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Boston cardinal quits over sex scandal • Friday December 13, 2002

BBC, Dec. 13, 2002

The cardinal accused of mishandling accusations of paedophilia by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area has resigned.

The Pope accepted the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Law of Boston on Friday morning after a short meeting.

Cardinal Law had faced calls to step down from some of his own priests following accusations that he had failed to act to prevent child abuse by members of the clergy.

He is believed to be the first cardinal in modern times to be forced from office amid a public scandal.

The Boston diocese faces some 450 lawsuits alleging child abuse and is considering filing bankruptcy.

Critics have accused Cardinal Law of moving priests from one pulpit to another rather than confronting the problem.

Call for reconciliation

In a short statement after the Pope accepted the resignation, Cardinal Law apologised and begged forgiveness.

He said he hoped his resignation would “help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed”.

Cardinal Law spent a week in Rome meeting senior Vatican officials before handing in his resignation.

He had offered it once before, in April, but the Pope refused it then.

The Vatican said Bishop Richard Lennon, who is an auxiliary bishop in Boston, would run the Boston diocese temporarily.

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome said that accepting it on Friday was part of a “damage limitation exercise”.

The diocese has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by dozens of priests over decades.

Earlier in the week, a group claiming to represent more than 25,000 parishioners called for the cardinal to resign due to what it called “a pervasive pattern of behaviour to conceal and cover up… evil actions”.

Cardinal Law has been ordered to appear before a Boston grand jury investigating the allegations.

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