US official optimistic that Pope will act on sex abuse

The judge appointed by the US Bishops' to investigate the sex abuse scandal has said that the Church is in a good position to move ahead on dealing with the sex abuse scandal because Pope Benedict XVI is so well briefed on the situation.

"What better position can we be in the Catholic Church today? To know that the [current] Pope read [the report], talked to us and followed through," Judge Ann Burke has told told CBS.

Burke was chosen by the US bishops to investigate the priest sex-abuse scandal on the National Review Board, a lay body set up to monitor bishops' implementation of sexual abuse reforms. She stepped down last May along with three other appointees of the twelve-member board who had all served for almost two years.

In the interview with CBS, Burke said she travelled to Rome in January 2004 to meet with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and to offer Vatican officials the full story of the sex-abuse scandal.

Cardinal Ratzinger spent nearly three hours with Burke, who said she thinks he was "surprised at what we had to tell him".

One month later, her committee released its report and recommendations. In a March 2004 letter, Cardinal Ratzinger echoed the committee's suggestion that the bishops examine their role in the scandal. Pope John Paul II followed up in April, urging the bishops to start listening to lay people the way Cardinal Ratzinger had listened to Burke.

Burke speculates that January meeting may have laid the foundation for the conversation Pope Benedict had with Francis Cardinal George last month about the sex-abuse scandal and the bishops' authority to deal with abusive priests.

The US bishops are expected to meet and discuss this issue at a Chicago meeting next month.

New pope key to Vatican's response to sex-abuse scandal, says Judge Burke (Catholic News Agency 5/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
National Review Board (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)

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6 May 2005