WASHINGTON (March 14, 2002) -- The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has put the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy on the agenda of the June General Meeting of the full body of Bishops.
The Conference's Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse has been asked to review and report on recommendations leading to "a comprehensive response on the national level" to ensure "the safety of children and the healing of victims and their families."
The Administrative Committee is made up of nearly 50 Bishops whose responsibilities are to carry on the work of the Conference between General Meetings and to set the agenda for these meetings.
The June General Meeting will be held in Dallas, June 13-15.
The Administrative Committee issued the following statement:
"We, the members of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Washington, D.C., discussed with the greatest concern the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy which, we profoundly regret, has so wounded God's people. We recognize our responsibility as bishops to address this problem more effectively.
"We discussed a variety of recommendations for means to prevent sexual abuse and to assure a safe environment for children.
"The Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse was given the charge to review these suggestions and others which it may surface to recommend a comprehensive response on the national level at our June General Meeting that ensures the safety of children and the healing of victims and their families.
"We affirm the five principles first announced in 1992,
"1. Respond promptly to all allegations of abuse where there is reasonable belief that abuse has occurred.
"2. If such an allegation is supported by sufficient evidence, relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties and refer him for appropriate medical evaluation and intervention.
"3. Comply with the obligations of civil law as regards reporting of the incident and cooperating with the investigation.
"4. Reach out to the victims and their families and communicate sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being.
"5. Within the confines of respect for privacy of the individuals involved, deal as openly as possible with the members of the community.
"The full body will be asked to consider how these principles can be further developed and whether additional principles should be formulated as the foundation for future action."