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Archbishop Rigali issues statement on stricter abuse policy

From March 2002:

This is the text of a March 1 statement by Archbishop Justin Rigali, "Regarding A More Stringent Standard to be Used in Cases of Alleged Sexual Misconduct."

"As society's understanding continues to evolve, I have called for an even more restrictive standard for the placement of priests who have had allegations of sexual misconduct. This new standard provides that no priest with any substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor will be assigned to any parish or any ministry with children in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, even though they have been evaluated as posing no risk.

"Until now, the Archdiocesan sexual abuse advisory committee could recommend that a priest might be placed in a pastoral setting after professional evaluation and treatment, and with appropriate monitoring, if the committee believed the priest posed no risk to minors. In light of this more restrictive standard, the committee, under the direction of Auxiliary Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, has recommended that two pastors not continue in their parish ministry, though the committee had previously determined they posed no risk. I have accepted the two pastors' resignations from their parishes.

"The 1996 Pastoral Policy Regarding Cases of Sexual Misconduct with Minors by Clergy of the Archdiocese of St. Louis emphasizes the commitment that victims of such abuse are the primary concern of the Archdiocese, and that appropriate assistance should be available to them. As part of the policy, the Archdiocese established an advisory committee of health care professionals, clergy, and lay persons including parents and teachers to review individual complaints and provide counsel in matters pertaining to such allegations.

"Our more restrictive standard means that no priest assigned to a parish or other ministry with children has ever had a substantiated allegation

of child abuse. As in the past, I encourage those who believe they are victims of abuse by anyone to come to the Church or to civil authorities so that appropriate assistance can be offered.

"I recognize that these two resignations will be difficult for parish members and all involved, but we trust in God's help."

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