Cardinal Bernard Law dead at 86

Cardinal Bernard Law pictured in 2014. Photo courtesy of Crux.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who headed the Archdiocese of Boston from 1984 to 2002 died in Rome on Wednesday on Dec. 20 at the age of 86.

According to the Catholic News Service (Dec. 20, 2017), his legacy was marred by the clergy sexual abuse crisis, which forced his resignation in December 2002.

He had been considered one of the leading church spokesmen on issues ranging from civil rights to international justice, from abortion to poverty, from Catholic-Jewish relations and ecumenism to war and peace.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, of Boston said in a statement, “As archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities.”

Born in Torreon, Mexico where his father was a career Air Force officer, Cardinal Law attended schools in New York, Florida, Georgia, and Barranquilla, Colombia, and graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

The CNS report notes he graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before entering St. Joseph Seminary in St. Benedict, Louisiana in 1953. He later studied at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio.

Ordained for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson (now Jackson) in1961, he was noted for his civil rights activism. As editor of the diocesan newspaper, the Mississippi Register, he received death threats for his strong editorial positions on civil rights.

He was named bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in 1973 and archbishop of Boston in 1984.

According to media reports a funeral Mass will take place in the afternoon on Dec. 21, at St. Peter’s Basilica with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinal’s as the principal celebrant and Pope Francis, as is customary, presiding at the final commendation.

For the CNS report, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (Dec. 20, 2017) summary, click here.

For Rocco Palmo’s Whispers in the Loggia blog report, click here.