Salesians Say Press Reports Are Off the Mark

Congregation Cites Dallas Morning News

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ROME, JUNE 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Salesians have issued a warning about a negative newspaper campaign targeted at religious congregations and orders in the United States.



"It all began with an investigation carried out by The Dallas Morning News," said a press statement issued today by the congregation.

The Salesian statement said that the newspaper asserted that religious involved in cases of sexual abuse of minors "are systematically moved from one country to another to remove them from judicial investigations."

"Insofar as the Salesian congregation is concerned, it is emphasized that this does not correspond to the truth," the statement affirmed.

The press statement came in the wake of the Dallas newspaper's story Saturday about a Salesian it described as a convicted child molester. The priest is now working pastorally in the South Pacific, out of reach of authorities in Australia, who want him on more charges, the newspaper said.

The statement said that Salesian superiors in the United States follow certain "lines of conduct" when allegations of abuse surface.

"The congregation speedily examines every accusation of sexual violence against minors to verify, first of all, its veracity," the statement said.

Second, it said the congregation "offers psycho-pedagogical support to the victims and, if necessary, to their families."

Third, if the one who commits this type of abuse is a member of the Salesians, four measures are adopted:

-- "He is immediately removed from every pastoral and educational assignment so that he will have no contact with minors";

-- "He is entrusted to experts to help him in his recovery from the psychological and spiritual point of view";

-- "He is encouraged to collaborate actively with justice and to recognize his own responsibility";

-- "Each case is followed up by the inspectorate to which the brother belongs and not by the general direction."

Finally, the statement emphasizes that the congregation "is struggling precisely for the protection of minors against abuses of all kinds (sexual violence, child labor, military recruitment)."