U.S. Panel Drafting Policies on Sex Abuse Is Restructured

Bishops Expand Committee

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WASHIGNTON, D.C., SEPT. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops have restructured their committee which drafts policies on how dioceses should discipline priests involved in sexual abuse.



Two committee members heavily criticized by victims advocates -- Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Auxiliary Bishop A. James Quinn of Cleveland, Ohio -- have been removed and the eight-member panel has been expanded to 15, the Associated Press said.

The expansion of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse was included in the reform plan the U.S. bishops' conference adopted in June, in its efforts to address the crisis.

The new committee will oversee a review of that plan in two years, and will discuss possible local and national meetings with victims.

The panel also will meet with the heads of religious orders, such as the Franciscans and Benedictines, who last month adopted an abuse policy that allows for the possible rehabilitation of offenders. The bishops took a tougher stance, agreeing to remove guilty priests from public ministry, and in some cases, the priesthood altogether.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, the conference president, had removed Bishop McCormack as chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee earlier this year, though the latter had stayed on the panel. Previously, Bishop McCormack was an administrator in the Boston Archdiocese and is now a defendant in civil abuse cases in Massachusetts.

Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis will remain chairman of the committee.

Also continuing as members are Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Bishop John Gaydos of Jefferson City, Missouri; Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante of Dallas, Texas; and Bishop George Niederauer of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Newly appointed are Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia for Ukrainians; Auxiliary Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Baltimore, Maryland; and Bishop Thomas Rodi of Biloxi, Mississippi.

Also, Bishop James Murray of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Illinois; Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota; Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California; Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon; and Bishop Robert Baker of Charleston, South Carolina.