- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

Vatican officials expect Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law to offer his resignation today, reported a wire service that specializes in coverage of the Catholic Church.
Catholic World News yesterday cited sources close to the Holy See as saying that as Cardinal Law meets with Pope John Paul II today, "Vatican officials expect the embattled American prelate to offer his resignation."
The pope must accept resignations before a prelate steps down.
"Vatican officials who have spoken with Cardinal Law during the past few days are indicating that they expect him to offer his resignation," said Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World News and former editor of the Boston Archdiocese newspaper, the Pilot.
"No one is ready to predict how the pope will respond," Mr. Lawler said in an interview.
Wire services in Rome, citing Vatican sources, have been saying the resignation "was possible."
Cardinals and bishops routinely offer their resignations at age 75, but all offers must be accepted by the pope. Cardinal Law, who at 71 is the longest-sitting cardinal in the American church, could be the first cardinal to resign amid a modern church scandal.
At least four bishops have resigned in recent years after being accused of sexual misconduct. Cardinal Law has been accused in lawsuits of negligence by letting abusive priests stay in various kinds of ministries.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said yesterday that any changes in the Archdiocese of Boston would be announced in Rome after Cardinal Law's meeting today with the pope.
On Monday, the Vatican said only that Cardinal Law "came to inform the Holy See about various aspects of the situation in his diocese of Boston."
In April, when the sexual-abuse scandal rocked the Boston Archdiocese and was spreading nationwide, Cardinal Law also flew secretly to Rome and reportedly offered to resign. He returned to Boston determined to lead the archdiocese through the crisis.
Last week, a new series of thousands of court-released documents showed several more cases of abusive priests who were protected by the archdiocese. The Boston Globe also reported that a grand jury subpoena was delivered to the cardinal's residence on Dec. 6, a day before he traveled unannounced to Rome.
The Vatican has denied reports that Cardinal Law would be replaced by a "co-adjutor," or administrative successor. But there has been no comment since Cardinal Law's departure on what might be at stake.
The trip to Rome has been viewed as a crucial consultation between Cardinal Law and the Vatican on a resignation and on the Boston Archdiocese taking the unprecedented step of declaring bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy would protect that archdiocese from further sexual abuse and negligence lawsuits, but also put the internal affairs of the church in the hands of a judge and investigators. The Vatican must approve a bankruptcy filing.
Cardinal Law also could soon be facing questions from a Massachusetts grand jury investigating the priest sex-abuse scandal.
He and seven bishops who once worked for him were subpoenaed last week to appear before a grand jury looking into suspected criminal violations by church officials, a source familiar with the subpoenas told the Associated Press yesterday on the condition of anonymity.
Cardinal Law, who has testified in depositions for civil suits, flew to Rome the day after receiving the subpoena.
The other bishops subpoenaed by the office of Attorney General Thomas Reilly are Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; and Bishop Robert Banks of Green Bay, Wis.

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