July 13, 2005

Blind Eye Unto the Holy See

San Francisco Weekly

By An SF Weekly Investigation by Ron Russell

Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

During the 2002 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas -- at the height of public outrage over the clergy sex-abuse scandal -- San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada projected himself as a reformer on the abuse issue, chastising some fellow bishops for not doing enough to remove miscreant priests from their domains.

In the end, the conference voted to remove from ministry any priest who had sexually abused a minor, even if the abuse occurred far in the past. Afterward, however, the late Pope John Paul II felt the bishops' reforms were too severe and appointed Levada to help reconcile them with Vatican policy. The archbishop, in turn, asked Father Gregory Ingels, a prominent canon lawyer and a longtime Levada favorite, to help write the guidelines for a "zero tolerance" sex-abuse policy that the pope could later sign off on.

In this ironic way, American bishops now follow a program for dealing with sex-abuse complaints that was significantly influenced by two men:

A Catholic priest and lawyer who has had two serious sexual-abuse cases filed against him -- one of which the church recently agreed to settle by paying an alleged victim $2.7 million.

And an archbishop who has helped shield the lawyer/priest for nine years -- and who has now been appointed to what many consider to be the Roman Catholic Church's second most powerful position.

Posted by kshaw at July 13, 2005 11:42 AM