Dismissing All Abusive Priests Is Ineffective Strategy, Vatican Told

Catholic News Service
Downloaded April 8, 2003

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While pleased that the Catholic Church is taking the problem of pedophilia seriously, an international panel of experts told Vatican officials that dismissing every priest guilty of sexually abusing a minor is not the way to handle the problem. Eight internationally recognized psychiatric and medical experts were invited to lead an April 2-5 symposium at the Vatican. The Pontifical Academy for Life, which often sponsors scientific conferences on medical and ethical topics, organized the meeting. It was attended by officials from the Vatican Secretariat of State and the congregations for doctrine, clergy, Catholic education, religious and bishops. Several priests and nuns directly involved in treating offenders also were invited. The eight experts, none of whom are Catholic, came from Germany, the United States and Canada. According to participants at the Vatican meeting, the experts criticized "zero tolerance" policies for all priests who had ever sexually abused a minor. Such policies, they said, ignore the difficulty of determining the future risk posed by the offender and may actually increase the risk.

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