April 08, 2005

Cardinal given post of honor

L.A. Daily News

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

ROME -- Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign in disgrace as archbishop of Boston two years ago for protecting sexually abusive priests, was named by the Vatican on Thursday as one of nine prelates who will have the honor of presiding over funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II.

To many American Catholics, Law is best known as the archbishop who presided over the Boston archdiocese as it became the focus for the sexual-abuse scandal involving priests.

But to Vatican officials, Law is a powerful kingmaker who traveled internationally for the church and whose favorite priests were regularly appointed bishops by John Paul II. After he stepped down in Boston in 2003, he was given a spacious apartment and a prestigious although honorary post in Rome as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

It is by virtue of this position that he was given the high-profile role of celebrating Monday's funeral ritual, the third in the nine-day mourning period that follows a pope's death. It is expected that most of the cardinals will attend the Mass, which will be open to the public. Law will deliver a homily that many Vatican watchers will parse for clues about the cardinals' thinking on who should be the next pope.

Posted by kshaw at April 8, 2005 04:33 AM