Several top U.S. cardinals to seek Law's resignation

Talks on abuse scandal set to begin tomorrow

April 22, 2002|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ROME - Several senior American cardinals will urge the Vatican today to ask for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law as archbishop of Boston in the face of an escalating sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.

Two American clerics - a bishop and a cardinal - said America's Catholic bishops are all but unanimous in believing that Law must leave for the good of the church.

The cardinal, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday that he had been "commissioned" by other senior prelates to take their case directly to Pope John Paul II's inner circle.

He said he, as well as others, would do so today during private meetings at the Vatican. The meetings come a day before two days of talks between America's cardinals and Vatican leaders on the abuse scandal.

"If the Holy See wants to send a strong signal of quality and standards of leadership," the cardinal said, Law "will have to be replaced. This cannot be a phase-out."

The cardinal said he did not want to undermine his efforts by publicly disclosing his name before speaking to the Vatican. Another bishop, also speaking on a confidential basis, said, "Many bishops are of the mind that the healing process really can't begin until there's a change of leadership in Boston."

The rare move underscored Law's precarious position in the wake of his handling of the scandal in his archdiocese and the growing determination by the U.S. hierarchy to call for big steps to extricate the church from the crisis.

A week ago Law secretly flew to Rome to confer privately with the pope and other Vatican officials about his future status. He returned to Boston and announced that he would continue as archbishop as long as he said God would permit him to serve.

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