Dallas Group Unveils Online Petition Asking Bishop to Resign

The Associated Press, carried in Sacramento Bee [Dallas TX]
June 27, 2003

DALLAS (AP) - The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas, under fire for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis in the church, has become the target of an online petition urging him to resign.

Prominent local laypeople unveiled a Web site Thursday inviting priests, nuns and other Catholics to add their name to a petition asking Bishop Charles Grahmann to step down

We are soliciting the support of many Catholics who feel that they don't have a voice on this issue," Bill McCormack, one of more than three dozen lay people organized under the name Concerned Catholics, said in Friday's Dallas Morning News.

The diocese defended the bishop.

"We are disappointed this small group seems to be seeking to divide the church. There appears to be several motivations and agendas," said the bishop's spokesman, Bronson Havard. "It is curious that they could not cite abuse of children, as this problem has been addressed in our diocese. Bishop Grahmann stands ready to discuss other critical issues facing the church and diocese."

Grahmann has long been trying to repair the damage caused by pedophile and former Dallas priest Rudy Kos, who was convicted of molesting three altar boys and sentenced to three life terms in 1998.

The bishop has touted the diocese's safe-environment policy as a national model. But he has drawn criticism in the last year from within the diocese for how he has handled some cases.

Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante, assigned to the Dallas Diocese to succeed Grahmann when he retired, last year took the rare step of publicly disagreeing with Grahmann after he refused to remove a priest who allegedly groped and propositioned a parishioner in 1991.

An investigation last year by The Dallas Morning News showed that the diocese's abuse policy wasn't being fully implemented in several parishes. The diocese disciplined at least three priests after its audits revealed that they were not following the policy.

Other bishops across the country have been targets of anger over the scandals that, by some estimates, led more than 400 priests and a handful of bishops to lose their ministries last year. The pressure prompted bishops to gather a year ago in Dallas and adopt national standards calling for the removal of any priest or deacon who molests a child.


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