In 2001, Cardinal Law became the subject of international criticism after he admitted that he knew of the accusations of serial abuse against retired priest John Geoghan, and responded by moving Geoghan to another parish rather than going to the authorities.
Law apologized to Geoghan's victims in a press conference in early 2002.
The sexual abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston led to nationwide outrage regarding practices which failed to protect children from abuse in the Catholic Church. In the spring of 2002, American cardinals met in Rome to discuss the matter, at which time Law offered his resignation, which was initially refused by the Vatican. Sexual abuse scandals broke in the media around the country, in a period which many now call the "Long Lent of 2002."
In June 2002, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops passed The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, known as the "Dallas Charter," which established procedures and policies for addressing allegations of sexual abuse in the Church, and for fostering "safe environments" for children and other vulnerable individuals.
On December 6, 2002, Law was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, which was investigating possible criminal violations on behalf of Law and other diocesan officials in the abuse scandal. One week later, his resignation as Archbishop of Boston was accepted by the Vatican.
In September 2002, the Archdiocese of Boston reached a $10M settlement with 86 victims of Geoghan. In 2003, the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay $85M to 552 people who claimed to have been abused by Catholic clergy, many of them during Law's tenure. The Archdiocese has continued to face litigation related to allegations of sexual abuse.
Law was not criminally charged for his involvement in the abuse scandal.
Two weeks ago, Law experienced a decline in health and was admitted to a clinic in Rome to monitor a congenital heart problem.
A few days ago, Law became unresponsive, and, according to reports, he passed away on Tuesday evening.
Law's funeral will be celebrated Thursday at St. Peter's Basilica. He will be buried in a tomb at Rome's Basilica of St Mary Major, which is customary for the priests who have served there.