Friday, December 23, 2005

Former Salt Lake Bishop to head S.F. archdiocese

From the San Jose Mercury News :

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the current bishop of Salt Lake City to lead the San Francisco archdiocese, which is considered by many to be among the most liberal in the nation.
Monsignor George Niederauer, 69, had served as bishop for the Salt Lake City diocese for about a decade. He began the job in San Francisco on Thursday and will be formally installed Feb. 15.
During a news conference, Niederauer said he was looking forward to meeting and working with San Francisco's community because it's ``richly varied -- socially, ethnically and culturally.''
He said he supports the church's teachings on abortion and same-sex marriage, though ``that doesn't mean I do not care about and want to serve everyone in the church. . . . We're not talking here about condemning, rejecting or labeling people.''
The Los Angeles native was ordained in 1962 and appointed to the Salt Lake City post in November 1994.
Niederauer said Thursday he was ``mistaken'' when he wrote a letter to a judge in the late 1980s urging leniency for Andrew Christian Andersen, a former Orange County priest who was convicted of 26 counts of child abuse. In his letter, Niederauer said the boys might have interpreted ``horse play'' as molesting. The judge sentenced Andersen to five years' probation and treatment. His parole was revoked in 1990, and he was sentenced to six years in state prison after his arrest in New Mexico for forcing a teenage boy into a car, assaulting him and trying to sodomize him. Andersen was removed from the priesthood in the mid-1990s.
``The church and I knew much less about this whole matter than we do now,'' Niederauer said.
Nonetheless, at least two survivors of sexual abuse by priests showed up at the news conference to meet Niederauer and give him a letter written on behalf of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
They urged him to release the names of potentially dangerous priests, suspend accused priests and reach out to heal the survivors of sex abuse, according to the letter.

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