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Cardinal Law: Abuse ‘Wake-Up Call’

April 21, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law said Sunday that 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.″

``Some have likened the situation facing the Catholic church in Boston and across the county to last year’s Sept. 11 tragedy, a crisis which shocks the heart and soul and which must spark immediate and decisive changes in order to prevent possible recurrence in the future,″ the cardinal said.

``This is a wake-up call for the church,″ he said.

In his first public appearance since Easter, Law acknowledge criticism of his dealing with priests accused of abuse and discussed what he planned to tell Pope John Paul II this week at rare gathering of U.S. cardinals at the Vatican.

His remarks were met with applause inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, but outside, about three dozen protesters called for Law’s resignation.

``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,″ Law said.

Across the country, several Catholic leaders used Sunday’s services as an opportunity to share some parting words, encouragement and apologies before embarking for Rome. Twelve of the 13 American cardinals will attend this week’s meeting in Rome.

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