Friday, April 08, 2005

Good story, just wish it were on the front page

BOSTON, April 7 -- Cardinal Bernard F. Law left here in disgrace more than two years ago, resigning his position as Boston's Roman Catholic archbishop after revelations that he secretly transferred sexually abusive priests from unknowing parish to unknowing parish.

Now, to the astonishment and dismay of many Boston Catholics, Law has returned to the public spotlight after Pope John Paul II's death.

On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Law would be the only American prelate to lead one of nine daily Masses for the pope during a mourning period that follows his funeral Friday.


After resigning his post in Boston in December of 2002, Law, a member of the college of cardinals that will select the new pope, took up residence at the convent of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, in Clinton, Md. A year later, the Boston archdiocese reached an $85 million settlement with more than 500 abuse victims. Last year, the pope appointed Law to his largely ceremonial post in Rome.

I've been pretty charitable to the Church and the late Pope, for good reason: my genuine respect for them. However, the issue of priestly sexual abuse is still a black mark on the Roman church, more so, obviously, for the coverup, than it actually having occured in the first place, as evil people do evil things and happen to corrupt by their presence every human institution.

That said, obviously, it is a huge news story that the Church still doesn't get it, and that Law has not been talked out of recusing himself from voting in the conclave and that, what's worse, he was honored with the high honor of saying Mass during the mourning period.

The Church is just plain asking for the scrutiny of a largely skeptical, irreligious media, and its getting somewhat of a pass on it in this instance, from what I've seen in the Post and on network coverage. Some might consider that a blessing, but I don't.

The light treatment of Cardinal Law is a situation where the media would be right to come down on the Church with a ton of bricks. It's not an issue deserving sweeping under the rug out of a misdirected sense of honor for the late John Paul II, even if, and especially if, discussing it uncomfortably raises the fact that it was John Paul II who withdrew Law from the United States to serve in a ceremonial post in the Vatican bureaucracy.