Who Is Bernard Law? Cardinal Who Covered Up Clergy's Sex Abuse Dies

  • Who Is Bernard Law? Cardinal Who Covered Up Clergy's Sex Abuse Dies

Who Is Bernard Law? Cardinal Who Covered Up Clergy's Sex Abuse Dies

VATICAN CITY-Cardinal Bernard Law, a leading figure of the Catholic Church in the USA until he fell from grace for mishandling instances of clerical sex abuse, has died.

Law, whose tenure as head of the Archdiocese of Boston ended after it was revealed he failed to remove sexually abusive priests from the ministry, died Tuesday in Rome after a long illness, according to many media outlets including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, ABC, the BBC, CNN and others.

He was reassigned to serve as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, where he died.

In the notorious case that started the 2002 crisis, as recounted in the film Spotlight, the Globe reported that Law and two of his predecessors as Boston archbishop had transferred former priest John Geoghan among parish assignments despite knowing he molested children.

Law was once one of the most important leaders in the United States church, helping to set priorities for the nation's bishops, and was favoured by Pope John Paul II.

In the aftermath of Law's 2002 resignation because of the child molestation scandal that rocked the Catholic church, MS leaders struggled to come to terms with the two realities. One priest, Rev. John Geoghan, alone raped and molested over 130 children after being flitted from one parish to another.

There is no official confirmation of Law's reported death at this time.

Church records at the time showed that he and other Boston officials transferred priests from parish to parish despite records of abuse. "I have learned much more painfully of the impact this has had on others".

"With all my heart, I am sorry for that", he said. After documents revealed the extent of the cover-up of Geoghan's sexual problems, Law caved in to public pressure and handed over to police the names of almost 100 priests who had been accused. In a news conference, Law apologized to victims of abuse by Geoghan but insisted the abuse was in the past.

"I stand before you recognising the trust many of you had in me has been broken, and it has been broken because of decisions for which I was responsible".

The public contrition was a far cry from the way Law handled the case of former priest John Porter, who admitted sexual abuse of children. "Am I wrong to think Cardinal Law should be prosecuted and put in jail?" said Rodney Ford, whose son Gregory is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Shanley.

Law was born in Torreon, Mexico, on November 4, 1931, to Helen and Bernard Law, an Air Force colonel.

The stories also mentioned Law was aware of the sexual abuse but chose to keep mum. He enrolled in St Joseph Seminary in St Benedict, Louisiana and then attended Pontifical College Josephinum at Worthington, Ohio. He was ordained as a priest in the Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi, diocese on May 21, 1961 and became vicar general of the Natchez-Jackson diocese in 1971.