Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican: 'It's Forgiveness.' Victims: 'It's More Pain.'

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican: 'It's Forgiveness.' Victims: 'It's More Pain.'

Article excerpt

If the continuing calls for Pope John Paul II's sainthood have provided a testament of his enduring charisma, a memorial Mass at St. Peter's Basilica April 11 served as a harbinger of the challenges facing his successor.

Cardinal Bernard Law, former Boston archbishop, celebrated one of nine memorial Masses for Pope John Paul II, drawing members of an American advocacy group representing victims of clergy abuse to the basilica to protest his role.

Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) arrived under the colonnade of St. Peter's Square bearing informational pamphlets and photos of their abusers and were greeted by a throng of rowdy paparazzi. The ensuing scrum prompted police to relocate the delegation across the street from the square, before escorting them into the basilica where they attended a portion of the Mass.

"This isn't about punishing Cardinal Law," said Barbara Blaine, founder of the 5,000-member group. "It's just that his presence in such a position brings about more pain and suffering."

When Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in December 2002, many Americans had the impression that this terminated his leadership in the church. In fact, it simply meant that he was no longer in charge of the church in Boston; he continues to be a cardinal in good standing, with, among other things, the right to cast a vote for the next pope.

He also continues to serve as a full member of several influential Vatican congregations and councils. …

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