WASHINGTON (June 7, 2002) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has gratefully received a public statement of support from fifteen ecumenical partners, American Christian denominations with episcopal church structures. The statement, provided below, is an encouragement to the Catholic bishops as they prepare for their semi-annual meeting in Dallas next week, in which the sole agenda item will be the consideration of new policies for dealing with the abuse of children and youth by priests.
The statement, which was distributed by the Episcopal News Service and posted on www.episcopalchurch.org, reads as follows:
"In the afternoon of June 5, 2002, fifteen ecumenical partners gathered in the Episcopal Church Center in New York, at the invitation of Cardinal William H. Keeler, the Roman CatholiÁ Archbishop of Baltimore. The purpose of the meeting was to engage in a conversation about the draft text of a "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" to be presented to Catholic bishops who would come together the following week in Dallas. Input on the document was shared as were the sexual misconduct policies of the various Christian communions present.
"It was clear from the meeting that the Roman Catholic Church and its bishops do not stand alone in the painful experience of dealing with sexual misconduct among clergy and lay leaders in the church. The Catholic Church shares with the wider ecumenical community deep concern for the victims of sexual abuse, especially children and young people. All Christians must work together in seeking to find ways to offer healing to those who have been so wounded and to restore the faithful to the faith that has been taken from them by these actions.
."In addition to giving and receiving feedback on this specific document, the participants agreed to seek ways in the future to cooperate together in order to take even more dramatic steps on the specific issue of abuse of children and young people in church and society. The following church leaders attended this gathering:
"The Rev. Dr. William Allen (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ); Archbishop Khajag Barsamian (Armenian Orthodox Church in America); The Very Rev. David Brum (Orthodox Church in America); Mr. David Early (U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops); The Rev. Jon Enslin (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America); The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting (The Episcopal Church); The Rev. David Fromm (Reformed Church in America); The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold (The Episcopal Church); Brother Jeffrey Gros (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops); The Very Reverend Alexei Karlgut (Orthodox Church in America); William Cardinal Keeler (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops); The Rev. Cletus Kiley (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops); The Very Reverend Father Simeon Odobashian (Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in America); The Rev. Bruce Robbins (United Methodist Church); Bishop Savas of Troas (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese); The Rev. Lydia Veliko (United Church of Christ), and The Rev. Robina Winbush (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.)"
Cardinal Keeler said, "The American bishops of the Catholic Church are going to their semi-annual meeting in Dallas with a determination to provide clear policies in dioceses throughout America that will ensure the protection of children and prevention of abuse. We are honored and grateful to have the support and encouragement of our sisters and brothers in