April 12, 2005

Cardinal Law's standing

Boston Globe

April 12, 2005

FOR MANY Catholics in the Boston area, Cardinal Bernard Law's return to public prominence was a regrettable aspect of the enormous publicity that surrounded Pope John Paul II's funeral. Even more upsetting is that Law will be among the 115 cardinals who will choose the next pontiff. But Law's presence will have some value if it reminds the conclave, which begins next Monday, that the new pope needs to ensure that Catholic bishops throughout the world do not make the same mistakes that destroyed Law's leadership of the Boston archdiocese.

In 1985, Law, who was then the archbishop of Boston, was warned of the dangers that the sexual abuse scandal posed to the church throughout the United States. Yet he acquiesced in an unspoken policy of silence and denial that discouraged action on complaints about pedophile priests. Only when the scandal broke with full force in 2002 did he appoint independent lay people to create policies that gave top priority to the protection of children.

Law lost enormous power when he resigned as archbishop late that year. Yet the pope rewarded him with a pleasant retirement sinecure: appointment as chief priest of the St. Mary Major Basilica, one of the greatest churches in Rome. Many American Catholics thought it would have been more appropriate to send Law to a remote missionary post. Pope John Paul, though he denounced sexual abuse by priests, never grasped the gravity of the scandal in the United States.

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2005 07:08 AM