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 officeof Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly delivered Law's subpoena to hisBoston residence last Friday. Law left for Washington that day and laterflew 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 archdioceseofficials mishandled alleged molestation cases involving clergy hasbeen meeting for months, but so far has only demanded churchrecords. Reilly and other prosecutors have acknowledged that theyhave yet to find grounds to bring criminal charges against Law oranyone else for the scandal that erupted a year ago.
Dozens of priests endorsed a letter this week calling for Law'sresignation, and separately, the 300-member Boston Priests Forummay issue its own resolution urging Law's resignation at a meetingFriday.
The latest call for Law to step down came Wednesday from theinfluential Roman Catholic lay reform group Voice of the Faithful.
"There is a state of spiritual and moral crisis in theArchdiocese of Boston," said Jim Post, president of Voice of theFaithful, which claims a national membership of 25,000. "In myjudgment, the Archdiocese of Boston has effectively been without abishop."
Seventy-one Voice of the Faithful members representing parishesin the Boston Archdiocese voted Wednesday for the motion callingfor Law to step down. Two were opposed, and two abstained.
The action by group, started soon after the scandal erupted inJanuary, is significant because for months its leaders haveresisted pressure from members to demand Law's resignation. Voiceof the Faithful said it had hoped to work with Catholic officialsfor reform within the church. But members said they could not avoida confrontation with the Boston hierarchy.
More Damaging Files Released
The sex scandal has engulfed Boston for almost a year and pressureon Law has only increased since the archdiocese was forced torelease 11,000 church personnel documents to attorneys representinghundreds of alleged victims.
Earlier Wednesday, lawyers released more files highlightingaccusations of abuse in the archdiocese. In one case detailed inthe files, a priest allegedly molested a boy on 21 consecutivenights during a cross-country trip in a Winnebago.
The documents follow the recent release of thousands of pages ofarchdiocese personnel files containing allegations that, inaddition to molesting young boys, some priests abused drugs and hadillicit affairs.
So far, lawyers have released about 5,400 of the documents inpiecemeal fashion. They contain allegations of misconduct against65 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 byLaw to the Washington, D.C.-based Military Diocese in 1996 saying apriest who had been accused of molesting a boy had nothing in hispast to prevent him from working with children as an Air Forcechaplain.
The Boston archdiocese issued a statement saying it hadnotified the diocese for military service about the unsubstantiatedallegation against the priest. A call to the archdiocese seekingfurther details was not returned.