The Vatican announced today Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston has resigned. The head of the Archdiocese of Boston is at the center of the sex abuse scandal in the Church. Over the last year, there have been repeated disclosures that Cardinal Law kept on the job dozens of priests who raped and molested children and teenagers, simply transferring them from one parish to another. Abuse victims, lay members and even some priests had intensified calls for Law to resign. More than 450 people are currently suing the Archdiocese of Boston, saying they are victims of abuse by priests. The scandal has already cost the Boston church tens of millions of dollars. Just yesterday, the Massachusetts Attorney General accused Church officials of developing an elaborate scheme to keep sexual abuse by priests away from attention of law enforcement officials. The Massachusetts Attorney General said a grand jury is investigating whether officials can be held criminally liable. The Boston Globe reports a subpoena has already been issued to Cardinal Law.
Meanwhile, President Bush yesterday bypassed both houses of Congress and issued a series of executive orders directing federal agencies to allow religious charities to receive more government grants and contracts. The order allows federal dollars to go to religious groups that discriminate in hiring based on sexual orientation, religion or race. The Reverend Barry Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He accused Bush of being on “a crusade to bring about an unprecedented merger of religion and government. ” Lynn said his organization will challenge Bush’s order in court.
Also yesterday, President Bush delivered a public rebuke to incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, saying his comments “did not reflect the spirit of our church.” A few days ago, Lott praised Senator Strom Thurmond. He said if Thurmond had won in his 1948 presidential campaign, “we wouldn’t have all these problems over all these years.” Thurmond campaigned on an anti-civil rights platform whose slogan was “segregation forever.” Criticism of Lott is escalating. For two days, the White House accepted Lott’s so-called apologies for how people “misinterpreted” his comments. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said Bush does not think Lott should resign.