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Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 19:52 GMT
Scandal-hit cardinal returns to US
Cardinal Bernard Law
Court cases still await Cardinal Law
Cardinal Bernard Law has left Rome after Pope John Paul accepted his resignation as Archbishop of Boston.

Reports say he is on his way back to the United States, but it was not known if he would travel straight to Boston, which has been at the heart of a nationwide scandal of priests sexually abusing children.

The particular circumstances of this time suggest a quiet departure

Resignation statement
Cardinal Law has been accused of moving paedophile priests from parish to parish rather than tackle the problems of abuse in his community.

In a statement following his resignation, he begged forgiveness but opponents called for him to repent and for the Roman Catholic Church to institute widespread changes to protect children.

Criminal inquiry

Cardinal Law is scheduled to appear at legal proceedings early next week called by lawyers representing hundreds of people who say they were abused by priests while he was archbishop.


Cardinal Bernard Law
Bernard Law
  • Archbishop of Boston since 1984
  • Senior prelate in US
  • Considered a close ally of the Pope


  • There are also reports in Boston that he is to be called before a grand jury investigating possible criminal acts by church officials who supervised priests accused of sexually abusing children.

    The Attorney General of Massachusetts, Tom Reilly, has not confirmed that Cardinal Law will be a focus of the inquiry but he accused Church officials of endangering children by covering up abuse.

    Some individual clergymen have already been jailed for abuse, including defrocked priest John Geoghan who was transferred between parishes by Cardinal Law.

    "The Church, or the leadership of the Church - and this is a leadership problem, this is a management problem - felt it was more important to protect the Church than children," Mr Reilly said.

    The archdiocese is now facing possible bankruptcy with hundreds of lawsuits being filed against it.

    Cardinal Law remains a cardinal while the archdiocese is to be headed temporarily by Bishop Richard Lennon.

    In his statement, Cardinal Law said he hoped his resignation "may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed".

    Pope John Paul II
    Cardinal Law said he was grateful that the Pope allowed him to stand down
    He gave no indication of what he might do now, except to say: "The particular circumstances of this time suggest a quiet departure."

    There are also problems and accusations of priestly abuse in the Catholic Church elsewhere in the US and in other countries.

    But correspondents say the level of feeling and opposition to Cardinal Law in Boston made his position increasingly difficult.

    They say that may have contributed to the unusual event of the Pope apparently bowing to public opinion and accepting the resignation.

    The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

    Boston cardinal quits

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    13 Dec 02 | Americas
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