Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Just coincidence

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 28, 2003

On November 4, 2001, the Boston Globe was billing and cooing about the Archdiocese of Boston's makeover of its annulment court:

The pew-like benches in the once-austere marble lobby have been replaced with brocaded furniture, along with oversized art books, the strains of classical music, and a bowl of peppermints. The hearing room, in which five priest-lawyers used to stare down at the Catholic who dared to seek an annulment, has been reconstructed so that each petitioner now sits on a white sofa in a room with flowers and an imitation Rothko painting.

The imitation Rothko is a nice touch. The decorator himself stresses the pastoral dimension:

"This is the church's pastoral response to the reality of divorce," said the Rev. Michael Smith Foster, the presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Boston, who oversees the handling of 700 annulment cases each year. "We want to make this as painless as possible. People need healing, and this hopefully is healing for people."

How sweet. Pastoral theology fans will remember that one Paul Edwards accused Foster of molesting him in Foster's rectory bedroom at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton. Edward's behavioral problems made him vulnerable to counter-attack, and the complaint was dropped amid great fanfare. According to a report in the Boston Herald earlier this month (August 2):

After a concerted campaign by Foster backers to discredit Edwards, much of which was trumpeted in the Boston Globe, Edwards withdrew his lawsuit "with prejudice," meaning he has to abandon any claims against the church. ... Victims' rights advocates took up Edwards' cause after reviewing the church's investigative file on Foster -- which included a harsh evaluation of Edwards by a priest-psychiatrist who never met with him, and Foster's admission that Edwards had been in his rectory bedroom against church policy.

Lawyer Rod MacLeish, who it seems has a deficient appreciation of Rothko, or peppermints, has put himself in Edward's corner:

In choosing to represent Paul R. Edwards of Winchendon, attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. of Greenberg Traurig said, "I have looked at all his records, his polygraph exam, at every allegation against him, and I believe Paul Edwards."

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