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Statement on Conclusion of US Cardinals’ Meeting with Pope to Discuss Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

April 24, 2002

Statement by Frances Kissling, President, Catholics for a Free Choice:

Washington, DC—“This is indeed a tragic result of such an important opportunity for the pope and the American cardinals to correct the problem of the abuse of power and sexual abuse that plagues the church. It is shocking that our most high-ranking leaders cannot even agree that a priest who even once abuses a child must leave the priesthood.  A lawyer who violates the canons of his profession is no longer a lawyer, ditto a doctor.  Is not the priesthood, a more sacred profession and trust, worthy of protection from sexual predators?  A priest who has abused once can go on and lead a good life and can sin no more—but let him do it as layman, not a priest.

The total lack of discussion regarding the moral and legal culpability of those who continued to assign priest predators to work that exposed them to children and of the legal obstructionism of the bishops and dioceses continues the old boys club mentality of the Vatican and the bishops. As lay Catholics, we will need to take our concerns to civil authorities from the US courts and legislatures to the United Nations—where the Vatican as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be required to explain itself, change its policies or lose its seat.”