July 03, 2005

Crises mark O'Malley's reign

Boston Herald

By Marie Szaniszlo
Sunday, July 3, 2005 - Updated: 08:16 AM EST

Sixteen months into his two-year tenure as head of the archdiocese that was ground zero in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal, the strain became evident in an open letter Sean P. O'Malley wrote to parishioners.

``At times, I ask God to call me home,'' the archbishop confessed.

This is one tough town. You know it when even O'Malley, a bearded, 61-year-old friar with more than a passing resemblance to St. Nick, can't get a break. But then this is Boston, where the bitterness runs only as deep as the betrayal.

On a frigid December morning in 2002, Bostonians learned that Pope John Paul II had accepted the resignation of O'Malley's predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law, who repeatedly had transferred priests who had molested children from parish to parish without notifying parents or police.

By the time O'Malley took over seven months later - two years ago this week - he already had become adept at damage control, having been dispatched to Fall River and Palm Springs, Fla., in the wake of similar scandals.

In his simple brown robe and sandals, ``Archbishop Sean,'' as he prefers to be called, impressed people early on by choosing to live in the rectory of Holy Cross Cathedral in the South End and selling the Brighton mansion where several predecessors had lived.

Posted by kshaw at July 3, 2005 07:26 AM