Originally published on December 20, 2017
By Deborah Becker
Reaction to the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the man who came to be the face of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, has been emotional, particularly for survivors of clergy abuse.
Law, who led the Boston archdiocese for 19 years before he stepped down in disgrace over the scandal in 2002, died in Rome early Wednesday. He was 86.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the current leader of Boston’s archdioceses, said his predecessor was more than the mistakes he made when he failed to properly address clergy sex abuse. O’Malley said he understands how the death of Law has re-opened old wounds for abuse survivors.
“The hurt is still there,” he said, speaking to reporters Wednesday. “Healing is still necessary, and we all must be vigilant, especially for prevention of child abuse and to create safe environments.”
The ‘Fatal Flaws’ Of Cardinal Law
Many clergy abuse survivors said they were flooded with emotions upon learning of Law’s death.
Speaking to reporters, some survivors gathered to reflect on Law’s death and the abuse they suffered by the priests he oversaw in Boston.
One of the survivors, Bob Costello, said those memories still haunt him — even decades later. He told reporters he remembers meeting with Cardinal Law.
“During the meeting I discussed why he hadn’t done anything, and he really couldn’t give me an answer,” Costello said. “He just couldn’t come to terms with saying that he lied and that he cheated, and that he allowed children to be raped.”
Costello and another survivor who spoke to reporters, Alexa MacPherson, said they are both still angry that after Law stepped down he was appointed to an influential post at the Vatican. Law worked there until he retired six years ago.
“He was never held accountable,” MacPherson said. “He was rewarded with a prestigious position in the Vatican, and he moved on with his life, and he forgot about us over here.”
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