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Cardinal faces axe in child abuse crisis

Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law was clinging to office at the weekend after files showing that he protected a self-confessed paedophile were released.

Fr Paul Shanley was shuffled from parish to parish despite complaints that he had molested and raped young boys. The 880-page dossier of church files on Shanley, made public this week at the orders of a judge, was described by previously loyal Catholics as "the smoking gun".

Church sources told the Boston Globe newspaper that the cardinal was waiting for talks with the Vatican before taking a final decision on resignation. The cardinal, a conservative, has been described as the American cleric closest to the Pope.

It is thought possible that the Vatican may urge the cardinal to stay on for the time being, fearing a "domino effect" as sex abuse allegations threaten to engulf the Catholic church in North America.

The Shanley dossier shows that the archdiocese of Boston first received warnings about him in 1977, when he made a public speech in defence of paedophilia, describing children as "seducers".

Despite a string of subsequent complaints, Church authorities in Boston commended Shanley to the diocese of San Bernadino, California, in January 1990, describing him as "a priest in good standing". Cardinal Law personally recommended Shanley for a new position in New York in 1997, worrying only that "controversy from his past" might bring "publicity" to the Church.

Shanley, now 71, is reported to be in hiding in Thailand after two 24-year-old men filed rape charges against him.

Pope 'Anxious' to Help U.S. Church Out of Scandal (Reuters)
US Bishops' Leader Says Pope Anxious to Help US Church (Spirit Daily)
Poll: Faith In Bishops Shaken (Newsday)
Expert broached possibility years ago that scandals were result of 'curses' (Spirit Daily)
Catholic Church Sex Scandal Intensifies (Fox News)
Sex and the Catholic church (The Economist)
LA Cardinal Cleared of Sex-Abuse Claims (Reuters)
Bishops' Committee Members Accused (AP)
Boston Cardinal Says He Won't Quit (AP)
Going nowhere: Vatican rejects besieged Law's resignation (Boston Herald)
Cardinal Law says he does not intend to resign (Catholic News Service)
Anti-Catholicism alive, well (Andrew Greeley)
Boston Globe Search

Daily Telegraph (London)

15 Apr 2002