Kentucky Diocese Sets Limits on Contact with Minors

By Bruce Schreiner
Associated Press, carried in Boston Globe
August 29, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Priests and church volunteers must avoid touching children or being alone with them under a new code of conduct and other measures unveiled yesterday by the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The rules come in response to a child sexual-abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic church, and mark the first time the archdiocese has spelled out how its employees should behave around children.

The Louisville archdiocese was among the hardest hit by the scandal. In June, it agreed to pay $25.7 million to 243 people who said they were abused by priests and others affiliated with the church. Several other lawsuits against the archdiocese are pending.

The new rules, effective immediately, forbid church staff and volunteers from touching youngsters in a "sexual way or other inappropriate manner," and forbid them from taking overnight trips with children alone.

Priests and church volunteers also must avoid driving alone with minors and avoid private meetings with children in places without windows or open doors.

The archdiocese will require all employees and volunteers to attend training meant to prevent abuse and encourage reporting of it, a spokesman said. The rules also broaden the archdiocese's criminal background checks of clergy and staff beyond Kentucky.

"There's pain and anger," Archbishop Thomas Kelly said. "I think that will be around for a while. You don't regain it all in a stroke."

Victims-rights advocates were skeptical.

"The problem doesn't come in the writing of the policies, but applying them and enforcing them," said Sue Archibald, president of The Linkup, an advocacy group for clergy abuse victims.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said vigilance against clergy abuse is still needed because "words on paper protect no one."

Elsewhere yesterday, Catholics in Palm Beach, Fla., welcomed their fourth bishop since 1998. The Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito replaced Sean O'Malley, who left to tackle even larger problems in Boston. O'Malley was sent to Palm Beach after the diocese's

two previous bishops resigned after admitting they molested boys.

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