Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • A moment of the funeral service for late Cardinal Bernard Law, at St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 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. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese Cardinal Sean O'Malley speaks to the media, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Braintree, Mass., on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law. The disgraced former Boston archbishop, who epitomized the Catholic Church's failure to protect children from sexually abusive priests, died Wednesday in Rome. He was 86. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

  • Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese Cardinal Sean O'Malley speaks to the media, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Braintree, Mass., on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law. The disgraced former Boston archbishop, who epitomized the Catholic Church's failure to protect children from sexually abusive priests, died Wednesday in Rome. He was 86. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

  • The Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies Guido Marini stands next to the coffin during a funeral service for late Cardinal Bernard Law, at St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 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. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Thursday, December 21, 2017 2:00 pm

Pope prays for merciful final judgment for Cardinal Law

NICOLE WINFIELD | Associated Press

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis prayed Thursday for a merciful final judgment for Cardinal Bernard Law, presiding over the funeral rites for a man who epitomized the Catholic Church's failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

In a final blessing at Law's funeral Mass at the back altar of St. Peter's Basilica, Francis blessed Law's coffin with incense and holy water, and recited the ritual prayer commending his soul to God.

"May he be given a merciful judgment so that redeemed from death, freed from punishment, reconciled to the Father, carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd, he may deserve to enter fully into everlasting happiness in the company of the eternal King together with all the saints," Francis said in Latin.

The dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, celebrated the funeral Mass, along with some 30 other cardinals, and eulogized Law without making any mention of the scandal. Following the typical protocol, Francis arrived at the end of the service to deliver the final prayer.

In the pews were U.S. Ambassador-designate Callista Gingrich and her husband, Newt, some other members of the diplomatic corps and the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Turnout was otherwise limited, with basilica ushers stacking extra rows of empty seats before the Mass began.

Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 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 and memorialized in the Oscar-winning film "Spotlight," then spread throughout the U.S. and world, with thousands of people from all continents coming forward in ensuing years with claims their priests sexually abused them when they were children.