- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

VATICAN CITY American church leaders who arrived in Rome yesterday for meetings with the pope and Vatican officials said they will take whatever steps are needed to assure American Catholics that a sex-abuse scandal is under control.

Asked about a report that prelates would push the Vatican to ask Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston to resign, some said they knew of no public effort to force him out.

"If some felt very strongly, they would speak to him privately. I can't see a cabal," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington. He said he didn't think Cardinal Law should step down.

"The trouble began on his watch, and he wants to fix it. Give him a chance," Cardinal McCarrick told reporters gathered near St. Peter's Square.

Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Ill., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said if there were any discussions about Cardinal Law, he felt it was "not appropriate" to talk to the media about it.

The cardinals planned to meet privately later in the day with Pope John Paul II before two days of formal talks begin today.

"I think we'll talk about whatever the cardinals want to talk about because we want to make sure that we handle this and that we are able to say to our people that this is under control, that it won't happen again and we're moving in that direction," Cardinal McCarrick said.

The spotlight was on Cardinal Law, the Boston archbishop facing demands that he resign for his handling of cases of sex abuse by priests in his jurisdiction especially the cases of two known abusers who were moved from parish to parish.

The Los Angeles Times, quoting an unidentified cardinal, reported yesterday that several U.S. cardinals will push the Vatican to ask Cardinal Law to resign.

The cardinal, who spoke to the Times on the condition his name not be used, said other senior prelates had asked him to take the Law case directly to Vatican officials close to the pope. He said he and others would do so during private meetings at the Vatican.

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