Fallen Leaders Gallery 7

Fallen Leaders Gallery 7


Cardinal Bernard Law, former archbishop of Boston, allegedly covered up sex abuse allegations against priests working in his archdiocese.

Offense: The former archbishop of Boston helped shuffle pedophile priests John Geoghan and Paul R. Shanley from parish to parish and covered up allegations of their sexual misconduct.

Consequence/Punishment: The Boston Globe revealed Law's complicity in the abuse scandal in January 2002. A media firestorm and public outcry followed, culminating in an unprecedented meeting between American cardinals and Pope John Paul II. More than 50 Boston priests signed a letter urging Law to resign, which he did in December 2002. In a written statement, he begged forgiveness from all who had suffered from his actions. Today, Law presides over an influential church in Rome.

Effect on Community: The sex-abuse scandal reverberated through the country and many other dioceses investigated their own parishes. Dioceses paid millions of dollars in abuse settlements. Victims' rights groups like SNAP (Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests) and accountability groups like Voice of the Faithful came to the forefront. The Catholic Church in America is still grappling with the loss of money and credibility brought about by the sex abuse scandal, as well as the tremendous pain caused to victims, their families, and everyday Catholics who feel betrayed by their leaders.

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