- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

BOSTON (AP) After months of criticism for his role in the Catholic church's sex-abuse scandal, Cardinal Bernard Law in recent weeks had restored some normalcy to his duties, leading the Boston Archdiocese and making high-profile public appearances.
But lurid revelations this past week have renewed anger with Cardinal Law, and some priests even plan to debate whether the cardinal should keep his job.
Personnel files made public Tuesday among documents handed to lawyers for dozens of purported victims contained some of the most spectacular accusations to emerge so far, suggesting church officials tolerated priests with a range of aberrant behaviors not just sexual abuse of boys.
Among them: a priest beating his housekeeper and threatening purported sex-abuse victims, another trading cocaine for sex and a third enticing teenagers training to become nuns into sexual relations by claiming to be the second coming of Christ.
Another blow followed later in the week with the disclosure that a priest had been a womanizer who fathered at least two children and failed to immediately get medical help for the mother of their children when she overdosed.
"We kept thinking we had seen it all, and we hadn't," said Susan Troy, a member of the lay group Voice of the Faithful, which plans a debate this week on whether to call on Cardinal Law to resign.
More bad news came Wednesday, with word that an archdiocese financial panel had given Cardinal Law the authority to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy a move that may prove financially necessary but would infuriate abuse victims seeking damages.
"The calls for the cardinal to resign among the priests are becoming much more extensive and louder," said the Rev. Robert Bullock, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows church in Sharon. He leads the Boston Priests Forum, a group of about 250 priests that plans a discussion Friday on whether to call on Cardinal Law to resign. "We're horrified by what we're learning."
There may be more. Additional personnel files sought by plaintiffs' attorneys have yet to be released.
Members of both Voice of the Faithful and the priest forum said the latest revelations were particularly disturbing because Cardinal Law had assured them that nothing else from recent history would emerge from the files. But some of the new files showed priests accused of deviant behavior had simply been transferred to new parishes as recently as 1999.
"I think this is the bale of straw that is going to break his back," said Stephen Pope, chairman of the Boston College theology department.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey did not return a phone message left yesterday.
Cardinal Law had practically dropped out of sight after the church sex scandal broke earlier this year, making few public appearances other than Mass and answering demands for his resignation largely with silence.
That changed this fall. In October, he appeared along with the governor, Bruce Springsteen and others at the dedication of a Bunker Hill memorial. He spoke at an anti-abortion rally and held a Mass in support of janitors who are striking for better wages and health care.
Some of Cardinal Law's supporters said they continue to believe he can best serve the church by remaining in office to oversee efforts to clean up the problem.
"Certainly, there are problems in our church, and the cardinal is taking a leadership role to protect those problems today," said John Vercollone, president of the Boston chapter of Legatus, an organization of Catholic business owners and chief executives.
But Father Bullock said Cardinal Law's presence has become an obstacle not only to parish life, but to the broader ministry of the church.

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