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Catholic Church Continues to Use Evasion Tactics

Testimony continued this week regarding the legitimacy of a $30 million settlement between the Boston archdiocese and 86 sexual abuse victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan. The archdiocese’s newspaper The Pilot, of which Cardinal Bernard Law is publisher, stated in March, “This settlement is an important step in reaching closure.” In addition, a March 15 Pilot editorial called the case settled. Still, in his testimony last Friday, Law insisted that the settlement was only proposed, requiring signatures from the archdiocesan finance committee as well as all victims. The committee — which reneged on the settlement in May, claiming it was unaffordable — may consider filing for bankruptcy, church advisers told the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, leaders of all male religious orders in the US met this week in Philadelphia at the Conference of Major Superiors of Men to debate application of the US Catholic Bishops’ sexual abuse policy drafted in June. The bishops’ policy applies only to diocesan priests: those in religious orders such as Jesuits, Francisans, and Dominicans are not covered by the bishops’ policies except when serving parish jobs. However, leaders of the various priestly orders are likely to adopt a similar policy whereby offending priests are removed from ministry but not priesthood — again rejecting a zero-tolerance stance, according to conference spokeswoman Marita Eddy in the Washington Post.

Sources:

Associated Press 8/3/02, 8/6/02; Washington Post 8/7/02; Boston Globe 8/4/02; Americans United 8/7/02