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Cardinal Law resigns amid mounting pressure

Pope John Paul II on Friday accepted the brief resignation letter of Boston's Archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, ending months of speculation and capping a groundswell of demands for Law's removal from a wide cross-section of priests and laity in Boston.

Law becomes the most senior Catholic official to resign as a result of the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic church in the United States since January. Its announcement followed a brief meeting between Law and the Holy Father on Firday.

"I am profoundly grateful to the Holy Father for having accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Boston," Law wrote in a seven-sentence letter announcing the decision, which was issued in the Vatican press office at midday Rome time.

"To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness," Law wrote. "The particular circumstances of this time suggest a quiet departure. Please keep me in your prayers."

The Pope appointed Boston auxiliary Bishop Richard Gerard Lennon as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. Sources said that the appointment of a permanent successor should happen quickly.

By the end, Law's resignation had become "inevitable," according to a Vatican official. The gesture ought to be seen as "an act of self-sacrifice," the official told NCR.

Law's resignation was only as archbishop of Boston. He remains a member of the college of cardinals and retains all the faculties of an ordained cleric. The 71-year-old Law would be eligible to help elect the next pope if a conclave occurs before he turns 80.

National Catholic Reporter

Clergy sex abuse, Cardinal Law voted top story, newsmaker of 2002 (Catholic News Service)
Sex abuse scandal marred cardinal's illustrious church career (Catholic News Service)
Vatican Shift Mixes Signals
True spirit of Vatican ruling questioned (New York Times}
Stand-in chosen for discredited cleric (Los Angeles Times)
Vatican now open to public pressure (AP)
Cardinal's resignation marks new era in church (Philadelphia Enquirer)
Church Woes Remain After Law Resignation (AP)
Scandal-hit cardinal returns to US (BBC)
Boston cardinal reported ready to resign (13/12/02)
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston | December 13, 2002 - Cardinal Law resigns; Bishop Lennon appointed administrator | Cardinal Law's statement | Bishop Lennon's statement | The Pilot (diocesan newspaper 13/12/02)

16 Dec 2002