By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Before his appalling depravity and callousness became apparent, the late Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law was an impressive sight.

By contrast with his dowdy predecessor, Humberto Medeiros, Law cut a handsome figure, his nickname – the Silver Fox – inspired by both his striking head of hair and his smooth baritone voice.

He was an expert politician who spoke regularly with President George H.W. Bush during his presidency and was a frequent White House visitor during the George W. Bush administration. And he wasn’t shy about using his political clout, opposing abortion rights and pro-choice politicians, denouncing capital punishment and lobbying on behalf of the immigrants who were increasingly filling the pews.

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Cardinal Bernard Law blesses the casket of House Speaker Tip O’Neill on January 10, 1994. (Photo credit POOL/AFP/Getty Images)

And from the moment he became Archbishop of Boston in 1984, the Silver Fox was an aggressive enabler of the child rapists within the archdiocese, an accomplished liar and moral degenerate who blithely passed the rapists on to other jurisdictions.

When the facts of former Fall River priest James Porter’s massive sexual predation emerged in 1992, Law shed crocodile tears about “evil acts,” but quickly pivoted to the standard political dodge of blaming the messengers.

“The papers like to focus on the faults of a few,” he said. “We deplore that. . . . By all means, we call down God’s power on the media.”

When Law finally, mercifully resigned in 2002, he characterized his negligent leadership and callous indifference to the pleas of his flock for protection from the priest-rapists as “shortcomings and mistakes.” And in one last, reflexive effort to appear pious, he said “it is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation, and unity which are so desperately needed.”

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Cardinal Bernard Law announces his resignation as Archbishop of Boston December 16, 2002 at a press conference in Newton. (Photo by Douglas McFadd/Getty Images)

In fact, like a cancer patient rebounding quickly from removal of the malignancy, Law’s disingenuous prayer was answered. While the scars remain and some Greater Boston Catholics experienced permanent estrangement from the Church, the Archidocese under Sean Cardinal O’Malley experienced a remarkable revival, with donations returning to pre-scandal levels even as its other modern-day problems lingered.

Read: O’Malley Statement On Law’s Death

The genuine spirituality of Boston Catholics has proven stronger than the silver-coiffed evil that violated its most basic tenets.

This community will never rest on the threat of exploitation again. And while some will forgive Bernard Law his sins, many others will never be at peace with his toxic legacy.

Talk back to me via email at, or you can reach me on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Comments (6)
  1. Neil Allen says:

    What Would Satan Do?

    EXACTLY what Cardinal Bernard Law & every other Catholic priest did in 100% of cases when they knew about a priest raping children – hide the pedophile and ignore the victim, in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6-14.

    Cardinal Law knowingly and intentionally hid at least 271 “Jerry Sandusky” pedophile priests in Boston alone.

    The Catholic church was tested, and they did what creepy, cowardly satan would do in 100% of cases of child rape, and they are defiant about getting away with it to this day. Cardinal Law was richly rewarded by the Catholic church.

    Fr Geoghan raped almost 200 children, and was fully protected (and moved) by Cardinal Law and his team of pedophile protectors, following the Catholic policy of hiding 100% of pedophiles 100% of the time.

    “God’s church”? Ridiculous.

    May God be merciless with all of them, as Jesus said.

  2. And the Church goes on destroying lives. I have been particularly saddened by the discovery of almost 800 children’s bodies in a septic tank in Tuam, Ireland. This is a crime worthy of the SS, and the bishop’s concern – to see that the poor children get a burial in hallowed ground (i.e., bury the evidence).

    A question that has plagued me for years – why hasn’t the Church been charged under the RICO statute? There are many instances where paedophile priests have been shunted over state lines.

  3. Gino Costa says:

    All I can say is that Lucifer must be laughing his ass off right about now, and hopefully law is seeing fire and brimstone right about now!

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