FBI Veteran Promises to Restore Confidence in the Catholic Church

Nov 09, 2002 03:00 AM EST

New office created to ensure safety of the youth.

Through U.S. bishops¡¯ attempt to re-instill the confidence of the people in the church and rebuild its integrity, Kathleen L. McChesney, the highest ranked female in the FBI, was appointed yesterday to head a newly formed office aimed to protect youth in the Roman Catholic Church.

McChesney, a long-time veteran and highly esteemed official, ranked third in the FBI, will be leaving the Bureau to go work in Washington, where the church¡¯s Office for Child and Youth Protection headquarters is situated, and serve as full-time director. The new office will operate under the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to mainly establish the safety and protection of youth in Catholic churches, schools and other various youth groups across the country.

"I believe that the Catholic Church has suffered because of the acts of a few. I come from an institution in which we also have suffered for the acts of a few," McChesney told reporters, in reference to past scandals exploited by the media that warped peoples¡¯ perception of the FBI. "Because of the acts of the few, others . . . must work very hard to restore the trust, the credibility, the faith. And I hope that I can help to do that."

McChesney, 51, has been FBI's executive assistant director for law enforcement services, a position created by the FBI Director Rober Mueller to facilitate relations between federal and local law enforcement agencies, since December 2001. She joined the FBI in 1978, after working several years as a Seattle police detective, and through the years rose in ranking.

McChesney is the latest among many top-level officials to leave the FBI this year.

The news of the FBI official¡¯s appointment as head director, stirred great excitement within various victims¡¯ groups. Voice of the Faithful, a rapidly growing organization that was formed earlier this year to address the issue of sex abuse scandal and to serve as a greater voice for the people in the church, expressed their joy and lauded the church for its efforts. The only concern these groups have is that McChesney may be unable to reach her goals.

"The bishops clearly did some research to find a well-qualified person. But the true question remains: How much power will she have when she disagrees with the people who hired her?" said Mike Emerton, spokesman for Voice of the Faithful.

McChesney addressed the issue, assuring that the church¡¯s approach toward the problem has been well resolved and fixed.

"With much involvement of lay boards, with the establishment of an office such as this -- this is really unprecedented, and I think church members should be reassured that something is being done," she said.

Acting in accordance with Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a new sexual abuse policy constituted by the U.S. bishops last June, among its many roles, the new office will take part in acting as an overseer for the bishops.

McChesney will work alongside a National Review Board of prominent lay Catholics, directed by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R), to annually produce a report on how well the bishops are complying with the policy. McChesney's will also assist dioceses educate parents and children on how to deal with the issue of sexual abuse and on what precautions should be taken.

By Daniel K.