Miami Archdiocese Sorry for 'Sins of Few'

Bradenton Herald [Miami FL]
December 14, 2003

MIAMI - Apologizing for "the sins of a few," the Archdiocese of Miami is telling parishioners this weekend that 38 of its priests have been accused of sexual misconduct involving minors in the past 45 years.

In a report being released to its 110 parishes, the archdiocese notes that the accused priests make up just under 1 percent of the 4,302 priests who have served the Roman Catholic archdiocese since it was founded in 1958.

"The sins of a few and the failure of others to respond promptly have seriously damaged the trust that must exist between bishops and priests, bishops and the laity and between priests and their parishioners," Archbishop John C. Favalora wrote in a letter to parishioners.

"I, as the chief shepherd of the Archdiocese, express my most sincere apologies," Favalora wrote. "I also apologize for any action or inaction on my part that has lessened your sense of trust in the Catholic Church and its ministers. I encourage those harmed in this way to seek the healing, reconciliation and renewal that come from counseling, prayer and Christian hope."

The Miami Archdiocese is one of several around the country releasing data this month and forwarding it to the John Jay School of Criminal Justice for use in a report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The national report, due in February, will tally the number of abuse claims since the 1950s, as well as the costs for legal settlements with victims, attorneys' fees and therapy.

The Miami report does not detail when the allegations involving minors and clergy were reported, but at least 17 priests from the Miami Archdiocese have been accused of sexual misconduct since the clergy abuse scandal became a national crisis for the church early last year.

The archdiocese said it has paid $9.3 million in settlement, legal and counseling costs to victims of abuse cases since 1958, but said no parish funds were used to settle any claims.

The report also explained how the archdiocese is taking steps to prevent further sexual impropriety by clergy, including criminal background checks, installation of a code of conduct, psychological testing and training programs.

The Miami Archdiocese is among the nation's largest, with 430 priests serving 1.2 million Catholics.


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