Board Reviewing Clerical Abuse Works in Anonymity
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune [Albuquerque NM]
June 11, 2005
It's a board so secretive that few know what they do, what they've done or who they are.
Still, officials with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe say the work of the Permanent Review Board is crucial to safeguarding the church and parishioners from sex-offending priests.
"It is a professional group," said Celine Radigan, archdiocese spokeswoman. "They do study the allegations and take what they do very seriously."
But those outside the review board system must take that on faith, because no annual reports are generated and no comments on its decisions are provided.
Even the names of the members are cloistered.
"Board members have expressed that anonymity is more conducive to their fulfilling their duties and obligations as consultors and advisers to the archbishop," said Sister Nancy Kazik.
Kazik, archdiocese vice chancellor and case manager, gave a written response to questions about the board.
She did not respond to a request to provide a list of all priests disciplined as a result of the review board's findings.
The board was created shortly after 1993 when Archbishop Michael Sheehan took over an archdiocese reeling from priest settlements totaling about $50 million.
The original board included four members - a non-Catholic church leader, a commissioner on domestic violence, a community activist and a psychologist. Later, the board was expanded to nine members serving five-year terms, which the archbishop could extend for another five years.
Members have included doctors, judges, social workers and other priests. One of the most notorious members was Robert Malloy, a former Catholic priest accused in 1998 of sexual misconduct with five teenage boys. Malloy pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of attempting to tamper with evidence and was removed from his priestly duties.
The board reviews allegations of sexual misconduct against priests, relying on the archdiocese case manager to provide the evidence.
The board determines the credibility of the allegations and makes its recommendations to the archbishop, who can abide by or reject its advice.
Sheehan has always followed the advice of the board, Radigan said.
During Sheehan's tenure, more than 20 members of the clergy have been restricted or removed from the ministry, but no one within the archdiocese would confirm on the record that every one of the disciplines were the result of a review board decision.
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