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Cardinal Law denies being transferred to Rome

Archbishop explains 'zero tolerance' process

Law, left, meets with Shanley in this undated photograph.
Law, left, meets with Shanley in this undated photograph.  

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Beleaguered Boston Cardinal Bernard Law denied a published report Friday that he would be leaving Boston and taking an assignment at the Vatican in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal involving priests in the United States.

Law issued his denial through the president of Catholic University during a news conference in Philadelphia, where a fund-raising dinner is being held for the school.

"He asked me, that if the question did come up, to let you know that it was never discussed in Rome," said Rev. David O'Connell. "That there is no plan whatsoever that he be replaced and be moving to Rome in June or any time in the near future."

O'Connell also said that Law had seen the Boston Herald report. It quoted unnamed church officials saying Pope John Paul II would move the archbishop to an undetermined post before a scheduled deposition of Law in a suit against the Boston archdiocese.

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But Herald reporter, Jack Sullivan, who co-wrote the story said, "We're absolutely standing by our story and standing by our sources."

Law himself did not respond to reporters' questions about the Herald report as he left his Philadelphia hotel under heavy security for the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul where a Mass was held in advance of the fund-raiser.

As Law celebrated Mass inside the Philadelphia cathedral, about two dozen demonstrators carried signs outside that read, "Ordain women priests" and "Cardinals, you have made the church of Christ an embarrassment." Several wore T-shirts that read, "I am the Catholic church."

Philadelphia is hosting the 13th annual American Cardinals Dinner which raises money for Washington-based Catholic University of America. Tickets to the dinner are $1,000. Law is attending what is the first public gathering of the church leaders since they were summoned to Rome.

Priest's diary details sordid life

Law has faced increasing public pressure to resign for his handling of alleged sex abuse cases involving priests in his archdiocese. In one case, he moved former priest John Geoghan -- now in prison for molesting an 11-year-old boy -- from parish to parish even though he knew of allegations Geoghan had abused children.

Earlier this month, documents showed Law repeatedly transferred the Rev. Paul Shanley, another former Boston-area priest accused of sexually abusing 30 minors. Authorities say Shanley publicly endorsed sex between men and boys.

In diary excerpts released this week, Shanley admits having venereal disease and helping young people use drugs. The excerpts were from documents turned over to attorneys representing people suing the church over sexual abuse allegations involving Shanley.

"Much of my life these last few years has been choosing not twixt good and evil, but the less of the two evils ... my God, I've even taught kids to shoot up properly," Shanley writes.

In another section, he says, "One of the first things I do in a new city is to sign up at the local clinic for help with my VD." (Full story)

Cardinals united on 'zero tolerance' policy

At Friday's new conference, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Philadelphia's archbishop, said all cardinals are united on developing a so-called "zero tolerance" policy to dismiss any priest who is guilty of sexual abuse of children.

He explained that no priest, guilty of even one act of sexual abuse of a minor, will function in any capacity in a diocese, but the archbishop warned, "There (has to be) a certitude that the priest did do it -- committed the act."

Fielding a question from a reporter about the U.S. Catholic bishops' position on zero tolerance, Bevilacqua said he couldn't speak for all bishops, but a national standard for dealing with sexual abuse would be established. Once the Vatican approved of that standard, it would become "a particular law" for the United States church.

Church leaders earlier in the week said the zero tolerance issue will be a priority in June at the bishops' general meeting in Dallas, Texas, where the Catholic leaders will unveil their proposals.

Bevilacqua also responded to a question about policies about screening potential priests for homosexuality. He defended the practice saying he believes the risk of sexually abusing minors is much higher among homosexuals and that in becoming celibate a homosexual priest really wouldn't be giving up marriage and children, but rather would be giving up what the church considers to be "an aberration, a moral evil."


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