Special Reports

The church’s response

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, at a meeting in Dallas in June 2002.

Evan Richman/Globe Staff

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, at a meeting in Dallas in June 2002.

Note: This article is from the Globe’s original online special section on the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.

Days after the Globe’s report on the church’s handling of pedophile priest John Geoghan, Cardinal Bernard F. Law announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy on abusive clergy and agreed to turn over the names of all priests accused of sexual abuse to prosecutors. The Archdiocese of Boston began poring through its records and suspending abusive priests still in ministry.

As the scandal continued to grow, however, it became clear that more sweeping action was needed. In June 2002, 300 US Catholic bishops gathered in Dallas to formulate a tough new policy barring abusive priests from the ministry. The Vatican approved the policy only after striking a provision that would have removed priests convicted of abuse from the priesthood.

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The church took a hard line on other fronts as well. The Boston Archdiocese continued to fight the release of personnel records of accused priests, and shunned a lay group, Voice of the Faithful, organized by Boston-area Catholics agitating for change.

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