Laying Down the Law


Observers of the Catholic hierarchy find Law frequently defending O'Connor's strict orthodoxy and breaking away from trend of Bernardin's "seamless garment" of life issues, in which the issues of life issues in which the issues of abortion social welfare programs, and nuclear arms are given equal treatment.

Law, siding with O'Connor, has argued that abortion should be placed at the forefront of the Catholic agenda.


The Harvard-educated Law is currently tapping local academics for a review of the American bishops' first draft of a pastoral letter on U.S. economic policy, which was issued in November.

"I'm sure that I will be suggesting ways in which [the letter] could be better," says Law, who solicited responses to the letter from business, political, academic, and non-Catholic leaders in formulating his recommendations.


Law says he may propose condensing the bishops' statement into two basics parts: one, establishing the principles used incultivating an economic system and the other, proposing concrete solutions to the pitfalls of American capitalism, where the greatest debate among bishops is likely to occur.

"We're not going to be inventing new teaching in this document, but reflecting what's already there in the Second Vatican Council, and in the papal encyclicals, particularly of Pope John Paul II," said Law of the bishops' work.

Upward Bound

The inevitable confirmation of Law's role in the international Roman Catholic Church will be his eventual elevation to the position of Cardinal. With American's supply of Cardinals depleted and with the majority past the age of voting in a conclave for a pope, the 52-year old Archbishop is ripe for the choosing.

Even Harvard's Memorial Church isn't taking any chances on Law's expected promotion. It's waiting until the very last minute to print invitations, announcing whether it will be Archbishop Law or Cardinal Law who preaches this spring in the Yard.

Not only is age in his favor, but Law's familiarity with Latin America both inside and outside the Church makes him a valuable asset. Fluent in Sp0anish, the Archbishop was one of five key American clergymen to tour Cuba last week. There he participated in a three hour long discussion with Fidel Castro, led the3 largest Catholic mass in that country's 25-year Marxist regime, and asked that nation's leaders to consider releasing almost 100 political prisoners.

What difference would it make to Boston if Law became a Cardinal?

"In terms of the day to day function of the Archdiocese, I really don't think it would make much difference," says Law. "In terms of my own personal life, it would mean a little more complicated schedule because there would be some responsibilities that would bring me more frequently to Rome."

Promotion or no, Law is likely to have a major impact time, at home us well. "The Archbishop is a 'changemaster'" says Business School Professor Fuller "He has the viston, leadership and the capability to change things to make a difference."

"Bernard Law wants to sit in the same posture in his position as the Boston Celfics do in theirs." Sanva C. Lawrence and Michael E.P. Darning contributed to the reporting of this story.