Media misleads over clergy sex abuse report

clergy sex abuse report

Misleading news about a clergy sex abuse report is drawing a US Catholic archbishop’s ire.

Many  articles don’t “provide a full or completely accurate picture” says Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore (pictured).

They overlook the Archdiocese’s accountability and enforcement efforts over the past 30 years.

The Maryland Attorney General’s 454-report says 156 people from the archdiocese were involved in abusing 600 children.

It names everyone who has been the subject of credible allegations of child sex abuse in Maryland. They include all known current and former Catholic clergy members, seminarians, deacons, members of Catholic religious orders, and other diocesan employees.

The child sex abuse allegations are mostly historic, the report notes. Most occurred between the 1940s and 2002.

Meantime, several Baltimore media outlets revealed the supposed identities of several priests and church officials whose names were redacted from the report to protect confidential grand jury materials.

They reiterated claims that those individuals were allegedly involved in the archdiocese’s cover-up of abuse and are still working for Maryland parishes.

Lori says that’s not true.

“I want to state unequivocally: No one who has been credibly accused of child abuse is in ministry today or employed by the Archdiocese,” Lori said in a May 12 statement.

Some names tied to media coverage focus on a “cover up” are the very people who helped force a culture change, he said.

They “rooted out evil and shut out attempts to conceal the failures or hide abusers.

“They were often the ones who made reports on alleged abuse.

“How is it cover up if you report everything to law enforcement?”

He noted in 2002 the US bishops implemented the Dallas Charter. It established procedures for dioceses to follow to address clergy sexual abuse allegations.

That generation of archdiocesan leadership helped the archdiocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection and Independent Review Board, Lori said.

They were the first to publish the archdiocese’s list of credibly accused clergy. They implemented policies for screening and training “tens of thousands of employees, volunteers, members of clergy and children.”

Learning curve

While the pioneers’ intentions and efforts were significant, Lori said their initial policies have been strengthened.

“Indeed, we have learned a lot … But to say that certain priests of this generation of leadership willingly or knowingly perpetuated the sexual abuse of children is simply not the case.

“They followed what were understood as the best practices of those decades and worked in good faith to improve the Church’s response.”

The report acknowledges this. It suggests though that the archdiocese should expand its credibly accused list to include everyone who committed child abuse under the archdiocese auspices.

They should also assess the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board structure to allow it more of an investigative capacity.

Lori said all archdiocesan clergy and staff follow strict compliance with its child protection policies.

“I believe now in the suitability of today’s pastors for ministry and their capable leadership and pastoral care, as well as their commitment to enforcing the child protection policies that some of them even helped to create,” he said.



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