U.S. Priests Cheered by Vatican Decision

They Say the Accused, as Well as Victims, Need Protection

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NEW YORK, OCT. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Priests welcomed the Vatican's call for a revision of the U.S. bishops' policy on dealing with allegations of clerical sex abuse.



"Priests are probably happy that someone is taking up their cause," Father Walter H. Cuenin, a priest in the Boston Archdiocese, told the Associated Press in the wake of the Vatican decision today. "In the same breath, we want it understood we want to protect victims."

Many in the U.S. Catholic clergy fear their rights were trampled on in the rush last June to remove abusive priests. In June the U.S. bishops' conference passed a "zero-tolerance" policy which some critics believed violated canon law and which some said glossed over the root problems that led to the crisis.

Another priest in Massachusetts, Father Paul E. Kilroy, told the AP: "Justice for victims is very important, but everybody must be treated with justice, and that hasn't always happened. In Boston, it's felt like guilt is presumed and then innocence proven."

Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. episcopal conference, said it would be wrong to conclude that the bishops' efforts at reform were dead, the New York Times reported.

"This is not the end of the game," Shaw was quoted as saying. "Everyone would like it to be overnight, but it's too large and complex."

New York Cardinal Edward Egan, in a statement quoted by Reuters, said: "The Holy See has not rejected the 'Charter' and 'Norms,' as some have suggested. By seeking greater clarity and precision in certain areas, the bishops and the Holy See will be able to move forward to achieve the recognition necessary to implement the Norms fully."