Catholic Priest Policy Adopted

July 23, 2003  - Posted at 7:33 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  --A new policy by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock would bar priests from returning to the ministry once an accusation of sexual abuse is confirmed.

That brings the diocese in line with a policy adopted by U-S bishops last year, after the Vatican modified an earlier plan to provide more due-process guarantees for accused priests. Training is also for those involved with children in church programs.

The training is to help workers recognize warning signs of child abuse and understand the importance of reporting suspicions of abuse. The plan is part of a revised policy adopted by the diocese in the wake of 18 months of church troubles around the nation stemming from accusations that priests in several states abused children.

No Arkansas priest has been accused of such abuse. The Diocese of Little Rock includes 90-thousand Catholics in 133 parishes and missions across the state.

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