Here are some key dates in the abuse crisis in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church:

1984 — Bernard Law appointed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Boston. Elevated to cardinal the next year.

1985 — Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleads guilty to molestation charges involving 11 boys. Draws national attention to clerical sex abuse for the first time.

1985 — U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets behind closed doors in Collegeville, Minn., to discuss sex abuse by priests.

1992 — Allegations surface that the Rev. James Porter of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., molested children in five states in the 1960s and 1970s. The next year, he pleads guilty to 41 sex assault counts.

1992 — American bishops emerge from closed-door meeting in South Bend, Ind., acknowledging some bishops tried to hide abuse and pledging it will not happen again.

1993 — First lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Dallas in the case of priest and accused molester Rudy Kos, in what becomes one of the most notorious abuse scandals in U.S. church history.

1993 — Bishops form Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse to help dioceses respond to abuse claims and protect children.

1998 — Kos victims agree to reduced settlement of $23.4 million with Diocese of Dallas, after jury awarded them more than $100 million.

1999— Former Boston-area priest John Geoghan indicted on child rape charges.

2001 — Law publishes column in his archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, defending how he handled clergy sex-abuse claims.

Jan. 9, 2002 — Law acknowledges he moved Geoghan from parish to parish despite evidence the priest had molested children. Apologizes to Geoghan's victims and promises to bar any abuser from ministry.

Jan. 18 — Geoghan convicted of indecent assault and battery for improperly touching a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool a decade ago. He is later sentenced to 9-to-10 years in prison.

Jan. 24 — Documents released in civil lawsuits in Geoghan case provide evidence archdiocesan officials protected Geoghan, instead of children.

Feb. 10 — Law says at Sunday Mass he will not step down as archbishop because "When there are problems in the family, you don't walk away."

April 8 — Personnel file of the Rev. Paul Shanley, 800 pages, released. Outlines claims that he abused children, publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to receive the archdiocese's support.

April 16 — Law reveals he traveled quietly to Rome to meet with the pope, and offered to resign there, but returned to Boston determined to clean up the scandal.

April 23 — Pope John Paul II convenes emergency summit with U.S. cardinals in Rome on sex abuse crisis.

May 8 — Law begins depositions in civil cases related to Geoghan.

June 13 — American bishops approve national abuse policy, promising to bar all molesters from church work. Vatican later demands changes to protect priests' due process rights. In private session, Law apologizes to fellow prelates for bringing scandal to church.

Sept. 19 — Boston Archdiocese settles with 86 Geoghan victims for $10 million, after pulling out of an earlier settlement of about $30 million.

Nov. 3 — At Mass, Law offers a lengthy apology, acknowledging his responsibility "for decisions which led to intense suffering."

Nov. 13 — American bishops meet in Washington and approve revised abuse policy to meet Vatican demands for changes.

Dec. 3 — Thousands of personnel files made public by a court order reveal priests in Boston Archdiocese accused of abusing women and girls and taking drugs.

Dec. 4 — The Boston Archdiocese's Finance Council gives Law permission to take unprecedented step of seeking bankruptcy protection for the archdiocese.

Dec. 8 — Boston Archdiocese reveals Law has quietly traveled to the Vatican, amid growing calls for his resignation.

Dec. 13 — Law resigns as Boston archbishop, Vatican says.