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March 23
Law's words frame new play

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Spotlight Report

National Catholic weekly urges Law to step down

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 4/20/2002

The National Catholic Reporter, the progressive weekly that first brought the issue of clergy sexual abuse to public attention in 1985, yesterday became the first major Catholic newspaper to call on Cardinal Bernard F. Law to resign.

''Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston must step down,'' the paper said in an editorial in its April 26 edition, which went to press yesterday. ''Vatican insistence that he remain demonstrates how out of touch church leaders are with the extent of damage already done by this scandal and the serious erosion that has occurred to Law's authority. Documents released so far show a prelate who transferred dangerous priests from one assignment to another and whose lieutenants provided to another diocese a clean bill of health for a priest known to have been an abuser. Much of it was done well after any American bishop paying attention should have known that transferring abusers was a dangerous practice. It will be impossible for Law to play any significant role in remedying the scandal.''

The paper said that Law has become ''a symbol for much of the US church - mired in scandal, paralyzed as a leader, unable to function as a moral force in the wider culture.''

Law's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, did not respond to a call for comment.

The paper also called for bishops to open their files to prosecutors and to meet with victims, for sex abuse prevention programs in all parishes and schools, and for laypeople to be allowed to play a role in the selection of bishops and the appointments of clergy. The paper also called for a study of the priesthood by psychiatrists, criminologists, and others.

The National Catholic Reporter, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., has a circulation of 48,000, roughly one-quarter of whom are priests, monks or nuns, according to publisher Tom Fox.

This story ran on page A11 of the Boston Globe on 4/20/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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