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Protests planned for controversial cardinal's Mass

Former archbishop of Boston resigned in abuse scandal

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Abuse victims object to a disgraced priest's role in the pope's funeral.

Who are the likely candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II.
Roman Catholic Church
Bernard F. Law
Sex Crimes
Boston (Massachusetts)

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Several members of an advocacy group for victims of priest sexual abuse were flying to Rome Sunday to protest Cardinal Bernard Law's celebration of a Mass honoring the late Pope John Paul II, the organization's founder said Saturday night.

Law, former archbishop of Boston, is to say Mass Monday at St. Peter's Basilica.

Law is archpriest of Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, where he presided on Sunday. Pope John Paul II appointed him to that post in 2004 -- two years after Law was implicated in the sexual abuse scandal in Boston.

But The Associated Press reported that he did not give the homily -- an apparent indication of how seriously cardinals preparing to elect a new pope were taking an unanimous decision for secrecy.

Court documents showed Law knowingly moved priests accused of abuse from parish to parish without disclosing allegations against them. He resigned in 2003 amid intense public outrage.

Similar scandals involving priests and other clergy swept dioceses across the nation, forcing the Roman Catholic Church to pay victims hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Law should be banned from saying one of the nine daily Masses.

"It's like rubbing salt into the wounds of the victims," said Blaine, who is among the group heading to Rome.

The Boston archdiocese has told CNN it won't comment on the issue.

SNAP members plan to hand out pamphlets outside the basilica and meet with U.S. cardinals getting ready to choose a new pope.

The sex abuse issue "has to be confronted, and it hasn't been from our perspective. It's been swept under the rug," Blaine said. "Far too many perpetrators remain in ministry."

"The church needs the voice of the victims to sanctify itself," she said.

In a letter Friday to Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, California, SNAP asked him to use his influence to stop Law from saying Mass.

"From our perspective, Law is exploiting this sad time for his own selfish rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover-ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight," the letter says.

"If he genuinely wants to honor the pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recluse [sic] himself from any other public role."

After the scandal came to light in 2002, Pope John Paul II told American church leaders there was no place in the priesthood "for those who would harm the young," saying sex abuse by priests was both a sin and a crime.

Last Sunday, Law appeared in an ABC interview about the pope and refused to discuss the abuse crisis.

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