Profiles of the Board's High-Powered Members. (Nation)

By Feuerherd, Joe | National Catholic Reporter, January 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Profiles of the Board's High-Powered Members. (Nation)

Feuerherd, Joe, National Catholic Reporter

Created last June by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of their response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth is a hybrid creature.

On the one hand, according to its mandate, the board is "appointed by the conference president and [reports] directly to him. "In addition to studying the causes of the crisis, its mission is to assist the newly formed "Office for Child and Youth Protection"--whose director reports to the general secretary of the bishops' conference--as that department helps dioceses implement policies designed to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.

At the same time, the lay board's high-powered members are an independent lot, accustomed to wielding power at the highest levels of American business, government and academia. In the face of opposition--including an August 2002 editorial in the Boston archdiocesan newspaper critical of board chairman Frank Keating and last month's snub of the panel by New York Cardinal Edward Egan--board members insist they have the backing they need to do the job.

The board plans to release an initial report on the scope of the crisis this summer.

Board Chairman Frank Keating is president of the American Council of Life Insurers, representing the interests of the life insurance industry before Congress, the executive branch, and at the state level. A Georgetown University graduate, Keating served as an FBI agent after receiving his law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1969. From 1985 through 1993 he served in Washington as assistant secretary of the Treasury, as associate general counsel and general counsel at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1994, Keating was elected governor of Oklahoma, was reelected in 1998, and completed his second term in January 2003. As governor, Keating sparred with Tulsa Bishop Edward J. Slattery, refusing the bishop's request to implement a moratorium on capital punishment in the state.

Long known to Washington insiders as a skilled defense attorney--his clients have included former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowsk--Robert Bennett is most widely known for his defense of President Clinton in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Bennett, a former federal prosecutor, heads the international government enforcement group of the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He also leads the civil litigation practices of Skadden's Washington office. The Brooklyn native is the older brother of former "Drug Czar" and Book of Virtues author William Bennett.

Anne M. Burke has served on the Illinois Appellate Court since 1995. Burke began her judicial career in 1987 when Gov. Jim Thompson named her as the first woman to serve on the Illinois Court of Claims. In 1994 she was appointed by Gov. Jim Edgar as special counsel for Child Welfare Services and a member of his Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice.

Michael J. Bland is a clinical counselor at the Center for Psychological Services, Oak Lawn, Ill., and clinical-pastoral coordinator for Victim Assistance Ministry, Chicago archdiocese. Bland has worked for over 10 years directly with victims of sexual abuse by church personnel, including clergy. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a doctorate in ministry from the Chicago Theological Seminary. Bland is a former Servite priest and is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse as a minor.

William R. Burleigh began his career as a journalist at The Evansville (Ind.) Press in May 1951 as a part-time sports reporter. In the late 1950s, he covered early school integration conflicts in the South and became me paper's first urban affairs reporter. He became city editor in 1962, managing editor in 1969 and editor and president in 1975. Burleigh was named editor of The Cincinnati Post July 1, 1977. …

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