BOSTON (AP) -- A group of Boston priests wants Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law to clarify the rights of priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children.
The Boston Priests' Forum asked to meet with Law to discuss fears that innocent priests are being destroyed by abuse allegations. Since January, 20 priests accused of abuse have been removed from their jobs.
"Your eminence, the priests are hurting, our morale has plummeted," forum chairman Robert Bullock wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to Law.
Bullock met with Law's assistant, Bishop Walter Edyvean, on Tuesday. The Boston Globe reported that Law and the regional bishops of the archdiocese will meet with the priests after Labor Day.
Donna M. Morrissey, Law's spokeswoman, declined to comment on Edyvean's meeting with Bullock but said chancery officials are concerned about the rights of accused priests.
Bullock did not respond to calls for comment by The Associated Press.
Law imposed a zero-tolerance policy in January following revelations that he had previously allowed abusive priests to remain in church service. The policy requires the removal of priests from the ministry when the archdiocese has reasonable cause to believe that the priest abused a minor.
The year-old forum, which represents about 250 of the 900 priests in the Boston Archdiocese, started as a support group for priests concerned about burnout. It predated the sex abuse scandal, which broke in January with revelations that church officials shuffled now-defrocked priest John Geoghan from parish to parish despite knowing of allegations against him.
Also in Boston, friends of two priests accused of sex abuse have banded to denounce the charges as implausible, The Boston Globe reported.
A lawsuit filed by Paul Edwards says the Rev. William Cummings, now deceased, raped him in his bed on an overnight youth trip to New York City in 1982, but chaperones said it was a day trip with no overnight stay.
Edwards' suit also says Monsignor Michael Smith Foster molested him repeatedly in his rectory bedroom at Newton's Sacred Heart parish between 1980 and 1985, which Foster denies. The Rev. John Connolly and three teenagers who worked at the rectory said strict rules would have prevented Edwards from spending time there without observation.
"Father Mike is one of the good priests. He does not deserve this, and we're mad. We know better," said Linda Amicangioli, who organized former youth group members in support of Foster.
In other developments, lawyers for alleged victims of the Rev. Paul Shanley questioned Bishop Thomas V. Daily of New York's Brooklyn diocese. Rodney Ford, who attended the videotaped deposition Monday and is the father of alleged victim Gregory Ford, said Daily had "no answer" for why he never forced Shanley into treatment when Daily was a senior official in the Boston Archdiocese.
A spokesman for the Brooklyn Diocese, Frank DeRosa, said Daily "spoke honestly and openly based on his recollections of the events that took place some 20 years ago." DeRosa declined further comment.
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