Wednesday, December 11, 2002

More news from, or at least about, Boston:

Cardinal Law seems to be taking a good long while consulting with his superiors in the Vatican. An audience with the Pope is expected no earlier than tomorrow, while he explains the tricky nature of the church's problems here, and his own situation, with all due care.

The Vatican's conventional wisdom seems to be that the American media's obsessive focus on such relatively trival matters as children being raped, or a priest seducing nuns in training by claiming to be a manifestation of god, reflect some peculiar American obsession with sex, so that sort of thing must be old hat over there; likewise Law's cordial and solicitous personal letters to the priests who committed those acts as he installed them in new assignments as shepherds of new flocks of, errrmmm... sheep.

But other aspects of the situation perhaps need to explained with some delicacy and care --- like the unappetizing choice the archdiocese faces between continued discovery in civil suits, which keeps dragging that advice to wayward shepherds out into the open, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would force limits on the civil suits, but would force the archdiocese to expose its financial records, including payments to Rome and its property holdings, reportedly in excess of $1 billion, all of which could be diverted or sold for the victims at the direction of the court.

Moreover, given the vatican's general unfamiliarity with American culture, it may also take a certain delicacy to explain that one of the their highest ranked officials in the United States, in a city where the church has long played a dominant role in civic affairs, is being referred to on top-rated drive-time talk radio as "Bernie the Pimp".

Meanwhile, outraged calls for Law's resignation are so routine that they seem to have become what local newspaper columnists write up when they've had a slow week. Some of them may have it on keyboard macros by now. Likewise from parishoners. But a call for Law's resignation from his fellow priests is something new.

Don't stay up waiting. Law reportedly offered his resignation last Spring, only to find that the Pope, who angrily rejects suggestions that he himself should retire, was in no mood to accept.


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