Shedding some light on the sequence of recent events, Coyne said that Law had decided to offer his resignation by Thursday, Dec. 5, the day after he won permission from the archdiocesan Finance Council to file for bankruptcy if he concluded such a step was necessary. Law's decision came just two days after lawyers for alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley made public 2,200 pages of church documents on eight priests, one of whom had been accused of terrorizing and beating his housekeeper, another of trading cocaine for sex, and a third of enticing young girls by claiming to be the second coming of Christ.
Coyne said Law flew to Washington to convey his desire to leave to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, and that Montalvo urged him to go to Rome to discuss it with the pope. Law arrived in Rome Dec. 8, and spent several days consulting with Vatican officials before meeting with the pope on Friday.
Coyne said that Lennon had known as early as Dec. 11 that he was going to be named apostolic administrator of Boston, meaning that the Vatican had decided to let Law go well before Pope John Paul II accepted Law's resignation Dec. 13.
Coyne said that Lennon, because he was appointed by the pope, has the full authority of an archbishop to ordain priests, name pastors, and close churches, as well as the secular rights to settle lawsuits or file for bankruptcy. Lennon's situation is different from that of many diocesan administrators, who are chosen by local bishops and whose authority is more circumscribed.