WASHINGTON, June 17, 2003 ( – The chairman of the lay panel commissioned to investigate the sex-abuse scandal has resigned after a public dispute with Cardinal Roger Mahony. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who was appointed last year to head the National Review Board, tendered his resignation in a letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory, the head of the US bishops’ conference.  Keating’s resignation comes after a sharp exchange with Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles. Voicing his frustration over the failure of some bishops—including Mahony—to answer questions from the panel, Keating had compared the offending bishops with Mafia leaders who refuse to answer investigators’ questions. Cardinal Mahony responded angrily, saying that Keating’s statement had undermined his credibility, and suggesting that the panel chairman should step down.

Catholic World News released the text of the Governors letter today. In the letter Keating says:

“As I have recently said, and have repeated on several occasions, our Church is a Faith institution. A home to Christ’s people. It is not a criminal enterprise. It does not condone and cover up criminal activity. It does not follow a code of silence. My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology. To resist grand jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church”.

“The humiliation, the horrors of the sex scandal must be a poisonous aberration, a black page in our history that cannot ever recur. It has been disastrous to the Church in America.”  Keating recognized the majority of bishops who have followed through on the Dallas meeting agreement. He stated, “Most of America’s bishops are fully supportive of the Board’s efforts. They have led and led well and have stood up for virtue”.  See also LOS ANGELES CARDINAL MAHONY MAY BE NEXT LEADING U.S. CATHOLIC PRELATE TO FACE RESIGNATION OVER SCANDALS