WASHINGTON (February 27, 2004) -— Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement today:
"In January, on the occasion of the release of the Charter Implementation Report, I was asked how many priests had been removed from ministry on account of the commitment made by the bishops in the `Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,' adopted in June, 2002.
"At that time I was unable to answer with any degree of confidence because as the audit process, which was the basis for the Implementation Report, unfolded, the data was not gathered uniformly. It was suggested at the time that the number might be available through the John Jay College study, `The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002.' However, the John Jay study does not indicate that number and subsumes it within its aggregate count of priests and deacons.
"Accordingly I had USCCB staff make another evaluation and follow-up. The results indicate that about 700 priests and deacons have been removed from ministry in Catholic dioceses since January, 2002, in anticipation of or on account of the bishops' Charter commitments.
"That number is not in addition to the number reported by John Jay College but is within the number reported."