Bishops will be held accountable for actions

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he believes a new church policy adequately holds bishops accountable for sexually abusive clergy members.

Some critics have said the policy does not go far enough to make sure bishops are held responsible if they fail to enforce the policy. But Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Ill., said Monday the accountability bishops have to each other and the public will be enough.

The "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" was approved at last week's meeting of Roman Catholic bishops in Dallas.

The policy, which still needs final approval from the Vatican, would remove abusive priests from church work but not necessarily the priesthood.

The charter also states that sexual abuse is a crime. It requires church leaders to report allegations of abuse to authorities.

"The charter is a commitment we are making to each other as bishops and as a people," Gregory said. "The conference must continue that conversation of accountability."

As part of the new policy, the bishops formed a national board, to be led by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, that would annually review whether church leaders -- including bishops -- are complying with the policy.

Among those who have expressed early concern about the charter is the Rev. Robert Silva, head of the National Federation of Priests' Councils.

Silva has said the plan includes punishments for priests but no sanctions for bishops who mishandle abuse cases.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: