Monday, December 9, 2002

So, what's he doing there?

Law is seeking advice from a number of church leaders about how to manage the extraordinary sexual abuse crisis that is engulfing the Archdiocese of Boston, according to the official, who asked not to be named. Last night, an American reporter spotted Law having dinner at a restaurant in Rome with Bishop James Harvey, the highest-ranking American on Pope John Paul II's personal staff.The official said he expects Law to resign eventually as archbishop, a post he has held since 1984, but not until he has resolved the legal and financial crises facing the local church.

Law's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, confirmed yesterday afternoon that Law is in Rome, but said she could not provide any details about the duration or purpose of his trip. She could not say when Law would return from Rome. Lawyers for clergy abuse victims said the cardinal is scheduled to be deposed again Dec. 17.

The cardinal's staff had for days offered no information about Law's departure from Boston, telling reporters that he was expected to appear at a Catholic Charities fund-raiser at the Four Seasons Hotel on Friday night, and telling the staff at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross it was uncertain as late as Friday whether the cardinal would celebrate Mass on Sunday. In the bulletin printed for yesterday's Mass, Law was listed as the celebrant and homilist.

Officials at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where Law is chairman of the board of trustees, said they were under the impression as late as Friday afternoon that Law would be attending a board meeting that begins today and runs through Wednesday. But yesterday a university spokesman said Law had notified the university's president that he would not make the meeting.

At virtually the same time that Morrissey was telling reporters at a news conference yesterday in the basement of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross that she could not say why Law did not show up for Mass, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen Jr., spotted the cardinal dining at Ristorante Cecilia Metella, an upscale hideaway on the outskirts of Rome where high-ranking church officials often go to have discreet conversations.

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