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Bishops, lay board reach policy accord.

Only after a tense exchange of letters and a joint meeting did the lay National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People and the U.S. bishops reach an agreement on the next steps in dealing with the abuse scandal.

The head of the review board, Illinois judge Anne Burke, sent a bold accusation to USCCB president Wilton Gregory after she and the 11 other board members were convinced that some bishops were actively blocking a follow-up audit this year. The board was also concerned that the bishops' conference, by scheduling a November vote on whether to hold a second round of audits at all, was infringing on its own 2002 charter giving the lay board autonomy to conduct audits, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Burke wrote, "Those who said the bishops were never serious about breaking free from the sins, crimes, and bad judgment of the past will be vindicated."

Her letter was posted along with responses from several bishops on the National Catholic Reporter website on May 11. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput replied, "We were embarrassed by the tone of your letter ... It assumes the worst motives on the part of the bishops despite the progress that has already been made."

The meeting came a week after the letters were made public and was the first between the lay board and the bishops' ad hoc committee on sexual abuse. Although details of the agreement reached at the meeting were not immediately released, the bishops' spokesperson Sister Mary Ann Walsh said both sides are "very pleased with it," and Burke said the agreement is "in compliance with the charter," the New York Times reported May 18.
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Title Annotation:Sex Abuse Update; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Author:Gary, Heather Grennan
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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