Catholic World News

Cardinal Law replaced in Vatican ceremonial post

RSS Facebook November 21, 2011

Cardinal Bernard Law, the American prelate most closely identified with the sex-abuse scandal, has been removed from a ceremonial post at the Vatican.

On November 21, the Vatican press office announced that Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello had been appointed Archpriest of the basilica of St. Mary Major. That post had been held since 2004 by Cardinal Law.

The Vatican announcement took a highly unusual form, never mentioning Cardinal Law’s name or reporting that he had resigned the post.

In his previous post as Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law had become the focal point of attention as the media unearthed shocking revelations about sexual abuse by priests in that archdiocese. An investigation led by the Boston Globe showed that the cardinal had knowingly given new pastoral assignments to abusive priests, while covering up evidence of their misconduct. Although journalists would eventually expose that many other American bishops engaged in a similar pattern of negligence, Cardinal Law became the target of savage public criticism, and in December 2002 he resigned.

Two years later, however, Cardinal Law was named Archpriest of the Roman basilica. The appointment caused a new uproar among advocates for sex-abuse victims, who argued that a prelate who had resigned in disgrace should not be given a position of honor. The role of an Archpriest is mainly ceremonial, and the post is generally given to a senior prelate who has retired from ordinary pastoral duties.

Having passed his 80th birthday on November 4, Cardinal Law had become ineligible to participate in another papal conclave, and he was automatically removed from his membership in Vatican congregations. However, an Archpriest is not necessarily required to step down, and in fact Cardinal Law’s two immediate predecessors at St. Mary Major, Cardinals Carlo Furno and Ugo Poletti, each was 82 when he resigned.

The new Archpriest of St. Mary Major, Archbishop Abril y Castello, is a veteran Vatican diplomat who, at the age of 75, was appointed this year as vice-chamberlain of the Holy See.

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About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in POPE BENEDICT XVI, THE BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Curt Stoller says:

    I cannot speak to the plight of Cardinal Law. With regard the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, I think we must be careful to obey the truth and not surrender it to rhetoric. Anyone who rapes a child commits a heinous offense. He or she destroys the innocence of a child, dehumanizes him by making him into an object of lust, leaves a stain on the memory of that child which can lead the child to a lifetime of self-hate and even suicide in some cases. I was once attacked by a Greek Orthodox priest. Thank God he was unsuccessful and I got away. I will never minimalize rape or attempted rape. Those who do this cause physical and psychological pain to one of the most of innocent of God’s creatures. But that said, the secular news media betrays the truth when they exploit these terrible acts to make untruthful and unfair over-generalizations against the Catholic Church in general and priests and religious and Prelates in particular. The over-generalization is this: if a Catholic priest does something wicked, then the Catholic Church is evil. This is not logic. This is mean spirited rhetoric.

    And it betrays a terrible hypocrisy in liberalism. Here’s why. Liberalism is the movement that advocates that a man cannot be “labeled;” that a human life cannot be summed up in a word or group of words; that no one act or even a thousands acts can take away the value of a person. Modern liberal psychology asks us to be understanding even of men like Adolf Hitler. Hitler had a bad childhood. Hitler had bad genes. Hitler was brutalized by his father. Modern liberal psychology teaches that even Hitler cannot be simply called evil, that there is some good in even the most evil and wicked individuals. Modern liberal psychology teaches that Hitler loved his dog,
    that Joseph Stalin had his good moments; that Saddam Hussein did some good things for the Iraqi people. Modern liberalism which has medicalized everything, including pedophilia then goes on the attack against the Catholic Church: the Church is utterly corrupt, filthy, disgusting, irredeemable. Gross Over-generalization. Priests are evil, cruel, wicked, the scum of the earth. Gross Over-generalization. Liberals are not merely opposing conservatives here. They are contradicting their own liberal orthodoxy. Their view is: mercy for tyrants, mercy for genocidal dictators and genocidal abortion doctors, mercy for women who kill their own unborn children and even mercy for pedophile teachers and Scout Masters. But no mercy for anyone involved with the Catholic Church.

    This is a blatant double standard. If liberal orthodoxy finds the good in an Adolf Hitler then it must find the good in a wicked priest. And if it says that there shall be no mercy for those priests, then why does it teach mercy for terrorists, genocidal dictators and abortionists? Liberals want to say that a man like Osama bin Laden must be excused, must be understood. They say that a man like Osama bin Laden had good in him that was not corrupted by his evil deeds and that we cannot sum up his value in words. And then they say that a priest who commits a heinous crime is utterly worthless or a Bishop who is misled by liberal psychological orthodoxy is scum. Liberals can’t have it both ways!

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