Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop who resigned in disgrace during the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal, has died aged 86, CNN reports.
Cardinal Law died in Rome, where he had served as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St Mary Major after he was forced to resign in 2002 as archbishop of Boston.
His name became emblematic of the scandal that continues to trouble the Church and its followers around the globe after it was revealed that he and other bishops before him had covered for pedophile priests in the Boston Archdiocese.
Cardinal Law never faced criminal sanctions for his role in allowing abusive priests to remain in Church parishes. The scandal reverberated through the Church, exposing similar allegations worldwide that compromised its moral authority and led to years of multimillion-dollar settlements.
The Vatican said Cardinal Law died early on Wednesday following a long illness.
Cardinal Law will get a full cardinal's funeral at the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica today, with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presiding. Pope Francis will give a "final commendation," or blessing, as he has for cardinals' funerals previously.
To his detractors, Cardinal Law's second career at the Vatican was a slap in the face to victims of church sex abuse, one that further undermined the church's legitimacy.
"Survivors of child sexual assault in Boston, who were first betrayed by Law's cover-up of sex crimes and then doubly betrayed by his subsequent promotion to Rome, were those most hurt," according to a statement after his death from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group advised the Vatican to keep the abuse survivors in mind when planning Cardinal Law's funeral.
Widespread child abuse by clergy in the Boston Archdiocese was uncovered by The Boston Globe's Spotlight investigative reporting team, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its efforts. A big-screen dramatisation of the team's investigation in the 2015 movie, Spotlight, won the 2016 Best Picture Academy Award, bringing the story to a much wider audience.
Pope sends condolences upon death of Cardinal Law (Vatican News)
Disgraced Cardinal Law dies in Rome (News.com.au)
Disgraced 'Spotlight' Cardinal Bernard Law has died (Sydney Morning Herald)