US cardinal at centre of abuse crisis dies

What happened?

Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as Archbishop of Boston when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, died last month at the age of 86.

Cardinal Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the funeral Mass at St Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis read the customary prayers. Cardinal Sodano said: “Each one of us can sometimes lack in fidelity to our mission”. Several abuse survivors criticised the ceremony.

What the Boston media said

Boston Globe reporter Mike Rezendes, who helped to expose the diocese’s failures, said: “When we published our first story revealing that [Cardinal Law] was at the centre of a cover-up of clergy sexual abuse it was like an atom bomb going off.” The cardinal’s death was “the end of a long, sad, tragic chapter in the annals in the contemporary Church”.

In the Boston Herald, Joe Fitzgerald said the cardinal’s character remained mysterious. “There’s no question priests were being protected and children weren’t, which, in every proven instance, was indefensible and despicable.” But what had motivated the cardinal’s actions? Fitzgerald quoted a priest saying there had been a “mindset” of dealing with problems internally, which dated from “a time when protecting the institution was necessary”.

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