When Pope John Paul II accepted Cardinal Bernard F. Law's resignation as Boston archbishop in December 2002, it was the culmination of a year of mounting outrage and anguish in the Boston Archdiocese -- and a sign of the power wielded by a newly energized laity.
From the early days of the abuse scandal, a drumbeat for Law's resignation grew steadily louder. In Wellesley, a small group of parishioners meeting in a church basement grew into Voice of the Faithful, a nationwide lay reform movement 25,000 members strong.
In some parishes, the removal of trusted priests prompted allegations of a church "witch hunt," but the prevailing reaction from lay Catholics was a call for reform at the highest levels of the church.
Cardinal Law apologized for his past mistakes and repeatedly vowed to weather the storm, even as he faced multiple civil lawsuits over his handling of abusive priests. Ultimately, he could not withstand the pressure exerted by a once loyal flock, now betrayed.
See the story list to the left for the latest coverage of Cardinal Law and lay Catholics.
Cardinal Bernard Law at a meeting in Dallas. (Globe Staff Photo / Evan Richman)
A scene from the Voice of the Faithful convention held in Boston in July 2002. (Globe Staff Photo / Dominic Chavez)