Friday, November 15, 2002
State Department warns Catholic Bishops on sex abuse scandal
Gov't says new rules may provoke new cases
(HOYSTORY.COM) -- The U.S. government today warned America's Catholic bishops that the proposed new rules for dealing with pedophile priests are unjustified.
"Based on the facts that are known to us, we continue to find it difficult to justify the rules, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent danger to children," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
The government voiced its concern that while there may be some evidence that certain priests could be a danger to children, a full-fledged effort purge the priesthood of pedophiles was unwarranted.
"We fear that a resort to a purge, under present circumstances ... would not meet the strict conditions in American jurisprudence for overriding the strong presumption of innocence," Boucher said. "It is one thing to try to change the unacceptable behavior of a priest. It is quite another to try to end that priest's career."
Bishops had planned to take pre-emptive action against any priest suspected of molesting children under their care. It was unclear yesterday if the admonishment from the government would have any affect on the bishops' plans.
The government also said that an effort to purge the priesthood of pedophiles, may prompt them to commit illegal acts.
"The proposed rules could impose terrible new burdens on an already long-suffering priesthood and could lead to wider crimes and instability in the church," Boucher said.
The State Department urged the bishops to find a way to step back from the "brink of a purge and work for a priesthood that is enduring."
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