- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler says a discussion with Protestant clergy about sexual abuse reinforced his belief that Roman Catholic bishops meeting this week should apply "zero tolerance" to past as well as future molesters.
During a meeting at Episcopal Church headquarters in New York City on Wednesday, one Protestant leader Cardinal Keeler would not say who detailed his denomination's policy of defrocking all pastors guilty of even one instance of sexual misconduct. Other Protestants said their groups do the same.
A committee of Catholic bishops has proposed defrocking any priest guilty of an offense in the future but recommended some leeway to those guilty of one past incident to allow them to remain in the ministry.
This will be the most divisive among the issues facing the bishops when they meet in Dallas from Thursday through Saturday to set new abuse policies.
Cardinal Keeler's views carry weight. Not only is he a member of the College of Cardinals, but he also was previously elected by the bishops as their president.
Cardinal Keeler said he doesn't plan to send the committee an amendment barring past abusers but is certain others will. He also thinks the bishops should broaden the mandate for abuse review committees in dioceses to include abuse education and prevention.
The cardinal said the group he met with Wednesday in New York agreed that other denominations should join the Catholic Church to counteract abuse in society. Such inter-church work is part of the bishops' proposed plan.
Cardinal Keeler, a member of the Catholic bishops' ecumenical committee, invited 15 Protestant and Orthodox church delegates to meet him on short notice to discuss the draft. The three-hour session at the Episcopal Church headquarters occurred the day after the Catholic bishops' committee released its proposals.
Groups represented besides the Episcopal Church included the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church and several Orthodox denominations.
Joining Cardinal Keeler was the Rev. Cletus Kiley, the Catholic bishops' staff member for the committee on sexual abuse by clergy.


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