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Liberal Groups Call for Reforms in Abuse Policy

November 09, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

The nation's Catholic bishops need to revise their policies on sexual abuse and come clean about how many abusive priests are in each diocese, two liberal Catholic organizations said.

One group, Call to Action, called on the bishops to disclose how many children have been abused by priests and how much each diocese has spent on legal settlements.

"We want to galvanize Catholic laity to take responsibility for our church," said Call to Action spokeswoman Linda Pieczynski. "If we do, then we can ensure that our children are protected, that our money is spent wisely, and that our church leaders are open and accountable to us."

The National Coalition of American Nuns, a group of about 1,800 Catholic sisters, said it cannot support the bishops' current draft sex abuse guidelines because a "zero tolerance" policy does not fit all cases.

"We do not support any guidelines that make no distinction between confirmed pedophiles and rehabilitated offenders, or between offenses committed in the distant and recent past," the nuns' statement said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will meet next week to revise the sex abuse rules after the Vatican ordered changes.

The nuns said the current charter features a "lack of nuance" that does not consider "Christ's teaching of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation."

In a separate statement, the nuns group criticized church leaders for trying to blame the abuse crisis on gay priests.

"The bishops need to accept responsibility for cover-ups and inadequate pastoral care, instead of trying to shift the blame to gay priests," the group said.

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