According to The New York Times, Bishop Kinney has long called the U.S. Catholic church to respond more effectively to clergy sex abuse. In 1993, he was appointed to lead a new Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse for the bishops' conference. The committee proposed collecting data from dioceses about the extent of the problem, the numbers of perpetrators and victims, the disposition of their cases and the amount of money expended. It also recommended healing sessions: meetings between victims and church officials. These ideas "were discussed in the administrative committee," Kinney has said, but they "never saw the light of day, they just didn't fly."

At the opening session of June's meeting of the Catholic bishops conference in Dallas, Kinney was one of four bishops who introduced victims they had known to the group. When he returned to St. Cloud after the Dallas meeting, Bishop Kinney sent letters on Wednesday telling three priests that, although they were already no longer in parish ministry, the church's new "zero tolerance" policy meant they could no longer wear clerical garb or publicly present themselves as priests.

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