‘I Hope the Gates of Hell Are Open Wide': Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors Speak Out on Cardinal Law's Death

Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic Church priests are reacting to the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who was disgraced when an investigation into his failure to stop abuse was published.

In a press conference late Wednesday morning, Alexa MacPherson, who said she was a victim of clergy sex abuse for years as a small child, said Law's death does nothing for her to heal.

"With his passing, I hope the gates of hell are open wide," she said.

Mitch Garabedian, an attorney who has represented dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests, said Law's death in Rome has reopened old wounds, leaving survivors feeling they have been cheated of justice.

"Many victims and survivors can deal with, to a degree, the pedophile priests sexually molesting children, but they have greater difficulty trying to rationalize or understand why a person would allow all that to happen such as Bernard Cardinal Law," he said.

Garabedian also believes Pope Francis should do more for survivors, as well children currently in the congregation. While changes have been made in the past, he said young members of the church should receive education to recognize inappropriate behavior.

"It is a stain and a crack in the foundation of the Vatican," said victim Robert Costello.

Calling the cardinal "cruel," Costello, 56, said Law's death doesn't bring anyone closure. While he reached a settlement over his case, he has never felt satisfied with the church's response.

In 2004, following his resignation as the archbishop of Boston, Law was appointed as the archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major and served on Vatican policy-making committees.

"Instead of protecting the children of the Archdiocese, he decided to protect a bunch of child molesting priests," said victim Phil Saviano.

For years, Saviano has been advocating for church reforms that include Garabedian's recommendations, but also policy changes.

"Get behind some of these efforts to change laws in some of these states around the country," Saviano said. "Particularly the statute of limitation laws."

If Law would not have to face consequences, many of the victims had hoped the church would do so on a national and international level. However, thus far, they do not feel that has happened.

"They have not done enough to protect children," said MacPherson. "They have not done enough to help survivors heal."

Law died early Wednesday morning in Rome. He was 86.

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