US church ban for abusive priests

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The Independent US

American bishops have agreed to keep sexually abusive clergy in the priesthood but bar them from face-to-face contact with parishioners.

American bishops have agreed to keep sexually abusive clergy in the priesthood but bar them from face-to-face contact with parishioners.

Yesterday's decision follows months of turmoil in which about 250 priests resigned or were suspended over misconduct claims.

The policy represents a significant shift from the voluntary discipline guidelines that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has relied on for years. The bishops will need Vatican approval to make the policy binding.

"From this day forward no one known to have sexually abused a child will work in the Catholic church in the US," Bishop Wilton Gregory, the conference president, said.

He apologised for what he called "our tragically slow response in recognising the horror" of sexual abuse.

Under the plan, abusers -- past and future -- will be prohibited from any work connected to the church, from celebrating Mass to teaching in parochial school.

* A Nebraska jury awarded $800,000 (£540,000) in damages yesterday to a former altar boy and his mother because a Catholic priest had sexually abused the boy in the 1990s. The Omaha Archdiocese had admitted negligence in failing to supervise Father Daniel Herek properly.

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