9 April 2005

how to find a millstone

Gospel of Luke
17:1 He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come! 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Cardinal, Ousted in Scandal, to Preside at Funeral

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who became a focal point of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal in the United States, won a coveted role Thursday to preside at one of a handful of funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II.

The appointment, announced by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of liturgical celebrations, appeared to catch other U.S. cardinals by surprise. It stunned sexual-abuse victims' advocates.

One church source close to developments, said here Thursday that cardinals were not consulted about Law's participation. He said the cardinals were simply handed the list of assignments. "It was already printed," he said on condition of anonymity.

Law, who was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after nearly 20 years in that post, will preside at one of eight funeral Masses beginning Saturday following Friday's main farewell and Funeral Mass for the supreme pontiff at St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican said Law and the others were chosen because it was an "ancient custom" to entrust one of eight subsequent funeral Masses to a particular group with close ties to the pope. For example, the Saturday Mass is to be said on behalf of the "faithful of Vatican City." Law, in his new role here as archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, is scheduled to preside Monday on behalf of the four basilicas in Rome.

Law, 73, was appointed last year to the mainly administrative position. Law remains a cardinal and is eligible to vote for a new pope.

Statement by David Clohessy SNAP National Director

Cardinal Law is correct when he says this is the time to "focus" on Pope John Paul II. Thousands of caring Catholic and wounded victims, however, find it hard to keep that focus when Law is apparently exploiting this sad moment for his own hurtful rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight.

If he genuinely wants to honor the Pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recuse himself from any other public role in the days and weeks again.

But there are other responsible parties here.

Vatican officials should prevail upon Law to stop rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of the American church and the hundreds of men and women whose faith has been stolen and whose pain still cripples them because of Law's abusive clerics.

Bishops and cardinals across the globe, especially in America, should forcefully speak out now on behalf of the wounded, and insist that Law put the memory of John Paul II and the needs of clergy abuse victims above his own self-aggrandizement.

The code of silence with which church officials shelter even the most egregious among themselves must be broken. Bishops and cardinals must find the strength and courage, as so many of us have found, to confront wrongdoing.

Sadly, this encapsulates the great weakness of this pontificate, an emphasis on form over content and neglect in governing the church in favour of presenting almost a rockstar spectacle. It is unthinkable and repugnant that Cardinal Law should want or be given such a role.

I was going to call this post 'Who's churching the old whore now?' and decided that was a tad extreme. Steve Gillard's post Hey, it was just a few raped kids, what's the fuss? is named more forthrightly.

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