, 2011

BOSTON — Members of six churches slated for sale by the Archdiocese of Boston are hoping the Vatican can help them keep their parishes open.

Last week, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley issued a decree that strips six closed church buildings of their religious classifications and paves the way for their sale to private developers. On Monday, all six of these churches sent letters to O’Malley notifying him that they intend to appeal his decision with the Vatican.
 
Suzanne Hurley is a member of the Council of Parishes and spokesperson for the parishioners at St. James the Great in Wellesley, Mass., which could be sold under O'Malley's decree. O'Malley has asked parishioners to accept the archdiocese' latest decision, but she says the individuals committed to certain churches need to make themselves heard.
 

“I think we still have a majority of parishioners who still believe that their role is to sit, pray, pay and obey,” she says. “I’m tired of feeling like I am not allowed to question them, that they’re the bully in the sand box, and if you don’t like it then you’re just supposed to move on. Parishioners need to stop doing that.”
 
Hurley contended the decision to to sell off her church shouldn't be up to the archdiocese alone. She says parishioners have built, paid for and sustained their own churches and that they shouldn’t be sold away to pay for the financial troubles of the diocese.

" If you want me to open my pocketbook then you need to open your ears, you need to open your mind, you need to open your heart and understand we are a part of it," Hurley said.
 
Earlier this year, the Vatican took the rare step of halting the closures of three Massachusetts churches.

The appeals process started this week could take two to three years to resolve.

This report was compiled by Luke Boelitz, using material from WGBH's The Emily Rooney Show, which is produced by Frannie Carr, Edgar Herwick and Jeff Keating.

About the Authors
Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.
WGBH News
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 

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