Friday, December 13, 2002

Cardinal Law Resigns His Post

Apparently Boston Archbishop Bernard Law finally woke up and smelled the cappuccino. In the wake of the on-going sex abuse and cover-up scandal plaguing his watch, and worsening each day as more previously hidden facts come to light, Cardinal Law tendered his resignation at the Vatican yesterday.

Also, the fact that Pope John Paul II accepted Cardinal Law's resignation may have meant that for him enough was finally enough. It may also mean, as blogger Mark Shea pointed out today, that the Pontiff's refusal to boot the former Archbishop last Spring was far less of a gesture of support for Law (as too many in the media and in the laity, this writer included, had assumed) than a means of making Law face the music back home at the hands of the press, the civil government, and the critics within his own flock.

With heat comes purification, and forcing Bernard Law to remain in the fire all these months may very well have been the Pope's strategy for fixing the mess in Boston and --by sending a message, via Law as example, to other prelates-- in the rest of the Catholic Church in the USA as well. In other words, asking for the Cardinal's resignation back in April would've been giving Law an easier way out. After all, not only has John Paul accepted Law's resignation, he is sending the former Archbishop back into the fire instead of sheltering him from it in the Vatican. Thus, far from being lenient with the Cardinal last Spring, the wise old Pontiff from Krakow was actually quite shrewd.

Additionally, the Pope's acceptance of Law's resignation may mean that some in the Curia and elsewhere in the Church's hierarchy will finally divest themselves of the lame notion that the American media (generally, no friend of religion) --rather than decades of incompetence, moral laxity, and misdeeds within the American clergy and hierarchy-- has been the source of Holy Mother Church's problems and the chief cause of damage to both her reputation and her moral voice in the world, a voice needed in these troubled times more than ever before.

Cardinal Law's resignation and the Pope's acceptance of it were the right things to do for all concerned and, we hope, will be the first of many steps in some badly needed reform and renewal for shepherds and flocks alike, and in all branches of Christendom.

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