In an attempt to avoid more costly abuse lawsuits, the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco is dismissing all of its youth workers in presbyteries, officials said on Friday.
    ``We believe it's a prudent measure, which removes all possible appearances of improprieties in the setting,'' said Maurice Healy, spokesman for the archdiocese, who didn't know how many teenagers would lose their jobs.
    The new policy was ordered by San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada.
    ``Not all the details are finalised,'' said Healy, who expects the plan to go into effect at the Archdiocese's 89 parishes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties during the next couple of months. He did not know whether other dioceses in the nation have implemented similar rules.
    It's been a long-standing tradition for Catholic churches to hire high school students part-time for minimum wage to answer telephones, do light paperwork and similar chores in the parish offices and living quarters of the priests.
    After the archdiocese settled a lawsuit in May with a teenage presbytery worker who accused his pastor of abuse, the archbishop began drawing up a policy to eliminate youths working in the presbyteries.
San Francisco Chronicle

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