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Posted April 11, 2005 at 5:56 a.m. CDT

Law appearance draws protesters from U.S.

By Stacey Meichtry
Vatican City

Former Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law was expected to celebrate a memorial Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica Monday as members of an American advocacy group representing victims of clergy abuse arrived in Rome.

Leaders of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) plan a sit-in protest outside the basilica in objection to Law’s designation to lead one of nine memorial Masses that precede the conclave. 

"It feels like Cardinal Law is exploiting the pope's death for his own self-aggrandizing rehabilitation," David Clohessy, executive director of the 5,000-member group told The Washington Post. "It is just rubbing salt into our wounds and the wounds of caring Catholics."

Law resigned from the archdiocese of Boston in 2002 under pressure following the release of court records showing that Law had permitted priests guilty of child sex abuse to change parishes without informing the public. Law was thereafter designated as Archpriest of Saint Mary Major, Rome’s oldest and most prominent Marian basilica and has maintained close relations to top church officials in Rome. His designation as the celebrant of the fourth day of John Paul II’s official mourning is a privilege traditionally given to Archpriests who head Rome’s major Basilicas.

At Sunday’s memorial Mass at St. Peter’s, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar of Rome under John Paul II, emphasized the pontiff’s devotion to the Madonna during his closely-watched homily. 

With cardinals holding to a self-imposed a media blackout announced Saturday, public attention has shifted to the memorial Masses for indications of what prelates are thinking as they prepare to enter conclave on April 18. 

Appearances by cardinals at other churches thoughout Rome are also being closely mapped.

Rome’s Il Messeggerro reported a high turnout at Gesu Divino Lavoratore Sunday where the parish’s titular priest Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, a papabile, celebrated Mass.


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