Catholic Church Faces Problems

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As America's Catholic Bishops descend on Dallas for their annual conference, they carry the thoughts and prayers of nearly 50 million Catholics seeking some resolution to the priest-abuse scandal.

"They see that it is a problem and they are going to address that problem and try to assure people that it's not going to be glossed over and not going to be swept under the rug," said the Rev. Elvin Sunds, pastor of St.Patrick's Catholic Church in Meridian. "But it's going to be dealt with very forthrightly."

While many bishops are calling for a "zero-tolerance" policy towards abuse, Father Sunds expects all future cases will involve civil authorities, provide help and support for the victims and bring the removal of the perpetrators from the ministry.

There are roughly 2,000 Catholics in and around the Meridian area. Now while there have been no allegations of abuse here, Father Sunds says the national attention caused by this scandal has made his job a bit tougher.

"It certainly makes it a lot more stressful with this situation hanging over everybody's head in the Church," said Sunds. "But on the other hand, I've found a lot of support from our parishioners."

Sunds also said that, unfortunately, pedophilia is not a problem unique to the Catholic Church.

"It has happened in virtually every other church and it has happened in society in general," said Sunds. "I think because the Catholic Church is larger, it's easier to focus attention on the Catholic Church."

And finally, Sunds added that the number of priest-abusers is less than one percent, but that one individual is too many.