ABUSIVE PRIESTS

The National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by the U.S. Conferenceof Catholic Bishops, last week announced its review of the causes of the priest abuse crisis. It also issued a long-awaited study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Among the major findings: 10,667 individuals made allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, 81 percent of victims were male and, of all priests against whom allegations were made, only 2 percent received prison sentences. Although the National Review Board rebuked U.S. bishops for failing to stop abuse--describing their lack of action as "leadership failures" which are "shameful to the church"--victims' advocates are outraged that no steps are being taken to remove culpable bishops. "It is intolerable that we learn today that thousands of minors have been abused, thousands of priests accused and yet only one person, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, has been forced to resign his hierarchical position over this scandal," said Steve Krueger, executive director of Voice of the Faithful, a nationwide group of lay Roman Catholics that formed in the wake of the scandal. Now VOTF is demanding that responsible bishops be identified and brought to justice. The group created an online petition to gather support from other Catholics; within the first 24 hours, several thousand people attached their names. Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the USCCB, declined to say whether his organization would take action to remove church authorities who knowingly allowed abusive priests to continue working. But he described the reports as "a clarion call" to make sure that each diocese has in place effective outreach to victims.

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