Posts Tagged cardinal bernard law

Cardinal Law’s complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse / National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Bernard Law’s scandalous cover-up and resignation led to a phenomenon that was not expected nor clearly obvious at the time, but it was real. (National Catholic Reporter)

Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984. It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church’s leadership that lasted well over a decade.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002. In one day Law became the face of hierarchical treachery and dishonesty when The Boston Globe revealed the systemic cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Boston priests, most of it his doing. He remained the face of the hierarchy’s disgraceful attitude towards the violation of minors and the vulnerable. Even in death he remains the focal point of the anger and rage of countless victims of sexual abuse by clergy — certainly Boston victims, but also others worldwide.

Law’s role in the history of clergy abuse is more than the systemic cover-up in Boston. What is little known is the influential part he played in the early days when the extent and depravity of this evil was first exposed. In those very early days in 1984 and 1985, I believed that when the bishops realized the nature of sexual abuse and potential plague before them, they would lose no time in doing the right thing.

By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Statement from Voice of the Faithful on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law

We pray for the family and friends of Cardinal Law, whose coverup of clergy sexual abuse was one of the greatest scandals of the Catholic Church. The child sex abuse and coverup, once revealed, pried open many other coverups and failures of the Catholic Church hierarchy. His passing also reminds us that so many of those damaged by the abuse and its coverup have yet to experience healing. We hope, particularly during this season of Advent, that we will see stronger support from the Church for that healing.

Here are notices published elsewhere regarding the death of Cardinal Law:

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In search of Cardinal Bernard Law / WGBH-FM

When Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, fled to the Vatican in 2002, he left behind a trail of human and financial wreckage: 550 victims abused by parish priests and court judgments that eventually topped $85 million. Meanwhile, Law was assigned a comfortable post in Rome, where he disappeared from the headlines.”

“Meanwhile, Law was assigned a comfortable post in Rome, where he disappeared from the headlines.

“Law led America’s fourth-largest archdiocese for 18 years. His reputation as a public figure peaked during Boston’s court-ordered school desegregation crisis, when the cardinal emerged as a steadying voice of sanity.

“However, as his role as the architect of the abuse cover-up emerged, first in the Boston Phoenix, then in the Boston Globe, Law was transformed into a pariah. With permission from Pope John Paul II, he resigned in 2002 ahead of the mandatory age of 75.  Law was subsequently appointed head of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the most significant basilicas in Rome. He retired from that post in 2011. Where is he now? What has he been doing since then?”

By Phillip Martin, WGBH-FM — Click here to read and hear the rest of this story.

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Vatican abuse tribunal has much work to do / The Boston Globe

Even for an institution that measures its history in centuries, not decades, the Vatican’s move toward sanctions against bishops who cover up for pedophile priests seems glacial.

“So when news arrived last week (June 15) that Pope Francis has approved the creation of a church tribunal to do just that, embracing the recommendations of a papal commission led by Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, you could imagine a Greek chorus of abuse victims responding: ‘It’s about time.’

“Had the tribunal been in place back in 2002, when the clergy sexual abuse crisis exploded in Boston and quickly spread around the globe, there is little doubt who would have been the first bishop hauled before the panel.

“That would be Bernard Francis Law, one of O’Malley’s predecessors who resigned in disgrace in late 2002 and continues to live in gilded retirement in Rome where he is regarded — if not quite a pariah — as an embarrassment, an archbishop whose silence, even after he knew kids were being assaulted, was beyond indefensible.”

By Thomas Farragher, Columnist, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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A Tale of Courage … And Voice

Book Review by Jim Post

Luke 17:2, by Michael Emerton and Patrick Emerton (Portsmouth, NH: Stone Cellar Publishing, 2013)

Michael Emerton’s account of clergy sexual abuse is a sad, but powerful story. Mike’s public relations skills were invaluable to Voice of the Faithful’s crusade for accountability in the Catholic Church. His story is shocking, surprising, and hopeful, all at the same time.

Luke 17:2 is the biblical passage that reminds us that “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck … than that he should offend one of these little ones.” The book is actually two stories: One is the story of a young man’s abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest; the other is the story of a survivor who wrestled with his demons and found an outlet in the crusade for accountability in the Archdiocese of Boston. Truth is a powerful weapon and Mike Emerton’s story explains how he faced the ugliness of sexual abuse head-on, and helped others voice that truth to the world.

It is an inspiring story, all the more so because I know Mike Emerton. I lived the VOTF (Voice of the Faithful®) story in 2002 as one of the co-founders. With friends, neighbors, and fellow Catholics, I too became part of the effort to hold Cardinal Bernard Law accountable for covering up the crimes of Rev. John Geoghan and shielding other predator priests. We could not have been successful without the efforts of Mike Emerton and hundreds of other Catholic men and women.

But it was a mismatch – we were David against the Catholic Goliath. Cardinal Law had the full resources of the archdiocese to draw upon; we had good intentions and a courageous voice. We lost the early skirmishes, but gained some positive press. We grew in numbers, but were still outgunned by the diocesan press machine. Then Mike Emerton arrived. It was a day we remember and for which we remain thankful.

The second half of Luke 17:2 describes some of the exciting skirmishes between VOTF members and the clerical hierarchy. Mike was at the center of those events, and he shares them in a colorful and readable manner. Mike Emerton is one of VOTF’s heroes – we simply would not have become the “voice” of the faithful without his skills and personal courage.

James E. Post is John F. Smith, Jr., Professor of Management at Boston University and a Voice of the Faithful® founder and its first president.

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2005 Cardinal Bernard Law In; 2013 Cardinal Keith O’Brien Out

Vatican Shifts Tone on Cardinals Linked to Sex Scandals

Before the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican circled the wagons around cardinals ensnared in sex abuse scandals. As the church prepares to pick Benedict’s successor, those embattled cardinals increasingly find themselves under the wagon wheels. In a wide-ranging news conference on Monday, the Vatican struck a markedly blase tone when asked about the decision by British Cardinal Keith O’Brien not to attend the conclave to elect the next pope. Hours earlier, the Vatican had accepted O’Brien’s immediate resignation over sexual harassment accusations. Whereas the Vatican made clear in 2005 that disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston was expected to report to the Sistine Chapel, on Monday it said it had nothing to do with O’Brien’s announcement.” By Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post

British Cardinal’s Resignation Underscores Challenge to Catholic Church’s Moral Authority

When Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled his plan to legalize same-sex marriage last year, Britain’s highest Roman Catholic cleric took to the national pulpit. Cardinal Keith O’Brien decried a “tyranny of tolerance,” calling gay marriage “grotesque” and saying no secular government had the moral authority to legalize such unions. On Monday, O’Brien, one of the church’s most strident voices against homosexuality, abruptly stepped down amid allegations of “intimate” acts with priests. His fall underscored perhaps the greatest challenge for the Roman Catholic hierarchy as it moves to elect a new pope: regaining its own moral authority.” By Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post

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Bishops Investigating U.S. Nuns Have Poor Records on Sex Abuse Cases / GlobalPost

Cardinals and bishops involved in the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) investigation have suffered no discipline for their blunders in their handling of clergy pedophiles, according to news reports and legal documents …” By Jason Berry in

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An AP Interview with Vatican Sex Abuse Prosecutor Msgr. Scicluna

“[Bishop-elect of Malta Charles] Scicluna acknowledged that the pope has yet to discipline any bishop for negligence in handling an abuse case. While Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in 2002 after the abuse scandal erupted in his Boston archdiocese, he wasn’t sanctioned and was in fact named archpriest of one of the Vatican’s pre-eminent Rome basilicas — a cushy promotion to his critics.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press 

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