Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Casting a Wide Net

Bishop Michael Sheridan was named as a defendant in a Wisconsin lawsuit related to sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

That was, in essence, the first paragraph of a press release that came across The Gazette's news desk last night.

What that release didn't immediately point out was that Sheridan was among 194 Catholic bishops named in the lawsuit -- the total number of bishops in the United States.

The suit, filed by the family of a funeral home director allegedly killed by a wayward priest, is designed to force the Catholic Church to release the names and whereabouts of priests accused of child molestation. It's a dicey issue, legal experts say, affecting privacy rights for the church and individuals.

The Diocese of Colorado Springs has largely escaped the sex abuse scandal, in part because it was created in 1984, after most allegations of abuse took place. A former St. Mary's priest has been publically named in a sexual abuse lawsuit, and the Colorado Springs diocese uncovered three instances of possible abuse during its internal investigation. All such instances, though, happened when Colorado Springs was still connected to the Archdiocese of Denver.


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