Last night America’s Roman Catholic cardinals said they would propose a special process todismiss sexually abusive priests to avoid grave scandal in the future and to safeguard the commongood of the church. But they stopped short of proposing a much-discussed zero tolerancepolicy.
LAYING DOWN THE LAW (The text of the statement released after the extraordinary two-day meeting held at the Vatican)
On April 23-24, 2002, an extraordinary meeting was held in the Vatican between the Cardinals of the United States and the leadership of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and the heads of several offices of the Holy See on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors.
The meeting was called with three goals in mind:
– on the part of the American bishops, to inform the Holy See about the difficulties which they have faced in recent months,
– on the part of the Roman Dicasteries, to
Pope John Paul II’s message in Rome that child sex abuse by priests is not only sinful but also criminal got a mixed reception back in the United States. While some praised the pontiff, others say he still has far to go before the problem in solved.
Pope John Paul II told the leaders of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church yesterday that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young. He called the sexual abuse of children a crime as well as an appalling sin in the eyes of God.
…Like you, I too have been deeply grieved by the fact that priests and religious, whose vocation it is to help people live holy lives in the sight of God, have themselves caused such suffering and scandal to the young. Because of the great harm done by some priests and religious, the church herself in viewed with distrust, and many are offended at the way in which the church’s leaders are perceived to have acted in this matter. The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong