What they found opened a chasm between many faithful Catholics and those they had trusted to lead their church.
The clerical sex abuse scandal swiftly reached from New Hampshire to California, from Arizona to Pennsylvania.
''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.
And now it has claimed the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard F.
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.
Mc Cormack signed a legal agreement acknowledging that law enforcement officials had enough evidence to win a conviction.
The scandal has forced out bishops in New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Florida.