LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Regional governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote during the coming year on whether to automatically put ministers accused of sexual misconduct on leave while their cases are investigated.
The Louisville-based denomination's national assembly sent the measure for balloting by its 173 regional ''presbyteries.'' If the presbyteries approve it, the measure will become church law.
The proposal has faced opposition. The denomination's committee on the church constitution has questioned it, and critics fear clergy could be denied due process rights or have reputations damaged by false accusations.
While cases of Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse have drawn wide attention, recent accusations have been leveled against Presbyterian ministers in Illinois, New York and Texas.
The U.S. Catholic bishops last year decided to remove any priest from active ministry for a single instance of sexually abusing a minor, though technically they may remain in the clergy.
Presbyterians leave penalties up to each presbytery, though an official said admitted abusers almost always resign from the ministry.
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