Cardinal Says Trip Agenda Unclear

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Byline: Teresa Mask Daily Herald Staff Writer

Cardinal Francis George said he doesn't expect to return from Rome with new direction on how to handle sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church.

"Whether or not a policy would come out of this, I'd be surprised," said George, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

George will arrive in Rome this weekend and will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with a dozen other U.S. cardinals to discuss the abuse scandal in the church.

During a press conference Wednesday, George said he didn't know if the pope would attend the meetings. He said the agenda was unclear, but he expects the group of cardinals to discuss new and old abuse cases, how they were handled and if settlements were made. George said the talks likely will turn to the seminary and how men are prepared for the priesthood. The goal, he said, will be to determine what should happen next.

"I have a certain anxiety because I'm not quite sure what will happen or even how I will contribute," George said. "It's a very good thing to happen, but I wish it weren't necessary."

Even though he expects no immediate solution from the trip to the Vatican, George is more optimistic about this summer's U.S. bishops conference. It is there, he said, that the American bishops will likely come up with some type of universal policy on sexual abuse.

He said Chicago's policy, which covers priests in Cook and Lake counties, could be used as a model.

"Every diocese, to my knowledge, has a policy ... but ours is unique in that we have a review board. An allegation doesn't go to the bishop," he said.

The archdiocese's review board includes psychologists, lay people and church officials reviewing each allegation of sex abuse before recommending that the cardinal either notify authorities or dismiss the allegations. …