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US priest was summoned the day he left for Rome

Boston, Dec. 12 (Reuters): Boston Cardinal Bernard Law was served a subpoena last Friday to appear before a Massachusetts grand jury investigating sex abuse by priests, sources familiar with the probe said today, and the cardinal apparently left the city the same day.

Grand jury subpoenas were also served last week on seven Roman Catholic bishops with ties to the Archdiocese of Boston, the sources said.

Law had been served his subpoena on Friday and The Boston Globe said that was the same day the cardinal left for Washington, where he departed on Saturday for Rome.

Law, who arrived at the Vatican amid a simmering revolt among priests and parishioners in his archdiocese, was still in Rome and may meet Pope John Paul II tomorrow, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. It is possible the cardinal may hand the Pope his resignation as he did in April, when the pontiff rejected it.

Today, Law discussed his possible resignation with Vatican officials but has not yet formally offered it to Pope John Paul.

The sources said the topic has come up in meetings Law has held in the Vatican since he arrived at the weekend.

The senior US prelate has held talks with top Vatican officials all week about his future and plans for the archdiocese to declare bankruptcy as a way of dealing with some 450 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits.

Word of the subpoenas came after Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic lay group with more than 25,000 members, joined dozens of Law’s own priests in calling for his ouster.

At least 58 Boston-area priests asked Law to step down in a letter delivered to his residence earlier this week.

The Rev. Robert Bullock, chairman of the largest forum of Roman Catholic priests in the archdiocese, predicted more clergy would join those who already signed the statement.

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