Thursday, January 16, 2003

Philadelphia review panel releases report, faults archdiocese

Commissioned in April by Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, the 38-page report cites a lack of professionalism in the archdiocese's response to complaints of clergy abuse of minors and in how it screens candidates for priesthood.

The archdiocese needs to display "greater sensitivity to the trauma of victims," than it has in years past, and should "work more with the kinds of experts who know how to respond rightly," Helen Alvare, chairwoman of the Commission on the Protection of Children and Clerical Conduct, said in an interview yesterday afternoon.

"We saw an absence of the proper medical, scientific and social-work components necessary to handle this in a competent manner," said Alvare, a law professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington.

She formally presented the report to the cardinal at a news conference yesterday morning at archdiocesan headquarters. It urged the archdiocese to rely more on laity and trained professionals for victim response, abuse investigation and seminary screening, and less on diocesan staff and clergy.

Cardinal Bevilacqua said he would accept all of the panel's recommendations but would implement them in a "prioritized" manner.

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