WASHINGTON (June 14, 2002) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced today that Governor Frank Keating of the State of Oklahoma will act as chair of the Advisory Panel monitoring the new USCCB Office for Child and Youth Protection. The
USCCB also announced that it has appointed Washington lawyer Robert S. Bennett and Illinois Appellate Court Justice Anne Burke of Chicago as members of the Advisory Panel. The three
announced today will constitute the inaugural membership and leadership of the Advisory Panel and will monitor the evolution of the USCCB's new Office for Child and Youth Protection.
Governor Keating is renowned for his integrity, his commitment to justice and judicial process, and his ability to lead complex organizations through crisis and trauma. Governor Keating has had a distinguished public record in law enforcement and government service. Since becoming governor of the State of Oklahoma he was central to the crisis response and recovery following the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He has also shown his ability to deal effectively with crisis through his leadership when tragic tornadoes struck the state in 1999 and most recently in the disastrous I-40 bridge accident and collapse last month. Governor Keating is also recognized for being a national leader in developing a comprehensive strategy for dealing with violence in schools.
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville (IL), President of the USCCB, said, "One of the critical commitments of the American bishops' new Charter for Child and Youth Protection is the elevated role of laity in helping the Church protect all our children and deal with the current issue of sexual abuse of children and minors by clergy. We could think of no better member of the laity than Governor Keating to assume a national leadership role for us in this endeavor. Governor Keating's longstanding commitment to justice and to the rights and protection of children offer great confidence to the bishops that the new Office for Child and Youth Protection will be definitive in its analysis and judgment and effective in implementing policy."
Bishop Gregory also said, "The national Advisory Panel for the USCCB Office for Child and Youth Protection will also be led by two additional members of the laity distinguished for their public service and stature in the legal community. Mr. Robert S. Bennett has been associated with some of the most important legal issues in the nation. The Office for Child and Youth Protection will greatly benefit from his expertise and independence. Justice Anne Burke of Chicago brings another dimension to the leadership of the Office for Child and Youth Protection. Her record as a jurist, as well as her leadership in juvenile justice and child welfare, will ensure uncompromising advocacy for the protection of our children. "
The USCCB Office for Child and Youth Protection
The USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. Catholic bishops on June 14, created the USCCB Office Child and Youth Protection. The Charter reads: "The tasks of this Office will include (1) assisting individual dioceses/eparchies in the implementation of `safe environment' programs, (2) assisting provinces and regions [of the U.S. Catholic Church] in the development of appropriate mechanisms to audit adherence to policies, and (3) producing an annual public report on the progress made in implementing the standards of this Charter. This office will have staffing sufficient to fulfill its basic purpose."
Governor Keating, is the 25`h Governor of the State of Oklahoma, and only the second state chief executive in Oklahoma history, and the first Republican, to win election to two consecutive terms. Keating has been one of Oklahoma's most reform-minded governors. Governor and First Lady Cathy Keating were instrumental in organizing rescue and recovery operations following the tragedy of the terror bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The Keatings were honored by the Salvation Army with the William Booth Award as recognition for their outstanding contributions to the recovery. Governor Keating previously served on the federal appeals bench, in senior positions at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and overseeing operations in a number of prominent law-enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service, ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and all 94 U.S. Attorneys.
Governor and Mrs. Keating are the parents of three children.
Robert S. Bennett
Robert S. Bennett leads the civil litigation practice of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's Washington office and is a former federal prosecutor. He has been a member of the defense bar since 1971. A trial lawyer who has tried several high-profile cases, Mr. Bennett represents corporations, directors and officers in criminal and civil matters. He advises management and boards of directors on preventive and remedial measures. During the past decade, Mr. Bennett has served as Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Ethics in several major investigations. In 1981 and 1982, he also served as a legal consultant to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the appointment of Alexander M. Haig, Jr. as Secretary of State. Mr. Bennett has co-chaired several American Bar Association National Institute programs and has written and lectured extensively on complex criminal and civil matters.
Justice Anne M. Burke
Justice Burke was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, in 1996, having previously being appointed to that bench in 1995. Justice Burke is special counsel to the Illinois Governor for Child Welfare Services, founder of the Special Olympics in Chicago, and recipient of over 50 awards including Crain's 100 most influential women and Lawyer of the Year Award. She is on the Board of DePaul University. Justice Burke is widely accredited as a lead reformer of the Cook County Juvenile Justice System. She has previously served in the State of Illinois on the Court of Claims; the Trial Bar, Federal District Court; the US Court of Appeals for the 7`" Circuit; and the Federal Court, Northern District of Illinois.
Justice Burke is married to Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke, and they are the parents of four children.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Catholic faithful of the United States. The purpose of the conference is to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place. This purpose is drawn from the universal law of the Church and applies to the episcopal conferences which are established all over the world for the same purpose. The bishops themselves constitute the membership of the conference and are served by a staff of over 350 lay people, priests and religious located at the conference headquarters in Washington, DC.