BOSTON – Embattled Cardinal Bernard Law met with Vatican officials again Tuesday, a day after the Boston Archdiocese released more personnel records on sexually abusive priests and 58 clerics submitted a letter calling for Law to resign.
Law was meeting privately with the top Vatican officials who would handle the damage caused by the sex abuse scandal — the possibilities of a bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese or a resignation by the cardinal.
A senior Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Law's "agenda was open" but that he was expected to see the pope later this week.
On Monday, the archdiocese released a new round of records that show that church leaders took some allegations of sex abuse by priests more seriously after a formal policy on abuse was instituted in 1993.
Also Monday, 58 Boston-area priests signed a letter calling for Law's resignation.
"The events of recent months and, in particular, of these last few days, make it clear to us that your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston," the letter said.
The Vatican has said little about the previously unannounced visit by Law, except for a brief statement by papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls that Law requested consultations about his archdiocese. He has been there since at least Sunday. The archdiocese has not commented on the purpose of his trip.
The papal official dismissed speculation that the Vatican was weighing the unusual step of naming a "coadjutor," or a successor to Law who would serve alongside him to spare him having to resign in disgrace. The official said the idea has "never been considered" by the Vatican.
Last week, a Boston church finance panel gave Law the authority to seek bankruptcy protection for the archdiocese — a move that may prove financially necessary but would infuriate victims seeking damages in dozens of lawsuits.
Elsewhere Tuesday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, N.H., agreed to acknowledge some responsibility for decades of sexual abuse by priests, a source close to the investigation said.
In a settlement with the state, the agreement will allow the diocese to avoid criminal prosecution on charges that it failed to protect children from abusive priests in exchange for releasing personnel records on the priest, the source told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Boston, the records released Monday included the case of the Rev. Paul Manning, who was removed from his ministry in Woburn even after he was acquitted of indecent assault and battery of a minor during a 1993 incident. The documents show that he had continued to celebrate Mass but church officials ordered him to stop.
Yet in another case, the Rev. William Scanlan was described by one church official in 1987 as someone who "fools around with kids" — but was still assigned to parish work.
The Scanlan case was in line with thousands of pages released last week revealing lurid details of one priest trading cocaine for sex with boys, another having sex with teenage girls studying to become nuns and yet another fathering at least two children and abandoning his lover as she overdosed.
The documents' release is the third such disclosure in a week, prompted by a state judge's ruling ordering the archdiocese to hand over the files to lawyers representing hundreds of alleged victims. The lawyers hope the documents prove that the archdiocese routinely reassigned alleged pedophile priests to cover up the scandal.
Scanlan was assigned to several parishes after some sex abuse allegations arose in 1987, and later was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.
Notes written in July 1987 by an unidentified church official say, "He is going to cause me a problem. He fools around with kids. He is in difficulty."
Four days later, the official wrote "his reactions of innocence were appropriate and I said matter was ended unless I had back up to the charges."
Scanlan was later assigned to a prison ministry, then returned to parishes.
A decade later, Scanlan was accused of raping a troubled 12-year-old girl he had been advising at St. James in Stoughton, allegedly telling her when she resisted that "God wanted him to."
Scanlan was ordered into therapy, but vigorously denied the accusations, saying she was infatuated with him and that she had dreamed he attacked her. He also passed a polygraph test, according to the documents.
In October 2000, an archdiocese official wrote to Scanlan that after "lengthy and serious discussions ... we cannot conclude the alleged incident(s) more likely than not occurred," and reinstated him.
Scanlan eventually was assigned to a Veterans' Administration hospital in San Jose, Calif., under the condition that his superiors know about the allegations, that another priest be involved in his psychotherapy, and that he be evaluated quarterly.
Scanlan's phone number has been disconnected and he could not be reached for comment.
Other files included papers showing harsher punishment, including a priest dismissed by Law in 1995 for kissing a 19-year-old seminarian, and a priest removed from the ministry in May, two months after the archdiocese received a letter from a woman claiming her brother had been raped by the cleric in the early 1960s.