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Sunday 21 October 2018

Boston 'Spotlight' cardinal who covered up sexual abuse dies at 86

Cardinal Bernard Law (right) celebrates a mourning Mass for the late Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 2005
Cardinal Bernard Law (right) celebrates a mourning Mass for the late Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 2005

Dean Gray

US Cardinal Bernard Law, a once-influential Church figure, who was forced to resign after failing to stop paedophile priests in one of the biggest crises in American Catholicism, has died, the Vatican has said. He was 86.

The former Boston cardinal had fallen from grace after allegedly shielding priests involved in a wide-reaching sex-abuse scandal that shook the Roman Catholic Church and eclipsed his long and once venerated career.

Allegations of molestation and cover-ups surfaced almost daily after the scandal had first erupted in Boston, where Law was forced to resign in 2002.

Two years later, an investigation established that some 4,400 Catholic priests were paedophiles and that the number of victims between 1950 and 2002 stood at around 11,000.

The scandal was broken by the 'Boston Globe' newspaper's investigative reporting team, whose dogged uncovering of horrific widespread abuse by priests won a Pulitzer prize and was made into an Oscar-winning film 'Spotlight'.

Transferred in shame to a low-key position in a Rome basilica, Law had been recently hospitalised following a prolonged illness.

He was accused of moving priest John Geoghan from parish to parish, despite knowing that Geoghan was believed to have abused up to 130 boys.

It later emerged that Law had also known of dozens of accusations against another priest, Paul Shanley, but had allowed him to continue working closely with children too.

Irish Independent

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