Archbishop Promises to Meet Abuse Victims

By Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic [Phoenix AZ]
June 24, 2003

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan met Monday with what he called the largest gathering of priests in the Diocese of Phoenix in recent memory and later vowed to meet individually with each victim of clergy sexual misconduct.

The closed-door meeting of about 160 priests, which lasted all morning, ended in applause.

Sheehan later said he had asked diocesan staff to identify any active priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse against them. He said he was told there were none.

The diocese's apostolic administrator added that he plans to meet with victims because "they were abused one to one, and they should receive an apology one to one."

Paul Pfaffenberger, who leads the Arizona chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, responded with surprise.

"Wow. That's great," he said, adding that many abuse victims have never heard a positive word from the church regarding their cases. "They need to have their pain acknowledged and to be told the abuse was not their fault," Pfaffengerger said.

Sheehan said he answered a variety of questions from the priests about a new bishop and about his plan to restore church morale.

"The journey toward healing has begun," said the Rev. Patrick Robinson of Blessed Sacrament Church in Scottsdale. "It was a wonderful morning, and I really felt good as we left."


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