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Law's words frame new play

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Wary Catholics return to church

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Spotlight Report

Cardinal to say Mass on Sunday

By Michael Rezendes and Tom Farragher, Globe Staff, 4/18/2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law continued to drape his future in mystery yesterday, although he announced through a spokeswoman that he had returned from a secret trip to Rome and will resume his customary place at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday to say morning Mass.

As Law remained secluded in his Brighton residence, planning for a gathering of US cardinals and Vatican officials in Rome next week, he prepared a public explanation of his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations that he plans to deliver after his return from the Vatican.

Law, acting again through his spokeswoman, also bowed to the wishes of Boston College officials, faculty, and students who have urged him to forgo his traditional appearance at commencement exercises due to the escalating controversy over the role he played in clergy sexual misconduct cases.

''Because of his concern that his presence this year could detract from what otherwise should be a joyous occasion for graduates and their families, [Law] has informed Father William Leahy, the president of Boston College, that he will not be present,'' said Law's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey.

At a late-afternoon press conference, Morrissey and a church spokesman, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, said Law believes it's unlikely that next week's meetings in Rome will produce significant changes in the way the church responds to allegations of sexual misconduct against priests.

Coyne said Law does not anticipate making any public statements, either before he leaves for Rome, sometime after Sunday's Mass, or while he's at the Vatican, because he believes he cannot talk about specific allegations being contested in court.

Law has not taken questions from reporters for more than two months. He returned to Boston Tuesday night after meetings with Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials where he discussed his possible resignation as archbishop of Boston. Law told officials at the chancery yesterday that he had taken commercial flights to and from Rome, according to an adviser.

Coyne said he did not know whether Law had offered to resign during those discussions.

Stephen Kurkjian of the Globe Staff contributed to this article. Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.com.

This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 4/18/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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