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A'bishop Wilson: "Church serious about abusive priests"

Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson recently organised an international group of English-speaking bishops serious about ridding the church of sexually abusive priests. However he also acknowledged that within the English speaking world, only the US Bishops have commissioned and made public a statistical study outlining the scope and extent of clerical sexual abuse within their province (the John Jay Report).

The meeting, which took place in Rome between May 24-27, involved 30 bishops, religious superiors and church child protection officers from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Great Britain, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Jamaica.

The Archbishop said that in addition to acknowledging the problem of child abuse and repairing the damage of the past, the Church must "work out a way in which the Church can be a light to others by the way that it takes up the issue of child protection."

The May gathering was the group's fifth meeting since 1996 when the bishops decided they should get together after sharing by telephone experiences and suggestions for dealing with cases of clerical sex abuse, he said.

Archbishop Wilson emphasised that the meetings were to enable Church leaders and others involved with children to share 'best practices' in dealing with victims of clerical abuse and with the victimisers themselves.

The group examines country-by-country reports, and participants ask questions and offer suggestions about the issues raised, Archbishop Wilson said. In addition, each meeting has a particular focus - such as outreach to victims or canonical procedures for dealing with abusive priests. The meeting this year decided to hold these gatherings every year, rather than every second year as has been the case.

Archbishop Wilson praised the US Bishops for commissioning the John Jay Report into sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. This work could serve as a model for other studies, the Archbishop said, but most Bishops Conferences would not have the financial resources to conduct similar investigations - catholicnews.com

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