Bishop Urged to Audit Diocese Progress in Preventing Abuse

By Robin Evans
Mercury News [Santa Clara CA]
Downloaded May 17, 2004

A day before he is set to participate in a Santa Clara University conference looking at lessons learned from the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, the leader of a national victims' group warned Thursday of backsliding by bishops.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), hand-delivered a letter to the San Francisco archdiocese urging Bishop William Levada to support a second annual audit of diocese progress in identifying and removing problem priests and preventing further abuse. It was a message intended for all U.S. bishops.

The bishops of several East Coast dioceses were able to put off to November a vote by the U.S. Conference of Bishops on whether to even conduct an audit this year.

"The newly released letters from dozens of bishops clearly indicate the postponing or canceling of one of the most clear and simple, common-sense reforms in the clergy molestation crisis," Clohessy said.

The delay was only recently discovered by the lay Review Board, the committee established to oversee church response and progress toward the goals set at the bishop's 2002 conference in Dallas. The board was able to get the vote on the agenda of a June retreat in Denver.

"Obviously the guys out East have drawn lines in sand, and while dozens may want to postpone or cancel the audit, even more have remained silent," Clohessy said. "And that's our point: It may be necessary to fight those other bishops to move forward."

Some bishops have said that a review might not be necessary every year.

Roberta Ward, spokeswoman for the San Jose Diocese, said that if the bishop's conference decides to proceed with another audit, she's sure Bishop Patrick McGrath would approve.

"He has always been clear that it's important to get all the information out there," she said.

McGrath, Levada and many other U.S. bishops are at the Vatican this month for a quinquennial visit with the Pope.


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