April 15, 2005

Priests would be subject to searches

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Posted: April 14, 2005

Priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee can be required to consent to unannounced searches of their homes at any time of the day or night if church officials suspect or know they have been involved in sexual conduct, alcohol or drug abuse, or other behavior deemed inappropriate by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, according to a policy change announced to clergy last week.

The new policy, which was mailed to clergy members starting last week, appears to be the only one of its kind in the country. The policy covers more than 400 priests and 150 deacons.

As the archdiocese deems necessary, clerics will have to sign a form agreeing to the searches and other restrictions, according to the policy documents.

"Failure to comply with the restrictions could cause a reduction in salary and/or benefits provided to the member by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee," the documents state.

"We have not heard about these unannounced visits in other dioceses," said William Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who was given copies of the new policy by a reporter this week. Dolan is chairman of that group's Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry.

Posted by kshaw at April 15, 2005 03:10 AM