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The Catholic Church and Sex Abuse
NPR Coverage, Commentary on the Church in Crisis

Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston speaks during the meeting of the U.S. of Catholic Bishops Conference in Dallas. June 14, 2002.
Photo: Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited

As the U.S. Catholic church wrestles with a sex abuse scandal, NPR News provides continuing coverage.

View Read the June 14, 2002, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops policy statement on sexual abuse.

View Read about the key bishops participating in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas.

View Read the April 24, 2002, statement issued after the cardinals' meeting.

NPR Coverage

Listen June 15, 2002: Bishops Prepare to Implement Sex Abuse Policy
Catholic bishops leave their conference in Dallas with a new policy on sexual abuse by priests, but critics say the disciplinary plan doesn't go far enough. NPR's Duncan Moon reports for Weekend All Things Considered.

Listen June 15, 2002: Bishops' Sexual Abuse Policy Meets with Criticism
Catholic bishops adopt a plan to bar sexually abusive priests from direct contact with parishioners. The policy fails to satisfy many victims of abuse. NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports for Weekend Edition Saturday.

Listen June 14, 2002: U.S. Bishops Approve Policy Barring Abusive Priests from Ministry
Bishops adopt a plan that would prevent sexually abusive priests from having direct contact with parishioners, but would not defrock them. All Things Considered hears from NPR's Duncan Moon and parishioners Susan Troy and Hank Adema.

Listen June 14, 2002: Bishops Near Final Decision on Sex Abuse Policy
At the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops' conference in Dallas, church leaders work out details on a policy for dealing with sexual abuse by priests. NPR's Duncan Moon reports on Morning Edition.

Listen June 13, 2002: Bishops' Conference Focuses on Sex Abuse Scandal
At the opening of the bishops' conference in Dallas, Bishop Wilton Gregory concedes church leaders had a role in creating the sex abuse scandal. Alleged victims also speak out. NPR's Duncan Moon and Wade Goodwyn report on All Things Considered.

Listen June 12, 2002: U.S. Bishops to Consider Role of Lay Review Boards
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prepares to meet in Dallas. It is expected to discuss the role of lay review boards in investigating allegations of sex abuse by priests. NPR's Duncan Moon reports on All Things Considered.

Listen June 4, 2002: Bishops Set Vote on Plan to Oust Abusive Priests
An ad hoc committee recommends that the church defrock any priest who sexually abuses a child. The plan will be put to a vote at next week's conference of bishops in Dallas. NPR's Duncan Moon reports on All Things Considered.

Listen June 4, 2002: Church-Run Treatment Facilities Face Scrutiny
The St. Luke Institute, which treats pedophile priests, may lose accreditation after the recent suicide of a priest. The incident has raised questions about treatment provided by church-run facilities. NPR's Beth Fertig reports on All Things Considered.

Listen June 2, 2002: Church Aggressively Defends Some Abuse Cases
The Roman Catholic Church has paid large sums of money to settle sex abuse cases. But it is also using aggressive defense tactics in some cases, suggesting the claimants contributed to the alleged abuse. On Weekend Edition Sunday, Monica Brady-Myerov of member station WBUR reports from Boston.

Listen May 28, 2002: Bush Meets with the Pope
During an audience with Pope John Paul II, President Bush brought up the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church in America, a White House spokesman confirms. For All Things Considered, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome.

Listen May 15, 2002: Man Charged with Shooting Priest He Says Abused Him
In 1993, a young Baltimore man named Dontee Stokes accused the Rev. Maurice Blackwell, a Roman Catholic priest, of sexual abuse. Now Stokes stands accused of shooting Blackwell, who was suspended after the sex abuse allegations but then reinstated by Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler. For All Things Considered, NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.

Listen May 9, 2002: Sex Scandal's Impact on Priests
Some of the changes are subtle, but priests say life around their churches has changed amid the child sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the U.S. Catholic church. On Morning Edition, NPR's Susan Stamberg interviews two pastors about their day-to-day experiences.

Click to search for more stories Browse more NPR stories on the Catholic Church.

Recent Commentaries

Listen June 12, 2002: Bishops' Pulpit
Commentator Gustav Niebuhr, a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, says the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is distracting from other important social issues -- abortion, peace, poverty -- that bishops are supposed to speak out about. On All Things Considered.

Listen June 4, 2002: Change and the Church
The sex abuse scandal has led to many calls for the Roman Catholic Church to change. But the church has always been slow to change, commentator John Crowley observes. John Crowley lives in Conway, Mass. His latest book is The Translator from William Morrow & Co. On All Things Considered.

Listen April 23, 2002: Catholics Stay
Commentator Jane Meredith Adams describes her decision to stay with the Catholic Church, despite its sex abuse crisis. On Morning Edition.

Listen April 23, 2002: Roman Catholic Control
Commentator Richard Higgins says that the Roman Catholic Church's current scandal is not just about issues of sex and sexuality -- it is also about the hierarchy's control. On All Things Considered.

Listen April 22, 2002: Passive Voice of Apology?
NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr argues that the language coming from leaders within the Roman Catholic Church suggests more concern for the institution than for the victims of abuse. On All Things Considered.

Listen April 21, 2002: The Church's Monumental Task
Essayist Kate Nelson says the Catholic church has before it the monumental task of rebuilding public trust. On Weekend Edition Sunday.

Listen April 18, 2002: A Letter to God
Commentator Peter Freundlich writes a letter to God asking for intervention in the Mideast and in the turmoil in the Catholic church. On All Things Considered.

Other Resources

The Vatican

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Encyclopedia: Celibacy of the Clergy