On December 20, the former cardinal of the Archdiocese of Boston died in Rome.
Ordinarily, this would be little noted nor long remembered, as many 'retired' church leaders are rewarded with luxurious postings at the mother ship during their last few years.
But of course, this was Bernard Cardinal Law.
He came to this city with such promise. A Lion of the civil-rights movement...no less than the brother of Medgar Evers once said he acted "not for the Negro, but for justice and what is right."
What could have possibly gone so wrong?
Oh, it wasn't all at once, and he probably wasn't even the originator, but rather a perpetuator. Child abuse within the Roman Catholic church has probably always occured (just like any power situation with young children), but among those charged with guiding us spiritually, it is particularly galling.
As it turns out, I had the flimsiest connection to one of the priests at the epicenter, John Geoghan
. He was the Parish Priest at one of my boyhood churches in Saugus, but long before I was born. He moved on to Weston, and actually presided over the wedding of an older sibling of one of Mrs. TriSec's friends.
Mr. Trump has nothing on the obfuscation and deflection of accusations - he could learn a lot from the true master of Cardinal Law. The denials kept coming, and the complete and utter arrogance of Mr. Law was infuriating. Towards the end, some of us locally started to refer to him as "Pope" Law, as he himself felt he was infallible.
When the story was first breaking, we had just returned from the Philippines with our young swain, and according to the terms of the adoption agreement, we were bound to raise him in the Catholic faith. But after the abuse bomb detonated over the city, there was absolutely no way that was going to happen. Oh, we went through the motions - Javi was baptized in due course, and a few years after that he went through his First Communion rites, not without strong objections on my behalf.
Personally, I dreaded the day when he might come home and tell us one of his friends was an altar server and he wanted to do it too, but fortunately that never came to pass.
(And in an aside - Scouts was having its share of issues in the early 2000s, too. But I never felt that was a threat. As I stated to Mrs. TriSec at the time, there is a difference. I'll be in uniform myself standing next to him.)
But in any case, we went through the motions with Javier, then when our obligation was fulfilled, we promptly became spiritually homeless, a situation that has yet to be rectified. Bouncing around from Lutheran,Unitarian, Presbyterian, and even a couple of sit-ins via the Scout Troop with the Baptists, yet none of these ever felt like "home".
As you all know, I myself have given up entirely on Christianity and am pursuing a different prophet, but still have yet to consummate that relationship, but that's a story for another day.
There is still the inevitable pull - every year, we still talk about going to Midnight Mass on Christmas eve (a longtime favorite of mine), and we actually do often still go for Easter Sunday, but personally I am just sitting there to listen to the Bible readings alone - sermons no longer have any meaning for me, and I have not taken a communion wafer in nearly two decades now.
But even then, the abuse coverup is merely the tip of the iceberg. The Archdiocese actually paid out many millions of dollars as 'hush money', and in order to get it Cardinal Law oversaw the closure and sale of many local parish churches around Eastern Massachusetts - some of which were vibrant and thriving churches. I am merely one of many thousands of people that were driven away and turned their backs on the Catholic Church because of the actions of one man.
The day he died, I posted on Facebook that I would love to see a transcript of the conversation between Cardinal Law and Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. It is my personal hope that he can't even get along with his new roommates Adolf and Josef down there in the fiery place.