For our own mental health, given the wealth of bad news in the world, we at Horowitz Law try hard to take note of good news and anniversaries of good news.
Today, Dec. 14, marks the anniversary of the resignation of the poster child for the US Catholic church’s abuse and cover-up crisis – Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.
Never mind that he retained many other powerful positions and was sent to Rome to head an important and historic basilica (and evaded criminal prosecution). The fact that an incredibly influential prelate was forced to step down for endangering kids and enabling abuse is worth remembering and celebrating.
And next year, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of a wonderfully transformative event in terms of children’s safety.
Twenty years ago, in 2001, a Massachusetts judge issued a landmark ruling. The choice she faced was this: side with vulnerable kids, wounded victims and betrayed Catholics. Or side with Catholic clerics who committed, concealed and were STILL committing and concealing heinous child sex crimes.
Judge Constance Sweeney clearly did the right thing. She ruled on a motion brought by the Boston Globe seeking to open long-hidden records about how Cardinal Law and his staff and predecessors in the Boston Archdiocese handled serial predator priest John Geoghan case.
She lifted the seal and ordered all the documents filed with the court and made accessible to the public.
The nearly-overwhelmed floodgates were finally opened. The decades-old cover ups began to be exposed. The suffering felt vindicated. And the vulnerable were made safer.
And then, the courageous leadership of Judge Sweeney, the Globe and – most of all – Geoghan’s victims – inspired action all across the US.
(If you haven’t seen it, the award-winning film Spotlight does an incredible job of recounting this history, and much more. It’s available on Netflix.)
There is no “Nobel Prize for Kids’ Protection.” But if there were, Judge Sweeney would be a perfect nominee.
And while we’re remembering and praising her, let’s also thank all of the judges across the United States who have helped make our nation safer by ruling more and more often in favor of kids and victims, and against predators and enablers.
Their wisdom and hard work often goes unrecognized, though they deserve kudos for playing a big role in exposing and preventing more crimes and coverups.