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Ruth Moore and Stan Doherty, longstanding members of the group STTOP, outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Photo by: Sinéad Ní Fheallaigh

Demonstrations against unresolved clerical sex abuse scandal in Boston

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Ruth Moore and Stan Doherty, longstanding members of the group STTOP, outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Photo by: Sinéad Ní Fheallaigh

On Sunday, September 29, the annual Red Mass took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This Red Mass celebrates the official start of the new court year and custom lends that the mass is attended by judges, lawyers and court officials. In contrast, outside the Cathedral, protesters demonstrated against the unresolved clerical sex abuse scandal.

In early 2002, revelations of sexual abuse of children and the systematic cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston were first published in a scandal that rocked the church and shocked a nation. Since then, members of the protest group, Speak Truth to Power (STTOP), have stood outside the main Cathedral for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston every Sunday in a show of solidarity with abuse survivors as well as to seek full accountability and change from the Catholic Church.

Their weekly Sunday vigil is considered to be one of the oldest protests in the nation now nearing its 12th year. Irish American Stan Doherty, from Stoneham, is one such protester who makes the weekly pilgrimage to the South End of the city as he feels that someone needs to “bear witness” and that as a Catholic, he was taught that when confronted with injustice he must  “stand up to evil”. The group’s demonstrations are always peaceful with their message clear to all, through use of their powerful banners which include images of the victims at the age they were abused.

Initially, the group experienced extreme anger directed towards their protests by churchgoers. Over the years, as more information becomes public, Doherty, commented he has seen a “change in people’s reaction” with many now receptive to their presence and even telling them to “keep up the good work.”  All the protesters present outside the church vocalized their commitment to the group’s mission and expressed clearly that it will continue until the full truth is exposed and justice is served.

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