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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
New leader for Boston Church
Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley
Bishop O'Malley is known as a humble and approachable man
The American bishop who helped two dioceses through child sex abuse scandals is expected to be named the new Archbishop of Boston.

Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, the Roman Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, is reported to be Pope John Paul's choice to succeed the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law.

Law resigned in December amid accusations that he covered up paedophilia by Roman Catholic priests in his diocese.

Reporter John Allen Jr, of the National Catholic Reporter, told BBC News Online his information on the new appointment from Vatican sources was almost 100% solid.

He said an official announcement could be made on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Bishop O'Malley, who turned 59 on Sunday, has cleaned up scandals in two dioceses - in Fall River, Massachusetts, which was rocked a decade ago when the Reverend James Porter pleaded guilty to molesting 28 children, and most recently, in Palm Beach, Florida.

He was appointed bishop there last year and worked where two previous bishops were implicated in sex abuse scandals.

Solid choice

Mr Allen said Bishop O'Malley would be a popular choice.

"He is a relatively humble, open and approachable guy and therefore different to Cardinal Law who was considered aloof and autocratic," he said.

"And he has a reputation for being solid on the question of sex abuse."

Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Law has faced a grand jury
In Fall River, Bishop O'Malley helped establish a system that included referring victims to social workers unaffiliated with the Church and conducting background checks, including a criminal records check.

Any priest, seminarian, employee or volunteer whose position involves access to children must take part in an abuse prevention workshop and complete a detailed questionnaire about his or her past.

When he was appointed to the Palm Beach job last September, he said he planned to implement similar policies.

At the time he said: "The whole Church feels the pain of this scandal and is anxious to try to bring some healing and reconciliation to our families and communities that have been so shaken by these sad events and by the mishandling of these situations on the part of the Church.

"I see there are great needs here and I will do my best to meet those needs."

In February, Cardinal Law began testifying before a grand jury investigating whether charges should be filed against him or other Church members for their handling of sexual abuse cases.

Vatican bows to public opinion
13 Dec 02  |  Americas

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