Archbishop response to clergy sex abuse crisis

The Leaven (newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas)

August 31, 2018

By Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Recent weeks have been painful for all who love the church and our Catholic faith.

Catholics in the United States were rocked by the Aug. 14 Pennsylvania grand jury report revealing over a 70-year period that 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses had been accused of sexual abuse of more than a thousand children or adolescents. The accounts of what the victims endured are gut-wrenching and, frankly, depict despicable crimes perpetrated by those who were called to be protectors of God’s people.

While these were not new incidents that had only been recently discovered, the impetus of the grand jury report was to investigate how church authorities (bishops) had responded to victims, what consequences were imposed on perpetrators, and the actions taken to protect people from future harm. Sadly, the report showed many bishops were woefully negligent in their responsibilities.

The grand jury report came just a few weeks after the announcement that the Archdiocese of New York judged credible and substantiated a recent allegation regarding the abuse of minors occurring many years prior by then-Father Theodore McCarrick, who became the cardinal archbishop of Washington. Even more troubling were the simultaneous revelations that settlements had been made with adult victims of McCarrick by the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark where he had served previously as the diocesan bishop. Most of the adult victims were seminarians and priests.

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