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April 4, 2002


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, announced today that he has established a commission to review matters related to incidents of clerical sexual misconduct that will be called The Commission on the Protection of Children and Clerical Conduct. At a news conference held at the Archdiocesan Office Center in Philadelphia, Cardinal Bevilacqua said, "This Commission will work over the next six months reviewing current archdiocesan policies and procedures regarding care for victims, archdiocesan response to allegations of clergy sexual abuse and programs for formation and continuing education of clergy. I invite all the faithful of the Archdiocese as well as all people of good will to join me in prayer for the successful completion of the work of this Commission."

Cardinal Bevilacqua announced that the Commission will be chaired by Ms. Helen Alvare , a professor of law at Catholic University in Washington D.C. who is nationally recognized for her work on pro-life issues. From 1990 to 2000, Ms. Alvare served as a Policy Director for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Office. Last week, President Bush appointed Ms. Alvare to a commission that will advise the head of Health and Human Services regarding research about children's health and welfare. Ms. Alvare is a native of the Philadelphia area and a graduate of Villanova University and Cornell University School of Law. Ms. Alvare said, "I hope and I pray that my years of work in law, in Church life and in the public square may bear good fruit in this, perhaps the most significant task I will ever be asked to undertake after being a wife and a mother to three young children."

The Commission on the Protection of Children and Clerical Conduct will have the general charge of undertaking a review of current policies and procedures regarding clerical misconduct and, if deemed appropriate, of recommending revisions and additional policies, procedures or programmatic initiatives for the consideration of the Cardinal. The review will include current policies and procedures regarding the care for victims, current policies and procedures regarding the Archdiocesan response to any allegation of clergy sexual abuse, current admission process for candidates for Holy Orders for the Archdiocese as well as relevant formation programs.

The goal of the Commission is to provide Cardinal Bevilacqua with recommendations which will enable him to do his utmost to:
--protect children by eradicating as much as possible any sexual abuse of them by clergy
--strengthen Catholic solidarity and outreach for victims and their families
--form and support the clergy in their ministry to all people
--strengthen the confidence and trust of the Catholic faithful and the community at large

The Commission will be composed of seven to nine qualified lay persons. Commission members will have expertise in areas such as behavioral health care, law, social services and human resource management. The Commission will have the benefit of consultation from individuals with expertise in various related areas including: Canon Law, Civil Law and Behavioral Sciences. After all members have been named, the Commission will have six months to complete its work and submit recommendations to the Cardinal.

Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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