Bishops Won’t Focus on Abuse Policies

Despite recent cases in which Roman Catholic bishops failed to report or suspend priests accused of child sexual abuse, the bishops head into a meeting in Seattle on Wednesday proposing no significant revisions to the abuse prevention policies they passed in 2002 at the height of the scandal.

The bishops had promised that they would take a hard look at their policies in light of new accusations in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., that have shaken many Catholics, not just in those dioceses, but across the country as well. The incidents have led some Catholics to question whether bishops are complying with their own policies, and whether there is any accountability for bishops who do not.

In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month that he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children.

Catholic bishops gather in Seattle, amidst new sex abuse allegations

Nearly 200 Catholic bishops gather in Seattle Wednesday for a three day conference, amidst new allegations of ongoing sexual abuse by priests.

The church leaders from all over the country will discuss potential changes to new rules put in place in 2002 aimed at curbing rampant sexual abuse spanning decades, resulting in thousands of complaints and over $2 billion in legal settlements.

“It’s little more than show. They’ve done virtually nothing to change things,” alleges John Shuster, director of Seattle’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Shuster says the reforms are meaningless, because they don’t carry any real power to remove pedophile priests.

Shuster accuses the church of continuing to cover up ongoing abuses, and his group is calling on the church to open its records and subject guilty priests to criminal prosecution. “This is criminal sexual abuse of children,” he complains. “If this were a plumber, he’d be locked up in a minute.”

But Catholic Church leaders insist guidelines put in place the last decade have drastically curbed abuse cases and no further rules are needed.

The gathering comes just days after three men filed new lawsuits against the Seattle archdiocese, alleging rampant abuse and cover up in the 1960’s and 1970’s.