Callista Gingrich, the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, attended a funeral service for Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former Bishop of Boston who resigned his post after explosive revelations about the church sexual abuse scandal.
Gingrich, who officially assumes her post Friday, was accompanied by her husband, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the Vatican ceremony where Pope Francis conducted a brief service.
They attended in their private capacity.
The U.S. government also sent its current chief of mission to the Vatican. There were a half dozen ambassadors in attendance.
Pope Francis blessed Law’s coffin with incense and holy water and saying a prayer for his ‘merciful judgement.’
PRIVATE CITIZEN: Callista Gingrich, the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, attended funeral services at the Vatican for disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former Bishop of Boston. She assumes her post on Friday
‘May he be given a merciful judgment so that redeemed from death, freed from punishment, reconciled to the Father, carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd, he may deserve to enter fully into everlasting happiness in the company of the eternal King together with all the saints,’ said Pope Francis, reciting a ritual prayer.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the senior-most cardinal, made no mention of the abuse scandal identified with Law.
Callista and Newt Gingrich were seated in pews in a chapel in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. Callista Gingrich, who formally assumes her post Friday, wore a traditional black head covering.
Ushers stacked up empty chairs before the service, the Boston Globe reported. There were an estimated 200 in attendance.
The Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich to her post in October after her nomination by President Trump.
Gingrich was accompanied by her husband, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
Us ambassador Callista Gingrich and her husband Newt Gingrich attend the funeral for disgraced US Cardinal Bernard Law former Archbishop of Boston at the St. Peter’s Basilica on December 21, 2017 in Vatican City
She is a Catholic who sings in the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
She married the former speaker in 2000. The two met when she was a congressional staffer and had a six-year affair. The former speaker credits her with helping bring him to convert to Catholicism. The two worked on a joint 2010 documentary about Pope John Paul II’s 1979 pilgrimage to Poland.
The funeral of Law, who resigned as Archbishop of Boston 15 years ago after covering up years of sexual abuse of children by priests, was held in the Vatican on Thursday without a mention of what led to his downfall.
The service was presided over by a senior cardinal, Angelo Sodano. The wooden coffin lay on the floor with an open book of the gospels resting on it.
U.S. ambassador Callista Gingrich and her husband Newt Gingrich attend the funeral for disgraced US Cardinal Bernard Law former Archbishop of Boston at the St. Peter’s Basilica on December 21, 2017 in Vatican City
Callista and Newt Gingrich
Pope Francis entered the chapel for a few minutes after the Mass to bless the coffin and conduct a brief service known as the Final Commendation and Farewell – which he does for all cardinals who die in Rome.
“He dedicated his whole life to the Church,” Sodano said in his homily in praise of Law, who died on Wednesday.
Sodano listed the stages of Law’s clerical life and said the late Pope John Paul had “called him to Rome” to be archpriest of a Rome basilica. But Sodano made no mention of the reason why he left Boston.
“Unfortunately, each of us can sometimes be lacking in our mission,” Sodano said.
The pope read out a Latin prayer, part of which reads: “May he be given a merciful judgement”.
About 15 cardinals attended, though not Law’s successor in Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. O’Malley said on Wednesday that Law served at a time “when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities …”
Law was Archbishop of Boston for 18 years when he resigned on Dec. 13, 2002, climaxing a tumultuous year that sparked the greatest crisis in the history of the American Catholic Church.
A succession of devastating news stories by Boston Globe reporters showed how priests who sexually abused children had been moved from parish to parish for years under Law’s tenure without parishioners or law authorities being informed.
Celebration for St Joseph, the Holy Virgin Mary’s husband. A close-up of cardinal Bernard Francis Law during the mass celebrated by Pope Francis with the rite of the bishop’s ordination. St Peter, Vatican City, 19th March 2016
Pope Francis presides over the funeral ceremony for late Cardinal Bernard Law, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after revelations that he covered up for dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, moving them to different parishes without telling parents or police
Victims groups have expressed outrage that Law’s funeral was being in St. Peter’s and that he would be buried in a crypt in a chapel of the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he served as archpriest.
“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,” SNAP, a victim’s group, said in a statement on Wednesday.
After Pope Francis left Thursday’s funeral, two nuns in brown robes knelt by the coffin and arched over it to pray.
After the funeral, Cardinal Franc Rode of Slovenia praised Law as “a good man with good intentions”.
“All these provisions about paedophilia were not as severe as they are now so one can’t say that he made that many mistakes,” Rode told Reuters Television, saying it was “another era”. He did not elaborate.
About a half dozen ambassadors attended. The United States’ official representative was Louis Bono, the current chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican.
Since 1950, more than 6,500 U.S. priests have been accused of molesting children, and the church has paid out $3 billion in settlements.