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Disgraced figure Cardinal Law dies; people react
2017-12-21

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Cardinal Bernard Law—the former archbishop of Boston whose failure to stop priests from molesting children led to the worst crisis in U.S. Catholicism—died Dec. 20 in Rome, where he was archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He was 86.

The pope said nothing about Law's death during his weekly general audience; also, in a condolence letter, he made no direct mention of the cardinal's tenure in Boston.

From 1984 to 2002, Law was the spiritual leader of Catholics in Boston, with almost 2 million followers. However, in 2002, The Boston Globe and other publications revealed that Law and others had transferred child-molesting priests to parishes without notifying authorities or parents—a scandal seen in the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight.

As expected, Law's death spawned a variety of reactions, including those who saw his Rome appointment ( which occurred in 2004 ) as the height of hypocrisy as well as abuse survivors who commented on Law's passing. The Guardian reported that Phil Saviano—a survivor of Father David Holley's abuse back in 1964, when Saviano was 11—called Law's death "a relief," adding, "I always remembered my abuse. I was clueless that he was still out there, and that there were other priests doing it, and I had extreme emotional consequences from my childhood experience." ( Saviano sued the archdiocese and settled in 1995, for $12,500. )

When asked for a response, Marianne Duddy-Burke—the executive director of pro-LGBT Catholic organization DignityUSA—exclusively emailed Windy City Times, "DignityUSA stands with the survivors and family members of clerical sexual abuse whose pain and trauma may be reawakened by news of Cardinal Law's death. Cardinal Law represents one of the worst aspects of the clergy sex abuse scandal—the repeated reassignment of serial abusers, enabling them to prey upon unsuspecting children and families.

"Neither he nor any other member of the hierarchy was ever held accountable for covering up for the crimes committed under their watches. On the occasion of his passing, we once again call on the Vatican to make a sincere effort towards justice for all those abused by priests and to finally hold bishops accountable for protecting abusers at the expense of our children."

The Guardian article is at www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/20/cardinal-bernard-law-death-survivors-react .

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—Andrew Davis


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