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In Rome, Cardinal O’Malley to skip party for Cardinal Law

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is in Rome today to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and report to the pope on the state of his archdiocese.

But O’Malley will not be attending the 80th birthday party today of Cardinal Bernard Law, who once led the Boston archdiocese, church spokesman Terry Donilon said.

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“As you may know, Cardinal Law’s 80th birthday falls on November 4th, while the Rome visit is occurring. We understand that some priests and friends of Cardinal Law will be attending this birthday event. Cardinal Sean’s schedule does not include attendance at the party,” Donilon said in a statement.

“He does extend his prayers to Cardinal Law on the occasion of his 80th birthday,” Donilon said.

Donilon said O’Malley’s time in Rome was “devoted to work” connected with the “quinquennial visit ad limina,” a visit every five years to the Vatican.

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Donilon said the timing of the visits was set by the Vatican and many other bishops from the United States are also visiting.

The Boston Herald reported today on plans for Law’s birthday party and said advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse were outraged that Law would be celebrated when people had been abused by priests during his tenure in office.

Voice of the Faithful, a group that supports clergy sex abuse survivors and pushes for change in the Catholic church, said Law “even today ... seems to have no understanding of how he has so deeply wounded the Church and helped assault innocent children.”

“The very fact that a large -- and apparently lavish -- celebration is planned underscores the huge chasm that still exists between the People of God and the men who supposedly minister to our spiritual needs,” the group said in a statement.

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