April 17, 2005

Waiting for a signal from Rome


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sometime this week, a new pope should be elected. On Monday, 115 cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and begin the election process. The conclave is expected to last a few days. When a pope has been chosen, white smoke will emerge from the chimney atop the building, bells will toll and the world will wait to see who steps out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square. Expectations are high.

That may account for the strong reaction to Cardinal Bernard Law's high-profile role in a Mass last week. Law was the celebrant at one of the official Masses of mourning for Pope John Paul II held in St. Peter's Basilica.

The former archbishop of Boston resigned in 2002 after he became a galvanizing figure in the priest sex abuse scandal that rocked the U.S. Catholic Church.

The Boston archdiocese during Law's tenure knowingly reassigned pedophile priests, doing nothing to protect parishioners from predators. Boston was but the tip of the iceberg as diocese after diocese was revealed to have similar problems. Yet no one church figure was viewed as responsible for the scandal as was Law. His resignation was widely cheered. His later appointment as archpriest of one of Rome's four basilicas was not.

Law ended up with a very cushy church position in Rome. As archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Law was entitled to the honor of saying one of the official Masses of mourning for the pope. But as the disgraced archbishop of Boston, he should have refused the honor. His presence only brought pain to the victims of sexual abuse, many of whom live in New Jersey.

Posted by kshaw at April 17, 2005 08:39 AM