Scandals Are a Wake-up Call, Says Cardinal Law

New York´s Edward Egan «Deeply Sorry» if Errors Were Made

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NEW YORK, APRIL 21, 2002 ( Cardinal Bernard Law says the Vatican needs to understand that the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the United States is «a very serious issue undermining the mission of the Church.»

«This is a wake-up call for the Church,» the archbishop of Boston told the faithful gathered in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, according to the Associated Press.

Cardinal Law noted the criticism of his dealing with priests accused of abuse and discussed what he planned to tell John Paul II this week at a gathering of U.S. cardinals at the Vatican.

When some U.S. bishops had a working lunch with the Pope on April 9, they were surprised that upon entering the room, the Holy Father, not waiting for formal introductions, got right to the point: «Tell me what is going on in the United States,» the National Catholic Register reported on its Web site.

In Boston, Cardinal Law said: «Despite the anger and broken trust that many feel toward me, and despite perceptions that next week is simply a gathering of aged conservative cardinals and Vatican officials, please know that as long as I am in position to do so, I will work tirelessly to address this crisis and to underscore its severity.»

In New York, Cardinal Edward Egan sent a letter to archdiocesan parishioners over the weekend apologizing «if, in hindsight,» he made errors in dealing with sex abuse allegations.

«Over the past 15 years, in both Bridgeport and New York, I consistently sought and acted upon the best independent advice available to me from medical experts and behavioral scientists,» the archbishop said in a letter read at weekend Masses. He was bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, before taking over the New York Archdiocese.

«It is clear that today we have a much better understanding of this problem,» the cardinal added. «If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.»

He continued: «I will do everything in my power to ensure, as much as is humanly possible, that such abuse by clergy will never happen again. You should expect nothing less of me, and the other leaders of our Church.»

The meeting in Rome, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, will be attended by all U.S. cardinals as well as three prefects of Vatican congregations: Cardinals Darío Castrillón Hoyos, for the Clergy; Joseph Ratzinger, for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Giovanni Re, for Bishops.

Meanwhile, Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the U.S. bishops´ conference, said the cardinals would seek Vatican guidance on whether pedophile priests can stay in the ministry or if a «one strike and you´re out» rule should be applied, Reuters reported.

The monsignor said they would examine whether a pedophile priest might continue to work, for example, as a chaplain at an old-age home.

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