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US lay Catholics join abuse review


The Catholic Bishops of the United States announced on Wednesday the appointment of a sexual abuse review board that is made up entirely of active Catholic lay people, but no one from the victims' advocacy groups that have been most critical of the church.

Among members are Leon Panetta, former chief of staff for the Clinton White House; Dr. Paul McHugh, former chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Nicholas Cafardi, the dean of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh who has also served as legal counsel to several church bodies.

The chairman of the board, Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, and some of the appointees, said in interviews that their main mission is to restore confidence in a church they love, and not to seek the discipline or prosecution of bishops who failed to remove abusive priests.

The bishops, at their meeting in Dallas in June, called for the creation of the review board to monitor the bishops' compliance with their new policies on sexual abuse, to initiate studies on the causes and extent of child abuse in the church, and to work with the bishop's new Office for Child and Youth Protection.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was critical of McHugh's inclusion on the board. McHugh was a founder and board member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a group that raised skepticism in the 1990s about adults who claimed to have recovered long-buried memories of childhood sexual abuse or incest.

McHugh said in a telephone interview that while he believes that most of the priest sexual abuse cases do not involve false memories, his expertise in that issue could help inform the panel's work.

He added that SNAP members were disappointed that the only person identified as a victim on the panel is Dr. Michael Bland, a former priest who now works in the victim assistance ministry for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

LINKS
Membership of National Review Board Announced (USCCB)

SOURCE
New York Times Service

26 Jul 2002