Seminaries Seen as a Key to Avoiding Future Abuse Scandals

"Zero-Tolerance" Strategy Eyed by U.S. Cardinals

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Several American cardinals indicated that seminaries are the best place to work to avoid future sex-abuse scandals in the priesthood, ZENIT learned.



That theme arose during the two-day meeting of U.S. prelates with the Pope and Vatican officials to address the scandals involving boys and young men. A consensus emerged among the Church leaders that any priests involved in future scandals would be dismissed outright, the Associated Press reported today.

Earlier, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. bishops´ conference, presented the proposals made in the addresses given Tuesday.

Vatican Radio reported the possibility that diocesan commissions will be created, composed of religious, lay people and victims´ parents, and that priority attention will be given to the selection and formation of seminarians.

John Paul II did not attend today´s morning session since he had to preside over the general audience in St. Peter´s Square.

Tantamont at the two-day meeting was the adoption of a rule to defrock priests who sexually prey on minors.

Vatican Radio quoted Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles as saying: "The Pope could not have been clearer when it came to expressing what in the United States is described as ´zero tolerance´ in the face of abuses."

For his part, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago emphasized "the need to distinguish between different forms of behavior, case by case," although the protection of children is clearly the priority.

When John Paul II addressed the meeting Tuesday, he insisted that people "need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young."

Conclusions of the meeting will be presented in the June 13-15 assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Texas.