Church's Case a Difficult Sermon
Priests Working on What to Say

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer [Cincinnati OH]
November 23, 2003

Father Tom Speier will tackle the subject next week.

He doesn't know what he'll say about a judge finding the Archdiocese of Cincinnati guilty of five misdemeanor charges of failing to report felony crimes related to clergy sexual abuse.

But when Speier does take the matter to the pulpit at St. Monica-St. George Parish, he knows it will be solemn and remorseful.

"I'll approach it by way of apology," said the Clifton Heights preacher. "That's where we have to come from, with the hurt that has been caused to so many."

On Thursday, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati became the first Catholic institution in the nation to be found guilty of criminal charges tied to the sex abuse scandal. It was fined $10,000, the maximum penalty possible.

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk has not issued a formal statement for archdiocesan priests to read during Masses Saturday or Sunday.

"I know I'm going to address it during the liturgies," said Father Len Wenke of Saint Anthony Church in Madisonville.

The archbishop also announced Thursday the creation of a $3 million fund to compensate victims who are not suing the archdiocese.

Father William Jenkins was critical of the settlement after Saturday Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood. He said responsibility should not be placed on the church as a whole.

"If there were an accusation of wrongdoing, I as a priest would rather that I be held responsible personally, even if I were innocent, than to have the Catholic Church charged," Jenkins said.

At St. Dominic Church in Delhi Township, Father Jim Walsh said this weekend commemorates the Feast of Christ the King.

"It's a feast where you're invited to move beyond the difficult things that are going on in the church and celebrate that Christ is the last word," he said.


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