[JURIST] Chicago Cardinal Francis George [Wikipedia profile] said Wednesday that new pope Benedict XVI [official Vatican website], will preserve the church law giving bishops broad power to discipline sexually abusive priests. George said he had previously told then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the need to keep the law which avoids the lengthy Vatican process for ousting a priest from the church. The law was adopted in 2002 [Boston Globe report] as a result of the clergy molestation crisis in the US. It was to expire March 1, but was temporarily extended while under review. Ratzinger was deeply involved in the Vatican's response to the abuse crisis after being given authority last year to review abuse claims against priests. The law has already been modified after Vatican officials expressed concerns that it did not properly protect due process rights of priests and other church leaders complained the policy violated Catholic teaching on redemption and forgiveness. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) [advocacy website], said he was encouraged by George's statement but will withhold judgment on Benedict for now. More than 700 clergy have been removed from US parishes since 2002. Read the SNAP response to the sex abuse law extension. AP has more.