April 16, 2005

Monitoring set up for wayward priests

Duluth News Tribune


MILWAUKEE - Priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee accused of sexual misconduct can be subject to unannounced searches of their homes or computers, day or night, under a monitoring policy considered a first for the Catholic Church.

The archdiocese mailed the guidelines in late March to some 400 priests and 150 deacons in an annual update of its clergy manual.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in an e-mail sent to deacons and parish directors Thursday that the policy was a work in progress and that questions would be addressed at a closed meeting Thursday.

"Some of you may have raised an eyebrow of concern... and wondered about the infringement on the individual rights of priests," Dolan said.

"I have an obligation as your archbishop to do everything in my power to support clergy who have struggled or faltered in their lives, especially when behavior results in a violation of moral or civil law," said Dolan, who became archbishop in 2002 after his predecessor Rembert Weakland resigned for using church money to pay off a man who accused him of abuse.

The monitoring policies were developed late last year and approved Dec. 6 by Dolan after the archdiocese had already monitored some offenders -- who have voluntarily submitted to certain requirements -- for some time, said archdiocese spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl.

The archdiocese is still grappling with several lawsuits over clergy abuse after reaching monetary settlements in many others. As of December it had settled 47 of 112 sexual abuse claims through a mediator.

Posted by kshaw at April 16, 2005 07:31 AM