Cardinal Law Resigns as Archbishop of Boston
Catholic Leader Felled by Handling of Church Sex-Abuse Scandal

Listen Listen to the latest NPR coverage.

Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Bernard Law
Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited

"To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness."

Cardinal Bernard Law

Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon
Bishop Richard Lennon
Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited

Dec. 15, 2002 -- Cardinal Bernard Law resigned Friday as Archbishop of Boston amid persistent controversy over his handling of sex-abuse allegations against Roman Catholic clergy under his supervision. The decision came after months of criticism from inside and outside the church.

Pope John Paul II accepted Law's resignation during a meeting at the Vatican. The pope named Bishop Richard Lennon as temporary head of the Boston archdiocese.

"It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed," Law said.

"To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness."

Law faced mounting criticism following revelations that for years he had overlooked charges of sexual misconduct by priests. He is the highest-ranking church official to step down as the result of a scandal that has dismayed and alienated Catholics around the nation.

Lennon will serve as head of the archdiocese until the pope appoints a new archbishop.

"I pledge to do all that I can with the help of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity of the Archdiocese, to work towards healing as a Church and furthering the mission of Jesus Christ within our community," Lennon said Friday.

Law is not resigning his position as cardinal, and will continue to serve the church in that capacity.

A grand jury is considering possible criminal charges against diocesan officials, and the Boston archdiocese is contemplating a bankruptcy filing to address financial problems associated with the turmoil.

In Depth

Click to search for more stories Browse more NPR stories about Bernard Law.

moreJoin the Online Discussion

moreThe Catholic Church and Sex Abuse - NPR Coverage, Commentary on the Church in Crisis

Other Resources:

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Encyclopedia: Celibacy of the Clergy

The Vatican

Voices of the Faithful is a national organization with more than 25,000 members. The Newton, Mass.-based group formed earlier this year in response to the sexual abuse crisis that has permeated the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.