A Cardinal Point

It was not anger among American Catholics that forced Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law out of office last week.

Yes, his fall as the preeminent Roman Catholic leader in the US came after angry protests by the laity over his lax handling of abusive priests and the institution's cover-up of his misjudgments over many years.

And yes, that anger among the faithful was reflected in the call of 58 Boston-area priests for their own leader to resign as well as in the declining financial contributions to church by the faithful. And yes, the anger of Catholics and many others led to a grand jury subpoena of Cardinal Law.

It wasn't Catholic anger or mounting public pressure that caused the church to jettison one of its prominent members from his high post.

Rather, it was an intense love for children, and a deep desire to safeguard them and the hope they represent for a better future, that forced Law to step down.

Almost all Americans, not just the Catholic laity, have been moved during this crisis to reaffirm the basic purpose of society - to help the next generation be better than the last one. That compelling force for an ever- expanding view of humanity's potential is at the heart of this crisis, and is driving it toward a resolution.

The crisis may not stop with Law's resignation.

Non-Catholics can continue to support Catholics as they try to restructure their church to be more responsive to this most basic concern of the faithful - nurturing children.

That same compulsion of love can also reach the many adults and young people abused by priests. They need not be scarred for life if the church, its faithful, the government, and others work to reaffirm their worth and heal their hurt, the way any loving parent would do for a child.

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