NY Priests Challenge Cardinal over Sex Cases

Reuters [New York]
December 20, 2003

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scores of New York priests accused Cardinal Edward Egan of failing to support fellow priests charged with sexual abuse of minors, one of the priests said on Saturday.

A Dec. 12 petition signed by 69 priests says the archdiocese has given the impression that men who stand accused are "damaged goods." In one case, a priest "seems to have been coerced" into signing a document asking to be removed from the priesthood before trial, the petition says.

"We need to tell you again what you already know; the morale of the New York presbyterate is at an all-time low," says the document, parts of which were published by The New York Times on Saturday.

Rev. Edward Byrne of St. Ann's church in Ossining, New York, who signed a cover letter accompanying the petition, confirmed the content of the document. He declined to comment further until the priests get a response from the cardinal.

But archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said the document has not yet been received. "We went through every piece of mail last night and no letter," he told Reuters.

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked in recent years by allegations of sex crimes by priests. Since Easter 2002, New York's Cardinal Egan has suspended at least 14 priests in active ministry who had been accused of abuse.


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