On July 23, 2003, Thomas F. Reilly, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a Report entitled
The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Some excerpts from the Attorney General's cover letter follow:
  • The education, care and protection of our children are among the most important undertakings of our society...It was with this single motivation -to protect children -that in January 2002, the Office of the Attorney General undertook to address the massive and prolonged mistreatment of children by priests assigned to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston; and it is with this single motivation that the Office of the Attorney General submits the accompanying report of what it did and learned.(cover letter)
  • But in the past twenty years, events have revealed a dark side to the Church's relationship with its children. In the early 1980's, and again in the early 1990's, the sexual assault of scores of children by individual priests came to light. Then, eighteen months ago, we began to learn of a tragedy of unimaginable dimensions: According to the Archdiocese's own files, 789 victims have complained of sexual abuse by members of the clergy; the actual number of victims is no doubt higher. The evidence to date also reveals that 250 priests and church workers stand accused of acts of rape or sexual assault of children. ...The facts learned over the past eighteen months describe one of the greatest tragedies to befall children in this Commonwealth. Perhaps most tragic of all, much of the harm could have been prevented.(cover letter)
  • It is essential to create an official record of what occurred because although this Office is unable to charge crimes, the conduct of the Archdiocese and its senior managers was undeniably wrong. For decades, Cardinals, Bishops and others in positions of authority within the Archdiocese chose to protect the image and reputation of their institution rather than the safety and well-being of children. They acted with a misguided devotion to secrecy and a mistaken belief that they were accountable only to themselves. They must be held to account, if not in a court of law, then before the ultimate arbiter in our democracy: you, the people.(cover letter)
The closing paragraph has some especially important lessons for our own diocese
  • To assure the safety of children within the Archdiocese and to mark the day when special vigilance is no longer necessary, there must be a continued push for openness by the Archdiocese when it comes to issues related to the protection of children; implementation of rigorous and effective policies and procedures for protecting children; ongoing examination of key indicators that the Archdiocese is doing all it can to keep children safe; compliance and enforcement of the new legal obligations on clergy and other church workers to be mandated reporters of child abuse; and active involvement among the laity in the implementation of all policies and procedures designed to protect children. This sad chapter reminds us of how precious our children are and of the responsibility we share as a society for their well-being. All that we value and prize depends on preserving the promise of their future.[editor's note: Massachusetts law includes clergy as mandated reporters of child abuse. New York does not]
Some excerpts from the Report follow:
  • BACKGROUND A. Organizational and Management Structure of The Archdiocese of Boston
    ... While the hierarchical management structure of the Archdiocese has changed over the years, it generally has maintained a pyramid-like management structure with the majority of decision-making authority vested in relatively few senior managers at the top of the pyramid.
  • Bishop William Murphy In 1993, Cardinal Law selected Bishop William Murphy to succeed Bishop Hughes as Vicar for Administration, a position he held unti1 2001. In 2001, Bishop Murphy became the Bishop of Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York.
  • As second-in-command to Cardinal Law, Bishop Murphy was the Cardinal's chief adviser and was involved in managing daily operations at the Chancery and throughout the Archdiocese. He met with the Cardinal daily and advised him on matters across the spectrum of archdiocesan operations, including issues involving clergy sexual abuse of children. Bishop McCormack, the newly appointed Delegate, sometimes discussed clergy sexual abuse matters directly with the Cardinal, and on other occasions conveyed information to the Cardinal through Bishop Murphy.(p.38)
  • During his eight-year tenure as second-in-command, Bishop Murphy supervised the response to many sexual abuse cases. These included, among others, cases involving Fathers John Geoghan, Paul Mahan, Bernie Lane, Melvin Surrette, and George Berthold. He also participated in arranging for Father Surrette, already having been accused himself of sexually abusing children, to be Assistant Delegate responsible for arranging suitable job placements for priests found to have engaged in sexual abuse of children.(p.38)
  • Archdiocese documents show that Bishop Murphy was aware that there were proposals to place Surrette in other jobs, but that Bishop Murphy helped place him in the Delegate's Office instead. The Archdiocese documents relating to Surrette's assignment do not show any consideration of the propriety of having a man accused of sexually abusing children significantly involved in finding suitable job placements for other alleged abusers. Further, there appears to have been no appreciation of the inherent conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety in having a priest under investigation by the Delegate working as Assistant to the Delegate.(p.39)
  • During Bishop Murphy's tenure as Vicar for Administration, the Archdiocese took some positive steps in handling child sexual abuse cases, such as operating for one year a supervised residence for abusive priests. Nonetheless, with only one exception, Bishop Murphy did not report to law enforcement any of the numerous allegations of clergy sexual abuse he reviewed nor did he ever advise the Cardinal to do so. And, even with undeniable information available to him on the risk of recidivism, Bishop Murphy continued to place a higher priority on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting children from sexual abuse. The problem was compounded because Bishop Murphy failed to recognize clergy sexual abuse of children as conduct deserving investigation and prosecution by public authorities. Instead, he viewed such crimes committed by priests as conduct deserving an internal pastoral response.(p.39)

The full report is available at