DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     June 4, 1998     vol. 9, no. 108

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          PALM BEACH, Florida (CWNews.com) - Bishop Joseph Keith Symons resigned as bishop of Palm Beach, Florida on Tuesday after admitting he sexually molested five boys almost 40 years ago.

          Bishop Robert Lynch of the nearby St. Petersburg Diocese was named apostolic administrator of Palm Beach until Pope John Paul II appoints a successor. The current scandal began in recent weeks when a now middle-aged man told his parish priest that he had been molested by Bishop Symons, 65, when he was 13 years old. Bishop Lynch told reporters that Symons had now entered counseling at an undisclosed location and had assured him that he not molested anyone in at least 25 years. The bishop said he wants to believe Symons, but added that pedophiles are often in denial of their actions.

          Bishop Lynch said Bishop Symons had told another priest of his actions at the time, and was told to abstain from alcohol and remain chaste. Bishop Lynch said he did not blame that priest for not forcing Symons to seek help. "Pedophilia wasn't even in the psychological manuals when this abuse happened," Bishop Lynch said. "The old theory was make a good confession and sin no more. We never realized it was a disease."

          Bishop Symons' resignation is the first in the United States by a bishop for pedophilia, but two other bishops have resigned for sexual misconduct in the past decade. Former Santa Fe Archbishop Robert Sanchez resigned after admitting to having had sex with five women and Atlanta Archbishop Eugene Marino left after saying he had a two-year affair with a woman.

          In a related story, the Archdiocese of Boston paid millions to settle claims by alleged victims of a priest accused of sexually molesting dozens of children, the Boston Herald reported on Wednesday.

          The newspaper said the out-of-court settlements, as reported by lawyers for the accusers, range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to less than $50,000. Father John Geoghan, 62, is now retired, but has been accused of molesting more than 50 children over a period of three decades at five parishes. While the plaintiffs had agreed to keep the agreements secret, the Herald said lawyers told them the total cost could reach as high as $10 million, including accusers still filing claims.

          The archdiocese admitted no wrongdoing in any of the cases, but Cardinal Bernard Law apologized in the archdiocesan newspaper on behalf of the Church to sexual abuse victims for being molested by accused priests, saying: "With all my heart I beg forgiveness."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 4, 1998       volume 9, no. 108


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