Angell Comments on Proposed Policy

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(Host) Bishop Kenneth Angell of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington will join other U.S. Bishops in Dallas, Texas today. The bishops are gathering to consider a draft national policy to deal with priests who have sexually abused children. On Wednesday, Angell spoke out on one controversial sections of the policy.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is being proposed in the wake of revelations about sexual misconduct by priests in diocese around the country. The draft policy calls for the dismissal of any priest who commits child sexual abuse in the future. However, a priest guilty of abuse on no more than one occasion in the past would be allowed to remain active. This so-called “two strikes and you’re out” approach to past abuse has sparked controversy.

In a prepared statement released Wednesday, Bishop Angell is generally supportive of the draft policy. But Angell doesn’t believe the church should make exceptions for past instances of child sexual abuse:

(Angell) “I think the draft charter is quite comprehensive and is especially promising in the quest to protect our innocent children against future abuse¿. People ask if I support ‘zero tolerance.’ I firmly believe that any man proven to have molested a child has no place in the priesthood.”

(Zind) Angell has placed six Vermont priests on administrative leave while the attorney general reviews allegations against them. Nationally, four bishops have stepped down this year as a result of sexual misconduct allegations. Roughly 250 priests have resigned or been suspended.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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