of the U.S. bishops' effort to deal with the sexual-abuse crisis was the creation
last June of a National Review Board, composed of influential laypeople.
The 13-member board is chaired by Frank Keating, the former governor
of Oklahoma. Others on the board are similarly high-powered: politicians (Leon
E. Panetta), judges and attorneys (Anne M. Burke, Robert S. Bennett, Petra Jimenez
Maes, Pamela D. Hayes), doctors of psychology and psychiatry (Michael J. Bland,
Paul R. McHugh), canon lawyers and professors (Nicholas P. Cafardi, Alice Bourke
Hayes), business leaders (Ray H. Siegfried II), communications specialists (William
R. Burleigh) and activists (Jane J. Chiles). Many are parents and grandparents.
All are active Catholics who say they accepted this responsibility
because they love the Church deeply and feel they can help in this crisis. As
Burleigh, the retired chairman and CEO of Scripps Howard who coordinates communications
for the board, put it, "When you are asked to help, how can you say no?"
Questions about this board have arisen: Are those appointed to it
committed? Are they too political? Are they too busy to do the work? Are they
simply out to preserve the Church's reputation at the expense of the victims?
Do they really have the backing of the bishops and the power to do the job?
Article #9 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and
Young People says that the review board will report directly to the bishops'
conference president, currently Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Illinois.
All the members were appointed by him.
The National Review Board is charged with assisting and monitoring the work
of the new Office for Child and Youth Protection, now part of the
bishops' conference. As one of its first acts, the review board
in November recommended Kathleen McChesney of the F.B.I. to head
this office. (McChesney
was profiled in St. Anthony Messenger in April.)
The National Review Board must oversee, approve and publicize that office's
annual report about how dioceses/eparchies are implementing the
Charter. The report will include the names of those dioceses
"not in compliance with the provisions and expectations of this
The board is helping the Office for Child and Youth Protection develop
the criteria to measure diocesan compliance and assisting with the safe-environment
programs of dioceses.
In addition, the board has other tasks, unique to it: to "commission
a comprehensive study of the causes and context of the current crisis" (the
crisis and causes report and the epidemiological research study) and to "commission
a descriptive study...of the nature and scope of the problem within the Catholic
Church in the United States, including such data as statistics on perpetrators
The National Review Board has set up subcommittees for its different
tasks. The full board meets monthly in different cities, hosted by one of its
members. Members have committed themselves to a minimum of three years of service.
St. Anthony Messenger interviewed four members of the National
Review Board. Frank Keating spoke with St. Anthony Messenger after he
addressed the Catholic Men's Conference held March 29 at Xavier University's
Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The other three interviews were conducted via telephone
'Our Challenge Is to Restore the Faith in the Faithful'
"When the ship is listing to port, it's time to start pumping
and not start arguing and denying. This ship has taken on a lot
of water and it simply must be righted," says former Gov. Frank
Keating, the outspoken, no-nonsense chairman of the National Review
There has been "too much reliance on the advice of lawyers, too
much concern about lawsuits and litigation," he continues. "The whole focus
of the leadership of the Church ought to be on healing, fidelity, piety and
a return to Catholic verities, and less concern about public acclaim and bad
Keating was the first to be appointed to the National Review Board
and named its chairman at the June 2002 bishops' meeting. In January 2003 Keating
completed his second term as governor of Oklahoma. (He was governor at the time
of the Oklahoma City bombing). He is now president of the American Council of
Life Insurers in Washington, D.C., which represents the interests of the insurance
industry at the federal and state levels.
He received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University
and his law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1969, and then worked
as an F.B.I. agent. From 1985 through 1993 he served in Washington as assistant
secretary of the Treasury and general counsel at the Department of Housing and
As Oklahoma governor, he held firm against Tulsa Bishop Edward J.
Slattery's request for a state moratorium on the death penalty.
Keating and his wife, Cathy, have been married 30 years and have
three children, one granddaughter and another grandchild expected this summer.
Keating remains appalled that "individual bishops could permit
the likes of a Paul Shanley or a John Geoghan to continue to prey on young people.
To continue to flaunt and flout, to commit crimes and sins while wearing the
Roman collar is beyond comprehension to me. It's just arrogance and negligence
that permitted that to happen. And we are paying a very costly price for it."
He fears that some of the U.S. Church leadership still don't realize
"what terrible pain" the problem of clergy sex abuse has caused. "What a horrible,
horrible loss to the development of the faith in the hearts and minds of many
Catholics has occurred. A number of dioceses don't see the urgency in all of
this. I think most do, but some don't."
As chairman of the National Review Board, his role is to facilitate
all the subcommittees, "to make them work together,...doing their work in a
timely way and moving in the direction we want them to move.
"For example, to select a director of the Office [for Child and
Youth Protection] with a law-enforcement background was very important to me."
He says some of his colleagues on the board wanted a social worker. "I held
out for a cop and, fortunately, I won." Although they share an F.B.I. background,
Keating did not know McChesney before she was hired for the job, but he has
only praise for her as "a very wonderful, decent, tenacious person who is going
to serve us extraordinarily well."
He's also involved with Bennett's subcommittee that will pinpoint
"how we got into this mess." And he wanted an independent non-Catholic organization
to examine the size of the problem. "Lastly, and most importantly, I'm focused
on the audit function to...decide whether, in fact, dioceses are implementing
the Charter on an ongoing basis."
Whatever Ails the Mother Church
Keating has participated in some of the interviews the board has
conducted with victims and their parents. He remembers one couple
telling an "agonizing story of their son." Afterward, he told them
he was so sorry and expressed his hope that the young man was doing
better: "But the mother told me, 'No, he committed suicide.'" Keating's
voice breaks at the memory.
Even though Keating allows the painful stories to get to him at
times, he knows he was picked because of his law-enforcement background and
his prominence as a lay Catholic who has a "stunned and intolerant attitude
toward this." He says, "Bishop Gregory wanted someone who would help him put
together a board that would be relentless and remorseless."
Among the people encouraging Keating to be on the board was the
Rev. Robert Schuller of the Hour of Power TV program. "Schuller,
who is a significant Christian evangelist and a follower of the
path of Jesus, told me, 'The Catholic Church is the Mother Church.
Whatever ails Catholicism ails all of Christianity. So any of us
who love our faith would drop everything to help in its most pressing
hour of need.'" Keating adds, "And this is an agonizing, terrible
hour of need, to say the least."
For His Non-Catholic Sons-in-Law
The board's "safe environment" report, due out in June, will
"send a message to parents of Catholic children—and parents of non-Catholic
children who go to Catholic schools—that their children will be safe, not only
In fact, Keating hopes that, when his service on the board is completed,
"I can say to myself and to my non-Catholic sons-in-law that this horrific chapter
of the Catholic Church in America is closed. The children are safe and the Church
has been restored to the faith. As I told Bishop Gregory when I accepted the
post, our challenge is to restore the faith in the faithful."
So the board will put systems in place where there is vigilance
and intolerance of aberrant behavior. "This sinful behavior simply must never
occur," Keating stresses.
Anne M. Burke
'The Implementation Is the Growing Pain of Change'
"I hope this is the first substantive step in involving the
laity in the leadership of the Catholic Church in the United States,"
says Justice Anne M. Burke, the vice chair of the National Review
Board. "I dislike the fact that it has taken this issue" to make
this happen. "But I'll take it however it comes.
"I think the bishops have realized that the laity have a lot to
offer. We don't want to take their jobs away from them in any way, shape or
form, but we want to make a Church that is for everyone and help restore the
sense of trust and believability in the Catholic Church," she says.
Deep Interest in Children
Justice Burke serves on the Illinois Appellate Court, First
District. Appointed in 1995, she was elected in 1996. Before agreeing to become
part of this new Church board, she had to check if the Appellate Court was scheduled
to hear any cases where the Catholic Church was a plaintiff or respondent. There
were none and, after learning that the National Review Board would not be giving
rulings or looking at specific cases, she felt free to serve.
After talking with Bishop Gregory, she decided that being on this
board would be akin to being a trustee of a university, "in terms of having
a mandate and a mission," she says.
Justice Burke is married to Edward M. Burke, alderman for Chicago's
14th Ward and dean of the Chicago City Council. They have four children, ages
33 through 27, and are the legal guardians of a seven-year-old who came to them
as a foster child eight days old. They now have a two-year-old granddaughter
and two more grandchildren are on the way.
While raising her children, Burke returned to school and graduated
from DePaul University with a degree in education. In 1983, she received her
law degree from IIT/Chicago-Kent College School of Law.
Her interest in children's welfare goes back to her work with the
Chicago Park District, where she taught physical education to mentally handicapped
children. In 1968 she founded the Chicago Special Olympics and served as director
of that organization. After law school, she opened a neighborhood practice,
which included representing children in cases of abuse, neglect, delinquency
or parental custody.
Burke was appointed by Illinois Governor Jim Edgar as his Special
Counsel for Child Welfare Services. She worked to reform the Cook County juvenile-justice
system and improve child-protection services.
Justice Burke agreed to be on the National Review Board because,
she says, "My Church is in crisis. I wanted to help implement this Charter,
and I was really humbled by the request." Actually, she admits she didn't really
know all it would entail when she agreed to serve. "So it was a kind of blind
faith. I failed even to ask who else was going to be on the committee."
She thinks her experience as special counsel for child welfare in
Illinois and her experience in the legal profession, both on the bench and as
an attorney, will be "quite indispensable in helping achieve a sense of justice
and trust within the crisis."
As vice chair, she will be working at "keeping the board together
and focused." She praises her fellow board members—"heads of departments, chairs
of this, leaders in their own fields—for knowing how to get work done by coming
together." She points out that these board positions are not "stepping-stones
to anything else,...it isn't like moving up the corporate ladder or running
for another office."
The core committee of the board consisted of the first three members
announced last June by Bishop Gregory at the bishops' meeting—Keating, Bennett
and herself—plus Dr. Michael Bland who was added the following week. The bishops
had them recommend others for the board. They decided not to put anyone on the
board from a special-interest group, who might have to get approval from some
board before voting on a proposal.
Now with the Charter in place, "The implementation is the
growing pain of change," Justice Burke says. The board is trying to set up very
precise instruments to measure compliance in the audits.
"Now in a perfect world, it would have been a lot better to set
up standards earlier, before the Charter came into effect," but this
first audit will be educational: "How can the National Review Board and the
Office for Child and Youth Protection help dioceses? We'll say what we expect.
Let's see where we overlap and where we are missing things. Later audits will
Appropriate and Uniform Policy
The board's objective is to implement this policy of child
protection "appropriately and uniformly across the United States." This is the
first time a national Church policy has been created and monitored in this way.
Justice Burke puts her love for the Church first and foremost, and
wants the Church to admit we are all in this together. "Some of the failings
of the past definitely have to be acknowledged and changed. And only people
of courage and fortitude can really accomplish this. So I just pray that we
harvest large quantities of courage and fortitude because we need it in our
leadership....If that can occur, then I do see the future as a time of hope.
"By the time our work is completed," Justice Burke says, "I hope
I'm able to say that every archdiocese and diocese in the United States has
a program in compliance with the spirit of the Charter and guarantees
the safety of children and young people in each diocese. And I hope the results
of our research and work will help the Catholic Church in the United States
to develop a plan to ensure that a crisis like this never will occur again."
Dr. Michael J. Bland
'Healing Is Possible'
A year ago June, Dr. Michael J. Bland held the bishops (and TV
viewers everywhere) spellbound when he told of being abused as a
youngster by a priest. "You could have heard a pin drop. At times
it became difficult to go on as I saw different bishops crying and
wiping tears away," Bland remembers now.
"Just as that experience of being abused changed my life, so too
did the presenting—in good ways but also others....You're exposed, you know."
After the abuse, Bland went on to become a Servite priest—in the
same order as his abuser. "Through spiritual direction and therapy I began to
understand my desire to be a better priest than he was. It took time for me
to admit that I was sexually abused. It took even longer to trust anyone" with
his story, but then he realized "the only way I could move beyond the darkness
was to break the silence."
When he did, his order's superiors did not handle it "humanely,
justly or pastorally." For Bland, it is not the perpetrator's actions but the
Church's poor response to victims that "causes the dark shadow of suspicion
over the entire Church."
Two years after revealing the abuse, Bland decided he needed to
leave the religious community "for my own spiritual good, moral integrity and
psychological well-being....After my last parish Mass I reverenced the altar,
placed my stole and chasuble upon the altar and followed the procession out
for the last time. The priesthood lost me, but kept the perpetrator." That was
the shocking tale he told the bishops in Dallas.
Good Fallout From His Talk
The pain Bland revealed brought the issue of clergy sex abuse
home to many, for its horror, its long-lasting effects on the victims, the very
evil of it.
Bland, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Chicago
School of Professional Psychology and a doctorate in ministry in pastoral psychology
from Chicago Theological Seminary, has worked for over 10 years as clinical-pastoral
coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Victim Assistance Ministry. He
works directly with victims of sexual abuse by Church personnel, some of them
After his talk was widely reported, Bland received many letters
and tried to respond to each of them. His address also filled in gaps for people
in his old parish as to why he had left.
Bland continues, "I think one of the blessings of all this is that
we are no longer living in silence, the deafening silence of sexual abuse. In
the past year and a half, society has been educated about sexual abuse. The
media have made sexual abuse a household term which allows people to talk about
Dr. Bland's speech to the bishops earned him a place on the National
Review Board, and he joined Keating, Burke and Bennett as part of the core committee
that helped select the others. But he's still hurt by some criticism that he
wasn't "victim enough. Now what does that mean?" he asks.
'Healing Is Possible'
He agreed to serve on the board because "I believe healing
is possible. I believe the work of the Charter is possible. And I believe
it's important sometimes to put our actions where our words and faith are.
"One of my feelings was that many bishops came to that conference
meeting knowing they had no choice but to vote for the Charter. I think
after that initial day bishops knew why they were voting for the Charter.
I think the Spirit moved people to a deeper understanding."
He brings his experience as a victim-survivor to his work with the
board. "One of the things I can offer is a reminder that victims are real, and
there is a victim on the board, and the reality that healing is possible. There
are no winners in this situation, but we can prevent losers, and a loser is
any child who is hurt."
Bland has observed that every decision of the board at this point
that has come to a vote has always passed unanimously. He's also amazed at the
perfect attendance at these meetings.
Priest-perpetrators, he believes, can have many victims each.
"It's really the power issue. For so many years, as good, faithful
people, we really believed in our religious leaders and the heritage
and the tradition that they represent. Just the garb that they wear
makes people think they are 'safe' people."
'Our Last Shot at Getting This Right'
But as Bland told a Siena College audience in Albany, New York,
March 29, as part of a panel with Archbishop Harry Flynn, the head of the bishops'
Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse: "Some have suggested the problem of clerical
sexual abuse of minors is due to lack of psychosexual formation of priests,
celibacy, homosexuality, priests not being allowed to marry, not allowing women
to be priests, or not following Church teachings.
"I believe these are all different agendas. For me, the issue is
that an adult, who happened to be a priest, sexually abused a minor. Anything
more begins to sound like excuses or, even worse, blaming the victim, and thus
runs the risk of re-victimizing the victim."
One of the heartbreaking aspects of this for him is his suspicion
that some victims have still not come forward.
As he said at Siena College, "Things are different this time, I
believe. We, the Church, better understand the experience and pain of the victims.
We can put into place far-reaching structural changes that will create a safe
environment for children and youth and will create a system of transparency
that will spare us from a return to this horrific nightmare.
"Like others, I am convinced that this is our last shot at getting
Michael Bland advises Church leadership "to do the right thing.
I think the Charter is really a great document, but will be only as strong
as the way the bishops implement it."
Pamela D. Hayes
'The Best Thing We Can Do Is to Change the Future'
Over her 25-year career, Pamela Denise Hayes has been on both
sides of the sex-abuse issue: a prosecutor and a defense attorney,
in public and now private practice.
A native New Yorker and lifelong Catholic, she received 12 years
of Catholic education at St. Aloysius School in Harlem and Aquinas High School
in the Bronx. She went on to graduate with honors from Northeastern University
in Boston in 1975 and earned her law degree from Atlanta's Emory University
School of Law in 1978.
Attorney Hayes has worked as a public defender for the State of
New Jersey, as a law assistant for a New York County Supreme Court judge, as
a special assistant attorney general for the Office of the Special Prosecutor
for the New York City Criminal Justice System, and as an assistant district
attorney and the bureau chief of the sex crimes and special bureau for Kings
County (Brooklyn), New York. In these capacities she dealt with several high-profile
cases, and went on to become an expert commentator for TV stations.
In 1993, she opened her own legal practice in Manhattan, with a
concentration on criminal defense litigation. And since 1993, she has taught
as an assistant professor in the law and police science department of the John
Jay School of Criminal Justice, which is part of City University of New York.
When Hayes was at the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, she says, "We
were handling thousands and thousands of sexual offenses every year. That job
really helped me to focus in on what the real issues here" are. She feels she
understands "some of the issues we're dealing with, like pedophiles who don't
think they are pedophiles," as well as Church leaders "who haven't dealt with
the situation appropriately.
"I think I can generally frame the issues pretty fast so that we
can know what's going on," Hayes says of her contribution to the board. She
also brings her investigative skills.
She serves on the National Review Board "because I want to make
a difference." This isn't her first review board work. After the wave of revelations
in the early 1990s about sexual abuse of children by some priests, "I had the
opportunity to sit down and talk with Cardinal John O'Connor and tell him we
needed a lay review board and...he was able to put that together." She served
on the New York archdiocesan review board for several years, but resigned after
she adopted her daughter, McKenzie.
Hayes has helped get the John Jay School, where she teaches, to
put together a major statistical survey on sexual abuse of minors.
Solace of Knowing This Won't Happen Again
When she's done with her service on the board, Hayes says,
"I hope we can show you that the Church has come to grips with the fact that
this was a very serious problem, that the bishops have put mechanisms in place
to deal with it." She wants "the victims who have been offended by this horrible
act by some priest to get some type of solace. I'm not talking about cash. I'm
talking about the type of solace that comes from knowing that this is not likely
to happen to anybody else because the Church is actively trying to make sure
it doesn't happen again."
She thinks Church leadership has to learn how to understand and
handle the crisis better. "I don't think we've seen them doing the best they
can do," she says.
When a sex-abuse case affects a parish, she believes the bishop
should meet with parishioners, which should not compromise the individual case.
The bishop could speak about "the policy that is in place now, how it's affecting
things now. The bishop can make people understand that, O.K., maybe you can't
change the past and the best thing you can do is to change the future."
As a lawyer, Hayes opposes lifting the statute of limitations on
cases (the number of years back an incident happened which makes the case prosecutable
by the state). "I don't think the people who didn't want to handle it back then
should be allowed to handle it now." Memories get unreliable and proof harder
to obtain the further back an incident occurred. "Some individual rights are
being sacrificed....These rules are in place for a reason. You can't have a
reactionary approach to things."
Attorney Pam Hayes wants to build up the Church's credibility on
this issue. Although she points out that it is not a large percentage of priests
involved in this, "We just need to find those perpetrators, and get them out
of wherever they're at so they won't be able to hurt any more children, and