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Pope Accepts Boston Cardinal's Resignation - 2002-12-13

Pope John Paul II has accepted the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Law, who faced severe criticism over his handling of a sex abuse scandal. It was the second time the embattled archbishop of Boston presented his resignation to the pope.

Under mounting pressure from priests and laity in the Boston archdiocese, Cardinal Law formally submitted his resignation to the pope Friday. He had done so in April last year, but at that time, the pope rejected it.

This time, the pope not only accepted Cardinal Law's decision to step down, but also appointed an auxiliary bishop in Boston, Monsignor Richard Lennon, special administrator to run the archdiocese.

The Boston archdiocese has been reeling from a huge sexual abuse scandal involving priests. A large number of priests, abuse victims and faithful had recently stepped up calls for the cardinal to resign as archbishop.

Following a brief meeting with the pope Friday morning, Cardinal Law issued a statement in which he apologized for his shortcomings and mistakes. He said he was profoundly grateful to the pope for having accepted his resignation.

Cardinal Law had led the Boston archdiocese since 1984. He said he hoped that his departure would lead to the healing, reconciliation and unity that is so desperately needed in his archdiocese.

The archbishop of Boston arrived in Rome on Sunday. He had kept out of the public's eye and had been meeting with Vatican officials all week, before submitting his resignation Friday.