Cardinal Bernard F. Law, forced to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after a long sex abuse scandal involving clergy and boys, was chosen by Pope John Paul II to be archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.
The basilica, one of the four most important basilicas in Rome, is under direct Vatican jurisdiction.
The appointment of Law, 72, angered Law's critics.
David G. Clohessy, the national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests of Chicago, chided church leaders in Rome for what he called insensitivity to abuse victims.
"Why can't the Vatican officials see that any position of honor afforded to Law will inevitably and needlessly cause more pain to hundreds who have been abused and have already suffered enough?" Clohessy told Friday's New York Times.
"It just rubs salt into already deep wounds for parishioners, victims and their families."
Law quit his Boston archbishopric in 2002 amid revelations he protected priests who molested boys.