- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, appointed to lead a national panel examining the priest sex-abuse scandal, plans to resign amid turmoil about his public comments, including a comparison last week of some Roman Catholic bishops to the Mafia, according to a published report.

Mr. Keating plans to resign as head of the church’s National Review Board this week before the bishops’ semiannual meeting, Mr. Keating’s spokesman, Dan Mahoney, said in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Mahoney said that the timing was “awkward,” but portrayed it as a planned departure after a year on the job, according to the Times.

Messages left by the Associated Press at Mr. Mahoney’s Washington office were not immediately returned yesterday.

Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said yesterday that he had no knowledge of any plans by Mr. Keating to resign soon.

The report follows on the heels of an interview in the Times in which Mr. Keating said a number of unnamed church officials have “clay feet.”

“To act like La Cosa Nostra and hide and suppress, I think, is very unhealthy. Eventually it will all come out,” Mr. Keating said.

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who Mr. Keating accused of listening “too much to his lawyer and not enough to his heart” in dealing with the panel’s investigation, issued a sharp rebuke Friday, calling Mr. Keating’s comments “the last straw” and saying he would ask other bishops to consider calling for Mr. Keating to step down during their meeting this week.

Mr. Keating’s spokesman told the Times that the former governor stands behind his remarks. “He uses strong language to make a point. He tells the truth, and apparently some people don’t want to hear the truth,” he said.

David Clohessy, national director of the nationwide victims support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Mr. Keating’s resignation would leave victims and lay Catholics “terribly disillusioned.”

“It’s very disturbing that a couple of candid remarks are apparently so upsetting to the bishops,” Mr. Clohessy told AP. “Here’s a devout, conscientious, Catholic lay person who volunteered his time and essentially his reputation to get the bishops out of trouble, and he’s suddenly forced out.”

Robert S. Bennett, who with Mr. Keating was an original member of the board, said yesterday morning that he hadn’t received word of a resignation, but that if Mr. Keating did resign, it wouldn’t slow the board’s work.

“There are many very strong and outspoken members of this board who are going to remain on the board and who are going to see to it that the bishops honor their commitment to protect children,” he said.

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