A substantial part of our university community will return to their home parishes in Boston for this holiday season. They will return to the focal point of a year-long scandal over sexual abuse perpetrated by numerous priests upon hundreds of victims.

The lead figure in this scandal is Cardinal Bernard F. Law, archbishop of the diocese. His infamy has been well deserved after moving priests with a history of molestation from parish to parish and potentially misleading the public as to the extent of his knowledge of the problem.

On Monday, 58 Boston-area priests signed a three-paragraph letter asking for his resignation, a move The Boston Globe called an “extraordinary rebellion.”

As a counterpoint to the calls for resignation, some have said that Law is not the only reason for the problems now plaguing the Catholic Church, with allegations of molestation in 20 countries. This is a valid point, and it is inappropriate to lash out at only Cardinal Law and ignore larger problems that have led to decades of reprehensible behavior.

However, this is not a sufficient response to the very real concerns raised by priests and lay people; some administrative censure must be implemented by the Vatican against Law. Simply having the cardinal return from Rome, as he did in April, and vow to press onward is not going to be enough. He has lost the faith of his flock.

Perhaps one form of censure could be a reduction of Law’s role in the archdiocese. By removing Law from personnel decisions, for example, the credibility of the leadership of the archdiocese would be somewhat restored and parishioners’ faith in their church can be healed.

It is clear that something substantive must be done. The public gesture against the cardinal was so extraordinary because priests take a vow of obedience to their cardinal. Those that signed the letter said that they had a higher duty to their consciences.

The letter praised Law for his service to the area but said that his “position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you (Law) to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston.”

“The erosion of the leadership has come to the point where we need to have a change … I have finally come to the point of feeling that,” said Rev. Alfred J. Ellis in the New York Times. According to Ellis, about three-quarters of the parishioners in his parish agreed, by show of hands, to this statement that he signed and then read during a mass.

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