BY LUKE COPPEN
AN AMERICAN cardinal has suspended eight of his diocesan priests as part of a tough new "zero tolerance" policy against priests alleged to have sexually abused children.
Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston suspended six priests last week for past allegations of child sexual abuse.
Five days earlier he had suspended two diocesan priests for the same reason.
A spokeswoman for Boston archdiocese said five of the newly removed priests were involved in ministry and the sixth was employed in a parish in a non-ministerial role.
She said their names were among those on a second round of lists submitted to law enforcement authorities as part of the archdiocese's thorough review of personnel files going back more than 40 years.
"The ongoing review of our records continues," she said, "and any clergy member found to have a substantial allegation of sexual abuse of a minor will be immediately removed and suspended from all assignments in the archdiocese pending a full investigation. Our priority is the protection of children."
In January, a former Boston archdiocese priest, John Geoghan, was convicted of indecently assaulting a 10-year-old boy.
He faced a second criminal trial in February on charges of raping a minor and has been accused of sexual abuse of minors in about 130 civil lawsuits. The archdiocese reportedly settled about 50 of those suits out of court.
Cardinal Law has publicly apologised for giving pastoral assignments to Geoghan, who was removed from ministry in 1994 and laicised in 1998.
The cardinal announced a new policy of zero tolerance last month, saying: "Any priest known to have sexually abused a minor simply will not function as a priest in any way in this archdiocese."