Catholic bishops to toe line on sexual abuse
Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
June 17, 2005 C
CHICAGO – The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will keep their pledge to protect children from sexually abusive priests as they revise their discipline plan for offenders, a key prelate said Thursday at a national church meeting.
Bishops overseeing a review of the three-year-old policy have recommended that dioceses continue permanently barring guilty clergy from all church work. Yet some Catholic leaders have been concerned that the punishment is too severe.
“No one wants to permit children to be abused in the church,” said Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who lead a team of U.S. bishops who worked with Vatican officials on the revisions. “It’s a source of great shame for all of us, a source of scandal for the faithful and for the world.”
The bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse spent months soliciting comment on the policy. “Overall there was definite expression that the ‘one-strike’ policy needs to be retained for now,” the committee wrote in recommendations presented Thursday.
Still, the panel noted that “many, perhaps a majority,” of prelates hoped that they could eventually allow men who are truly rehabilitated back into ministry – an idea victims vehemently oppose.
The bishops are expected to discuss and vote on the revisions today.
Church leaders adopted the discipline plan, called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, in June 2002, with the mandate that it be revisited after two years. The policy remained in effect though the review concluded later than planned.
Some Catholic leaders said the due process rights of priests were sacrificed in the process. They complained that the charter violated Catholic belief in redemption and forgiveness, and dictated a draconian, one-size-fits-all response for cases they said varied dramatically.
Studies commissioned by the bishops found more than 11,500 claims had been filed against priests over five decades. An Associated Press review found abuse has cost dioceses more than $1 billion in settlements and other expenses since 1950, and tens of millions of dollars in additional claims are pending.
The bishops’ committee has recommended leaving the original policy largely intact for five years. If maintained, guilty priests would not only be barred from church work but would also be prohibited from wearing priestly garb and celebrating mass publicly. The worst offenders could be forced out of the priesthood entirely.
It’s not my intention to imply that Catholoic worshippers agree with this article, but I am identifying Catholoic leadership and am thoroughly disguested with The Church as it exists today.
“They complained that the charter violated Catholic belief in redemption and forgiveness, and dictated a draconian, one-size-fits-all response for cases they said varied dramatically.”
This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week. The belief may be sound when applied to most transgressions, but having worked in law enforcement, I feel very comfortable making the statement that sexual offenders cannot be rehabilitated. I have no doubt that most psychologists will agree with this statement, while defense attorneys (rarely troubling with silly notions like truth and common sense) will probably disagree.
This reminds me of the church’s vehement opposition to the “notion” that the earth was not flat and not the center of the solar system.
I’m sorry, but at what point do you realize that your beliefs need to be revised?