The death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, ends a sad chapter in the history of widespread child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.
Doggedly exhaustive investigative reporting by the Spotlight team of journalists at The Boston Globe found that Cardinal Law had repeatedly moved abusive priests from parish to parish when he became aware that they were molesting children. The Globe’s reporting of the story became the subject of an Oscar-winning film, Spotlight.
As a prince of the Church, and in his position as archbishop of the wealthiest Catholic diocese in the United States, Cardinal Law would have had the power to confront those priests and stop the abuse, but he didn’t.
We in Ireland owe The Boston Globe journalists a great debt. It was they who helped to galvanise the media here into investigating failures of the Irish Church hierarchy, with many bishops found to be also guilty of covering up or wilfully ignoring child abuse by paedophile priests.
Five bishops and two auxiliary bishops resigned as a result.