Cardinal Law’s funeral celebrated at Vatican

| December 21, 2017 | 10 Comments

Pope Francis prays near the casket of Cardinal Bernard Law at the end of his funeral Mass Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Cardinal Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, died Dec. 20 in Rome at age 86. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, made mistakes as all people do, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said at his funeral.

Cardinal Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the funeral Mass for Cardinal Law Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said, “unfortunately, each one of us can sometimes lack in fidelity to our mission. That is why, at the beginning of every Mass, we say the ‘Confiteor,'” the prayer that begins, “I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned.”

Cardinal Law died in a Rome hospital early Dec. 20.

Pope Francis, as is customary for the funerals of cardinals who die in Rome, arrived at the end of Mass to preside over the final commendation and farewell. In the Catholic funeral rite, the final commendation and farewell are formal prayers entrusting the deceased to the mercy of God.

The pope read the prayers in Latin, sprinkled the cardinal’s casket with holy water and blessed it with incense. But he made no remarks about the cardinal or his life.

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano told the small group of mourners that Cardinal Law had “dedicated his life” to the church with 56 years of service as a priest, bishop and cardinal “of the great diocese of Boston” before his appointment as archpriest of Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major.

“It was precisely here in Rome that he closed his eyes to this world to open them in the light of eternity,” Cardinal Sodano said.

Callista Gingrich, who was about to present her letters of credential to Pope Francis as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, were among those attending the funeral.

As Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Cardinal Law’s successor in Boston, said in a statement Dec. 20: “In the Catholic tradition, the Mass of Christian burial is the moment in which we all recognize our mortality, when we acknowledge that we all strive for holiness in a journey which can be marked by failures large and small.”

“Cardinal Law,” he added, “will be buried in Rome where he completed his last assignment.”

The cardinal was to be buried in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major where he served as archpriest from 2004 to 2011.

Contributing to this story were Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves in Rome.

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  • Lucia

    Wait, ‘we all make mistakes?’ Really cardinal Sodano? That kind of moral equivalency is shameful. That is a shameful statement, a shameful homily, a shameful article. This is why no one respects Catholic leadership anymore.

    No, I make the mistake of waiting to long to let the dog out. I don’t hide serial child rapists. This is absurd. Just unbelievable and absurd. Poorly done, Church.

    • Helen JP

      Amen Lucia!! Remember, Angelo Sodano was also involved in cover-ups of rapists so no surprise here. Unfortunately, the Church leadership doesn’t really care what we think as long as the money rolls in. If the money was shut off, things would change rapidly. I’m guessing (hoping) it’s very hot where Law is and where Angelo is heading.

      • Daniel Bauer

        Helen JP you are exactly.correct. The CREEP Sodano eulogizing the CREEP Bernard Law. The only way this sick twisted behavior will cease is to stop the flow of money (every penny) to the Catholic Church.

        • Helen JP

          Amen Daniel! I can imagine cutting the money off would change the corporate management structure and protection of rapists rapidly. I haven’t given any money to the so-called Church for years. I will be able to look Jesus in the eye and say that I didn’t give a cent to them so they could protect rapists. I also know that none of my money paid for this hypocritical, bogus, and shameful spectacle.

          • Charles C.

            Dear Helen JP, Daniel Bauer, and Lucia,

            You don’t have to respond or say anything. A discussion is entirely optional.

            I don’t know your circumstances or beliefs. I don’t know what is truly in your hearts, all I can see are your words. The level of hatred and anger in those words is extraordinary. If they reflect what is in your hearts, please pray that your hearts be softened.

            If, as I suspect, Cardinal Law was truly repentant salvation may be his. I pray that is the case. My life is worse than the Cardinal’s and I hope God is forgiving. Perhaps you have sins in your lives that require God’s forgiveness.

            I know this doesn’t sound reasonable, but I’m simply opening my heart to you because it seems to me that you are all in danger. I love you, get rid of the hatred, fill your hearts with God’s love, please.

      • tschraad

        Helen, I am hoping that they repented and are in purgatory/heaven. If they made it, then I also can make it eventually to heaven. We all will have to atone for our sins. No one escapes atonement.

        I trust in Jesus.

  • tschraad

    I am not here to defend Cardinal Law or to judge him as Jesus already has given him the rewards or punishment he, as Judge, commanded.

    Keep in mind that the Church is us and by not giving to your local Church, you are saying to Jesus, and me, that “love of neighbor” doesn’t count if someone in the “Church of over a billion people” commits a serious sin. You also should take a look at the 7th and 10th commandment and see that you may also be violating these teachings.

    Do not hurt others, who were not involved, to get even with someone you considered evil.

    • Tammy Cyphers

      tschradd, I will decide who I give my money to, not you or the Church. In my case, I also don’t give for two reasons. Reason one is as a form a protest. I truly feel that the leadership should change because of what they didn’t do with the widespread child abuse. If they covered even for one priest that raped a child, I would feel this way. The Church won’t change leadership because they are arrogant and prideful men in my experience, also sins. Of course, this only works if everyone did it. No money given by anyone would force a change I assure you. But, I also do it because I know that money given eventually ends up in the pensions of priests who did abuse children and were moved and beat the statute of limitations. I am very sure Jesus wants that and I will be able to say I didn’t give money to this. To further this, I once asked Bishop Piche if it was a sin to not give money knowing the money went there and he said it wasn’t a sin if I gave or didn’t give. I can find the email if you like but I will continue to do so and it doesn’t make me a sinner like you suggest, it makes it none of your business.

      • tschraad

        Tammy – it is my business if I believe my neighbor should be admonished or corrected. Yet, it is your informed conscience that tells you that you are on the right path. Jesus of course will decide, not me nor Bishop Piche.

        I suggest that maybe you could give directly to a retired priest or sister instead of into a fund which includes these priests that abused.

        Have a Blessed New Year

  • Myron Chow

    Very interesting comments, for and against Bernard Law. I would ask, did Hitler do some good in his life or was it offset by his evil deeds? I know it is a huge stretch of Hitler vs Law but is comparing large evils vs small evils. If Hilter repented, then he would go to Heaven by the laws of the Church (suicide aside). Is that correct? By the same token, if Law repented, then he would go to Heaven, correct? I was raised by the Baltimore Catechism and maybe it is old school but we were taught if you were evil and didn’t repent, you would burn in the pits of Hell. If that is what happened to Law and Hitler, then that’s what happened and so be it. Like Charles C suggests, he doesn’t understand who Lucia, Helen JP or Daniel Bauer are and neither do I. For myself, I do understand this if they were victims or knew victims of Law or maybe a priest or bishop locally. It’s always different when it happens to you and I don’t see any defense of Law.