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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Church's Lingering Scandal

THE PLIGHT of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church could not have been underscored more heavily this week by the new choice to head the nation's Catholic bishops. The group selected a president whose own diocese plans to seek bankruptcy protection in the face of clergy sex-abuse claims.

The ongoing sex scandal, while downplayed at the bishops' annual meeting, remains a central challenge for the church. Certainly no one could understand that better than the organization's new head, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, whose diocese last week became the third in the country to declare bankruptcy in an attempt to shield itself from lawsuits totaling tens of millions of dollars.

Skylstad has received much criticism for his handling of the sex-abuse crisis, and there is some question whether he can lead the bishops' conference as well as his own troubled diocese. His election comes on the heels of a new poll of U.S. Catholics in which 85 percent of those surveyed listed sexual abuse by priests as the most serious problem facing the church.

The church's need to restore trust in the institution and the faith of its followers should be addressed. As outgoing conference president Bishop Wilton Gregory said recently, reforms are needed at every level of the church to prevent future abuse.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests