By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 21, 2003

Earlier I expressed skepticism about the claim that programs and policies, in default of a conversion of heart in the men to whom they apply, might remedy the clergy abuse crisis. My betters, it must be admitted, are of another opinion. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides us with links to some model prevention programs currently in service. My favorite is that posted by those internationally recognized masters in the art of abuse prevention at the Diocese of Dallas. Some excerpts:

All clergy, staff and volunteers of the Diocese will observe the following guidelines for dealing with minors:

*No minor child may reside in any church rectory or other living quarters of priests other than a son or daughter of the resident priest.

But what if Father's wife is still a minor? Texas law permits women to marry at 16.

*Touching should be age appropriate and based on the need of the minor and not on the need of the adult.

Based on the need?

*Avoid physical contact when alone with a minor. If a minor initiates physical contact, an appropriate, limited response is proper.

This "limited response" language gives me the creeps. The libidinal beast is to be restained, clearly, but is presumed to be straining at the leash. It doesn't do to contemplate what an "unlimited response" would look like.

*Do not be alone with a minor in a residence, sleeping facility, locker room, rest room, dressing facility, or other closed room or isolated area that is inappropriate to a ministry relationship.

Put that way, most Reconciliation Rooms are inappropriate to "a ministry relationship."

*Do not take photographs of minors while they are unclothed or dressing (e.g., in a locker room or bathing facility).

But he was 18 next Tuesday, your honor!

Do not permit minors to cross a road by themselves while they are in your custodial care.

Good point. You never know when there's a busy bishop in a Buick on the highway.

Moral: First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean

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