Update: John Allen at National Catholic Reporter writes:
Reports that Pope Francis has ordered Cardinal Bernard Law to stay away from the Basilica of St. Mary Major and is about to ship him off to a monastery are “completely and totally false,” according to a Vatican spokesperson.
During a press briefing on Thursday about Pope Francis’ visit to St. Mary Major, one of the four pontifical basilicas in Rome, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said that Law had briefly greeted Francis and then exited the scene.
If this is the case, it’s too bad. Reports that Pope Francis moved to discipline Law offered hope to many Catholics with a glimpse that he was indeed committed to reform. On an anecdotal level, I was surprised how many of my friends and family, from across the political and ecclesial spectrums, read the original report and reacted positively.
For the victims and those whose faith was shaken, Francis has an opportunity to begin to right a massive wrong.
Original post below:
Boston Catholics (myself included) were rooting for Cardinal Sean O’Malley to ascend to the throne of St. Peter this week. That didn’t pan out, as we all know, but maybe Catholics there received something of a consolation prize.
The British tabloid The Daily Mail writes that Italian media is reporting that Boston’s disgraced former archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, 82, is being banished from his cushy residence by Pope Francis:
But first days are all about making a good impression – even when you’re the Pope.
So when the appearance of a disgraced cardinal threatened to cast a shadow over his first engagement, Francis I made sure it couldn’t happen again – by banning him from his own church.
Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston in 2002, after being accused of actively covering up for a litany of paedophile priests.’
Despite the scandal which exploded to engulf the entire church, he was given an honorary position at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome.
Though now retired, the cardinal still enjoys a grace and favour apartment in the cathedral complex.
So hearing that the new Pope was offering prayers at the very same church, it seems he couldn’t resist a discreet peak.
But when Pope Francis recognised him, he immediately ordered that Law be removed, according to Italian media reports. He went on to command: ‘He is not to come to this church any more.’
One of the new Pope’s first acts will be to arrange new ‘cloistered’ accommodation for the disgraced cardinal, the Italian daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, reported.
The firm stance was greeted with cautious enthusiasm by campaigners for victims of sexual abuse. David Clohessey of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said: ‘If he is permanently banned we are slightly encouraged.’
It was dark days in Boston when the Globe broke the story about the clergy sex abuse and subsequent cover up, leading to worldwide revelations that decades of evil had been swept under the rug by senior Catholic prelates. That Cardinal Law wasn’t charged with a crime, despite the best efforts of the Massachusetts attorney general, was bad enough. When he was whisked off to Rome and given a prestigious assignment, Catholics in Boston were stunned. And while Cardinal O’Malley has made great progress in restoring trust in the local church, this always left a bit of a sour taste. If the report is true, Pope Francis will have some good will from people in the Bay State.
And, more importantly, is this the first step in cleaning up the curia?