.- Members of Boston’s City Council are seeking to pass a measure which would bring the accountability of the Archdiocese of Boston, particularly in light of the priestly abuse scandal, before public vote in November--an act which New York’s Catholic League is calling a blatant violation of the separation of church and state. The campaign is being led by three council members in particular and if the motion is passed, voters on November 8th of next year will be asked if they “agree, to date, the Archdiocese of Boston has failed to work effectively with Boston’s neighborhoods to mitigate the impacts of Catholic parish and school closings on neighborhood services…”
It would also ask if citizens agree “that in the future the Archdiocese of Boston should be strongly urged to meet its institutional obligations to all of Boston’s citizens, to neighbors, and to the city’s agencies by cooperating before-the-fact, diligently and in good faith, for the difficult transitions?”
William Donahue, president of the Catholic League said yesterday that, “This is sheer, unadulterated demagoguery”, and that, “We will contact the other members of the city council to shoot down this preposterous measure.”
Councilmember Jerry McDermott, the main sponsor of the measure was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying that, ''We want to make sure that the message goes out loud and clear that the public wants to see better communications among city and state officials, and the Archdiocese of Boston…We understand the separation of church and state, but we think it needs to be made crystal clear how the voting public feels."
Donahue however, chided: “It is disingenuous and downright dishonest of Councilor McDermott to say, ‘We understand the separation of church and state, but we think it needs to be made crystal clear how the voting public feels.’ Then take a poll, Councilor McDermott.”
“No, the real purpose of this measure”, he continued, “is to intimidate the Archdiocese of Boston by having an arm of the state whip the public into a frenzy about matters they have no constitutional business sticking their noses into.”
Donahue also claimed that the proposal “smacks of bias” asking that if the purpose truly is accountability, then “why focus exclusively on the Catholic Church? Why not go for broke and get the Protestants, Jews and Muslims to answer to the public as well?”
Before it can be considered for the ballot, the nonbinding measure would need to pass the inspection of a public hearing and a council vote.