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Bishop says church has 'turned corner' on sex abuse crisis

President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Bishop Wilton Gregory said on Sunday that the Church has "turned the corner" on the sexual abuse crisis, but that the process of restoring trust will take years.

Bishop Gregory, speaking to the Boston Globe in an interview on the eve of yesterday's opening of the autumn meeting of the bishops' conference, acknowledged the church's moral authority has been damaged by revelations that hundreds of priests sexually abused minors during the last five decades.

But, he said, the church will continue to speak out on moral issues as the presidential campaign intensifies.

Bishop Gregory said the bishops' conference has discussed, but has not yet decided whether to pursue, launching a public relations campaign to call attention to the ongoing "good works" of the church as the bishops prepare for the February release of a church-commissioned quantitative study of clergy sexual abuse that Gregory has predicted will be "startling".

"We want the truth to be told, and the truth won't be told unless we make it available," he said.

"I believe that it is important that we not lose context of all that the church has done, and continues to do with such clarity, generosity, and effectiveness," he said. "We still feed the poor, we still assist immigrants, we still are engaged in international questions of import - that's part of who we are as Catholics."

This week's meeting of the bishops' conference will include an update from the lay National Review Board, which in February is to release its study of the scope of the abuse crisis and later to release a second study of the causes of the crisis. Leaders of a variety of lay organizations critical of the bishops, including Voice of the Faithful, Call to Action, and Survivors First, have travelled to Washington to call attention to their concerns about the church's response to the crisis.

The meeting's agenda also includes consideration of statements on farmworkers and free trade, "Stewardship and Young Adults", Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, and popular devotional practices.

Bishop says church has `turned corner' on sex abuse crisis (Boston Globe)
Media Advisory: USCCB Annual Meeting, November 10-13, Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic bishops urged to help heal church (Associated Press/NewsObserver)
Vatican petitioned for removal of bishops (Associated Press/Daily Democrat)
Catholic Bishops Urged to Repair Bonds (Associated Press)
Reform Group, Church to Meet on Progress (Associated Press/Macon Telegraph)
Visible symptoms of deeper troubles (National Catholic Reporter)
US bishops' leader says Church as "turned corner" on sex-abuse crisis (Catholic World News)
More scrutiny, training for church youth workers (Jersey Journal)
Ireland pays up for abuse (The Age)
Church puts house in order on abuse (The Universe)

11 Nov 2003