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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 15, 2002

Hawai'i bishop lauds zero-tolerance policy

 •  Bishops ban abusive priests from ministry

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu Bishop Francis DiLorenzo said yesterday from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops conference in Dallas that he favors a zero-tolerance policy for priests who molest children.

The conference yesterday approved a policy that will bar sexually abusive clergy from public ministry.

"There's no wiggle room," DiLorenzo said as to why he favors zero tolerance. "A priest is an icon of Jesus in people's eyes. That icon can no longer present a clear image of Jesus (if he has sexually abused someone).

"I would retire them with (medical) benefits. But no more public ministry for them. That's absolute.

"I'm not standing alone," DiLorenzo said of his zero-tolerance commitment.

He noted that there are two factions among the bishops.

"Some look at it as a black-and-white situation while others are preoccupied with gray areas," DiLorenzo said. "What I'd like to do is experiment with something for a while ... see how it fits before inviting someone (from the outside) to comment on it."

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the American bishops, drew praise for his "taking responsibility" speech Thursday in which he noted that bishops "did not go far enough to ensure that every child was safe from sexual abuse."

DiLorenzo said the bishops' reaction to the speech was mixed.

"Some bishops have done a good job, some have not," he said. "But everyone was labeled. It's like a newspaper edition where all the stories except one were accurate (and the newspaper) is defined by the one bad story."