Bernard Law, a former archbishop of Boston whose alleged failure to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked a crisis in American Catholic world has died at 86, a church statement said.
The Vatican issued the statement which confirmed his death on Wednesday adding that the cardinal died early Wednesday morning after a long illness.
Bernard Law’s 19-year tenure as head of the Archdiocese of Boston ended in his resignation on December 15,2002, after it was revealed he had failed to remove sexually abusive priests from the ministry.
Mr. Law became the central figure in a scandal of criminal abuse, denial, payoff, and cover-up that resonated around the world.
Following the exposure, Mr. Law had to submit his resignation as Archbishop of Boston on December 13, 2002. He wrote in a personal declaration “The particular circumstances of this time suggest a quiet departure. Please keep me in your prayers.”
After his resignation, he moved to Rome where he was assigned as the Arch-priest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in 2004 by Pope John Paul II, a largely ceremonial position from which he retired in 2011, at the age of 80.
The appointment was controversial, especially as many in the U.S. continued to call for his criminal prosecution.
As a result of the gravity of the acts at that time, a real life movie was released in 2015 titled ‘Spotlight’ that broadly revealed the case.
Many victims were reminded of the pain of being sexually abused upon learning of Mr. Bernard’s death.
Alexa Macpherson wrote on Boston Globe site: “I hope the gates of Hell are swinging wide open to welcome him.”
Phil Saviano, also a victim, said: “I think of Cardinal Law and mostly what I think of is what a waste — how he really squandered all of the power he had here in the 80s and the 90s.
”He was in such a position to do so much good for so many people. And yet somehow, he decided that the reputation and the protection of those 200 child-molesting priests in the archdiocese was more important than the well-being of thousands of children and parishioners.”
Mr. Law will be buried in a tomb at Rome’s Basilica of St Mary Major, which is customary for the priests who have served there, according to a statement from his successor, Sean P. O’Malley.