LIFESITE NEWS, August 7, 2002 ( – There is a growing concern over the implications of the “zero tolerance policy” adopted by the US bishops at their June meeting in Dallas to address the abuse scandals.  In his latest article, Scandal Time III, First Things editor, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus states “Another name for the zero tolerance policy is scapegoating. In setting themselves against their priests, the bishops have turned themselves into assistant district attorneys…This is not ‘for the good of the Church’. This has nothing to do with ‘the protection of children and young people.’ This is panic and panic results in recklessness.”  Neuhaus continues, “The bishops have succeeded in scandalizing the faithful anew by adopting a thoroughly unbiblical, untraditional, and un-Catholic approach to sin and grace. …they end up adopting a policy that is sans repentance, sans conversion, sans forbearance, sans prudential judgment, sans forgiveness, sans almost anything one might have hoped for from bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ.”  The highly respected, faithful Catholic intellectual emphasizes that the media did not make up this scandal and were rightly disappointed in the Dallas results. Neuhaus writes “They (reporters) expected bishops… to do their job (at Dallas), to respond as bishops. Instead…there is the perception that they behaved more like Senators or CEOs engaged in damage control more than as moral teachers engaged in the gospel.”

On the same issue, Notre Dame Law school Professor Charles Rice comments in the Aug 1 Wanderer that “The bishops evidently are concerned only with sexual abuse by clerics of minors ‘below the age of 16,’ although an estimated nine of every ten reported cases involve boys of 16 and older.”

He adds that “The bishops’ definition of ‘sexual abuse’ of a minor is vague. It does not require any ‘physical contact’ or any ‘discernible harmful outcome.’ Such abuse can be found ‘whether or not it is initiated by the child.’ It applies to ‘contacts or interactions between a child and an adult where the child is being used as an object of sexual gratification for the adult.’ No burden of proof is specified. The potential here for intimidation or blackmail of priests through the threat of charges is obvious.”  See Fr. Neuhaus’ complete article at   See Charles Rice’s article, The Policies’ Deficiencies are becoming apparent,   See LifeSite’s regularly updated Church Scandals pages at


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