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Bishops Name FBI Official to Post

November 08, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops Thursday named the FBI's No. 3 official to monitor the church's new policy on clerical sex abuse and help prevent future scandals.

Kathleen McChesney, 51, will be the first executive director of the church's Office for Child and Youth Protection. It is a critical post as the bishops seek to reestablish their credibility after a year in which at least 300 of the 46,000 U.S. priests have been removed because of allegations of molestation.

"Even one case of child abuse is intolerable. Our churches need to be safe havens for everyone," McChesney told a news conference at the bishops' headquarters, where she begins work Dec. 2.

In an interview, McChesney had little hesitation when she was asked to consider the post over the summer, despite the prospect of leaving a law enforcement career of 31 years.

More than 40 candidates were considered for the job, said Msgr. William P. Fay, general secretary of the bishops' conference, who made the appointment.

A lifelong lay Catholic, McChesney has followed the church's abuse scandal with growing dismay since the 1997 cases that almost bankrupted the Dallas diocese.

But she expressed confidence that the U.S. bishops are determined to turn things around. She said the National Review Board -- which will monitor her office and work with her to monitor the bishops' performance -- and her own office are each unique.

Those steps, she said, "express that the bishops want to fix this problem. It's not going to be me that fixes it. It's going to be a lot of people."

"The goal? No more cases."

Fay told reporters the review board, the office and other costs of the abuse policy would exceed $1 million next year.

At the FBI, McChesney has been executive assistant director, in which she served as a liaison to the nation's 18,000 law enforcement agencies and bureau operations in 44 countries. The post was created by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

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