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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
US press: Vatican must go further
Catholic Cardinals
US cardinals were called to Rome to discuss the crisis
The US press has praised the Vatican and US Catholic leaders for directly addressing the wave of sex scandals that have rocked the Church in the United States.

But there is a widespread opinion that the Church did not go far enough and that key Catholic leaders in the US, including Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, should resign.

Several papers, and many Catholics quoted on their pages, express dissatisfaction with the steps taken after US cardinals met the the Pope in Rome.

Many editorials called on the Vatican to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual misconduct with minors by priests.

Boston cardinal should resign

In the Boston Globe, William Bennett was one of many commentators who called for Cardinal Law's resignation.

Mr Bennett served as secretary of education under President Reagan and as "drug tsar" under President George HW Bush.

Mr Bennett said of Cardinal Law, "The moral credibility of the Church is compromised by leaders whose own credibility is so severely damaged."

Church leaders are human and are not expected to be perfect, but he wrote: "There are minimal standards of behaviour that we can expect and indeed demand. They include not sheltering blatant or chronic sexual abusers or placing them in positions where they can again prey upon innocent children and young men."
Cardinal Law
The Boston Globe is calling for Cardinal Bernard Law to resign

The newspaper has aggressively pursued the story and sought to force the Church to release internal documents relating to allegations of child molestation by priests.

The Globe has repeatedly questioned whether Cardinal Law can continue as head of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Revelations of another case of sexual misconduct by a Boston area priest "eliminate any hope that the leadership of the Archdiocese of Boston can restore its credibility," the newspaper wrote.

The case in question was that of Reverend Paul Shanley, who the paper alleged was guilty of "predatory sexual practices with young boys in his charge."

But the Globe said it had uncovered much more. "A pattern of denial, obfuscation, payoff, and cover-up by the archdiocese has been exposed, revealing an incomprehensible web of pain involving nearly 100 priests," the newspaper wrote.

And in calling for Boston's archbishop to resign, the newspaper said, "Cardinal Law has become an obstacle to reform."

Several questions unresolved

The New York Times said the meeting at the Vatican was constructive but said that cardinals "failed to embrace the kind of disciplinary reforms that would decisively break with past mistakes."

The newspaper applauded Pope John Paul II for his strong condemnation of the "predatory sexual practices of priests and his acknowledgment that the molestation of children is a crime."
Pope John Paul II
The New York Times said that Pope John Paul II appreciated the gravity of the situation

The newspaper likewise praised the communique by cardinals calling for national standards in the US for dealing with abusive priests and for special processes for dealing with priests found guilty of child molestation as well as those found to be a threat to children.

But the newspaper wanted more. "Unfortunately, these recommendations stopped short of a zero-tolerance policy for all abusive priests," the newspaper wrote.

The newspaper also pointed to several questions it felt were left unanswered by the statement.

The meeting did not address past offenders or priests who rehabilitate themselves.

The Catholic leadership in the US must aggressively follow-up the meeting with a detailed strategy on how to address the issue, the New York Times stressed.

Remember the victims

Columnist Mary McGrory of the Washington Post was blunt in her criticism of Catholic leaders.

She wrote, "In Rome, in the papal palace, the mood was defensive rather than penitential."

And she called on the public to remember the victims. "The victims tend to get lost while their clerical elders discuss the tragedy in political terms," she wrote.

And she used scripture to underscore the gravity of the offence of child molestation by the clergy.

"No one, at least in public, quoted Christ's view of the matter as reported in Luke 17:1-3. 'It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.'"

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Americas
Cardinal vows to fight sex abuse
16 Apr 02 | Americas
US cardinal welcomes Pope talks
09 Apr 02 | Americas
Abuse claims dog US priests
04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
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