New moderator and legal team announced

Acting in the early hours of his first full day as Archbishop of Boston, Archbishop Seán O’Malley ended speculation about the future of Bishop Richard Lennon and replaced the legal team representing the archdiocese in clergy sexual abuse lawsuits.

On July 31, Archbishop O’Malley named Bishop Lennon, who led the archdiocese as apostolic administrator since the December resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, a vicar general and Moderator of the Curia.

Bishop Lennon will assume the position of Moderator of the Curia on Aug. 11. Bishop Walter Edyvean, the current Moderator of the Curia, will become regional bishop of the West Region of the archdiocese on Sept. 1.

The title “vicar general” reflects Bishop Lennon’s position as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. All auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese are vicars general. According to Canon Law, the vicar general “takes the place” of the archbishop in all matters, if the archbishop is prevented from carrying out his duties because of age, illness or another reason. The archbishop can also enlist the vicar general’s assistance on a more regular basis and habitually commit some of his responsibilities to him. A vicar general can loose his office by death—his own or the archbishop’s — or if the archbishop is transferred to another diocese.

The Moderator of the Curia is second to the archbishop and, according to Canon 473 of The Code of Canon Law of 1983, oversees the central administration of the archdiocese. He reports, usually on a daily basis, to the archbishop, and supervises the daily coordination of the work of offices and institutions so that they will be more effective in carrying out the archbishop’s wishes and direction, and in serving the parishes and people of the archdiocese.

In a separate announcement released simultaneously, Archbishop O’Malley appointed Attorney Thomas Hannigan, of Ropes and Gray LLP, as lead counsel for the archdiocese in legal matters dealing with the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. Attorney Hannigan helped Archbishop O’Malley, when he was Bishop of Fall River, settle abuse cases concerning former priest James Porter.

The Rogers Law Firm, which has handled the legal affairs of the archdiocese for more than 20 years, will continue to handle all other legal matters for the archdiocese.

"It is my hope that Attorney Hannigan's expertise in facilitating settlements in matters such as this will move the process towards a just and timely resolution," said the new archbishop in a statement released by the archdiocese.

A previous Pilot article contributed to this story