LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Roman Catholic Archbishop Thomas Kelly, who approved settlements a year ago with 243 clergy sex abuse victims, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he felt a duty to move his archdiocese beyond the crisis before he retires.
Kelly, 73, is eligible for retirement in two years under church law. Last year, the Archdiocese of Louisville paid $25.7 million to the victims most of whom were molested before Kelly became archbishop in 1982.
''I feel a great responsibility to clean up as much of this as I can before it's time for me to retire,'' said Kelly, who has acknowledged knowing about a few accusations without removing the priests from ministry. ''I'm anxious also to prepare the way for my successor. I want him to find a church that is at peace, as much as that is possible.''
Some victims and their supporters have demanded that Kelly step down now, but he contended the majority of the 200,000 Catholics in the archdiocese want him to stay.
Kelly invited victims to meet with him and some did. Last month, a ''Service of Healing'' was organized by some of the more than 100 victims of the archdiocese's worst offender, the Rev. Louis Miller, who is serving 30 years in prison. Kelly has also had to cut jobs and increase parish assessments to offset the cost of the settlement.
Kelly said he's trying to persuade parishioners to have sympathy for victims. ''I feel the message is out there. That doesn't mean to say that everybody has heard it, or having heard it accepts it,'' he said.
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