Law May Leave for Nun-Owned Md. Home
By Eric Convey and Tom Mashberg
February 7, 2003
Bernard Cardinal Law, whose long-term future has been unclear since he resigned Dec. 13, has plans to move into a suburban Washington, D.C., house owned by a conservative order of nuns, sources in and outside the church said yesterday.
The property was described as very nice but "small" by one person who has seen it.
The house is located on the grounds of a convent in Clinton, Md., a town just south of Andrews Air Force Base and 20 miles southeast of downtown Washington.
The owner of the house, the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, is an order of nuns based in Michigan. The sisters are known in part for their ability to care for people who have been through difficult times.
"They're very nice, so nice," said one person familiar with the order's work, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A nun who answered the phone at a residence located on the grounds where Law would reside declined to comment last night on whether room was being made for him.
By living on the property as a guest, Law would avoid the difficulties associated with buying property on his own.
Numerous lawsuits alleging he mishandled sex abuse allegations or allowed known molesters to remain in the clergy name not only Law in his official role as head of the Archdiocese of Boston, but also Law as an individual.
If he were to buy property in most states, a plaintiff could seek to seize it as part of any jury award.
While in court during a dispute over the abandoned settlement in the John J. Geoghan case, Law testified he lacked the personal resources to pay for any claims.
Law has said little about where he'll live, other than to announce that he would take up long-term residence outside the Archdiocese of Boston following a period of spiritual renewal that included time in a monastery.
Clinton, Md., is on the edge of Washington's sprawling suburbs but retains some of its rural nature, and living there would offer Law a certain amount of privacy.
He would also, however, be close to top U.S. church officials in Washington.
The papal nuncio - the Vatican ambassador - is headquartered there.
So is the U.S. Conference of Bishops, a body for which Law once worked and with which he retains strong ties.
While Law is no longer archbishop, he is still a cardinal with strong ties to the Vatican and many friends in the U.S. church.
In the Sisters of Mercy, Law would find an order with which he would be at ease in many ways.
Founded in Ireland in the early 1800s and in the United States in 1973, the Sisters of Mercy have retained conservative theology and traditions. Members still wear habits.
Their constitution states they are dedicated to the "praise and worship of the Triune God in gratitude for the boundless Mercy which has been revealed to us through the works of creation, redemption and sanctification."
Triune is a reference to Christianity's Holy Trinity.
Law had been living with friends while undergoing depositions related to multiple clergy abuse lawsuits in Suffolk County. He was deposed in Boston on Monday. He is also set for a Feb. 25 appearance before a Suffolk grand jury probing possible criminal wrongdoing among church supervisors.
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