Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $37,014 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Cardinal Law replaced in Vatican ceremonial post

Catholic World News - November 21, 2011

Cardinal Bernard Law, the American prelate most closely identified with the sex-abuse scandal, has been removed from a ceremonial post at the Vatican.

On November 21, the Vatican press office announced that Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello had been appointed Archpriest of the basilica of St. Mary Major. That post had been held since 2004 by Cardinal Law.

The Vatican announcement took a highly unusual form, never mentioning Cardinal Law’s name or reporting that he had resigned the post.

In his previous post as Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law had become the focal point of attention as the media unearthed shocking revelations about sexual abuse by priests in that archdiocese. An investigation led by the Boston Globe showed that the cardinal had knowingly given new pastoral assignments to abusive priests, while covering up evidence of their misconduct. Although journalists would eventually expose that many other American bishops engaged in a similar pattern of negligence, Cardinal Law became the target of savage public criticism, and in December 2002 he resigned.

Two years later, however, Cardinal Law was named Archpriest of the Roman basilica. The appointment caused a new uproar among advocates for sex-abuse victims, who argued that a prelate who had resigned in disgrace should not be given a position of honor. The role of an Archpriest is mainly ceremonial, and the post is generally given to a senior prelate who has retired from ordinary pastoral duties.

Having passed his 80th birthday on November 4, Cardinal Law had become ineligible to participate in another papal conclave, and he was automatically removed from his membership in Vatican congregations. However, an Archpriest is not necessarily required to step down, and in fact Cardinal Law’s two immediate predecessors at St. Mary Major, Cardinals Carlo Furno and Ugo Poletti, each was 82 when he resigned.

The new Archpriest of St. Mary Major, Archbishop Abril y Castello, is a veteran Vatican diplomat who, at the age of 75, was appointed this year as vice-chamberlain of the Holy See.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,393 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,607.05
84% 16%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 22, 2011 7:56 AM ET USA

    In light of the Penn State scandal and the consequences to date for those suspected of a cover-up, this action is a bit overdue. This will most likely be a footnote in his career, but Cardinal Law's removal is certainly important as Pope Benedict continues to lead the Church during the early stages of an extensive healing process.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Pope is not the problem 18 hours ago
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. 20 hours ago
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22
Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? October 22
The Synod: It's a Wrap! October 21

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6