- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

An advocacy group for victims of sex abuse by priests said yesterday it would withdraw from a lawsuit that prompted Roman Catholic bishops to bar it from this week's meeting on sexual misconduct in the priesthood.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said his group wanted to remove any obstacles to talks and would withdraw formally from the lawsuit today.
"We don't want anything to get in the way of genuine dialogue that might ultimately benefit children," Mr. Clohessy said in a letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We hope you see it as a tangible step toward reconciliation and toward making the church safer."
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops' conference, said she could not comment until today, when conference administrators would have their first chance to review the group's offer.
Mr. Clohessy had been scheduled to address the bishops during Thursday's opening session of their three-day meeting in Dallas.
He and members of SNAP, along with other victims, also had been invited to meet privately with three cardinals and address a closed session of the bishops' panel devising a national policy on disciplining abusive clergy.
The plans were finalized on Thursday. That same day, SNAP joined a class-action lawsuit in Minnesota against the bishops' conference and several dioceses, seeking to void confidentiality agreements in settlements with victims.
Bishop Gregory said the litigation created a legal barrier to discussion. He withdrew his invitation to Mr. Clohessy and SNAP and said he was "very disappointed" that his efforts to meet had been "met with a lawsuit."
In other developments:
In Baltimore, the Rev. George Loskarn was placed on a leave of absence after he was confronted Thursday with an accusation of past sex abuse, the Baltimore Archdiocese said.
In Kettering, Ohio, a priest who underwent treatment for touching a boy inappropriately in 1988 was suspended after new accusations surfaced, the Cincinnati archdiocese said. The Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, 69, has not denied the accusations, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk told parishioners during Masses.

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