From CNN Online
Pope John Paul II Friday accepted the resignation of Boston Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Massachusetts, in the wake of charges that several priests sexually abused children and amid new allegations that officials in his diocese engaged in "an elaborate scheme" to keep the issue quiet.
Law tendered his resignation during a scheduled meeting with the pontiff, who has appointed an interim leader for the archdiocese.
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly alleged Thursday that the diocese schemed to keep the abuse quiet, adding that the problem goes back "decades, and perhaps for generations."
While laying the blame on "management," Reilly did not single out the embattled archbishop.
"This is an institution that is far beyond one person," Reilly said. "There is a far bigger problem up there than one person."
On Monday, 58 priests signed a letter asking Law to resign from the post. A Catholic reform lay group, Voice of the Faithful, had called Wednesday for Law's resignation.
Law also stepped down this week as chairman of the Catholic University of America board of trustees.
Reilly did not deny published reports that his office has subpoenaed Law and several other bishops to appear before a grand jury that he said he had authorized to look into the case last summer.
"It's very difficult under criminal laws in Massachusetts to hold a superior accountable for the acts of another, but we felt an obligation to go forward, particularly with our experience with this institution," he said. "Our experience in the past has been that they do the right thing, they clean house, they cooperate. Obviously that has not happened here."
Instead, Reilly said, "it became clear that there was an elaborate system to keep these crimes that were committed against children and not report them to law enforcement."
Church officials, he said, "cared more about themselves, and that's wrong."
No comment on possible criminal charges
Before meeting with the pope, Law met with Cardinal Giovanni Re, head of the congregation for bishops, and Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the congregation for clergy, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told CNN Thursday.
Reilly said his office is increasingly concerned about the fate of internal policies and procedures developed for the church's use by a commission formed for that purpose. He said he had no knowledge that the policies had been implemented.
Reilly refused to comment on possible criminal charges that could be filed as a result of the investigation, saying no such decisions would be made "until I have all the facts."
And, he said, the issue of a Law resignation would be of "no concern" to the investigation.
"This is a management problem, not a faith problem," he said. "Countless children were harmed. ... This church has gone through something like this in the '80s, it has gone through something like this in the '90s. It has to be stopped now."
Last week, the Boston archdiocese released extensive documents detailing startling examples of clergy sexual misconduct related to claims priests molested children. In addition, the archdiocese Finance Council authorized Law to seek bankruptcy protection for the archdiocese, which faces an estimated 450 claims from alleged abuse victims.
The Boston Globe reported in Thursday's editions that Law and more than five bishops who worked for him have been subpoenaed to appear before a state grand jury investigating "possible criminal violations by church officials who supervised priests accused of sexually abusing children."
The paper reported that the subpoena was delivered to Law's home Friday, before he left for Rome.
Beth Stone, a press officer in Reilly's office, would not confirm the Globe's report, saying only that "there is an open, ongoing investigation" that includes a grand jury.Posted by Colm at December 13, 2002 11:41 AM