"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Wednesday, December 04, 2002 Sack cloth & ashes? They'll be lucky not to be fitted for handcuffs.
Just the statue for the front of the Boston chancery
Reassigning and enabling predators and perverts, Lake Street has made Typhoid Mary the patroness of the Boston Archdiocese. The Prisoner of Love? The Blow-King of Malden? Today's stomach-turning accounts represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Desperate to contain the burgeoning scandal in the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Boston for years dealt in secret with allegations that a priest had terrorized and beaten his housekeeper, another had traded cocaine for sex, and a third had enticed young girls by claiming to be ''the second coming of Christ,'' newly released church records show.
In some cases, church officials - including Cardinal Bernard F. Law - reacted to the explosive charges by quietly transferring rogue priests to other parishes and treating them with a gentleness and sensitivity apparently unshaken by the heinous allegations against them.
The other priest, Robert V. Meffan, was removed in 1996 after numerous credible allegations arose that he sexually molested several teenage girls whom he had encouraged to become nuns.
Meffan, who at one point in his career, according to the files, said he was ``going to be the Christ of the Second Coming,'' and wrote a rambling farewell to Law calling himself a ``Prisoner of Love.''
Law wrote back him: ``Your written reflection (is) a beautiful testament to the depth of your faith. . . . It is important that all of us be reminded of the pain endured by those who have been accused.''
More from the Globe on the priestly "Prisoner of Love" who "initiated sexual acts with teenagers preparing to become nuns by encouraging them to believe they were making love to Jesus Christ himself":
Last night, the Rev. Robert V. Meffan admitted it was true, and said he still believes his sexual relationships with teenage girls were ''beautiful, spiritual'' experiences intended to bring young people closer to God.
''What I was trying to show them is that Christ is human and you should love him as a human being,'' said Meffan, 73, reached by phone at his Carver home. ''Don't think he's up there and he's spiritual and he's not human and physical. He's human, he's physical. That's what I was trying to point out to them. I felt that by having this little bit of intimacy with them that this is what it would be like with Christ.''
But Meffan said he put limits on the physical nature of the relationships. He touched the girls' breasts, for example, but stopped short of intercourse to protect his celibacy vow. ''I don't think that was destroyed,'' Meffan said, ''because I always felt that to destroy celibacy you really had to have intercourse.''
In a Dec. 7, 1984, letter, Bishop Daniel A. Hart informed Cardinal Bernard F. Law that Meffan had said he ''has a `mission' confided to him by God which he is bound to keep secret ... This `mission' makes it impossible for him to accept any regular assignment from you.''
Hart's letter prompted Bishop John M. D'Arcy to write to Law on Jan. 24, 1985, declaring that Meffan, who was unassigned at the time, was not ''balanced'' and ''could really harm us.''
Still, Law reassigned Meffan to St. Thecla Parish in Pembroke in December 1985, where he remained until Law placed him on leave in July 1993.
In June 1996, Meffan was granted ''senior priest/retirement status'' but with restrictions on his role as a priest. The following month, Meffan sent Law an essay in which he lamented his removal from public ministry, calling himself ''a prisoner of love in a cell of allegations.''
In a reply letter, Law called Meffan's essay ''a beautiful testament to the depth of your faith and the courage of your heart .... You have touched me deeply, Bob.''