Skip to comments.Breaking News: Cardinal Law Resigns Vatican Says
Posted on 12/13/2002 4:46:57 AM PST by NewHampshireDuo
VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Bernard Law, under intense fire in the sex abuse scandal, resigned Friday as Boston archbishop, the Vatican announced.
The Vatican said Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation after the two men talked Friday morning. The pope named Bishop Richard Lennon, an auxiliary bishop in Boston, to run the diocese temporarily.
"I am profoundly grateful to the Holy Father for having accepted my resignation as archbishop of Boston," Law said in a written statement released by the Vatican. "It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed.
"To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes, I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness."
Law is the highest ranking church figure brought down by the scandal. In April, Law offered to resign in a meeting with the pope, but the pontiff rejected the idea.
However, abuse victims, lay members and even some priests had intensified calls for Law to resign after 18 years at the helm of the Boston archdiocese, as more cases of sordid conduct by priests unfolded from the release of Church files.
Law had been at the Vatican all week, but largely kept out of the public eye. The cardinal slipped quietly away from Boston to begin a round of meetings with top officials at the Vatican over his and his archdiocese's fate.
Law has been accused of having shuffled from parish to parish priests who were accused, often repeatedly, of sexually abusing minors. Recent days have been marked by some of the most shocking revelations in the year-old scandal in Boston, with the release of thousands of pages of the archdiocese's personnel files.
Victims have accused Law of being more mindful of his personal reputation than honestly dealing with the scandal, and dozens of priests under his command demanded he step down.
The Boston archdiocese is also facing enormous payments in settlements with sex abuse victims, and the Vatican may decide whether it should declare bankruptcy to protect itself from creditors.
Lennon, Law's temporary replacement, offered prayers for the victims of sex abuse and pledged Friday "to work towards healing as a church and furthering the mission of Jesus Christ within our community.
"I am thankful for the good works that his Eminence Cardinal Law accomplished in his service to us as archbishop and for the friendship that I have enjoyed with him," Lennon said in a statement. "I ask for prayers for him as he continues his life in service to the church."
There have been several other resignations in the scandal, including an archbishop in the pope's native Poland, but they were directly accused of sex abuse. A decade ago, an archbishop from Newfoundland accused of covering up a sex abuse scandal was forced to resign.
Also Friday, the pope appointed a new bishop for Lexington, Ky., a post vacant since the previous bishop resigned in June following accusations of sex abuse. The new bishop is Monsignor Ronald William Gainer, 55, an official in the diocese of Allentown, Pa.
Whenever a bishop offers to step down, for age, illness or other problems, it is up to the pope to accept the offer or to ask the churchman to stay on, as the pontiff did back in April when Law journeyed to Rome to seek out John Paul's guidance.
After Law, now 71, returned in the spring from his meeting with the pontiff, he said he was "encouraged" in his efforts to provide "the strongest possible leadership" in ensuring no child was ever abused again by a priest in his archdiocese.
But in the eight months since, the scandal worsened, with some of the most shocking revelations coming in recent days.
In recent years, sex abuse scandals have engulfed dioceses across the United States and in Ireland, France and the pope's native Poland.
But Boston has been at the epicenter of the scandals rocking the Church, because of the archdiocese's centuries-old prestige and Law's insistence that he stay at the helm.
Last month, Law, in an apology delivered during Mass in Boston's Cathedral, acknowledged his responsibility for decisions that "led to intense suffering."
Now the resignation must be followed by punishment for all the harm he's done. (But I expect the Vatican will reward him with a cozy office job somewhere in Rome.)