FTN - 4/28/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, the crisis in the Church. What should the cardinals do?

After visiting with the pope, the cardinals said they would develop a policy to deal with the problem of sexual abuse by priests. But no one seems to know exactly what it is.

We'll ask Cardinal Francis George of Chicago to clarify the cardinals' position. And then we'll talk with victims lawyer Mitchell Garabedian from Boston and Georgetown theology professor Chester Gillis.

After that, we'll turn to the Middle East. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah met with President Bush this week, but what did they say in private about how the Arab world views the United States? What's next there? We'll talk to the crown prince's foreign policy advisor Adel Al-Jubeir.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on where the Catholics may find some guidelines to help them out of this current crisis.

But first, that crisis in the Catholic Church on Face the Nation.

Good morning again. And we're joined this morning first by Cardinal Francis George, who is in Chicago.

Cardinal George, thank you so much for joining us.

CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE, Archdiocese of Chicago: You're welcome.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just start with a simple question. Why didn't the cardinals just come out of that meeting a say one strike and you're out?

GEORGE: Because it wasn't a decision-making meeting. It was a meeting that was called to determine if the Holy See, first of all, would let us have a national policy. Legally in the Church now, we cannot have a national policy. They said they would. And that has to be elaborated in June.

And then secondly, we wanted to know would the Holy See permit an accelerated process for involuntary layicization. Not a priest wanting out of the priesthood because he asks for it, but a priest who doesn't ask for it and the Church can layicize him against his will. That's an extremely convoluted process right now. You have to put him on trial and it takes about a year, and you may lose.

The point is that people have rights, by reason of baptism, by reason of ordination. And the pope doesn't want to see us move towards administrative law in the way he experienced it in communist Poland.

We have, however, a stream-lined process, where, in the case of offenders who it's very clear have to get out, we can do it very, very quickly. That's a great concession on their part.

And then we have the possibility of another process that will move quite quickly but not perhaps overnight. But the reason is because people rightly ask how could this man be a priest at all. And so we have to be able to respond with a streamlined process but the pope is concerned, be sure everyone's rights are respected, no matter what process you have.

SCHIEFFER: But if I may say so, Cardinal, this is, as you describe it, it is a crisis. Doesn't it call for more than just what you call streamlined action? I mean, don't parishioners have to be reassured that the Church is going to do something about this? I mean, it seems to me...

GEORGE: Well, the first thing...

SCHIEFFER: ...a question that -- there's no question here that crimes have been committed.

GEORGE: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: Don't you have to act more quickly?

GEORGE: The first thing that you have to act to do is to be sure that children are safe. The second thing you have to do is to see that victims are taken care of. Those are matters of policies that vary somewhat from diocese to diocese, but all dioceses have some way to try to do that.

After that, you have to take care of the perpetrator. And just as the victim has to be treated very, very carefully, very individually, so also there has to be some recognition that an appropriate way of dealing with one perpetrator is not necessarily quite as appropriate in the case of another.

It's a little bit like mandated sentencing, isn't it? In other words, you can say because of this action automatically this follows. Or you can say because of this action, there is a range of possibilities that might follow.

That's not quite so perhaps psychologically satisfying if people want to say let's do something and get it behind us. But I think it's more responsible to be sure that the questions are all asked so that the policies, which we're going to have to live with nationally -- bishops won't have freedom to go around those policies -- are in fact sound policies.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you do bring up an interesting point there, and let me follow up on that. If you now find out that something like this is going on, isn't that a crime, and doesn't it have to be reported to the police? Because preying on children, these are felonies we're talking about.

GEORGE: Of course they are. And so immediately when it is reported -- in this case of Chicago, doesn't come to me, it comes to an independent review board -- the mandated reporter who is part of that board goes immediately to the state department for children and family services and they report to the state's attorney.

The difficulty, as you know, is that this is not an epidemic of activity going on right now. It's reports of 20, 30 years ago actions, 15. And so sometimes the victim is no longer a minor, and sometimes the statute of limitations has run out. And the state comes back and says, we can't do anything at all, you deal with it.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Cardinal, some have also charged that there were cover-ups from higher-ups trying to hide these crimes and that that itself is a crime. Why did the cardinals not specifically acknowledge the cover-up of these crimes?

GEORGE: I think in the communique to priests, we said we regret that our own oversight has failed. In a sense, that is an acknowledgment that mistakes have been made. One cardinal has said that he has made very grievous errors.

It depends, however, what you mean by (AUDIO GAP) same as saying we didn't go to the public authorities.

We've gone to the public authorities, and -- at least in Chicago. And I think that, in that sense, it isn't a cover-up. But the fact is sometimes, as I understand it, when a victim comes forward, they don't want to go to public authorities. We give them the numbers. We say we're going to do it. Now we have to. But victims want different things.

If, in fact, part of the therapy is that the victim must go public, that's a good thing. And one of the blessings of the present crisis is that more victims are coming forward because the spotlight is on.

BORGER: Well, I guess what I mean by cover-up is moving a priest from parish to parish.

GEORGE: Yes, and that was acknowledged as something that was deadly harmful and is a grievous wrong.

Sometimes it was done sincerely enough, I'm told, by people who got reports saying this man is not a threat to children. In fact, most of the time, those reports aren't accurate. And we know that now, the reports come back differently.

Should they have been trusted at all? I don't know. I wasn't in place at that time. I wasn't even a bishop at that time.

SCHIEFFER: Cardinal George, was the situation involving Cardinal Law of Boston, the man who apparently knew of this serial child molester and just sort of kept moving him around, was that even discussed in Rome?

GEORGE: It was mentioned in the bishops meeting preliminary to our going into the meeting with the cardinals of the Roman Curia and with the Holy Father by Cardinal Law himself. But in fact, a bishop is sent to a diocese by the Holy Father and he has to be removed by the Holy Father. He can't just simply resign. He needs permission to resign. And so that conversation, if there was one, had to be between the pope and Cardinal Law.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think there is any way, practically speaking, that Cardinal Law can remain on the job, as it were?

GEORGE: Well, I'm not in Boston. I understand that the situation is inflamed, but I'd hate to make a judgment about Boston.

BORGER: Cardinal, do you believe that all church records should be handed over to the authorities regarding sexual abuse or sexual misconduct?

GEORGE: Well, we did that 10 years ago in Chicago, and they came back and said they were satisfied with the record keeping. Records are very different.

I think in order to hand something over to the police, they've got to ask why. Otherwise any business or any school would have to, any family records would have to be handed over merely at the request of the police. So the normal civil safeguards being in place, if the public authorities come back and say, yes, we want to see all the records, of course you should. You have to.

SCHIEFFER: One final question, Cardinal. Do you think the pope understands the severity of what has happened here?

GEORGE: The pope is a man who lives the dynamics of sin and grace. He is a priest of over 50 years. He is a holy man in the sense that he prays constantly. I understand -- I think he understands it better than anyone else that I know, the depth of the depravity that we're talking about here.

And his response of grief is very clear.

Does he understand completely all the various 50 different civil jurisdictions we have to deal with in a federal republic? I suppose he doesn't. I don't either. I know Illinois. And that policy-making depends upon the separate civil laws, as well as the canon law.

So I think he understands at its deepest level and is sorrowed immensely by it, as I think anyone is with any sense of remorse and shame. Beyond that, all the details, he heard enough of them, and I think he understands it pretty well.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Cardinal Francis George, thank you so much.
We are going to turn now to another side of the story. We go to Watertown, Massachusetts, where attorney Mitchell Garabedian joins us.

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, Sexual Abuse Victims' Attorney: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: And with us from Tampa, Florida, Professor Chester Gillis of Georgetown University.

Mr. Garabedian, let me talk to you first because you represent many of the victims. You just heard what the cardinal said. You obviously watched last week as the cardinals met in Rome with the pope. What is your reaction?

GARABEDIAN: The Church's credibility is at stake here. None of the leaders within the Church seem to understand that.

They have to do two things. They have to admit their unconditional guilt, whether it be the pedophile himself or the supervisor of the pedophile, and they have to end the secrecy.

The priest told the children who were molested to keep the matter secret.

The archdiocese here in Boston kept the matter secret for decades. And the Vatican has issued guidelines saying these matters, when investigated, shall be kept secret. Secrecy only fosters more secrecy, which fosters more child abuse. It has to end.

They have to start at the beginning. Those are the two items they have to address immediately.

We get from the pope, from the briefings in Rome, statements such as "We'll help you cure the problem." They don't understand, they are part of the problem. Something has to be done immediately.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask Chester Gillis. You're a theologian at Georgetown University. First, do you agree with Mr. Garabedian on what needs to be done here? And why is it that there was not a more forceful statement coming out of Rome?

CHESTER GILLIS, Georgetown University Theology Professor: Well, I think this is an opportunity for the Church to redeem itself, and they'd better seize this opportunity.

The pope has given certain directives, but the details of them are to be worked out by the American bishops. And after all, largely the American bishops are responsible for this problem. It should be their problem to resolve.

I think if they take the proper measures and put into place even Draconian policies, I think it would reassure the American public, Catholic and non-Catholic.

SCHIEFFER: Well, don't -- as we say about if this were about anything but the Church, don't heads have to roll here to restore credibility that these cardinals must restore, it seems to me?

GARABEDIAN: They have to...

GILLIS: Well, to a certain degree...

GARABEDIAN: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

GILLIS: I'm sorry, go ahead.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Garabedian?

GARABEDIAN: They have to be responsible enough to resign. That's part of the credibility process. If they admit their guilt in negligent supervision and knowing these matters continued for decades without them doing anything, let their parishioners decide whether they should resign or not.

Right now the Church doesn't seem to be understanding, they're creating part of the problem by these indirect references of "we'll help you out with this problem. Gee, we're sorry it happened. We feel terrible." Of course they do. But they're part of the problem, as I stated earlier.

They really have to come clean with the public. That's the only way they're going to be able to fully redeem themselves.

BORGER: Professor Gillis, do you believe then that Cardinal Law should resign?

GILLIS: Well, Cardinal Law has dedicated his whole life to the Church, and it depends upon how he thinks of the issue. If he thinks of it, what is for the good of the Church? And if he comes to the conclusion that for the good of the Church, for the Church to heal and for the Church to move forward, it would be better if he were not the leader of the Archdiocese of Boston he may come to that conclusion. In a sense, in way that's generous and responsible that he cannot be the healer. And that's very likely.

SCHIEFFER: But he is responsible for covering up a monstrous crime. There seems to be little doubt about that. I mean, how can there be any question about whether he can stay?

GARABEDIAN: Well, that's an interesting issue, and the issue is also who else should resign?

In the Father Geoghan cases, which I represent 140 victims since 1994 -- 140 individuals have come to me claiming to have been sexually molested by Father John J. Geoghan -- not only was Cardinal Law involved in the negligence, but you have Bishop Daily out of Brooklyn, New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn. You have Bishop McCormack out of Manchester, New Hampshire, Bishop Murphy out of Long Island, Bishop Banks out of Wisconsin, Archbishop Hughes out of Louisiana. It's the domino effect with which we've heard about in the media.

That's going to have to be looked at, too. This is a very serious situation with very serious consequences. And they're going to have to come clean.

BORGER: Well, Cardinal Law is expected to be questioned by victims' lawyers in June. Do you expect him to be there to give that testimony?

GARABEDIAN: I fully expect him to be there. He has no reason not to be there. There have been recent rumors that he may be leaving the country and may not be coming back, but those are unsubstantiated rumors. And if they're found to be true within the near future, appropriate court relief can be sought and obtained to keep him here.

SCHIEFFER: Professor Gillis, let me just move a little beyond that to the more general topic of, is the Church going to have to modernize, for example? Is it going to have to allow priests to marry? Do those sorts of things have anything to do with this problem it's confronting right now?

GILLIS: Well, pedophilia and celibacy don't seem to have a direct connection, at least in the literature. But the issue of allowing priests to marry is certainly in the minds of many American Catholics and I'm sure it's in the minds of many American bishops.

Under the current pope, the policy will not change. He has been quite definitive and firm in his support for celibacy. So I don't anticipate a change.

However, I do think that since he is in the twilight of his papacy, that it's in the minds of many that with the next pope, this will be an issue that may have to be addressed internationally within the Church. And the priest shortage is one of the contributing factors to that.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, the U.S. Army has a shortage of manpower and they started taking women in. That's one of the reasons that they have been able to meet their manpower requirements.

Do you think we'll see a day when there are women priests in the Church?

GILLIS: Well, that's a very difficult issue to conjecture as to whether it will happen again. Under this current papacy, it will not happen. As a matter of fact, John Paul II pretty much tried to close the door to the issue.

And his disposition is that he does not have the authority to make the change, that this is a biblical norm that he can't transgress, and that even in his position as pontiff he cannot transgress the tradition.

Now, others think that the tradition could be read differently, and that will depend on whether there's an open conversation about the role of women in the church and the possibility for ordination. But that conversation is not going to happen in the near future.

BORGER: Mr. Garabedian, do you think this is the tip of the iceberg? Will there be more cases in Boston?

GARABEDIAN: Without a doubt. As I had mentioned earlier with regard to Father John J. Geoghan, I'm up to 140 victims. I represent many other individuals. I'm involved as being victims with regard to many other priests within the archdiocese and outside of the archdiocese.

It's larger than that. I get calls from across the country from individuals who want help and from individuals who aren't lawyers, who represent groups of individuals such as 24 or 12 or 19. It's simply amazing how many people are out there.

The secrecy has to end. It truly has to end.

SCHIEFFER: And we have to end this discussion right there. Thank you so much, both of you, for helping us to understand more about this.

Back in a minute. We'll talk about the Middle East with an adviser to the Saudi crown prince.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We turn now to the Middle East. Joining us now from Houston, Adel Al-Jubeir. He is the foreign policy adviser to the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

Mr. Al-Jubeir, thank you so much for joining us.

A late development this morning. The Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal by President Bush which is designed to end the siege of the Church of the Nativity. One of the things it calls for is for U.S. or British troops to take control of some of the people, some of the Palestinians who, as I understand it, have been found guilty in Ramallah, by a Palestinian court, of being responsible for some of the -- well, for one thing, for the killing of the Israeli cabinet member recently.

What would be the Saudi reaction to that?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser to the Crown Prince: I believe that the president and Secretary Powell and the administration deserve a lot of credit for this achievement. It's a great achievement. It's another step toward resolving this impasse.

I know that the administration has been working on this for some time now. And it seems to be, if the Israeli government can commit itself to taking further steps, then it would go a long way toward putting the peace process back on its proper track.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think that Yasser Arafat would approve of this? And if he does not, would the Saudis push him to approve of it?

AL-JUBEIR: Bob, when this idea of monitors to ensure that -- to monitor the trial and to ensure that, should the suspects be convicted, that they serve their sentences, when this idea was first floated, my understanding is that yes, Yasser Arafat had accepted it.

BORGER: Mr. Al Jubeir, yesterday there was news of four more deaths in a Jewish settlement, including a 5-year-old girl. They were apparently killed by Palestinian gunmen who were dressed as Israeli soldiers.

The Saudis have encouraged President Bush to tell Prime Minister Sharon to cut back on the violence. After this kind of violence, what would you expect Prime Minister Sharon to do?

AL-JUBEIR: It would seem to me that there's a cause for this violence, and it has to do with the occupation and the continued humiliation of the Palestinian people.

We would expect Prime Minister Sharon to commit himself to a peaceful settlement. In turn, we would also expect the Palestinians to commit themselves to trying to control the security situation, so that we don't have innocent people being killed on either side, and so that we can reach a final settlement.

BORGER: What can you do to rein in the Palestinians?

AL-JUBEIR: : Well, in terms of a -- from a technical perspective, not much, because we're not there.

What we have offered is a vision for peace. We have moved the Arab world toward adopting that as a formal peace initiative. We have discussed it with the U.S. administration. We have offered a plan to try to merge the president's vision with the crown prince's vision, so that we can find a settlement to this problem.

SCHIEFFER: Before the meeting between President Bush and the crown prince, there was a news leak in the New York Times which said, frankly, the United States, according to the Saudis, would face grave consequences if they didn't rein in Israel.

Some here took that as a threat to the United States. This morning, former prime minister Netanyahu of Israel was asked about that, and he said, who are they to be threatening the United States?

Was that a threat?

AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely not. There were no threats made.

We came as friends who spoke very sincerely and very clearly about the dangers that could occur to American credibility and American interests and the interests and the credibility of America's friends. When we talked about grave consequences, the second half of the sentence was "grave consequences to America's credibility and interests and the interests and credibility of its friends," which is us.

SCHIEFFER: Do you believe the United States and Saudi Arabia are on the same page now in trying to bring this to an end?

AL JUBEIR: Oh, absolutely. We've always believed that. We came to the U.S. as friends. We came to the U.S. because our leaders share the same vision. The president believes in a state of Palestine alongside a state of Israel, so does the crown prince. The president believes in an end to settlements, so does the crown prince. The president believes in an end to the occupation, so does the crown prince. The president believes in a final settlement, an accelerated process that would get us there, so does the crown prince. The president believes in a broader peace, so does the crown prince.

SCHIEFFER: All right, we'll end it right there, then. Very reassuring words. We'll see if they prove to be true.

We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: As an admirer of the Catholic Church, I ask this question in sadness and in dismay, but it must be asked. Why church leaders, why are they trying to make this latest scandal so complicated? It isn't.

The rules of the Catholic Church -- celibacy, should priests marry, should women be barred from the priesthood -- that's not my business. That's the business of Catholics, and it can be as theologically nuanced as they care to make it.

But protecting children from sexual predators is everyone's business, and it's not at all complicated. It is wrong and must be stopped. It requires no further study, no blue-ribbon commissions, no convoluted explanations. A few simple sentences will do just fine.

Anyone who harms a child shall be removed from the church and reported to the police. Anyone who shall harm a child in the past should be removed from the church and reported to the police. Anyone who knows of anyone who has harmed a child and tried to cover it up shall be removed from the church and reported to the police. Period.

When reform requires long explanations, it usually isn't reform, it's an excuse. There is a fine set of guidelines already available for those who will decide church policy: the 10 commandments, not just guidelines for content, but for style as well. Short, simple, easy to understand sentences. No question about what they mean. That's what we need here.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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