Cardinal George Sees Limited Role for Alleged Abusers

Responds to Survey That Finds Wide Support for «Zero Tolerance»

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CHICAGO, JUNE 11, 2002 ( Cardinal Francis George said that in certain situations, it would be possible for priests found guilty of sexual abuse to minors to continue working for the Church, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The cardinal was responding to a survey that found widespread support among laity for a «zero-tolerance» policy toward such priests, the paper said Monday.

Repentance is a basic dynamic of the faith, the archbishop of Chicago said, so he could see «a limited type of administrative work» in the Church for someone accused of a single instance of wrongdoing 30 or 40 years ago and who seems to have repented.

Yet, he emphasized at a news conference here: «The assurance of the protection of our children — that´s the bottom line, that is more important than anything else.»

He received a report from the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago indicating that many parishioners were disappointed over how the Church has handled sex abuse allegations in the past.

The report was based on the comments of an estimated 10,000 Chicago-area Catholics who had gathered in meeting halls and schoolrooms last month to discuss how the crisis.

Of the 2,000 respondents to a survey by the lawyers guild, 64% agreed with a survey statement, «No priest should ever be reassigned to any other ministry (office work, hospital chaplain, etc.) after a substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.»

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