Clergy Abuse Survivors Decry Audit Delay Tactic

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
May 12, 2004

Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse responded with furor yesterday after the publication of letters revealing that members of a national lay board that studied the issue feel they were used by bishops to deflect negative publicity.

"We were manipulated," Judge Ann Burke of Illinois, the board's chairwoman, wrote in a scathing letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The letter was obtained by the weekly National Catholic Reporter and published alongside others by bishops arguing for delaying an audit, set for this year, to determine whether their dioceses comply with anti-abuse policies.

"This confirms our worst suspicions and fears," said David Cerulli, a New Yorker and board member of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

"Among many, many depressing days, this is one of the most dark," he said.

Steve Krueger, executive director of the Newton-based lay group Voice of the Faithful, said the letters "give the appearance of fraternal collusion as opposed to fraternal correction."

Fraternal correction is the principle embraced by many bishops that calls for informal monitoring of each other. Church law places bishops under the direct authority of the pope, a situation that resulted in a patchwork of abuse-prevention policies across the country and inconsistent enforcement of those rules.

Krueger said the publication of the letters "completely undermines any credibility that a number of these bishops have in terms of working toward fraternal correction."

Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley was not among those who requested a delay, said his spokesman, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne. "Even if a delay or moratorium is allowed, he has directed that the Archdiocese of Boston will continue to do our yearly audit on time."


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