“I URGE you to adopt a zero-tolerance policy. It will send a message to all the victims that we are your primary concern.”

This was the appeal of Paula Rohrbacker, a mother who was abused by a priest when she was just an adolescent, during a conference of the US Roman Catholic bishops last June 14 to16 in Dallas, Texas.

The bishops gathered to address the sexual abuse scandals that shook the Church in the US and the world.

“The Catholic Church in the United States is in a very grave crisis, perhaps the gravest we have faced,” said conference chair Bishop Wilton Gregory.

Gregory later on expressed his “heartfelt contrition” as he directly addressed his apology to the victims.

“In my own name and in the name of all the bishops, I express the most profound apology to each of you who have suffered sexual abuse by a priest or another official of the Church. I am deeply and will be forever sorry for the harm you have suffered,” he said.

Gregory also said that the Dallas conference was an opportunity to bring an end to sexual abuse in the Church and to put into place policies that would ensure the full protection of children and young people.

One of the significant parts of the event was the ratification of a charter of conduct which will serve as the answer of the US Catholic Church to any future sexual abuse committed by any member of the clergy.

As decreed by the charter, any future incidents of sexual abuse will result in the immediate removal of accused priests and the involvement of authorities in investigations of sexual abuse claims. Rose A. Jabeguero with a report from The Philippine Daily Inquirer

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