22, December 2017
Pope Francis has denounced the “corrupted” elements and the “cancer” of cliques in the Catholic Church who portray themselves as “martyrs” when they are removed.
The Pope said on Thursday that while there were many faithful elements working at the Holy See, there were also elements that were “corrupted.”
When they are removed, “they falsely declare themselves martyrs of the system, of an ‘uninformed pope’ or the ‘old guard,’ when in fact they should have done a mea culpa,” he said.
On that same day, the pontiff attended the funeral service of dishonored US Cardinal Bernard Law at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Cardinal Law, who resigned as Archbishop of Boston after covering up years of sexual abuse of children by priests but was promoted at the Vatican, died Wednesday at age 86.
His funeral was held with about 200 people attending and no mention of what caused his downfall.
Pope Francis attended the funeral to recite blessings and conduct a brief service known as the Final Commendation and Farewell, which he does for all cardinals who die in Rome. The pope read out the Latin prayer of farewell and commendation to God without adding any comment.
About 15 cardinals were present, including Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Piero Parolin, but Law’s successor in Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, did not attend.
Law was Archbishop of Boston — one of the most prestigious and wealthy American archdioceses — for 18 years when then-Pope John Paul reluctantly accepted his resignation on December 13, 2002, after a tumultuous year in Church history.
A succession of devastating news stories by Boston Globe reporters showed how priests who sexually abused children had been moved from parish to parish for years under Law’s tenure without parishioners or law authorities being informed.
Victim groups had expressed outrage that Law’s funeral would be held in St. Peter’s Basilica and that he would be buried in a crypt in a chapel of the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he served as archpriest after leaving Boston.
About a half dozen ambassadors to the Vatican attended the Mass. The United States’ official representative was Louis Bono, the current chief of mission at the US embassy to the Vatican.
US Ambassador-designate to Vatican Callista Gingrich and her husband Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, attended in a private capacity. Callista officially takes on her role as ambassador on Friday.
The ambassadors of Britain, Japan, and South Korea also attended.
‘New bishops worse than amateur Cardinal Law’
Law left Boston after revelations that he covered up for dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, moving them to different parishes without telling parents or police.
The scandal, exposed by The Boston Globe then spread throughout the US and the world, with thousands of people from all continents coming forward in ensuing years with claims their priests sexually abused them when they were children.
St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to head St. Mary Major in 2004 reinforced the impression that the Vatican — which had turned a blind eye to abuse for decades — still hadn’t grasped the scale of the problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility the church had lost as a result.
Rev. Thomas Doyle, a key whistleblower in the decades-old clerical sex abuse saga, said there were still bishops who have chosen to protect the Church and their priests more than children.
“One thing is certain: Bernard Law may be the remembered face of hierarchical cover-up and mendacity, but there are others who were far, far worse and carry a greater burden of guilt because they knew by then what the score was,” Doyle said in an email, ticking off a list of well-known bishops who have been publicly shamed — and in some cases prosecuted — for covering up for their priests.
“They make Law look like an amateur.”