Activist Objects to Visit by Cardinal
By Linda Maule
July 14, 2006
Falmouth – An activist who has criticized the Roman Catholic church for its response to sexual abuse by priests is objecting to the planned presence of the nation's highest ranking church official at a retirement Mass on Sunday at Holy Martyrs Parish.
Paul Kendrick of Cumberland, who helped found the Maine chapter of Voice of the Faithful, has written to retiring pastor Monsignor Charles Murphy, objecting to the expected attendance by Murphy's friend, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, at the Mass celebrating Monsignor Murphy's retirement.
According to Kendrick, Cardinal Levada, when he was in San Francisco, "covered up for priests who abused kids, putting these priests into parishes where kids were at risk."
Last year, Levada was appointed to the most influential Vatican post ever held by an American – prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the position was last held by the current pope.). He was elevated to the position of cardinal in February.
At the Vatican, Levada's role includes reviewing abuse allegations against priests worldwide.
But priest abuse victims have criticized his appointment to the Vatican post, claiming Levada did a poor job dealing with the abuse crisis in San Francisco and Oregon. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said he was slow to act, harsh to victims and committed to secrecy in responding to claims. They said he also covered up sexual allegations against priests.
Levada has said the criticism was unfounded and claimed that his experience in dealing with the issue was an advantage for the church. He served on a commission that oversaw revisions to the discipline plan that bishops in the United States adopted for sexually abusive priests in 2002.
Kendrick said he is joined by others in a coalition called Ignatius Group, made up of Voice of the Faithful and the Survivors Network, in objecting to Levada's appearance in Falmouth Sunday.
In a press release, the Ignatius Group said "Levada's past actions and willful negligence of children are being ignored by Catholic parishioners, diocesan officials and community leaders as the gala weekend event is planned."
"Most Catholics have no idea to the extent of the corruption by Levada in the Catholic Church," Kendrick said Wednesday. "If it was about politicians. Everyone would know about it. All these Catholics from a wealthy, educated parish will honor Monsignor Murphy, and the fact that Levada is present will be notable. ... For a few hours they will ignore the biggest crisis in the Catholic Church since the reformation.
"Victims have been ignored, been ostracized, been chastised for coming forward. At that gala event, so to speak, it's just a slap in their face. ... Millions of Catholics have failed to stand up, not just the Catholics in Falmouth Foreside."
Levada, who will deliver the homily at the Mass, has been a friend of Murphy's since their early days in the the seminary. Levada remains an archbishop emeritus of San Francisco.
Reached at the parish Wednesday, Monsignor Murphy said "I haven't had any dialogue with (Kendrick). I simply don't have anything to say."
Monsignor Murphy was ordained in Rome 45 years ago to the day, on July 16, after attending North American College. He received a doctorate in Sacred Theology at Gregorian University in Rome and has served the Portland Diocese in six parishes and other ministries, including superintendent of schools and director of seminarians. He was named the first director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate.
A Lewiston native, he received his bachelor's degree from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., and his master's in education at Harvard University.
Monsignor Murphy will continue to serve as direct of of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, even though he is retiring.
Bishop Richard Malone of Portland is also expected to attend Sunday, along with Bishop Emeritus Joseph Gerry; Archbishop Peter L. Gerety, former bishop of Portland and retired archbishop of the Diocese of Newark, and Bishop Tod Brown, Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, Calif., who was also a classmate of Monsignor Murphy.
The celebration Mass will be at 5:30 p.m.
Linda Maule can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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