The Dallas Morning News reviews what bishops knew
For the last three months The Dallas Morning News has studied what U.S. bishops knew and did about sexual abuse in their dioceses. In results released today, the paper reports that "roughly two-thirds of the top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working."

The study finds that 111 of 178 bishops either ignored warnings about suspicious behavior or failed to dismiss priests after admissions of wrongdoing, diagnoses of sexual disorders, legal settlements, or even criminal convictions. The 111 bishops are from at least 40 states and eight are now cardinals in U.S. archdioceses.

Today's article looks at the shadow these findings cast on this week's bishops' meeting in Dallas and explains why bishops would have allowed accused priests to stay in their parishes or be moved to other communities. Two of the common explanations of bishops's actions are "they did what they did many years ago [and] on the advice of skilled therapists who had treated the priests."

While many of the cases now being exposed are decades old, The Dallas Morning News found several examples of accused priests transferred or left in their congregations since the late 1990s.

The Rev. Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the paper that deciding on the best methods to handle clergy sexual abuse has been an issue for decades and individual bishops made the most prudent choices they could.

"Why should anybody's feet be held to the fire?" he asked. "The bishops made what they thought were prudent decisions at the time. The decisions were made on the best advice available."

Other stories on the sex abuse scandal include:

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Missouri monks mourn; police find no motive in killings
The bells of Missouri's Conception Abbey rang 80 times yesterday, one for each year that two slain monks had given to their faith. The monks did not gather for group prayer but privately meditated while police continued to canvass the crime scene where Lloyd Robert Jeffress, 71, killed Brother Damian Larson and the Rev. Philip Schuster on Monday. Two others were seriously wounded.

Investigators still do not know why Jeffress, a former Catholic who recently attended a Methodist church, would open fire in the monastery before taking his own life. In fact, they can figure out little of anything about the man.

"It's very unusual to find a person this private, where their family doesn't even have contact with him," Sgt. Sheldon A. Lyon, a Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman, told The New York Times. "It makes it difficult to say why this man would do this. Usually there are some red flags that indicate why a gunman like this will have acted the way he did. But that's not the case here."

New York kindergartner can pray at snack time
In January five-year-old Kayla Broadus held hands with classmates and prayed over their cupcakes and milk, "God is good. God is great. Thank you, God, for my food." Her teacher stopped her, citing separation of church and state; the principal agreed.

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In response, Broadus' mother filed a lawsuit that was settled last night by a school board vote. In the settlement, which the board approved unanimously, no payments will be made, the lawsuit is dropped, and Kayla can pray. The New York school district also does not have to admit any wrongdoing.

The school board says nothing has changed. After the suit was filed, the Saratoga Springs Board of Education passed a resolution confirming that it never had a policy restricting audible prayer. Board of Education President Sandra Lewis told the local Saratogian: "Kayla was able to pray before the lawsuit and it will continue to remain the same."

More articles

Southern Baptist convention:

Politics and law:

Other stories of interest:

  • Folks flock to church to see face of Jesus | Pastor notices apparition while closing up church (WPBF, West Palm Beach, Fla.)

  • Sects and the Church | If it is truly serious about opposing new religious movements, the Orthodox Church should rely more on its own preaching and internal discipline and less on the courts and police. (Lawrence Uzzell, The Moscow Times)

  • A faith near to heaven | A century and a half ago, French priests brought Catholicism to the Tibetan plateau. There it has endured, despite war, Maoism and rival religions. (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Churches vow before Queen to work for unity | Archbishop of Canterbury says said that although the Churches were still separate institutions, the past few decades had seen an enormous rapprochement (The Times, London)

  • Royals at prayer for coronation day | Call for unity as Christian leaders attend Windsor service (The Guardian, London)

  • Pope, Orthodox Leader Sign Document | Both the pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I have described the declaration as another step in helping bridge the nearly 1,000-year-old rift. (Associated Press)

  • Pope courts Anglicans in attempt to heal rift | The Vatican has invited Anglicans, including a woman priest, to an unprecedented conference this week in an attempt to end four centuries of division between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. (The Times, London)


Church life:

  • New bishop eyes politics | Chane has also questioned the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. (The Washington Times)

  • Bishop Chane's brave, new Episcopalians | Bishop Chane has promised to make Washington the "most exciting diocese in the Episcopal Church." Exciting, perhaps, in the way that a plane crash or a soccer riot is exciting. (Editorial, The Washington Times)

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