Cardinal Law stepped down in 2002 after journalists reported he had moved pedophile priests between parishes rather than addressing victims' claims.
The film Spotlight was later made about the allegations against dozens of priests in his Boston diocese.
After leaving Boston, Cardinal Law took a post at the Vatican.
He worked there until 2011.
The child sex abuse allegations, which covered events over a period of decades, led to hundreds of lawsuits and threatened the Boston diocese with bankruptcy.
As a result, it agreed to sell land and buildings for more than $100m (£63m) to fund legal settlements for more than 500 victims.
The scandal prompted the Vatican to draw up new plans to combat child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
Who was Cardinal Law?
Born in 1931 in Torreon, Mexico, Cardinal Law was the son of a US Air Force colonel and a musician. He graduated from Harvard University and was ordained a priest in 1961.
He soon became heavily involved in civil rights work in Mississippi and his name was included on a hit list compiled by segregationists.
In 1984, Cardinal Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston and was a high-profile figure both in Church matters and in the wider world.
He raised millions of dollars to help victims of natural disasters and worked to improve ties between Catholics and other Christian groups.
Cardinal Law held deeply traditional positions on issues such as Aids, abortion, same-sex marriage and education policy.
He stepped down as Archbishop of Boston in 2002 following a series of reports alleging the cover-up of sexual misconduct by priests exposed by the Boston Globe newspaper's investigative Spotlight team.
"It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation, and unity which are so desperately needed," he said at the time.
Cardinal Law went on to serve as the archpriest of the Basilica of the Santa Maria Maggiore until his retirement at the age of 80 in 2011.
A career eclipsed by scandal
Although Cardinal Bernard Law played a major role in inter-religious dialogue, serving as chair of the Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interracial Affairs and on the Vatican's Commission on Religious Relations with Jews, it was his action in covering up child sexual abuse that stained his entire career.
Revelations in the Boston Globe newspaper led to the uncovering of widespread child abuse by Catholic clergy within his diocese. The newspaper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and Cardinal Law was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston in 2002.
Cardinal Law never faced criminal charges for his role in allowing priests accused of abusing children to remain in the church and his appointment as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St Mary Major, effectively a second career, was perceived as adding insult to the injuries inflicted on children.
§ : Born in Torreon, Mexico
§ : Ordained a priest
§ : Appointed bishop
§ : Became Archbishop of Boston
§ : Appointed cardinal
§ : Vatican accepts his resignation
What did Spotlight do?
The investigation carried out by the Boston Globe's Spotlight team led to reports that dozens of priests who sexually abused children had been moved from parish to parish for years under Cardinal Law's tenure without informing parishioners or police.
At the time, the Church was politically powerful in Boston and the cover-up of sexual abuse by more than 70 priests in the Boston area was seen as a move aimed at protecting the institution's reputation.
However the damning reports published by the Globe resulted not only in the resignation of Cardinal Law, but the uncovering of further abuse in 102 cities in the US and 105 dioceses worldwide.
The story of the Spotlight investigation, which involved a team of four reporters, was immortalized in the 2015 film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Letting abuse commission lapse, Vatican sends disappointing message
|A nun on the lapsed commission attempting to speak to power!|
In December 2013, Pope Francis sparked hope that the Catholic Church was (finally!) taking the scandal of clergy sexual abuse seriously. He created a group to advise him and future popes on how the church worldwide could protect children, appointing experts on the issue and even survivors of abuse to a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Now, as of this writing four years later, that commission has lapsed into an inactive state. Its members' terms of office, as set by the group's Vatican-approved statutes, expired Dec. 17. Neither the pope nor the Vatican have made known when or if the current members will be reappointed or new members found.
That Francis has allowed this lapse to occur is worrisome. A commission without validly appointed members ceases to be a commission; its members may carry on their work but if they do, they do so as individuals without legal standing or vested authority to back them. What work could they carry on? This never should have been allowed to happen.
That the Vatican felt no need to offer an official explanation is just as worrisome, because it suggests that the protection of children is not as high a priority as statements from the Vatican say it is. That decision makers in the Vatican apparently didn't realize — or didn't care — that this lapse would be perceived negatively is also troubling. A lack of an official response sends a tone-deaf and disappointing message to Catholics and the world. It points to the causal negligence at the heart of the scandal that has plagued the church for decades and demonstrates why the church can't shake allegations that its leaders "just don't get it."
We cannot forget that less than 10 months ago, Marie Collins, an original appointee and a survivor of clergy abuse, resigned from the commission out of frustration with an intransigent Vatican bureaucracy.
We've been told not to read too much into the vacant commission. It's just a bureaucratic snafu, we're told, and it will be corrected by April, when the commission's next plenary assembly is set. The office in the Curia meant to support the work of the commission will continue its work, we've been told. These statements, meant to be assurances, sound too much like hollow promises of the kind we've been programmed to hear from church officials when it comes to the abuse of minors by clergy.
In March, Collins recalled that when she was appointed, "I said publicly that if I found what was happening behind closed doors was in conflict with what was being said to the public I would not remain. This point has come. I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity." We seem to have reached a time again when private actions are not matching public statements.
The Vatican has known since Collins' resignation that the commission was suffering a credibility problem. Their bureaucratic neglect on commission memberships only exacerbates that problem. We repeat: that the Vatican didn't recognize this as a problem or doesn't care that it is a problem is very worrisome.
When Francis met with the commission for the first time in September, he praised its members, saying "Without you who brought the thing off the ground it would have been impossible to do what we have done and to do what we must still do in the Curia." We fear that with the commission empty, even for a few months, its credibility will continue to erode and "the work we still must do" won't get done.
We have noted in recent editorials that the Catholic Church as a whole has made great strides in addressing the sexual abuse of children. In many ways, the church has set up model programs and procedures to deal with this crime. But we have also warned repeatedly that as the situation improves, complacency becomes the enemy of continued progress. Complacency puts children at risk and that is something we cannot allow to happen.
Two things have happened this week to remind us about the Roman Catholic Church's handling of child abuse:
1. The Arch Cover Upper - Law has died.
2. Pope Francis and the Vatican have allowed its commission on abuse to lapse.
Law was a mini monster - a creation of the greater monster - the RC institution.
Law only did what he was trained to do - put the reputation and finances of the RC institution before the innocence of the many thousands of innocent little children that have been raped and abused by generations of clerics and religious.
Law is not gone to appear before the Just God. We have no way of knowing how that Just God has dealt with him - but we can be assured that the Just God has given Law the justice he deserves.
But the Greater Monster - the RC institution we still have with us - and that monster has allowed its so-called commission into child abuse to lapse.
It was never really committed to tacking the abuse and its causes in the first place. The commission was mere window dressing - PR - to try and fool the world into thinking that something was being done.
When members of the commission came up with real challenges they were simply let go. Now the commission has been allowed to lapse - even under Francis - the great PR pope!
The Vatican wants to go back to the old ways - to business as abnormal - where mere lay people pay up, pray up and shut up - and where children and their parents are expected to offer up their sufferings (abuse) with the sufferings of Christ on the cross! "Poor Father, he had a moment of weakness". "Poor Father, the child was actually the one who led him on".
What is the answer to all of this?
Well, I'm afraid its an answer that will never be allowed to happen.
Let Italy revoke it's 1929 concordat with the Vatican and take jurisdiction over the "rogue state" - where popes, cardinals, bishops, and clergy can be brought before the courts for abuse and abuse cover-up.
Of course, that will not happen because the Vatican is too powerful and too wealthy and too friendly with so many other global monsters.
And anyway, what are 50,000 children's bodies and souls worth - against the "good" that flows from maintaining the global status quo.
|"MOM, THERE'S A MAN DRESSED IN A PEDOPHILE COSTUME AT THE DOOR"|