Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Interview with Rodney Ford, Roderick MacLeish Jr.

Aired April 25, 2002 - 07:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The "Big Question" this hour, have the cardinals done enough? Well, in Rome U.S. cardinals and bishops vowed there will be no more cover-ups of sexual abuse. They were unanimous in their condemnation of what they called notorious abusers, but divided on the question of zero tolerance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THEODORE MCCARRICK, CARDINAL, ARCHDIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: I can't see anyone with the responsibility of the church, ever trying to cover up anything. I think holy father is calling us now to be people of light, and that's what we have to start to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: But to Rodney Ford, it just sounds a whole lot like damage control. His son Greg says he was the victim of a suspected serial abuser, Boston priest Father Paul Shanley. Ford, who was on our show earlier this month, talked about his son's experience at a news conference recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RODNEY FORD, FATHER OF VICTIM: That's my son at six years old. Look how happy he was. Shanley took his innocence. How would you feel? How do the people feel that still support Cardinal Law? Look at him. That could be your child, but it happens to be mine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And joining us now from Boston is Rodney Ford, and the family's attorney, Roderick MacLeish Jr. Welcome back, gentlemen, good to have you with us.

RODERICK MACLEISH JR., PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: Good morning.

FORD: Thank you.

ZAHN: Mr. Ford, I know that you watched the news conference held by the cardinals yesterday in your attorney's office. As a result of what you heard, do you think children in the Catholic Church will be any safer than today than they were before these meetings were convened? FORD: No, I didn't hear any reference at all towards any of the children and the past victims, and it's quite disturbing, honestly. I think a lot of the people this morning are trying to understand exactly what did take place in Rome. I don't mean this to be sarcastic in any way, but a lot of church people said that this was a wakeup call. I kind of feel that they hit the snooze button on this, and went back to sleep. Some of statements that came out of Rome were deplorable, especially from the Cardinal from Chicago stating that -- comparing Geoghan to priests that would have alcohol drinks, and then engage in sex with a woman at 16 years old. If I was a woman today, I would be outraged. As far as Cardinal Law being at any of these meetings, and having his input, is quite disturbing to me and my family. It was his decision making here in Boston that ultimately led to my son being raped, and other kids around the area.

ZAHN: And he was nowhere to the seen during yesterday's news conference. In fact, one of the cardinals said Look, I don't know where he is, I'm not in charge of his schedule. What did that suggest to you?

FORD: It suggests to me that no one is being honest with anyone here, and I think it is a disgrace that he can't even address the public. At some point in time, he is going to have to address the public, and it is going to be a shameful time when he does, let me tell you that.

ZAHN: Mr. Ford, there was a distinction made by these cardinals between priests preying on adolescents versus preying on young children, and they seemed to make the point that the majority of the cases involving priests hurting people involved adolescents and not children. What did you think when you heard that?

FORD: What's the distinction? I mean, to hurt a child, regardless of the age, there's no difference. Once you abuse a child, they never fully heal, and their lives are ultimately destroyed by this. To say that it's almost all right to abuse at child at 14 or 15, as opposed to my son that was 6 years old, is absolutely ludicrous.

ZAHN: You're also probably aware that the cardinals have drafted a letter that could potentially be sent to priests, basically expressing their sympathy for what they think these priests are up against. Was that insulting to you that there was no mention of the victims in this drafted letter?

FORD: It's very insulting. I mean, how many of the victims last night were able to sleep knowing Rome really didn't accomplish much towards settling any of the cases with the victims, or reaching out with an apology. You know, the pope said he was concerned, and wanted solidarity. Is he speaking to a union, or is he speaking to the families in this country? It's really hard to comprehend what's going on over there.

ZAHN: Mr. MacLeish, from a legal point of view, did you hear anything that would change any of the status of the cases that you might be involved in? MACLEISH: No, I didn't. What I heard was is that they're not going to adopt a policy that would say, One strike and you're out. They didn't say, across the board, that there would be a policy reporting all of this to civil authorities. There's so much they didn't address. They didn't address the systemic -- the root causes that have caused this to occur in the Catholic Church.

You know, there were a lot of people there who were personally responsible, like Cardinal Egan and Cardinal Law for what is occurred, yet the focus wasn't on that. The bishops and the cardinals need to look themselves in the mirror. The images that they see are part of the problem, and until they recognize that, nothing can be accomplished.

ZAHN: And you talk about the root causes. Mr. Ford, I'm just curious, when you heard there seemed to be great debate over whether it is, in fact, celibacy the cause of this, or some of the conflict over homosexuality in the church, priests serving who are homosexuals.

FORD: I don't think one really has one to do with the other issues. Not the same at all. A pedophile is someone that is a sick person. There are a lot of good gay people out there, this isn't a gay topic at all that we are talking about. And for them to try to compare this, they're not addressing the issue.

MACLEISH: The other thing, if I could just mention, Paula, is that there is no clinical study that in any way suggests a relationship between sexual orientation and the ability or desire to engage in deviant behavior towards children. The literature is to the opposite. These people are molesters first. Their sexual orientation is something that is purely secondary. It almost appeared that they were blaming this on gays yesterday, and I just found that to be a complete side step, insulting and not supported by any of the clinical literature.

ZAHN: Mr. Ford, a final word this morning about what it is like to find yourself in a situation your family finds itself in. You are Catholics, and yet your trust has been so destroyed by the very church that you worshiped in.

FORD: We ultimately searched for years for an answer of what happened to my son. It took us 18 years to finally come up with an answer, and the answer lied within the church. A priest abused and molested my son at 6 years old. It's very hard to comprehend this. And now to get to the truth, every time that we need a question answered, we have to turn to the courts. When are they going to finally reach out to the victims? It's very unsettling to me and my family, and it's a toll. It is a very, very hard toll on us.

MACLEISH: And we are going to be writing to Bishop Gregory today asking for Mr. Ford and many of the other victims that I represent around the country, to be at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in July, constructively with suggestions on how to deal with this issue, and how to make this a better, safer church for children and families. ZAHN: Well, gentlemen, we appreciate both of you joining us this morning. Roderick MacLeish Jr., Rodney Ford. Again, thank you for sharing your family story with us this morning.

FORD: Thank you.

MACLEISH: Thank you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com





 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top