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Top US nun says Church should respond cautiously to sex abuse scandal

The Catholic Church should respond cautiously to the sex abuse cases involving US priests because the scandal is too complex for swift, sweeping decisions, a senior American nun said Saturday.

Sr Kathleen Pruitt led a delegation representing 75,000 American nuns to the Vatican last week for previously scheduled talks to discuss their yearly work, the ramifications of the 11 September attacks, religious dialogue and efforts to combat ethnic hatred.

Those meetings came a week after a rare Vatican summit on the scandal. Pruitt, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said she stressed the need for "a measured response" to the crisis rocking the American church.

"We spoke of the need to not place the total attention here on the sexual piece of this -- on the tragedy, sin and crime that pedophilia is -- but to try not to lump everything into one," Pruitt told The Associated Press on Saturday. "We need time, expertise and a measured response to deal with the nuances."

"I would hope that we move with caution," Pruitt said. "I think we have to help one another to understand that in a moment of rage and anger that there is need to also step back and breathe deeply."

"The tendency is to say that every piece of this is pedophilia," she said. "Well, it just isn't."

Pruitt and three other senior nuns arrived in Rome last weekend and had about eight meetings with Vatican officials, who did not give directives but listened, Pruitt said.

"What we were able to do was to very honestly express how deeply all of this has impacted the whole Church. And I think they recognised the depth and the seriousness of this," she said.

Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Leadership Conference of women Religious releases Public Statement concerning "Crisis of allegations of clerical abuse" (5/4/02)


5 May 2002