Pope Francis presides over the final rites of Cardinal Law’s funeral Mass” & related articles

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21 December 2017

Pope Francis prays near the casket of Cardinal Bernard F. Law at the end of his funeral Mass Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Cardinal Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, died Dec. 20 in Rome at age 86. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis presided over the final rites in the funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from sexual abuse.

The dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, celebrated Law’s funeral Mass on Thursday behind the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. Following the typical protocol, Francis presided over a final prayer, a blessing with incense and the sprinkling of holy water around Law’s coffin.

U.S. Ambassador-designate Callista Gingrich and her husband, Newt, as well as some other members of the diplomatic corps were in attendance, along with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Turnout was otherwise limited, with the basilica ushers stacking extra rows of empty seats before the Mass began.

One of the opening prayers read: “O God, who chose your servant Cardinal Bernard Law from among your priests and endowed him with pontifical dignity in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we pray, that he may also be admitted to their company forever.”

Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after revelations that he covered up for dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, moving them to different parishes without telling parents or police.

The scandal, exposed by The Boston Globe and memorialized in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” then spread throughout the U.S. and world, with thousands of people from all continents coming forward in ensuing years with claims their priests sexually abused them when they were children.

The late cardinal’s successor, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, held a press conference on Wednesday at the Archdiocese of Boston’s headquarters. He expressed disappointment that Cardinal Law remained in such a high profile position following his resignation—and said he understands the anger some feel that Cardinal Law was afforded a funeral Mass inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, during which Pope Francis offered the final blessing.

Cardinal O’Malley, a member of the pope’s sex abuse prevention commission, said that he thinks “it’s unfortunate that [Cardinal Law has] had such a high-profile place in the life of the church, but I think going forward that decision would not be made, but unfortunately we’re living with the consequences of that.”

St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to archpriest of a major Rome basilica in 2004 reinforced the impression that the Vatican still had not grasped the scale of the problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility it had lost as a result.

When pressed further if it was appropriate for Cardinal Law to have held a position of prominence in Rome—Pope John Paul II appointed him archpriest of a major Roman basilica in 2004—Cardinal O’Malley said, “I can’t imagine that happening today. I think there’s been enough growth and consciousness of this problem in the Holy See that that would not happen.”

Francis has inherited that legacy and has promised “zero tolerance” for abuse. But his own record has been criticized in some quarters, with critics pointing out that he has given the issue less urgency than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Just this week, Francis’ commission of experts to advise the church on keeping children safe was allowed to lapse after its initial three-year mandate.

Cardinal Sodano was John Paul’s powerful secretary of state at the time of Law’s downfall and would have been instrumental in the decisions the Vatican took in those years to deal with the burgeoning scandal.

But the cardinal himself has a tainted legacy, having been a key supporter of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ religious order who sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children. It was only after John Paul died and Sodano was sidelined that Benedict ordered Maciel to live a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes.

Cardinal Sodano, who presides over all funerals for Rome-based cardinals, said in his homily, “unfortunately, each one of us can sometimes lack in fidelity to our mission. That is why, at the beginning of every Mass, we say the ‘Confiteor,'” the prayer that begins, “I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned.”

The pope read the prayers in Latin, sprinkled the cardinal’s casket with holy water and blessed it with incense. But he made no remarks about the cardinal or his life.

This story includes reporting from Nicole Winfield at the Associated Press and Catholic News Service. This story will be updated.

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Cardinal Law’s funeral celebrated at Vatican

National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis prays near the casket of Cardinal Bernard F. Law at the end of his funeral Mass Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Cardinal Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, died Dec. 20 in Rome at age 86. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Vatican City — Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, made mistakes as all people do, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said at his funeral.

Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the funeral Mass for Cardinal Law Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In his homily, Sodano said, “unfortunately, each one of us can sometimes lack in fidelity to our mission. That is why, at the beginning of every Mass, we say the ‘Confiteor,'” the prayer that begins, “I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned.”

Law died in a Rome hospital early Dec. 20.

Pope Francis, as is customary for the funerals of cardinals who die in Rome, arrived at the end of Mass to preside over the final commendation and farewell. In the Catholic funeral rite, the final commendation and farewell are formal prayers entrusting the deceased to the mercy of God.

The pope read the prayers in Latin, sprinkled the cardinal’s casket with holy water and blessed it with incense. But he made no remarks about the cardinal or his life.

In his homily, Sodano told the small group of mourners that Cardinal Law had “dedicated his life” to the church with 56 years of service as a priest, bishop and cardinal “of the great diocese of Boston” before his appointment as archpriest of Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major.

“It was precisely here in Rome that he closed his eyes to this world to open them in the light of eternity,” Sodano said.

Callista Gingrich, who was about to present her letters of credential to Francis as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, were among those attending the funeral.

As Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Cardinal Law’s successor in Boston, said in a statement Dec. 20: “In the Catholic tradition, the Mass of Christian burial is the moment in which we all recognize our mortality, when we acknowledge that we all strive for holiness in a journey which can be marked by failures large and small.”

“Cardinal Law,” he added, “will be buried in Rome where he completed his last assignment.”

The cardinal was to be buried in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major where he served as archpriest from 2004 to 2011.

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Pope prays for ‘merciful judgment’ of disgraced cardinal at funeral

CTV News

Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, December 21, 2017 10:28AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:26PM EST

Bernard Law

In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002 file photo, Cardinal Bernard Law, right, departs a news conference during the second day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual meeting in Washington. (AP Photo/Ken Lambert)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis prayed Thursday for a merciful final judgment for Cardinal Bernard Law, presiding over the funeral rites for a man who epitomized the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

In a final blessing at Law’s funeral Mass at the back altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis blessed Law’s coffin with incense and holy water and recited the ritual prayer commending his soul to God.

“May he be given a merciful judgment so that redeemed from death, freed from punishment, reconciled to the Father, carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd, he may deserve to enter fully into everlasting happiness in the company of the eternal King together with all the saints,” Francis said in Latin.

The dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, celebrated the funeral Mass, along with some 30 other cardinals, and eulogized Law without making any mention of the scandal. Following the typical protocol, Francis arrived at the end of the service to deliver the final prayer.

In the pews were U.S. Ambassador-designate Callista Gingrich and her husband, Newt, some other members of the diplomatic corps and the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Turnout was otherwise limited, with basilica ushers stacking extra rows of empty seats before the Mass began.

Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after revelations that he covered up for dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, moving them to different parishes without telling parents or police.

The scandal, exposed by The Boston Globe and memorialized in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” then spread throughout the U.S. and world, with thousands of people from all continents coming forward in ensuing years with claims their priests sexually abused them when they were children.

St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to head a major Rome basilica in 2004 reinforced the impression that the Vatican — which had turned a blind eye to abuse for decades — still hadn’t grasped the scale of the problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility the church had lost as a result.

In his homily, Sodano omitted any reference to Law’s role in the scandal or the fact that he resigned under unrelenting public pressure. Sodano, who was Vatican secretary of state at the time and would have been intimately invovolved in determining Law’s fate, insisted that John Paul had “called him to Rome” to serve as archpriest of the Vatican’s St. Mary Major basilica, a position he took up two years later.

“Today, we want to give a final salute and thank God for giving us a good pastor,” Sodano said. Priests, he said, had a lofty responsibility and sometimes “we can be lacking,” but he prayed that God will “welcome him to eternal paradise.”

Sodano himself has a tainted legacy on the sex abuse front, having been a key supporter of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the drug-addicted founder of the Legion of Christ religious order who sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children. It was only after John Paul died and Sodano was sidelined that Pope Benedict XVI ordered Maciel to live a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes.

Francis has inherited John Paul’s checkered legacy on sex abuse, and has promised “zero tolerance” for priests who rape or molest children. But his own record has been marked by questionable appointments, a reneged proposal to create a Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops like Law, and giving the issue less urgency than his predecessor, Benedict.

Just this week, Francis’ much-hyped commission of experts to advise the church on keeping children safe was allowed to lapse after its initial three-year mandate. Vatican officials have said new members would be named soon.

And even after Law’s coverup led American bishops in 2002 to draft tough regulations to protect children and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, some of his fellow bishops have continued to harbour accused abusers.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a key whistleblower in the decades-old clerical sex abuse saga, said those bishops are the real scandal today since a new policy has been in place for 15 years, and yet there are still bishops who have chosen to protect the church and their priests more than children.

“One thing is certain: Bernard Law may be the remembered face of hierarchical coverup and mendacity, but there are others who were far, far worse and carry a greater burden of guilt because they knew by then what the score was,” Doyle said in an email, ticking off a list of well-known bishops who have been publicly shamed — and in some cases prosecuted — for covering up for their priests.

“They make Law look like an amateur.”

One Response to Pope Francis presides over the final rites of Cardinal Law’s funeral Mass” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    “Today, we want to give a final salute and thank God for giving us a good pastor,” Sodano said.

    I can only wonder how Cardinal Sodano defines the word “good”?

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