March 30, 2006

Zero tolerance: When did this happen?

The Tidings

At their meeting in Dallas in 2002, the bishops of the United States stated as policy:

"…that for even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor --- whenever it occurred --- which is admitted or established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon is to be permanently removed from ministry and, if warranted, dismissed from the clerical state."

This is what is commonly referred to as "zero tolerance." Does this mean that any priest who is accused anywhere in the United States by anyone will be removed from ministry? Many priests feared that they might be at the mercy of every accuser.

However, that is not what has happened. A number of priests have been accused, but they have not been removed from ministry because the accusation was not credible.

The policy requires that an accused priest either admits to the accusation or that it be verified by appropriate evidence. In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, this means that if a priest denies an allegation of abuse, it will be examined by a thorough investigation. Many of the investigators used have worked for the FBI.

Posted by kshaw at March 30, 2006 04:04 PM