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Reaction: 'Sad day in Boston'

By DAVID D. HASKELL

BOSTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- There was no celebration in Boston at the news Friday that the pope had accepted Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation, just expressions of profound sadness.

"Today is a very difficult day for people throughout the Archdiocese of Boston," said Law's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey.

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"The resignation is just one more moment of sadness," the Rev. Christopher Coyne said at a news conference with Morrissey at the archdiocese headquarters.

Pope John Paul II accepted Law's resignation earlier in the day at the Vatican in Rome. Law resigned in disgrace over his protection of priests who sexually abused children.

Law "is a good man, a flawed man," Coyne said. "But his basic goodness is so much a part of what he is."

"This past year has been a year of tremendously difficult moments," Morrissey said. "My thoughts go out to the victim survivors. They need our full support."

Morrissey, who has been the public face for the cardinal throughout the crisis, said the resignation does not bring an end to it.

"I don't think it's going to be over for our lifetime," she said. "I don't think it'll ever be over."

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Morrissey said Law is expected to return to Boston over the weekend, and will "fulfill" all of his "obligations." Law, who remains a cardinal, is scheduled to be deposed again Tuesday by lawyers for alleged victims of clergy sex abuse.

However, he has no public schedule at this time, Morrissey told reporters. The archdiocese, she said, will continue to reach out to abuse victims.

Morrissey said she talked to the cardinal earlier in the day and said he was "doing OK."

She said it was his "fervent prayer" his resignation may help the archdiocese "to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed."

She said that to all those who have suffered from "his shortcomings and mistakes," the cardinal both apologized to them and begged forgiveness.

Reaction was quick when the news hit Boston. The Boston Globe put out a special edition, the first since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Cardinal Law Resigns," read the headline.

A longtime friend and supporter of the cardinal, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, said the resignation "was the right thing to do."

The news of the resignation was greeted by the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Boston "with great sadness."

Greg Ford, an alleged victim of abuse, said he was "happy to hear that he (Law) took the steps of a man" and resigned.

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"I think it's good for the victims and all of the people in the Catholic church," said Ford, whose lawsuit is just one of more than 400 filed against Law and the archdiocese.

"I think it will take a lot of time to fix everything, but I think it can be done," Ford said. "But it will take a lot of work."

Ford said he would now like to see the district attorney pursue criminal charges of aiding and abetting against Law.

District Attorney Tom Reilly, who reportedly has subpoenaed Law to appear before a grand jury investigating possible criminal charges, said the resignation did not surprise him.

"We are going to continue our investigation," Reilly said.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., whose law firm represents some 200 alleged victims, said with the resignation the archdiocese "could be quickly on the road to financial recovery."

"It's a sad moment for Boston and for the church around the world," said Stephen Pope, chairman of the theology department at the Jesuit-run Boston College. "But it seems to be a necessary step at this time."

Pope said the resignation does not bring an end to the scandal.

"We're really in the middle of swimming across the English channel," he said.

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Pope said the man the Vatican has assigned to take over temporarily at the archdiocese, the Most Rev. Richard C. Lennon, is "a very good person" who has been "heartbroken about the whole crisis we're in right now, especially for the victims."

Lennon, appointed to the position of apostolic administrator, was not immediately available for comment. Coyne said he was tied up meeting with students and officials at the St. John's Seminary, where he was rector.

Raymond Flynn, former Boston mayor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said the pope "placed the best interests of the church over personalities, and it's time to move forward."

"This is a day that is both sad, but I think also hopeful," said James E. Post, president of the Voice of the Faithful, a lay group formed earlier this year as a result of the revelations of clergy sex abuse.

"Sad in that it brings to a new point this terrible chapter of tragedy and disclosure that has just brought the church to its knees," he said. "It's hopeful because I think the holy father has recognized that the healing process that has to go on here could not go on under Cardinal Law's leadership."

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Post said the resignation had to be accepted. "It's part of the new realities of where Boston is today."

He said he expects more resignations.

"I think there probably should be because there are the fingerprints of many auxiliary bishops on these matters. I think the Archdiocese of Boston is probably in a better place today than virtually any other diocese in the United States because the records that were previously secret have been made public.

"Other dioceses have to go through this as well," Post said. "They have to go through the cleansing effect of putting sunlight on the records."

"There's no doubt that the entire American Catholic church has been rocked by this scandal," Post said. "We have been part of a sad chapter in the history of the church in North America."

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