The U.S. Conference of Bishops Study Committee on Child Sexual Abuse urged the Roman Catholic Church to be more accountable for their followers, during a conference about the recent church scandals, Friday, May 14, 2004.
"This is for all intents and purposes a feudal system, and these are fiefdoms that bishops operate pretty much on their own," said Leon Panetta, member of the Committee. "They don't want to be accountable to anyone but the pope, and what he doesn't know is just as well."
According to the committee, the Church should hold investigations into issues beyond child abuse, specifically to uncover problems ranging from embezzlement to sexual harassment of women parishioners.
"It's important to acknowledge the church is in trouble, and we need to be there in the church's time of need," said Kathleen McChesney, executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
McChesney said that her agency will develop a second study on child abuse to examine the cause of the abuse. The study will follow up on the first study released earlier this year by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The report showed that at a conservative estimate, 4,392 priests in the United States abused 10,667 people, mostly boys, between 1950 and 2002. The total number of victims is probably at least six times greater, the report concluded.