For U.S. Church Leaders, the Road to Reform Lies Ahead

Americans Waiting to See What «Zero Tolerance» Means, Says Vatican Radio

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2002 ( In the wake of the meeting of U.S. cardinals and bishops here, the sex abuse scandals involving priests calls for a thorough reform in seminaries, the priesthood and the hierarchy, says Vatican Radio.

Reporting on reactions to the meeting, Vatican Radio quoted papal biographer George Weigel, who stressed the participants´ awareness of the need to promote fidelity to the magisterium.

Paolo Mastrolilli, Vatican Radio´s correspondent in the United States, also said that Americans are now waiting to see how the bishops´ conference «will address the distinction between serial pederast priests — for whom the principle of ´zero tolerance´ is applied — and those who can be treated and return to their service.»

The pontifical broadcasting station echoed statements of Father Richard John Neuhaus. The editor in chief of First Things magazine was quoted as saying the U.S. bishops at their June meeting in Texas will have to ask God and Catholics for forgiveness, in order to recover the country´s confidence and to impede other abuses.

For his part, Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican Radio´s program director, said: «We all hope that the very severe test lived by the U.S. Church might in the end be an occasion for profound renewal in the consistency and credibility of the evangelical witness.»

«The problems experienced in the U.S. society and Church influence the rest of the world,» Father Lombardi said. «We must all learn the lesson and in humility and much determination, take the necessary measures to prevent evils of devastating consequences for the victims and the ecclesial community.»

«The Church has experienced in its interior the symptoms of a drama that is a far greater drama of modern society, which runs the risk of losing the essential points of reference of moral behavior, especially in the area of sexuality,» he added. «The purification of the Church can help — as the Pope said — to understand and address better this crisis of society.»

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