Cardinal Bernard Law, once one of the most influential members of the clergy in the US, was born in Mexico to American parents in 1931.
He attended Harvard University in the 1950s and was later ordained a priest at the age of 30.
As a young priest in Mississippi he was involved in the civil rights movement to end racial segregation in the 1960s.
He was first appointed a bishop in Missouri in 1973. Said to have been a close ally to Pope John Paul II, he was later appointed as Archbishop of Boston, the fourth largest diocese in the US, in 1984 and became a cardinal a year later.
He was considered an arch-conservative on such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage, and he barred supporters of women's ordination from meeting on church property in his diocese.
But, meanwhile, revelations about child abuse by priests in the Boston Diocese began to emerge in the 1990s.
As more and more allegations of abuse became public, Cardinal Law was quoted in 2002 as saying: "I personally have in the past weeks experienced closeness to Jesus on the cross that I have never before in my life."
By December 2002 he had resigned as Archbishop of Boston, and he was heavily criticised the following year in a report into child abuse in the diocese.
"There is overwhelming evidence that Cardinal Law and his senior managers had direct, actual knowledge that substantial numbers of children in the archdiocese had been sexually abused by substantial numbers of priests," the report stated.
More than $140m (€105m) in compensation was later paid over to abuse victims.
Following his resignation, Cardinal Law briefly served as the chaplain of a convent in Maryland.
He was appointed in 2004 as the Archpriest, or head, of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, which is much visited by pilgrims.
Cardinal Law also participated in Pope John Paul II's funeral Mass, something that upset many victims of child abuse, and he was among the Vatican conclave that elected Pope Benedict in 2005.
He stepped down from his post at the Rome Basilica in November last year at the age of 81.