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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 22:49 GMT
Boston cardinal bids farewell
Pope John Paul II with Cardinal Law
The Pope has accepted Law's resignation
The former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, has spoken in public for the first time since his resignation three days ago.

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

  • He apologised once again for his mishandling of a sex abuse scandal which engulfed his archdiocese in crisis.

    He also gave details about his immediate plans for the future.

    The BBC's Emma Simpson says it was a brief statement from the man who ascended from small-time parishes to one of the most influential posts in all of American Catholicism.

    "To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and my mistakes I once again apologise and from them beg forgiveness," said Cardinal Law.

    He said changes had now been made to ensure the safety of children within the archdiocese, changes that he had hoped to implement, but it had become clear to him that the most effective way to serve the church was to resign.

    Cardinal Law said his personal plans were not fully developed, but that he hoped to take a brief vacation after Christmas with friends and would then go on retreat to a monastery.

    He added that he planned to take up residence outside the archdiocese, but would continue with his responsibilities as cardinal.

    He plans to remain involved in aiding the Boston Church dioceses' legal battles, as they face a financial crisis over compensation to abuse victims which could amount to tens of millions of dollars.

    Bishop Richard Lennon
    Bishop Richard Lennon will run the Boston diocese temporarily
    The Boston diocese faces some 450 lawsuits alleging child abuse and is considering filing for bankruptcy.

    On Monday, the Vatican approved a revised plan to combat child sex abuse in the scandal-tainted US Roman Catholic Church.

    The guidelines, worked out after lengthy discussions between the Vatican and US Catholic bishops, provide for the punishment and dismissal of priests found guilty of child sex abuse.

    Under the new rules, priests are to be removed from the ministry if they are found guilty of "even one act of sexual abuse of a minor".

    But a commitment to reporting all allegations of sex abuse to the police - contained in the earlier US bishops' plan - was dropped.

    Temporary replacement

    Cardinal Law had faced repeated calls to step down from some of his own priests over the child sex abuse scandal.

    Critics had accused the cardinal of moving priests from one pulpit to another rather than confronting the problem.

    The Pope accepted the cardinal's resignation on Friday morning after a short meeting in the Vatican.

    He had offered it once before, in April, but the Pope refused it then.

    The Vatican said Bishop Richard Lennon, who is an auxiliary bishop in Boston, would run the Boston diocese temporarily.

    Abuse allegations

    The Boston diocese has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by dozens of priests over several decades.

    Documents released by the Church contain accusations that a priest molested a 17-year-old on 21 consecutive nights as they drove across the country.

    Others allege that Cardinal Law recommended one of his priests for a job as military chaplain - saying there was no reason he should not work with young people - after the church paid $200,000 to the family of a youth allegedly abused by the priest.

    There were also claims that priests had fathered children, traded cocaine for sex with boys, and abused girls training to become nuns.

    The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

    Boston cardinal quits

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    See also:

    16 Dec 02 | Americas
    15 Dec 02 | Americas
    14 Dec 02 | Americas
    04 Dec 02 | Americas
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