About two-thirds of "top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working, a practice that spans decades and continues today," according to a three-month review by the Dallas Morning News, published on the eve of the June conference of U.S. Bishops scheduled to adopt policy on pedophile priests.
At least 111 of the nation's 178 "mainstream, or Roman rite" Catholic dioceses are headed by men who have protected accused or even convicted priests and other church officials. Implicated bishops represent 40 states. The newspaper's June 12 exposé notes Church spokesmen did not dispute the findings.
All 8 cardinals who lead American dioceses--and most members of the bishops committee that drafted the proposed "two strikes, you're out" policy--are involved, according to reporters Brooks Egerton & Reese Dunklin.
The newspaper's website details allegations against Catholic bishops at www.dallasnews.com/cgi-bin/2002/priests.cgi
At least 300 civil lawsuits alleging priestly sex abuse have been filed since January, according to an Associated Press survey. AP reports nearly 250 Roman Catholic priests were suspended or removed in that time period, while a Washington Post survey published on June 9 cites 218 priests removed. At least 34 known offenders remain in church jobs, according to that newspaper.
At least 850 U.S. priests have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors since the early 1960s, and more than 350 were removed before this year, according to the Post.
The San Francisco Examiner reports at least 3,000 priests have been accused of misconduct and at least 1,300 have been treated for "psychosexual disorders."
Vatican: Coverage "Anti-Catholic"
The Vatican-approved Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica in early June criticized the "morbid and scandalous" treatment of the church sex abuse scandal in the United States as "anti-Catholic" and "anti-papal." The magazine previously recommended in May that bishops avoid telling congregations that parish priests have sexually abused victims, if the bishops believe the priests won't abuse again.
Leading Latin American Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga also accused the U.S. media of being anti-Catholic in an interview with the Roman Catholic monthly magazine 30 Giorni (30 Days).
The American media is reacting with "a fury which reminds me of the times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently, Stalin and Hitler," said Rodriguez, 59, considered a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.
"What is happening now, for example, to Cardinal Law is a scandal."
"Not to mention newspapers like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, which were protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church," the Honduran cardinal added.
Church Criminal Investigations Start
Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley announced May 30 that he is launching a criminal investigation into the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix over its failure to report complaints of sexual misconduct against priests.
Romley may consult with other prosecutors nationwide to speak "with a singular voice" to the church, he said. Prosecutors in such cities as Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have also launched similar investigations.
Jehovah's Witnesses Demand Witnesses
A letter from elders of the Jehovah's Witnesses was read at June services instructing that sexual abuse allegations will be rejected unless there are "two independent witnesses."
The elders cite Deut. 19:15, which says: "No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand."
The scandal-ridden Church recently expelled former headquarters employee Barbara Anderson, for saying she has seen hundreds of suppressed files of accusations. Kentucky elder Bill Bowen, who told NBC: "It's a pedophile's paradise within the organization," also faces expulsion. He has created the website http://silentlambs.org
Baptist Laundry "Pretty Dirty"
Speaking at the opening of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist convention in St. Louis on June 9, Rev. Bobby Welch, of Florida, said: "We shouldn't enjoy this Catholic mess too much. We're waiting on the other shoe to drop, and when it does, don't be surprised if there is more and more within our ranks."
Rev. Frank Ruff, the Southern Baptist liaison to the Catholic bishops, told the convention-goers: "Our dirty laundry is out there for everybody to see--and it's pretty dirty."