Cardinal Law, Bishops Subpoenaed

B O S T O N, Dec. 12, 2002 -- Boston's embattled Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law and several bishops who once worked for him have received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury.

A source familiar with the investigation says state police from the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly delivered Law's subpoena to his Boston residence last Friday. Law left for Washington that day and later flew to Rome to confer with Vatican officials about the sex abuse crisis.

The grand jury is reportedly looking into possible criminal violations by church officials who supervised priests accused of child sexual abuse. In addition to Law, subpoenas reportedly have been issued for Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans; Bishop Robert Banks of Green Bay, Wis.; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

The subpoenas came as Law was still meeting with church leaders today at the Vatican to discuss his possible resignation.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said today that Law was expected to meet with Pope John Paul II on Friday. Any resignation, if Law were to offer to resign, would not come before such a meeting, he said.

Mounting Pressure to Resign

A state grand jury investigating accusations that archdiocese officials mishandled alleged molestation cases involving clergy has been meeting for months, but so far has only demanded church records. Reilly and other prosecutors have acknowledged that they have yet to find grounds to bring criminal charges against Law or anyone else for the scandal that erupted a year ago.

Dozens of priests endorsed a letter this week calling for Law's resignation, and separately, the 300-member Boston Priests Forum may issue its own resolution urging Law's resignation at a meeting Friday.

The latest call for Law to step down came Wednesday from the influential Roman Catholic lay reform group Voice of the Faithful.

"There is a state of spiritual and moral crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston," said Jim Post, president of Voice of the Faithful, which claims a national membership of 25,000. "In my judgment, the Archdiocese of Boston has effectively been without a bishop."

Seventy-one Voice of the Faithful members representing parishes in the Boston Archdiocese voted Wednesday for the motion calling for Law to step down. Two were opposed, and two abstained.

The action by group, started soon after the scandal erupted in January, is significant because for months its leaders have resisted pressure from members to demand Law's resignation. Voice of the Faithful said it had hoped to work with Catholic officials for reform within the church. But members said they could not avoid a confrontation with the Boston hierarchy.

More Damaging Files Released

The sex scandal has engulfed Boston for almost a year and pressure on Law has only increased since the archdiocese was forced to release 11,000 church personnel documents to attorneys representing hundreds of alleged victims.

Earlier Wednesday, lawyers released more files highlighting accusations of abuse in the archdiocese. In one case detailed in the files, a priest allegedly molested a boy on 21 consecutive nights during a cross-country trip in a Winnebago.

The documents follow the recent release of thousands of pages of archdiocese personnel files containing allegations that, in addition to molesting young boys, some priests abused drugs and had illicit affairs.

So far, lawyers have released about 5,400 of the documents in piecemeal fashion. They contain allegations of misconduct against 65 priests and suggest rogue clergy used drugs, abused young people — boys and girls — and, in one case, assaulted a housekeeper.

The files released Wednesday also included a letter written by Law to the Washington, D.C.-based Military Diocese in 1996 saying a priest who had been accused of molesting a boy had nothing in his past to prevent him from working with children as an Air Force chaplain.

The Boston archdiocese issued a statement saying it had notified the diocese for military service about the unsubstantiated allegation against the priest. A call to the archdiocese seeking further details was not returned.