Judge Will Speak at Forum on Priest Abuse

By Steve Arney
Bloomington Pantagraph [Bloomington IL]
March 29, 2004


What: "Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Lessons Learned"

When: April 23

Where: Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 1 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington

Cost: $20, including lunch

To register:, or call Vickie Willottee at Chestnut Health Systems, (309) 827-6026, ext. 3737

BLOOMINGTON -- A national figure in the study of sexual abuse by priests will headline an April 23 conference in Bloomington to discuss what has been learned from the controversy.

Chicago-area Appellate Justice Anne Burke is chairwoman of the National Catholic Lay Review Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Burke's committee released two reports in February -- one documenting nearly 11,000 abuse claims against priests since 1950 and the other examining causes of the church scandal.

Her luncheon talk will be part of a five-hour conference, called "Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Lessons Learned," at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 1 Brickyard Drive.

But victims of priest sexual abuse will speak first.

Three abuse survivors will share their stories to set a priority and a tone for the conference, said conference organizer John Ryan.

The conference then will examine healing, trauma of abuse and causes of the American priest scandal.

Ryan's group, Voices of the Faithful, is chief sponsor. He coordinates for the national, independent Catholic group's Peoria-based diocese.

Ryan said the conference, like the problem of sexual abuse, will stretch beyond the church.

"There most certainly will be a lot on the Catholic Church," said Ryan, "but we wanted to expand the presentation to a larger issue in society."

Bishop Daniel Jenky and all priests in the Peoria-based Catholic Diocese are being invited in letters sent last week. Also asked to attend are Protestant clergy, business leaders, leaders from institutions, sexual abuse survivors, court and government leaders and children's advocates.

Seven agencies are co-sponsoring the event.