May 05, 2005

Dioceses struggle to meet mandate

The Morning Call

By Romy Varghese
Of The Morning Call

The Allentown Catholic Diocese's decision to place priests accused of sexual abuse in a restricted facility in Schuylkill County reflects a situation faced by dioceses nationwide: how to fulfill an ill-defined mandate on dealing with such priests.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is considering a move similar to Allentown's program, which requires that the supervised priests undergo a specialized ''safety plan.'' Officials at the Scranton Catholic Diocese didn't return calls for comment.

Allentown diocesan officials said they developed the program to comply with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse scandal.

Under the charter, offending priests who have been removed from ministry because of sexual abuse should ''lead a life of prayer and penance.''

As for how dioceses can ensure such lives, the charter doesn't say. But a report released by the bishops conference last year recommended that bishops keep track of the priests.

Posted by kshaw at May 5, 2005 07:45 AM