Disgraced American cardinal was at centre of Boston child sexual abuse scandal.Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Archbishop of Boston who presided over a massive cover-up of clerical child sexual abuse, has died in a Rome hospital aged 86.
Law resigned from his 18-year post as Archbishop of Boston in 2002, following intense public pressure, after an investigation by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team revealed his longstanding practice of moving paedophile priests to different parishes without informing parishioners or the police.
Law's resignation, accepted eventually by Pope John Paul II, led to the unravelling of other similar scandals around the world where bishops hushed up the clerical sexual abuse of children to protect the reputation of the Catholic church. The cover-up in Boston proved to be the tip of the iceberg and the ensuing scandals had a devastating effect on the global church, particularly in Ireland where a litany of clerical sexual abuse of children was uncovered.
Following his resignation, Law retired to Rome and was appointed to the prestigious but largely symbolic role as archpriest of the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, one of the Vatican's four papal basilicas.
Law never faced criminal charges and maintained the rank of cardinal, participating in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict in 2005. Although he kept a low profile in the media, Law was feted regularly at receptions on Rome's diplomatic and ecclesiastical circuits. However in recent years he suffered from declining health. He is expected to be buried in a tomb at S. Maria Maggiore, according to the custom of priests who have served there.