Local News

Will Vatican Meeting About Church Scandal Bring About Change?

Posted April 22, 2002

— America's Roman Catholic cardinals are at the Vatican for a rare meeting with the pope after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against priests.

Theology professor Teresa Berger of Duke University has her doubts that the meeting in Rome will bring about any major changes, but calls the meeting a "significant step."

"It sounded like points of discussion that have been closed for quite awhile would be opened," she said.

The pope said that the church will not change rules to allow priests to get married.

Berger said that cardinals must pave the way for more discussion.

"It would be good to have a gathering of the church that looks more representative than just the bishops gathering," she said.

North Carolina has not been spared in the scandal.

The Rev. James Behan and The Rev. Francis Perry have been accused of sexual misconduct and have been removed from their posts.

Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Raleigh Catholic Dioceses said that since Easter, the diocese has received three additional notifications of alleged incidents dating back more than 25 years.

Gossman said the diocese is currently investigating these complaints and will investigate all "credible allegation concerning abusive sexual behavior by a clergy person."

Raleigh's Catholic Diocese said it will immediately dismiss a priest who admits guilt to sexual abuse allegations.

Anyone who makes allegations against a priest in North Carolina will answer to a list of questions, and a Bishop's advisory board will ultimately hear the case.

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