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Advocates for priest abuse victims will withdraw from lawsuit, hope to participate in bishops' meeting
By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, 06/09/02
An advocacy group for victims of sex abuse by priests said Sunday it will withdraw from a lawsuit that prompted Roman Catholic bishops to bar them from this week's meeting on ousting predators from the priesthood.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, said his group wanted to remove any obstacles to talks and will formally withdraw from the lawsuit Monday.
"We don't want anything to get in the way of genuine dialogue that might ultimately benefit children," Clohessy said in a letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We hope you see it as a tangible step toward reconciliation and toward making the church safer."
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops' conference, said she could not comment until Monday, when conference administrators would have their first chance to review the group's offer.
Clohessy had been scheduled to address the bishops during the opening session of their three-day meeting that starts Thursday in Dallas.
He and members of SNAP, along with other victims, had also been invited to meet privately with three cardinals, and address a closed session of the bishops' panel devising a national policy on disciplining abusive clergy.
The plans were finalized last Thursday. That same day, SNAP joined a class-action lawsuit in Minnesota against the bishops' conference and several dioceses, seeking to void confidentiality agreements in settlements with victims.
Gregory said the litigation created a legal barrier to discussion. He withdrew his invitation to Clohessy and SNAP and said he was "very disappointed" that his efforts to meet had been "met with a lawsuit."
In other developments:
-- In Baltimore, The Rev. George Loskarn was placed on a leave of absence after he was confronted with an allegation of past sex abuse Thursday and admitted to it, the Baltimore Archdiocese said.
-- In Kettering, Ohio, a priest who underwent treatment for touching a boy inappropriately in 1988 was suspended after new allegations surfaced, the Cincinnati archdiocese said. The Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, 69, has not denied the allegations, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk told parishioners during masses.