Bishop Accountability
  Diocese to Hear from 3 Victims

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City Times
March 29, 2004

A council of priests within the Catholic Diocese of Davenport plans to use an annual convention today to learn how to help those who have been sexually abused by members of the clergy.

Priests will hear personal stories of three victims and learn about the psychological states of those abused during a daylong discussion of sexual abuse, its causes and resultant harm, the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Davenport announced.

While all of the diocese priests have gone through training on sexual abuse, the stories from the three victims will help them understand and empathize, said the Rev. Robert McAleer, the chairman of the council and pastor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Bettendorf.

“It really puts three people there in the flesh,” he said. “We need to know how to listen to them.”

The priests’ annual meeting coincides with the Chrism Mass during which priests renew their commitment to priestly ministry.

The council traditionally has used the annual meeting as a chance to focus on issues facing priests during the day-to-day operation of their parishes.

“We’re just trying to care for the people,” McAleer said of tackling the sex abuse issue that has grown along with the filing of more than a dozen civil lawsuits in the Davenport Diocese during the past two years. “We’re just trying to do our job.”

In January, the council issued a public apology to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, calling it a “gigantic betrayal of trust” that causes “unimaginable pain.”

The Catholic Diocese of Davenport faces 13 civil lawsuits filed in three counties — including Scott and Clinton — alleging the sexual abuse of boys by priests in cases ranging from 20 to 50 years ago.

The plaintiffs, nine of whom have been identified only as “John Doe,” claim that church leaders failed to take action against the priests even though they were aware of inappropriate sexual contact taking place.


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