Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop who was at the center of the Catholic Church child sex abuse scandal, died on Dec. 20 at a hospital in Rome after suffering from complications of diabetes and liver failure.
Cardinal Law served as the Archbishop of Boston for 18 years before he resigned on Dec. 13, 2002 after a scandalous year. Reports had emerged about him covering up for priests who sexually abused children, and there was talk that he had failed to inform authorities about what was happening, Reuters detailed.
Law's resignation led to the discovery of the techniques that were used worldwide to cover up sex abuse cases within the church. As a result, thousands of victims who had remained quiet for so long were encouraged to speak up, shattering the image of the Catholic Church in various places including Ireland.
Pope Francis sent an unusually short telegram to the College of Cardinals to convey his condolences over Law's death. The pontiff notably did not mention that Law served as the Archbishop of London, only that he was praying that God would welcome the deceased cardinal "in eternal peace."
Meanwhile, Pope Francis not only attended but presided over the funeral mass for Law on Dec. 21 at the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This action is in line with the pontiff's message of forgiveness for the faithful, The Boston Globe reported.
Law's successor, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, was unable to attend the funeral mass as well. His spokesman Terry Donilon explained that the cardinal had just returned to the U.S. after spending a week in Rome.
In addition, Cardinal O'Malley offered an apology to the victims of child sexual abuse during the tenure of Cardinal Law. He acknowledged the impact of the abuse on their lives and said he will support their efforts to obtain healing from their traumatic experiences.