US Bishops to adopt discipline policy
The US bishops headed into a four-day meeting yesterday to adopt a new discipline policy for sexually abusive priests that they hope will end a year of scandal.
Victim advocates and lay reformers, meanwhile, assembled in a hotel across from the gathering to signal their anger with the revisions, which they say could keep molesters in parishes.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a disciplinary plan when it last met five months ago in Texas. The policy before the group now is a revision negotiated with the Vatican that protects priests' rights and underscores that bishops, not lay people, have the authority to oversee clergy.
Bishops insist the new version maintains their commitment to removing all abusers from church work, but victims' advocates argue the process will be too cumbersome and secretive.
"We are calling on America's bishops to strengthen, not weaken, the promises they made in Dallas," said David Cerulli, a member of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
Whatever plan is adopted this week will stand for at least two years if it wins Vatican approval. Many prelates expect completion of the policy will ease public pressure for reform.
Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the bishops conference, was opening the meeting with a morning address. In the afternoon, representatives of the committee that drafted the policy and another panel formed to enforce the charter were providing provide updates on their work.
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US bishops debate sex abuse (BBC)
Bishops revamping abusive priest policy (AP)
Victim advocates, reformers pressure bishops on eve of meeting on sex abuse (AP)
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12 Nov 2002