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Catholic Church undertakes acts of contrition


The Christian Science Monitor reports:
"From Boston to California, Roman Catholic
leaders are carrying out high-profile acts of
public contrition aimed at rebuilding the
moral authority of their scandal-plagued
church."

Faced with falling attendance at Masses,
dwindling contributions, and a continuing
tidal wave of sexual-abuse lawsuits, many in
the church are looking for ways to rebuild
public trust - even as critics worry their
actions are more public-relations tactics
than genuine efforts at reform.

In recent days:

Bishop Richard Lennon, Boston's new
temporary administrator, has agreed to
meet with all victims - and is pushing for
quick settlements in the roughly 400
sexual-abuse lawsuits pending in his
diocese.

Baltimore's Archbishop William Keeler has
become perhaps the first American cardinal
to testify in a criminal trial. His dramatic
courtroom apology to an abuse victim
charged with shooting a priest helped get
the man acquitted of manslaughter charges.

In California, a group of priests has begun
performing public penance for their brothers'
sins, doing everything from working as a
janitor's assistant to explaining the scandal
to teenagers.

In some ways the moves are part of the
American church's decade-long process of
coming to terms with the abuse. Yet if the
new tone of openness and sympathy is to
continue, observers say, church officials will
have to buck many pressures, including
admonitions from lawyers to be tight-lipped -
and from the Vatican not to bow to popular or
media pressure. Meanwhile, amid the public
pledges of reform, skeptics invoke the
words of Jesus: "By their fruits ye shall know
them."

SOURCE
CS Monitor



24 Dec 2002