April 24, 2005

New pope raises hopes for stance on sex abuse

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Attorney John Aretakis, a self-described "flaming liberal" who represents victims of priest sex abuse in New York, sees the selection of arch-conservative John Ratzinger as pope as good news for his 160 clients.

And he isn't alone. Victims, too, hope the man who in 2002 dismissed America's priest sex abuse scandal as overblown by the news media will clean house in the nation's diocesan leadership, including Albany, Syracuse and Rochester.

"Call me an optimist," said Aretakis, "but I am absolutely ecstatic." Aretakis said he hopes Benedict XVI will go after the American bishops the Albany attorney blames for decades of victimization of children by priests.

"The liberal bishops in this country have allowed a sexual culture to go on under the cloak of darkness," said Aretakis, whose clients include several from the Southern Tier. "And they've let the pedophiles creep in."

Diocesan leaders have done the best they could in hindsight, said a local priest who also is the region's vicar for the Syracuse Diocese. Parishes have instituted mandatory training in detecting sexual abuse for employees and volunteers, said the Rev. Thomas Ryan, pastor of St. James Catholic Church in Johnson City. They've also tried to recognize the terrible hurt caused to victims and have participated in the healing process.

But many Catholics are questioning whether bishops have looked at their own actions or inaction, and whether corrective actions have been taken among the ranks, Ryan said.

Posted by kshaw at April 24, 2005 06:50 AM