May 10, 2005

Church invites response to abuse

Portland Press Herald

By TREVOR MAXWELL, Portland Press Herald Writer

Bishop Richard Malone is urging victims of sexual abuse within Maine's Catholic Church to participate in a national online questionnaire.

Church officials hope the confidential form, posted online until Wednesday, will help the clergy in Maine respond to past victims and prevent future abuse. The site was created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and represents the first clearinghouse of its kind for survivors of sex abuse.

"They are trying to figure out the scope and the context and what makes this happen," said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

"People can go into this site and be completely honest," Bernard said. "A lot of people have already told their stories, but a lot of people may not have."

The chancellor's office at the diocese in Portland also is prepared to receive complaints, she added.

On the Web site - - victims are asked several times not to identify themselves, their abusers or dioceses. They are directed instead to report abuse to law enforcement agencies and to seek help through their churches.

Posted by kshaw at May 10, 2005 08:03 AM