Skip to comments.Cardinal Law Not Exactly Homeless
Posted on 06/02/2004 4:24:38 PM PDT by Arguss
May 28, 2004 Cardinal Law Given Post at Vatican By AL BAKER
ROME, May 27 - Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was forced to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after a long and painful sexual abuse scandal involving clergy members, was chosen by Pope John Paul II on Thursday to head a basilica in Rome.
A statement released in the Vatican's daily bulletin announced that Cardinal Law, who resigned in 2002, would become the archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a church in a downtown neighborhood of Rome that is under direct Vatican jurisdiction.
The statement said that Cardinal Law, 72, would succeed the 82-year-old Italian Cardinal Carlo Furno, but it did not say when. It made no mention of Cardinal Law's new responsibilities, but a Vatican official said that "now he will be responsible for one of the four most important basilicas" in Rome. "He will be in charge of the administration of the priests and anything related to the basilica," the official said of Cardinal Law. He added that the post "is not a position of power."
The appointment angered the cardinal's critics and others who see it as a reward.
David G. Clohessy, the national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a nonprofit support group based in Chicago, chided church leaders in Rome for what he called insensitivity to abuse victims.
"Why can't the Vatican officials see that any position of honor afforded to Law will inevitably and needlessly cause more pain to hundreds who have been abused and have already suffered enough?" Mr. Clohessy said. He added, "It just rubs salt into already deep wounds for parishioners, victims and their families."
Cardinal Law, who has been serving as chaplain at the Sisters of Mercy of Alma convent in Clinton, Md., could not be reached for comment.
It was at a meeting in the Vatican on Dec. 13, 2002, that Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Cardinal Law, then the senior American prelate in the Roman Catholic Church. The resignation came after nearly a year of revelations that the cardinal and archdiocesan officials that he supervised had repeatedly allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to remain in the ministry. The news of Cardinal Law's new position seemed to tear at emotional scars from those events.
"It's pretty offensive for most Catholics, and the timing couldn't be worse," said David Gibson, author of "The Coming Catholic Church" (Harper San Francisco, 2003). "They're just cleaning up the mess in Boston and closing parishes, and he's getting the ultimate golden parachute. He's getting a beautiful apartment in Rome in one of the four major basilicas in Christendom."
Despite his resignation in Boston, Cardinal Law has remained a powerful American figure in the Vatican. He has posts in as many as nine Vatican congregations, or departments, including the one that determines church leadership worldwide by nominating candidates for bishop. He is a member of the Congregation for Clergy, which has a role in handling sexual abuse cases that are sent to Rome. Now that Cardinal Law is an archpriest in Rome, it will clear the way for his successor in Boston, Archbishop Sean O'Malley, to be made a cardinal, Mr. Gibson said. Cardinals can vote in the conclave to choose the next pope.
The appointment could be financially lucrative for Cardinal Law. His predecessor in the job, Cardinal Furno, received a 10,000 euro monthly stipend, or about $12,000, said a former Vatican official who is a friendly acquaintance of Cardinal Furno. Cardinal Furno lived in a palatial apartment alongside the right flank of the basilica that is reserved for the archpriest, said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"It's the classical Roman apartment with frescoes on the wall," the former official said. Cardinal Furno paid for costly renovations, he said, adding, "It's endless."
The appointment is also likely to make Cardinal Law one of the most influential Americans in the Vatican. And the job will give him considerable autonomy. While at the Maryland convent, he was technically under the authority of the local bishop. Now, "he answers to no one but the pope," the former Vatican official said.
Laurie Goodstein and Daniel J. Wakin contributed reporting from New York.
By Tom Fox, NCR publisher
The U.S laity comprises 99.99 percent of the U.S. church, but has less influence than an old holy card in a Baltimore Catechism.
That was the seemingly intended message in Pope John Paul's appointment May 27 of Cardinal Bernard Law as archpriest of St. Mary Major basilica in Rome.
Law was the only prelate driven from his diocese by the collective outrage of its people in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandals. Law came to signify a clerical indifference to victims sufferings. Finally, civil authorities forced him to reveal archdiocesan documents, and the documents showed patterns of facilitation of abuse that made it untenable for Law to stay.
Law's departure was a measurable sign to the laity that at least one bishop was forced -- however reluctantly -- to take responsibility for the scandals.
One prelate was to be held accountable ... but not fully.
While Law left Boston in disgrace after the pope reluctantly accepted his resignation in December 2002, Law kept his powerful positions inside the Vatican. He was never asked to cede power or prestige. He has held nine Vatican offices including, incredibly, one that helps pick bishops and another that guides the handling of clergy abuse case.
Now the former Boston prelate has received a new honor. The New York Times reports that with the appointment comes a $12,000 monthly stipend and a palatial apartment next to the basilica. (NCRs Rome Bureau Chief, John Allen, reports that the Mary Major stipend might be might lower, perhaps less than half that amount. This story is still developing.)
More salt in lay wounds.
Was this Pope John Pauls personal decision? It is difficult to believe it could happen without his awareness.
If it was his decision, then one is reluctantly led to think that the pope still does not get it, that somehow he still does not share the enormous pain of victims and their families and he still does not understand the outrage and hurt of the wider communities of U.S. Catholics.
Or possibly worse he gets it and dismisses it in order to make a larger point. Is the intended message here that he, alone, runs the church?
It was not supposed to be this way.
Four decades ago, the worlds bishops gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council. Responding to galloping advances in the education of the laity and acknowledging the rising call worldwide for participatory government, the bishops at the council began edging Catholicism ever so gently away from monarchal authoritarianism, an antiquated church governance model.
The council fathers meanwhile introduced two ideas that also had roots in early church history: collegiality and subsidiarity. The former meant bishops would share decisions; the latter that those decisions would be made as locally as possible.
The bishops called for the opening of the The Age of the Laity.
Those advances never really happened. While the councils progressive voices had carried the day advocating the advances during three years of council deliberations, conservatives reasserted control in the years that followed. Soon more traditional notions of governance took hold once more. Central to these was the clear distinction between clergy and laity.
Was it simply the fear of some bishops of losing perks and power?
From the lay point of view -- those who make up 99.99 percent of the church -- the reasons mattered less than the results of the decisions upon their lives. Laity was to be marginalized once again.
From a womens perspective, the lay marginalization was a double-edged sword. The new reassertion of clerical control involved theology that relegated women permanently to second class, or more properly third class, citizenship. Women were to be marginalized by classification and gender.
In dioceses where clergy and lay collaboration had been encouraged, bishops were replaced with hard liners. Where parish councils had become collaborative governing instruments, priests were forced to change procedures. Where women religious had come to work in harmony with clergy, the teams were forced to shut down. Where lay men and women had come to share the Word and life experiences in reflections during Mass, the practices were stopped. Where seminaries had welcomed lay women and men as teachers and counselors, they were told to leave.
The distinction between clergy and lay person, between decision-maker and decision-receiver has become the crown once again in a dysfunctional church governance ideology that has nothing to do with the basics of Catholic dogma. It is an ideology that is being enforced at all costs -- even at the price of healthy Christian community.
The Law appointment to the Mary Major basilica is the latest assertion of this unhealthy fixation. It calls for all to forget lay wishes, feelings, beliefs, and hurts. It grows out of an apparent need by the pope to make a point: It is he, not the laity, who has the final say.
Pope John Pauls statement, however, comes with a large price tag. It reveals a sad disconnection between the pope and U.S. Catholics. Despite a quarter century of shared faith life, it casts the pope an impenetrable figure.
Clerical sexual abuse has already become a dark shadow on Pope John Pauls legacy. The shadow has grown longer.
Apparently the Pope feels that no dereliction of duty should go unrewarded.
The apppointment is a disgrace. Unfortunately this particular article revolves around a totally bogus understanding of the teacing of Vat II and the Church.
Is this really a good post for Law, or is it to keep him out of the way in a place where he can do no harm and the Vatican can keep an eye on him? How much responsibility does he actually have? I don't know much about St. Mary Major Basilica, as I am a new RC.
The appointment of the Criminal "card" Law leaves no doubt of the Complicity of the present Pope JPII in the holocaust of the Catholic Children by the homosexual priests.
Law should have been out in a more sequestered environment and less obvious which would be worthy of his work in the Church. That place is an American Prison.
This might be the final blow to the Catholic Church administered by the pope himself, Disgusting and Disgraceful.
The title of archpriest of Roman basilicas is usually assigned to retired cardinals, entails administrative functions in a basilica and the presidency in liturgical celebrations.
Usually it's just 'busy work' but according to the NYT it sounds like a cushy job, and he appears to have a certain amount of added responsibility.
The Gay/Pedophile mob within the church have a strangle hold on the church here in the USA and overseas too.
Pope John Paul II and the rest of the enabler sinners can and will rot in Hell in their next lives.
The Catholic Church just doesn't have any credibility left in it's rusty bowels now.
I agree with the Pope that Cardinal Law should not be homeless, especially at his age. But did he not take a vow of poverty that seems to prohibit him from living in a palatial apartment? And we should not forget that Cardinal Law administered and presided over a sodomizing rape ring under the guise of a legitimate religious institution. May I recommend a home for him at a maximum security prison in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?
He wouldn't be homeless-he'd be well fed-he would have medical attention. Sounds like the perfect and proper solution.