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Cardinals Announce Defrock Process

April 24, 2002

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VATICAN CITY (AP) _ American Roman Catholic church leaders said Wednesday they will recommend a special process to defrock any priest who has become ``notorious and is guilty of the serial, predatory sexual abuse of minors.″

In cases that are ``not notorious″ they left it up to the local bishop to decide if such a priest is a threat to children and should be defrocked.

The statement _ which came at the end of an extraordinary two-day meeting sparked by the sex abuse scandal engulfing the U.S. church _ was less than the blanket order for the dismissal of all abusive priests that some had sought.

The reference to ``serial″ attacks appeared to contradict a statement earlier Wednesday by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who indicated that the American cardinals meeting with Pope John Paul II reached consensus on a ``one-strike-you’re-out″ policy that would dismiss any priest involved in a future sex abuse case.

``There is a growing concensus certainly among the faithful, among the bishops, that it is too great a risk to assign a priest who has abused a child to another ministry,″ U.S. bishops’ head Wilton Gregory told a news conference after the two-day meeting ended.

He said a resolution on reassignment of abusive priests would be finalized when the bishops meet in Dallas in June.

``It was not in the competence of this particular meeting to make that final determination atlhough the topic clearly was addressed.″

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