April 12, 2005

Amid the mourning, some Vatican visitors begin to speculate


By Sandi Dolbee
April 12, 2005

ROME – The clouds are weeping this week. There are bursts of tears streaming from skies as gray as the massive columns framing St. Peter's Square.

The Vatican is in mourning. But there also is a sense of anticipation, as cardinals prepare to begin casting ballots next week for who will replace Pope John Paul II, who was buried Friday beneath St. Peter's Basilica. ...

The conclave begins Monday. And while the cardinal electors have embraced a vow of silence as far as media interviews are concerned, there are plenty of visitors more than willing to give their opinions about who might be the next pope.

Meanwhile, the mourning and the anticipation were interrupted by controversy yesterday as a U.S. group representing priest sexual-abuse victims protested a decision to have Cardinal Bernard Law preside over yesterday's Mass honoring the pope.

"We believe Cardinal Law's presence in leading the liturgy presents an image that only rubs salt in the wounds of American Catholics," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Law resigned in disgrace from the Boston archdiocese in 2002 because of his handling of priests who sexually abused minors – including quietly transferring many from parish to parish despite their actions. After his resignation, Law was called to the Vatican to serve as archpriest of St. Mary Major, one of the basilicas in Rome.

Blaine, accompanied by another SNAP member, stood in the rain with blue fliers yesterday afternoon calling for Law to step aside "and allow Catholics to grieve the loss of the Holy Father without the embarrassing, painful sight of Cardinal Law, the 'poster child' of complicit bishops."

A Vatican spokesman cautioned not to read too much into Law's role. Nine daily Masses are being held at St. Peter's to honor the pope, and yesterday's service was supposed to feature the major basilicas here, according to Archbishop John Foley. Since the two other archpriests of those basilicas already had roles in pope-related events, "the only archpriest left was Cardinal Law," Foley said.

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2005 07:19 AM