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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
NY church reveals 'sex abuse' list
Cardinal John Egan
The cardinal is accused of covering up the abuse
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By Jane Standley
The BBC's New York correspondent
line

New York's Roman Catholic archdiocese has given government prosecutors a list of priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children in the past.

The archdiocese also set out new guidelines for handling fresh allegations.

The move is being seen as a major U-turn following strong public pressure on the church in New York.

Pope John Paul II
The pope has condemned the paedophiles
The church has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals and New York's cardinal, John Egan, has been accused of helping cover up such cases when he was a bishop in Connecticut.

The Roman Catholic Church says its list of priests who have been accused in the past has been drawn up following a "comprehensive review" of all available personnel files, going back 35 to 40 years.

The dates and locations of alleged assaults, and details of actions taken at the time are included.

Reversal of policy

The church will not say how many names are on the list, but a law enforcement official says there are close to 40 cases, most involving boys aged between five and 15, and most outside Manhattan.

The majority of the men involved are believed to have left the priesthood, and the allegations against many are now too old to prosecute under American law.

But the move to co-operate with government prosecutors marks a major reversal by the Roman Catholic archdiocese in New York - one of the largest and most powerful in the United States.

Just three weeks ago, it said it would not hand over old cases to the authorities, even though a small number of other diocese have done so.

There is growing attention across the United States to allegations of child sexual abuse against priests, after scandals from Boston to Florida.

But the church itself is also facing mounting criticism following allegations that it covered things up for decades.

See also:

04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
21 Mar 02 | Europe
Pope denounces 'evil' sex priests
12 Mar 02 | Americas
Church agrees sex abuse payout
02 Apr 02 | Americas
Paedophile priests 'damage church'
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