Cardinal's Comments Anger Critics


CHICAGO, Apr 26, 2002 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Comments by Cardinal Francis George on priests who engage in sexual encounters with teenage girls stirred the ire of feminists and others, prompting some to call for his resignation.

Following a meeting earlier this week at the Vatican between U.S. cardinals and the pope, George said sanctions against priests who violate celibacy and chastity vows should distinguish between sexual predators who prey on young children and the priest who gets drunk and engages in a sex act "with a 17- or 16-year-old young woman who returns his affection."

"He's saying that there's a difference between sexual abuse of a young child and a priest getting a little drunk and having sex with a 16- or 17-year-old girl," Catherine Caporusso Hartman, vice president of the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, told the Chicago Sun-Times Friday. "He's trying to minimize things when he should be showing that he takes all of this seriously. Now he's trying to make a subset of sexual abuse not as serious as another."

In calling for George's resignation, Hartman said when it comes to statutory rape laws, George "doesn't seem to understand why there are stiffer penalties in case of a person in authority like a priest."

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