(AP) Facing thousands of clergy sex-abuse cases, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest modern crisis with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.
These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly, and help bishops ensure that abusive priests weren’t in ministry.
But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined victims’ claims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.
Several bishops contacted by the AP did not respond to requests for comment. Others said review boards are mostly living up to the promises of the reforms mandated in 2002.
“They are critical to regaining the trust and confidence of our people,” Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said.
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