Philly Church Panel Submits Abuse Report

By Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press, carried in
January 15, 2003

PHILADELPHIA -- The leader of Philadelphia's Roman Catholic archdiocese accepted a reform proposal Wednesday from a lay panel studying priest sex abuse, but alleged victims said the group's recommendations didn't go far enough.

The report to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua from the 11-member panel, headed by a Catholic University law professor, recommends the archdiocese employ victim advocates, ban confidential court settlements and send notices to parishes when priests come under investigation.

Some alleged victims, however, wanted the panel to go further, and support things like putting ads in church bulletins for victims' aid groups.

"We met with them for four hours, and not one of our recommendations is in this report," said John Salveson, 47, who coordinates the Philadelphia chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

The lay panel -- which interviewed priests, victims, medical and law enforcement professionals and others -- criticized the tactics that church lawyers and insurance companies have sometimes used when dealing with victims.

"A victim felt that he and his family were further victimized by the legal strategies employed in the past by the archdiocese or its insurance carriers," the report said.

Many of the recommendations follow proposals drafted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the priest sex abuse scandal and revised by the Vatican.

In Philadelphia, allegations have been made against about 35 archdiocesan priests, involving about 50 victims, in the past five decades, church officials say.

On the Net:

Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests:


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.