BOSTON, December 19, 2017 — Former Boston Archbishop Bernard Law died in Rome on Tuesday. Cardinal Law resigned his post as archbishop in 2002 following the investigation into the abuse of children in Boston archdiocese.
Following his resignation, Pope John Paul II appointed Bernard Law as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004. He retired from the position in 2011. Much of Law’s time in Catholic church has been plagued by scandal. When Law resigned in 2002, he was the country’s senior cardinal. When he began his time as head of diocese, he was praised for his strong stand against legalized abortion and his travels throughout the world.
Once the news of the sex abuse scandal, Law’s legacy crumbled. The Boston Globe originally broke this massive story and revealed that church records showed that Law and other officials transferred priests from parish to parish despite records of abuse. It was later revealed that hundreds of priests all over the country may have abused thousands of young children over the last 40 years. One of the priests Law oversaw, Rev. John Geoghan faced allegations of having raped or molested 130 children.
Bernard Law issued an apology following the revelations and then later in a interview with USA Today in 2002 said he was not aware of the extent of the crisis. Law faced potential criminal charges in the U.S. but was called to Rome for an assignment.
After the story broke, Law met with victims and families issuing an apology and saying “I think it lies in the human heart to want unity and peace,” he says, “but other things get in the way.” Some victims forgave Law but others did not buy what Law was saying.
The survivors network for those abused by priests released a statement in response to Law’s death saying: “No words can convey the pain these survivors and their loved ones suffered. … Our only hope is that the Vatican keeps these survivors in mind when it comes time for the cardinal’s funeral.” The American catholic church has paid more than $3 billion in settlements to victims.
If you enjoy our reporting, consider becoming a patron and help us grow our writing and reporting