Editorial: Bishops Must Maintain Policy of Zero Tolerance

San Antonio Express-News [United States]
October 24, 2004

When you trust others to show you the right path, you expect them to exercise tremendous vigilance in sticking to that path themselves.

That includes teachers, coaches, bosses, mentors.

Most of all, it includes spiritual leaders.

Rocked by scandals of sexual abuse, U.S. Catholic bishops responded firmly in 2002, adopting a policy that would bar from active ministry any priest who had molested a minor.

The pledge was the centerpiece of a plan to restore trust in church leadership.

During the next nine months, Catholic bishops will review the policy, deciding whether any changes should be enacted in the face of a continuing crisis.

In 2002, many priests protested the "zero tolerance" policy, saying it ignored research that found some molesters could be rehabilitated an argument that is sure to resurface.

It would be a grave mistake to rescind the policy. Victims do not get a second chance to be rescued from these horrible crimes. Why should the people who commit them?

People hold their spiritual leaders to a higher standard, and they should. The bishops should be as forthright and courageous as they were when the policy was adopted.


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