June 29, 2004

The Vatican has appointed Cardinal Bernard Law, the controversial former archbishop of Boston, to the ceremonial post of archpriest of the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major. Law, 72, has been resident chaplain at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma in Clinton, Maryland, since the pope accepted his resignation as head of the 2.1-million-member Boston archdiocese at the end of 2002 amid criticism of the cardinal for failing to discipline priests accused of pedophilia. Victims groups criticized Law’s appointment at one of Rome’s most important basilicas as inappropriate, though it carries status rather than power. Law will still play a role in the Vatican, however, as a member of nine congregations and two councils.

J. John Bruno, the Episcopal bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, has confirmed that he presided over the blessing of a same-sex union of author Malcolm Boyd, 80, and his partner of 20 years, Mark Thompson, 51. Present were five other bishops, including Frederick H. Borsch, who preceded Bruno in the Los Angeles office. Bruno said he did not do the blessing as a political statement: “I did it because it was the blessing of two human beings who have lived in a faithful relationship.” Bruno performed the blessing in May, he told the Los Angeles Times in early June.

Pentecostal minister Jack Hayford has been elected president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, succeeding Paul Risser, who resigned in March, along with the corporate treasurer, after losing $14 million to two investment firms alleged to be fraudulent. Hayford, a nationally respected megachurch pastor in charismatic and Pentecostal circles, is the founding pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. He will begin the position on October 1.