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US cardinals arrive at Vatican for talks on abuse scandals


Meetings today and tomorrow and Wednesday will mark the first meeting of senior Vatican officials and cardinals to discuss the problem of paedophile priests.

The US cardinals will seek the Pope's guidance on what changes he would favour before a conference in Dallas, Texas, at which they hope to decide new protocols to deal with paedophile priests.

The Pope made no mention of the crisis on Sunday when he ordained 20 priests for dioceses in the Rome area in Saint Peter's Basilica.

In a rare comment on the problem last month he wrote that all priests were profoundly affected by "the sins of some of our brothers" who have succumbed to "the most grievous forms" of evil.

The landmark Vatican meetings will discuss, among a range of issues, the age-old problem of reconciling the church's canon law with secular law.

Canon law does not currently call for a priest found guilty of child abuse to be immediately removed from his duties.

The US bishops would be in favour of such a measure, Monsignor Frank Maniscalco, a spokesman for the US Episcopal Conference, said late last week.

"Experts consider that paedophiles are likely to be repeat offenders. It is therefore necessary to take immediate action to avoid consequences that are heavy both for the children but also for the bishops if the guilty party remains a priest," said Monsignor Maniscalco.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles said in interviews last week that he would be pushing the Pope to at least consider broader changes, such as allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained. "At this point, I'm a proponent of the discussion. I want to hear a lot more," he said.

LINKS
Agenda for meeting in Vatican with u.s. cardinals (VIS)
Seminary to close amid sexual abuse allegations (Miami Herald)
Paedophile priests scandal Cardinal may be forced out says report (Ananova)
Cardinal vows to fight sex abuse (BBC)
Papal summit on a church crisis (Christian Science Monitor)
Scandal darkens a bright career (Boston Globe)
Report: New York priest blames homosexuality for abuse in Catholic Church (AP)
Vatican is said to leave scandal to U.S. bishops (International Herald Tribune)
Catholic leaders hit coverage (Boston Globe)
Religion Web Sites Surge Amid Spiritual Holidays and Extensive News Coverage (Jupiter Media Matrix)

SOURCE
AFP

23 Apr 2002