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Cardinal Law Meets With Key Vatican Officials

Dec 10, 2002 | AP Boston Cardinal Bernard Law kept up his closed-door talks Tuesday at the Vatican, meeting with top officials who would handle the damage caused by the sex abuse scandal the possibilities of a bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese and resignation by Law.

The Vatican has said little about the previously unannounced visit by Law, except for a brief statement by papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls that the American came for consultations about his archdiocese.

Navarro-Valls also said Law asked for the meetings, meaning he was not summoned.

A senior Vatican official said Law was meeting Tuesday with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation of Bishops, which would handle a resignation, though acceptance would eventually be up to the pope.

Law was also scheduled to meet with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos Dario, head of the Congregation of Clergy whose approval would be needed if Law decided to go ahead with Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Last week, the Boston archdiocese's finance panel gave Law the authority to seek bankruptcy protection a move that may prove financially necessary but would infuriate abuse victims seeking damages in dozens of lawsuits filed against the Church.

The senior Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Law's "agenda was open" but that he was expected to see the pope later this week, possibly joining him for lunch.

The official dismissed speculation that the Vatican was weighing the unusual step of naming a "coadjutor," or a successor to Law who would serve alongside him to spare him having to resign in disgrace. The official said the idea has "never been considered" by the Vatican.

As Law remained in Rome, 58 Boston-area priests signed a letter calling for his resignation.

"The events of recent months and, in particular, of these last few days, make it clear to us that your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston," according to the letter.

There are some 600 priests in the archdiocese.

The letter referred to the release of documents disclosing further cases of sex abuse in the archdiocese. Law is accused of moving priests from parish to parish despite knowledge of sex abuse allegations against them.

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