US cardinal Bernard Law, who was at the centre of a huge paedophile priest scandal that rocked the US Catholic Church in 2002, has died in Rome aged 86.
“Cardinal Bernard Law died early this morning after a long illness,” the Vatican said in a statement on Wednesday.
Born in 1931 in Mexico, the former archbishop of Boston stepped down from that post in 2002 after newspapers revealed a cover-up on a massive scale of abusing priests in Law’s diocese. At the time, 58 Boston priests demanded in a letter that he resign.
Under Law’s leadership and before, the Boston archdiocese systematically moved priests who had admitted to or were suspected of predatory sex assaults on children to new postings, often just one step ahead of complaints from angry parents.
The new churches, some of them as far west as California, were not informed of the abuse records.
Law features in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” which portrays a team of investigative journalists from the Boston Globe newspaper who uncover the scandal.
The Boston scandal spread to other dioceses across the United States, including Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St Louis.
After standing down, Law withdrew to Rome, where in 2005 he officiated at the Requiem Mass for the late pope – now Saint – John Paul II.
From 2004 to 2011 he was archpriest at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, an honorary position with only ceremonial duties.