Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the Boston archbishop who became one of the most influential Catholic leaders in the United States before resigning in 2002 amid revelations that he and other prelates had known for years of rampant child molestation by parish priests, a scandal that has been called the church’s darkest crisis of the modern era, has died at 86.
The Vatican announced in a statement that Cardinal Law died “after a long illness,” without offering further details. He had been recently hospitalized in Rome.
For more than half a century, Cardinal Law dedicated himself to the church, an institution that became his home after his itinerant upbringing as the son of a commercial and military aviator. As he rose from parish priest to Boston archbishop — the steward of one of the most Catholic American cities — he promoted traditional Catholic doctrine and envisioned the church as a guarantor of social justice in the 20th century.
He began his ministry in segregated Mississippi, where he used his authority as editor of a diocesan publication to denounce racism. Later, as a bishop in Missouri, he made room at a seminary for about 200 Vietnamese priests and brothers who had left their home after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Law’s theology transcended scripture to encompass affordable housing and literacy education. Poor countries, like poor parishes, he argued, at times deserved debt forgiveness from their creditors. Years before Pope John Paul II began his historic efforts to mend the church’s scarred relationship with the Jewish community, Cardinal Law sought interreligious dialogue.
Read more at Washington Post.
Further Reading: Cardinal Bernard Francis Law (1931-2017)