VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope John Paul II on Thursday gave Cardinal Bernard F. Law an official position in Rome, naming the former Boston archbishop who resigned in the sex abuse scandal as head of a basilica.

Law will have the title archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a largely ceremonial post often given to retired prelates.

The 72-year-old Law resigned Dec. 13, 2002, to quell an outcry over his handling of sex abuse cases.

He moved from Boston and became resident chaplain at a convent in Maryland, although he retained his membership on nine Vatican congregations and councils, traveling frequently to Rome. He attended a number of the events during celebrations for John Paul’s 25th anniversary as pontiff in October.

An archpriest is in charge of administration in a basilica, and has ceremonial functions. At St. Mary Major in downtown Rome, near the city’s main railroad station, he succeeds 82-year-old Italian Cardinal Carlo Furno.

The Boston Archdiocese was at the center of the national clergy sex abuse scandal following the release of church documents revealing that church leaders shuffled accused priests from parish to parish instead of removing them from ministry.

Law eventually left Boston for a convent in Maryland. He also has been devoting more time to Vatican committees.

Law was succeeded by Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley, under whose leadership the church reached an $85 million settlement with more than 550 victims of clergy sex abuse.

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