''We've seen a crisis in the Catholic Church which rivals the Reformation centuries ago.'' Almost immediately after the Boston scandal broke, one of Law's former top lieutenants, Bishop Thomas V.
Daily, was confronted with fresh complaints that he had brushed aside sexual abuse allegations against one of Daily's pastors in Brooklyn, N.
It resonated in Ireland and Mexico and Poland, the homeland of Pope John Paul II, who was forced to make it the focus of his attention. O'Connell of Palm Beach, Fla., had resigned in disgrace after he acknowledged sexually abusing a teenage seminarian more than 25 years before when the student had sought his counseling.
Polls showed a growing majority of Catholics were critical of the way their church was handling the crisis and demanded that the problem get immediate attention.
By summer, the nation's bishops had pledged to remove every abusive priest from ministry and promised a policy of openness that they struggled to deliver.