Facing The Ultimate Priestly Secret

A Chicago Cardinal offers a plan to deal with sex-abuse charges

Since the mid-1980s, Roman Catholic dioceses in most American states have coped with criminal cases, lawsuits and ugly rumors concerning priests and the sexual abuse of underage boys. Angry churchgoers say that bishops often covered up the scandals, shuttling wrongdoers to new parishes, where they preyed again. Now, on the eve of a meeting of the U.S. hierarchy at Indiana's Notre Dame University, Chicago's Joseph Cardinal Bernardin has issued a 93- page report that sets a promising new standard for confronting abuse.

First, a committee of experts reviewed all allegations made in the Chicago archdiocese over the past three decades, concluding...

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