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February 1, 2013

2 clergymen will receive Salem Award

SALEM — Two members of the clergy who fought against racism and child sex abuse will receive the 2013 Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, who warned Catholic Church hierarchy about the looming priest sex abuse scandal two decades before it became a worldwide crisis, will be honored along with Horace Seldon, a former United Church of Christ minister who devoted much of his life to fighting racism.

The award ceremony is Tuesday, March 26, in the Morse Auditorium at the Peabody Essex Museum.

In the 1980s, long before the scandal erupted in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Doyle warned U.S. Catholic bishops about clergy sex abuse.

“... He was a fast-rising church insider at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., when he discovered how church leadership covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests,” the Salem Award Committee stated in a press release.

“He came forward with little regard for his own position as a priest but with great concern for the victims of this abuse. His efforts led many Catholics to demand an explanation from their leadership along with an insistence on greater transparency in dealing with the issue.”

In 2007, Doyle, now 68, received the Red Badge of Courage Award from Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Seldon, 89, began his own crusade for justice following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. He founded Community Change Inc. of Boston, which took on racial issues through community activities.

For many years, he taught a course on racism at Boston College.

“For 52 semesters, he taught over 2,400 students the structural development of American racial attitudes and equipped them with tools to become agents of change,” the Salem Award Committee said.

Late in life, Seldon became a National Park Service ranger in Boston with a focus on the abolitionist movement.

Reservations for the Salem Award presentation are $10. Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are $60.

For more information and reservations, go to www.salemaward.org.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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