Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Zero Tolerance?

More talk of the Bishop's Conference, which starts Thursday. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Church's sexual abuse policy is expected to be a topic of discussion. The story, as picked up by the Macon Telegraph (couldn't find it on the Tribune site), say that the "one strike and you're out" policy adopted in 2002 is expected to be a topic of discussion.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops are expected to retain the church's zero tolerance policy requiring that all priests who have committed even one act of sexual abuse be removed permanently from ministry.

Yet only three years after the church's abuse scandal erupted, some leaders are discussing whether the policy should eventually be modified - especially in cases of limited offenses committed years ago followed by an unblemished record.

The article goes on to say that while the bishop's are expected to retain the one strike policy -- for now -- there agenda also includes taking a broader view of the problem.

The bishops are expected to approve a broader definition of sexual abuse that will cover priests who buy or disseminate child pornography. They will be asked to approve spending $1 million in reserve funds toward an in-depth study on the "causes and contexts" of the abuse crisis. The study is expected to focus on whether abuse might be related to homosexuality, celibacy and other issues.

Victims' advocates take a different view:

"We believe the zero tolerance policy is only enforced sporadically, at best," said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Rules are one thing. Enforcement is quite another.

Let's see how things go in Chicago. Shall we?


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