Archdiocese of Baltimore pushes back on reports claiming abusive priests still working

WBAL-TV, NBC-11 [Baltimore MD]

May 12, 2023

By UnknownThe Archdiocese of Baltimore is pushing back on reports that named child sexual abusers continue to work in the archdiocese. Video above: Attorneys to sue archdiocese over child sex abuse

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is pushing back on reports that named child sexual abusers continue to work in the archdiocese.

Video above: Attorneys to sue archdiocese over child sex abuse

In a new letter sent Friday to members of the archdiocese, Archbishop William Lori pushed back against recent reports that priests named in the report on clergy child sexual abuse are still working in the archdiocese.

Lori wrote, in part: “Some members of the clergy whose names have been tied more recently to media coverage focusing on the coverup are, in fact, some of the very people who helped force a culture change that rooted out evil and shut out attempts to conceal the failures or hide abusers.

“How is it a coverup if you report everything to law enforcement?”

Survivors of clergy abuse have called on Lori to step down. Earlier this week, they asked the archdiocese to release the names of abusers who are redacted in the attorney general’s report.

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office spent years on its investigation, and the resulting report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. The report found more than 150 Catholic priests and other Maryland clergy sexually abused more than 600 children and perpetually escaped accountability.

LISTReport lists abusers by name
LINKAttorney General’s Report: Child Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore

The archbishops letter follows in its entirety.

Dear Friends in Christ,

The report by the Maryland Office of Attorney General that documents the tremendous harm caused to innocent children and young people by some ministers of the church is horrific, deeply sad and an incredibly painful reminder of the past failures of the archdiocese.

In turn, headlines and media narratives have emerged in the weeks since its release, and what appears in many of these news stories does not provide a full or completely accurate picture and certainly does not detail in any way the 30-year history of the archdiocese’s accountability and enforcement efforts.

The opposite of “cover up” is accountability and transparency. The archdiocese significantly enhanced its accountability to the faithful and to the public at large beginning in 1993 by consistently reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement, even when the victim-survivor making the allegation was already an adult. The archdiocese has further demonstrated transparency by publishing a list of priests and brothers accused of child sexual abuse on our website, a measure which is undertaken by virtually no other institution outside of the Catholic Church. The archdiocese’s actions and decisions regarding each allegation of child sexual abuse have been scrutinized by an Independent Review Board for 30 years to ensure absolute accountability and avoid any possibility of “cover up.”

And so, I want to state unequivocally: No one who has been credibly accused of child abuse is in ministry today or employed by the archdiocese.

Some members of clergy whose names have been tied more recently to media coverage focusing on a “cover up” are, in fact, some of the very people who helped force a culture change that rooted out evil and shut out attempts to conceal the failures or hide abusers. How is it a cover up if you report everything to law enforcement? Among this generation of Archdiocesan leadership are those who created the Office of Child and Youth Protection and the Independent Review Board. They also ushered in the era of reporting allegations of abuse to law enforcement — and in many cases were the very ones who made such reports. They also took the pioneering steps to publish the list of credibly accused priests and brothers mentioned above when the archdiocese was only the second diocese in the country to do so at the time. They, too, implemented the policies for screening and training of tens of thousands of employees, volunteers, members of clergy and children, as well.

Even so, while this is today’s strong and effective stance, to be sure, allegations of child sexual abuse were not always handled in this way decades ago. Indeed, we have learned a lot along the way, and as a result our response today is different. 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.

All clergy and staff employed by the archdiocese are committed to a culture where child protection is paramount. This includes various actions in strict compliance with our child protection policies. We report to law enforcement all allegations. We mandate the trainings and screenings that are central to our culture of accountability, and we recognize our responsibility to respond pastorally to all those who have been harmed by ministers of the church. To be clear, over the past decades we have endeavored to learn from our mistakes and improve on all of our efforts aimed at preventing the abuse of even one more child.

I believe now in the suitability of today’s pastors for ministry and in 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.

Before I conclude this letter, I ask for you to join me in praying that this public accounting of historical failures will bring healing to victim-survivors, peace to the faithful and reconciliation to the church.

Faithfully in Christ,
The Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore


Maryland Attorney General’s

Church Sex Abuse Investigation

In the 1990s, the Archdiocese of Baltimore received complaints of sexual abuse involving some of its priests dating back decades.

Our sister station, WCVB, reported the clergy sex abuse scandal exploded in Boston in 2002 after The Boston Globe revealed that dozens of priests had molested and raped children for decades, while church supervisors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.

In 2018, a sweeping Pennsylvania grand jury report accused senior church officials of systematically covering up complaints involving more than 1,000 children who were molested by roughly 300 Roman Catholic priests since the 1940s.

More victims in Baltimore came forward thereafter, leading the diocese to publish the names of dozens of clergy members accused of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1950s. The Maryland attorney general’s opened an investigation in 2018 that ultimately revealed decades of child sexual abuse and leadership’s efforts to cover it up.

The following is a timeline of the events that followed.

June 1, 2017

The Netflix documentary series “The Keepers” reveals a long-standing and baffling cold case, focusing on a Baltimore County police investigation into the disappearance and killing of Sister Cathy Cesnik. – Story

June 2, 2017

“The Keepers” focuses on a killing and years of molestation at a Baltimore high school, and it has helped to bring more victims to light. – Story

June 6, 2017

The story of young women who say they were abused at Archbishop Keough High School in the late 1960s through the early 1970s is highlighted in “The Keepers.” – Watch: Victim speaks out to 11 News

Aug. 16, 2018

Baltimore sexual abuse victims hope release of grand jury report in Pennsylvania will lead to action in Maryland. – Story

Sept. 25, 2018

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh launches a review of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. – Story

Nov. 9, 2018

11 News I-Team Exclusive: Baltimore Archbishop William Lori addresses church sex abuse scandal: “We have to be held to the same high standard we hold our priests and lay employees and volunteers to. We should have the same standards and the same consequence.” – Watch

April 24, 2019

The archdiocese announces an additional 23 names of deceased priests and brothers previously and credibly accused of child sexual abuse to the diocese’s online list. – Story

Nov. 17, 2022

Frosh files a motion to release an investigative report of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. – Story

Nov. 18, 2022

Court issues ruling, redacted report can be released after redacted copy is prepared.- Story

Feb. 24, 2023

Sexual abuse survivors call on report to be released, investigation expanded. – Story

March 15, 2023

Court receives redacted report for review. – Story

April 4, 2023

Judge authorizes report’s release. – Story

April 5, 2023

Attorney General Anthony Brown’s office released the report, which reveals decades of child sexual abuse and the archdiocese leadership’s efforts to cover it up. The report lists 156 current or former Catholic clergy, seminarians, deacons, teachers at Catholic schools, others as having abused hundreds of children.

Read the Report | Victims | List of Abusers | Exclusive: Lori responds | Signs to watch forThe same day of the report’s release, the Maryland House bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases, the Child Victims Act of 2023, was approved and sent to the governor. – Previous Report on the Bill

April 14, 2023

A reignited controversy over naming names is brewing over the attorney general’s report on child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The archdiocese posted a new FAQ page on its website about the attorney general’s report. The attorney general’s office released a series of statements, saying most of what the archdiocese said is untrue, misleading and unfair to survivors. – Story

May 9, 2023

Attorneys Ben Crump and Adam Slater put the Archdiocese of Baltimore on notice for lawsuits months before a new state law eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits. (Story)