Bernard Francis Law
Bernard Francis Law
|Archpriest Emeritus of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore|
|Appointed||January 11, 1984|
|Installed||March 23, 1984|
|Term ended||December 13, 2002|
|Predecessor||Humberto Sousa Medeiros|
|Successor||Seán Patrick O'Malley|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna|
|Ordination||May 21, 1961
by Egidio Vagnozzi
|Consecration||December 5, 1973
by Joseph Bernard Brunini
|Created Cardinal||May 25, 1985
by John Paul II
November 4, 1931 |
Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico
|Motto||To live is Christ|
|Coat of arms|
|Ordination history of Bernard Francis Law|
|Principal consecrator||Joseph Bernard Brunini (Jackson)|
|Date of consecration||December 5, 1973|
|Tomás Andrés Mauro Muldoon||October 8, 1984|
|Robert Joseph Banks||September 19, 1985|
|Roberto González Nieves||October 3, 1988|
|John Richard McNamara||May 21, 1992|
|John Patrick Boles||May 21, 1992|
|John Brendan McCormack||December 27, 1995|
|William Francis Murphy||December 27, 1995|
|Francis Xavier Irwin||September 17, 1996|
|Emilio Simeon Alluè||September 17, 1996|
|Richard Joseph Malone||March 1, 2000|
|Walter James Edyvean||September 14, 2001|
|Richard Gerard Lennon||September 14, 2001|
Bernard Francis Law (born November 4, 1931) is an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the Archbishop emeritus of Boston, former archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and Cardinal Priest of Santa Susanna, the American Catholic church in Rome.
Law was the Archbishop of Boston until his resignation on December 13, 2002, in response to the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal after church documents showed he had covered up sexual abuse committed by dozens of Catholic priests within his archdiocese. One priest alone was revealed to have raped or molested 130 children for decades while Law and other local officials moved him between churches rather than going to the authorities. Law orchestrated secret settlements for abuse claims made against at least seventy of his priests, in which families were paid to stay silent about the molestation and rape of their children.
Just two years after resigning from his position in Boston, which the Church called "an important step in the healing process", Pope John Paul II appointed Law as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004. He resigned from this position upon reaching the age of 80 in November 2011.
Law was born in the Mexican city of Torreón, Coahuila, on November 4, 1931. He attended schools in New York, Florida, Georgia, and Barranquilla, Colombia, before graduating from Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. While in high school he was employed by the Virgin Islands Daily News.
He graduated from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a major in medieval history, before beginning philosophy studies at Saint Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, Louisiana, from 1953 to 1955, and then theological studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, from 1955 to 1961.
On May 21, 1961, Law was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson in Mississippi. He served two years as an assistant pastor of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Vicksburg, and was made the editor of the Mississippi Register, the diocesan newspaper. He also held several other diocesan posts from 1963 to 1968, including director of the family life bureau and spiritual director of the minor seminary.
Civil rights activism
Law was a civil rights activist. He was a member of the Mississippi Leadership Conference and Mississippi Human Relations Council. For his civil rights activities and his strong positions on civil rights in the Mississippi Register, of which he was editor, he received death threats. The newspaper lost many subscribers for whom his civil rights stance was repugnant.
Law's civil rights activity led him to develop ties with Protestant church leaders and he received national attention for his work for ecumenism and in 1968 he was tapped for his first national post, as executive director of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
|This section does not cite any sources. (December 2015)|
Pope Paul VI named Law bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau on October 22, 1973, and he was consecrated on December 5 of that year. Law's predecessor in Springfield-Cape Girardeau was William Wakefield Baum, another future cardinal.
In 1975, he made the news when he arranged for the resettlement in his diocese of one hundred and sixty-six Vietnamese refugees who had arrived in the United States, and who were members of a Vietnamese religious congregation, the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix.
In continuing his ecumenical work, Law formed the Missouri Christian Leadership Conference. He was made a member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and served from 1976 to 1981 as a consultor to its Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. In the late 1970s, Law would also chair the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
In 1981, Law was named the Vatican delegate to develop and oversee a program instituted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in which U.S. Episcopal priests would be accepted into the Catholic priesthood. In the program's first year sixty-four Episcopal priests applied for acceptance. This brought married priests with their families into U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses for the first time.
Archbishop of Boston
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2015)|
Bernard Francis Law
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
On January 11, 1984, Cardinal Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston, by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as Archbishop on March 23, 1984.
His speech at the 1985 Synod of Bishops marking the 20th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council led to development of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Law oversaw the first draft of the English translation.
In the mid-1980s, Law chaired the bishops' Committee on Pastoral Research and Practices at the time it distributed a major study report on Freemasonry. The bishops' report concluded that "the principles and basic rituals of Masonry embody a naturalistic religion, active participation in which is incompatible with Christian faith and practice."
In October 2012, former Irish President (and Catholic) Mary McAleese related that, on a state visit to the United States in 1998, she was publicly berated by Law for her stance on the ordination of women. The cardinal ushered McAleese and members of her delegation into a room to hear Mary Ann Glendon lecture them on the Church's views on women priests and a heated argument then took place. McAleese rebuked him with the statement that she was "the President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland". Cardinals Desmond Connell of Dublin, Ireland and Cahal Daly of Armagh, Northern Ireland, UK condemned Law's action.
Knowledge of sexual abuse
Cardinal Law became the first high-level Church official to be accused of actively participating in the cover-up of child molestation.
In January 2001 Law was named a defendant in several low-profile cases involving pedophile priests, including one involving priest John Geoghan. The editor of the Boston Phoenix weekly, Susan Ryan-Vollmar, assigned reporter Kristen Lombardi to investigate. She wrote an article about the cases under the title "Cardinal sin". Mark Keane, a victim of Geoghan, believed that Law had direct knowledge that Geoghan, who worked in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1962 to 1993, was molesting children. He said that the archbishop not only let the priest continue working, but let him stay at parishes where he had daily contact with children, one of whom was Keane. New editor of the daily Boston Globe newspaper Martin Baron set the Spotlight team to work on the case in September 2001. Lombardi said that the Globe could have had the story before she did, but that the editorial staff were intimidated by the power of the Church, while Baron considered that the paper should dispute the sealing of court records.
Resignation as Archbishop of Boston
Law submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Boston to the Vatican some years before he turned 75 and would be expected to resign; Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation on December 13, 2002. In 2003 Sean O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap. was named Archbishop of Boston.
The Boston Globe said in an editorial the day after Law's resignation was accepted that "Law had become the central figure in a scandal of criminal abuse, denial, payoff, and coverup that resonates around the world". A letter urging Law's resignation had been signed by 58 priests, mostly diocesan priests who had sworn obedience to Law as their direct superior; the editorial said that this letter was "surely one of the precipitating events in his departure." The Globe's exposé of the scandal was the subject of a film, Spotlight, released in the US in November 2015, in which Law was portrayed by Len Cariou.
In a statement Law said, "It is my fervent prayer that this action [his resignation] may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed. To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness." While no longer Archbishop of Boston he remains a bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church; as a cardinal, he participated in the 2005 papal conclave.
Move to Rome
In December 2002, Law left Boston. It is often alleged that he left just hours before state troopers arrived with subpoenas seeking his grand jury testimony. When the state attorney general issued his report entitled Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston (July 23, 2003) he severely criticized Law mentioning that "the Archdiocese has shown an institutional reluctance to adequately address the problem and, in fact, made choices that allowed the abuse to continue" but did not allege that Law had tried to evade investigation and he did state that Law had not broken any laws because the law requiring abuse to be reported was not expanded to include priests until 2002.
Law was a member of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches, the Clergy, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Evangelisation of Peoples, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Catholic Education, Bishops as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family. He held membership in all these congregations and of the council before resigning from the governance of the Archdiocese of Boston, and at that time was also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Law reached age 80 on November 4, 2011, and lost the right to participate in any papal conclave and on the same day he ceased to hold his various Curial memberships. He remained as archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore until November 21, 2011, when Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló was appointed as the new archpriest.
In Rome, Law was considered an active and important conservative voice within many of the Vatican offices in which he served. It was reported that he believed he had been badly done by, and other cardinals saw him as a victim rather than a guilty party. He was a member of six of the nine or ten Vatican congregations, and was even more influential as, being based in Rome, he could attend all the meetings, unlike cardinals based in other countries.
It was "commonly believed that [Law would] live out his retirement in Rome" when he was retired in 2011. After his resignation in 2011 Law lived in Vatican City, and attended all the annual 4 July Independence Day parties held by the US embassy to the Holy See. He was considered to have been an active and important conservative voice in many of the Vatican offices where he served.
In May 2012 MSNBC reported that Law was "the person in Rome most forcefully supporting" the Vatican response to Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori's petition to investigate the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a large group of American nuns.
- Catholic Church sexual abuse cases
- List of the Catholic bishops of the United States#American bishops serving outside the United States
- Paulson, Michael (December 14, 2002). "A church seeks healing". Boston Globe.
- "Church allowed abuse by priest for years". Boston Globe. January 6, 2002. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- "Scores of priests involved in sex abuse cases". Boston Globe. January 31, 2002.
- Paulson, Michael (December 4, 2002). "A church seeks healing". Boston Globe.
- Pham, John-Peter, Heirs of the Fisherman via books.google.ie.
- Boston Globe, 2004, Abuse in the Catholic Church
- National Catholic Reporter, 27 December 2002
- "Cardinal Law told Mary McAleese he was ‘sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as President", IrishCentral, October 7, 2012
- Deborah Becker (2010), Irish Catholics Call For Cardinal Law’s Resignation, Following Clergy Abuse Report, WBUR, archived from the original on February 12, 2012, retrieved March 23, 2014
- Kristen Lombardi (March 2001). "News/Features". Bostonphoenix.com. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- Kyle Clauss (30 October 2015). "Out of the Spotlight: Who Deserves Credit for the Scoop?". Bostonmagazine.com. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- Boston Globe: The cardinal's departure, 12/14/2002
- "Cardinal Law Resigns as Archbishop of Boston". NPR. December 15, 2002. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "bring-the-pope-to-justice", The Daily Beast/Newsweek, 2010/04/22.
- "ReillyExecSum", bishop-accountability.org.
- "Cardinal Law Given Post In Rome", The New York Times, May 28, 2004. Accessed April 11, 2008.
- Annuario Pontificio 2002
- The Guardian newspaper: How cardinal disgraced in Boston child abuse scandal found a Vatican haven, 7 November 2015
- Arsenault, Mark, "Law retires from post in Rome", Boston Globe, November 22, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- Bratu, Becky (May 10, 2012). "US priests reportedly behind Vatican crackdown on nuns". NBC News. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- Allen, John L. Jr. (March 24, 2013). "Debunking three 'urban legends' about Pope Francis". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
- Martin, Phillip (August 3, 2015). "In Search Of Cardinal Bernard Law". WGBH News. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
- Bernard F. Law, Romanus Cessario, Mary Ann Glendon (2002). Boston's cardinal: Bernard Law, the man and his witness. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-0341-8.
- Cardinal Bernard Law Biography
- The Boston Globe
- Information of the Press Office of the Holy See about Law
|Catholic Church titles|
William Wakefield Baum
|Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
John Joseph Leibrecht
Humberto Sousa Medeiros
|Archbishop of Boston
Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap
|Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
May 27, 2004 – November 21, 2011
Santos Abril y Castelló