BOSTON -- Calls for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the senior prelate in the American Catholic Church and an ally of Pope John Paul II, are mounting amid evidence that he knowingly protected suspected pedophile priests and repeatedly allowed them access to children.
The signs of deteriorating support are clear: Local Catholic power brokers are distancing themselves from the cardinal. Lay organizations and even a group of priests say they're undertaking church reform on their own. Law's critics are demonstrating by day and burning up radio talk show lines by night. Even such national figures as former Education Secretary William Bennett and fellow Catholic conservative William F. Buckley have made appeals for the cardinal to resign.
"It's a thunderous chorus of opposition coming down," said Rev. Robert Bullock, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in suburban Sharon, Mass. "The pressure is coming from all sides."
In recent weeks, Patrick Purcell, publisher of the conservative Boston Herald, approved an editorial calling for Law's resignation. Paul La Camera, head of Boston's WCVB-TV, editorialized that Law had lost his moral authority.
Law, 70, has refused to step down since the church scandal broke in January, when a series of lawsuits against convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan revealed the archdiocese transferred him from parish to parish despite decades of sex abuse allegations.
This week, Law came under renewed pressure with the court-ordered release of hundreds of church documents, obtained by the attorney of an alleged sex abuse victim involving a different priest.
Attorney Roderick MacLeish revealed that Law promoted alleged child molester Rev. Paul Shanley, then cleared him for assignments in Massachusetts, California and New York, despite three decades of sexual abuse allegations and Shanley's known advocacy of sex between men and boys.
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