Disgraced former Boston Cardinal Law resigns

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, archpriest of St Mary Major, a prominent Roman basilica.

Nine years ago, after the clerical sex abuse scandal forced his resignation at Archbishop of Boston, John Paul II appointed Law as archpriest of one of Rome’s most important churches.

Cardinal Law, who turned 80 this month, like his predecessor, could have stayed on, however Pope Benedict decided to accept his resignation.

While in Rome, Law has been a frequent presence at major Vatican ceremonial and diplomatic events, including being the main celebrant at one of the major masses at the time of Pope John Paul II’s funeral.

His lifestyle galled many abuse victims who have long insisted that the Vatican crack down on bishops who would transfer abusive priests rather than report them to police.

The Vatican made no mention of Law when announcing the appointment of the new archpriest, Spanish Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello.

Advocates for sex abuse victims criticised the late Pope John Paul II for giving Law the prestigious post after his mishandling of clergy sex abuse in Boston, which broke open the abuse scandals that shook the Catholic Church in the U.S.

Law turned 80 earlier this month, and also lost his right to vote in any future papal election. His membership in several Vatican offices — including the body that advises Benedict on the selection of bishops has also expired.

Law has not announced where he will go next or what activities, if any, he will pursue.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston referred reporters to the Holy See.

Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that he had no knowledge of Law’s plans, which he said would be “entirely up to his discretion.”



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