**See updates below.
UPDATE IV: Vatican says Italian reports are false via John Allen
We’ve posted this update first to clear the air on the issue – to see the initial reports see below.
Reports that Pope Francis has ordered Cardinal Bernard Law to stay away from the Basilica of St. Mary Major and is about to ship him off to a monastery are “completely and totally false,” according to a Vatican spokesperson.
During a press briefing on Thursday about Pope Francis’ visit to St. Mary Major, one of the four pontifical basilicas in Rome, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said that Law had briefly greeted Francis and then exited the scene.
The Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, however, reported that Francis had told Law to stop appearing in public at the basilica, where he retired as Archpriest in November 2011. The report also said that the new pope, “as his first act of purification,” is preparing to dispatch the 81-year-old Law to a cloistered monastery.
Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who’s acting as an assistant Vatican spokesperson during the papal transition, told NCR today that those reports are “completely and totally false.”
Law, of course, resigned as Archbishop of Boston in December 2012 at the peak of the sexual abuse scandals in the United States. His appointment as Archpriest of St. Mary Major in 2004 brought criticism from advocates for abuse victims.
However the new pope decides to deal with Law, there’s no doubt that recovery from the abuse scandals will be high on his to-do list.
While then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio doesn’t have an extensive track record on the church’s abuse scandals, his election as pope was welcomed by the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, largely on the strength of the fact that he doesn’t come out of the Roman Curia.
The new pope has been outspoken on the broader issue of the sexual exploitation of children in society.
“In this city, there are many girls who stop playing with dolls to enter the dump of a brothel because they were stolen, sold, betrayed,” he said in 2011.
“Women and girls are kidnapped, and they are subjected to use and abuse of their body; they are destroyed in their dignity,” he said. “The flesh that Jesus assumed and died for is worth less than the flesh of a pet. A dog is cared for better than these slaves of ours, who are kicked, who are broken.”
The article, from the somewhat sordid “Daily Mail,” reprints Italian news reports. In pertinent part:
So when the appearance of a disgraced cardinal threatened to cast a shadow over his first engagement, Francis I made sure it couldn’t happen again – by banning him from his own church.
Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston in 2002, after being accused of actively covering up for a litany of paedophile priests.’
Despite the scandal which exploded to engulf the entire church, he was given an honorary position at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome.
Though now retired, the cardinal still enjoys a grace and favour apartment in the cathedral complex.
So hearing that the new Pope was offering prayers at the very same church, it seems he couldn’t resist a discreet peak.
But when Pope Francis recognised him, he immediately ordered that Law be removed, according to Italian media reports. He went on to command: ‘He is not to come to this church any more.’
One of the new Pope’s first acts will be to arrange new ‘cloistered’ accommodation for the disgraced cardinal, the Italian daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, reported.
Has the cleaning of the Lord’s House begun?
UPDATE: The exact opposite report has surfaced and those groups that commented in the first article and now commenting that the Pope did indeed meet with Cardinal Law. – Source
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi today confirmed that during his visit to Saint Mary Major, Francis “discreetly’’ greeted Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was the archpriest of the basilica before he retired from that post.
According to reports from Fata Quottidiano , Cardinal Law wanted to meet the new Pontiff. But he did not like to do so. Papa Francis is now planning to move the Cardinal involved in the pedophilia scandal, pushing him into a monastery, as originally wanted by the Vatican, which, however, never materialized.
“Cardinal Law was present in a discrete manner in the chapel along with the members of the chapter and confessors, having been until recently the Dean of St. Maria Maggiore. Then he returned to his home. Nothing to add. ” Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told Adnkronos in response to journalistic speculation whereby yesterday Pope Francis during his visit to the Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore in Rome, told Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, to keep away from the Basilica.
The linked Italian Source: Papa Francesco caccia cardinale Law: “a Boston copriva preti pedofili”
Much thanks to the lister who sent in the following:
Italian (rough translation):
Pope Francis, two days successor to Benedict XVI, not only has already shown with small gestures to be a simple man, far from the usual luxuries of the Church but attentive to the poor, but also would have already taken a clear position on the scandals of priest-pedophiles. According to Carlo Tecce [wrote]: “At a certain point, beyond the portal of Santa Maria Maggiore, the look of Pope Francis turned grim. He did not expect to meet the Mexican Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a large man of 82 years, retired without ever having admitted responsibility for covering up pedophile priests in the diocese of Boston. ” Fact is that at that point Bergoglio Pope, as the first act of cleaning, has decided to transfer the prelate. Maybe in seclusion, a hypothesis that would be a revolution for the Vatican who protected Law subtracting the American judicial process.
“I do not want Law in this Church again,” said the Pope.