US bishops voice concern for abuse victims, thank Pope Benedict for leadership in dealing with abuse

The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voiced concern for victims of clergy sexual abuse and thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his leadership in handling abuse cases in a statement released this morning.

CNS will have a story soon. Here is the story.

The complete statement follows.

On behalf of the Catholic bishops of the United States, we, the members of the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, write both to express our deep concern for those harmed by the crime and sin of sexual abuse by clergy and to express our profound gratitude for the assistance that Pope Benedict XVI has given us in our efforts to respond to victims, deal with perpetrators and to create safe environments for children. The recent emergence of more reports of sexual abuse by clergy saddens and angers the church and causes us shame.  If there is anywhere that children should be safe, it should be in their homes and in the church.

We know from our experience how Pope Benedict is deeply concerned for those who have been harmed by sexual abuse and how he has strengthened the church’s response to victims and supported our efforts to deal with perpetrators. We continue to intensify our efforts to provide safe environments for children in our parishes and schools. Further, we work with others in our communities to address the prevalence of sexual abuse in the larger society.

One of the most touching moments of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States in 2008 was his private conversation with victims/survivors at the apostolic nunciature in Washington. Pope Benedict heard firsthand how sexual abuse has devastated lives. The Holy Father spoke with each person and provided every one time to speak freely to him. They shared their painful experiences and he listened, often clasping their hands and responding tenderly and reassuringly.

With the support of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, we bishops have made a vigorous commitment to do everything in our power to prevent abuse from happening to children. We live out this commitment through the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which calls us to respond with compassion to victims/survivors, to work diligently to screen those working with children and young people in the church, to provide child abuse awareness and prevention education, to report suspected abuse to civil law enforcement, and to account for our efforts to protect children and youth through an external annual national audit.

As we accompany Christ in his passion and death during this Holy Week, we stand with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in prayer for the victims of sexual abuse, for the entire church and for the world.

6 Responses

  1. May the trial lead to a more beautiful and credible Church. May God lead the people to givethe Mother Church another chance.

  2. The problem is this “emergence” is only emergence in the eyes of the public. The predecessors of these bishops were aware years ago the sexual abuse was taking place. They hid the abuse, ignored the wounds of the victims and shuffled the priests from parish to parish, diocese to diocese, and in some instances, country to country. These same bishops neglected faith formation and seminary formation, particularly with regard to the sanctity of life. (many of us went years without hearing a pro-life sermon). At the same time they used money from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to promote organizations like and including ACORN, promoting political careers of left wing politicians including Barack Obama with a socialist and pro-abortion philosophy. The good news is Pope Benedict is trying to turn this around and promote true Catholic values. He does this in the kind of bishops he is appointing. Our seminaries are now turning out priests who are truly formed in the values of the Church. Now, not surprisingly, the left is pointing at Pope Benedict and asking for his removal. Let us pray that Pope Benedict is recognized for the reformer he is. Let us pray left wing dissidents do not succeed in discrediting this good and holy man for their own purposes. Is there more work to do, more need for purification? absolutely!

  3. Since the revelations of sexual abuse against our most vulnerable population, children with disability, I can no longer just pray for the victims, or act as if the inaction of our bishops, or very slow, almost non-action, is justifiable in any way shape or form. We have a highly developed legal and justice system in this country, and I expect the bishops and the pope to use these systems. To go according to “canon law: only is wrong. In some parts of the world, law with no women involved, and separate from government , is called Sharia law. Keep the separation of church and state as this great country recognized over two hundred years ago. Abuse is abuse. It should be immediately reported, investigated, and prosecuted should that be deemed necessary. It is time for our bishops to recognize that the clergy has been damaged. It is time for change. Open the clergy to married men and to women.

  4. It is truly wrenching that these new stories of sexual abuse by clergy in the U.S. and so many European countries comes to us in and around Holy Week. Perhaps this timing was mean, and mean -spirited.

    No matter the intent or creed of the reporters though; 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin, in addition to all our other, previously known victims, and 1000’s+ of victims across the ocean are hard to ignore. Christ had a very hard week during the original Holy Week too, so maybe it is fitting after all, that this world of ugly trouble should be coming to us precisely now, while we are all thinking about how hurt he was, how brave he was, how selfless he was.

    Christ never, ever used his infintite power and resourses to protect himself or his mission. He used it, instead to help and protect the poor, the suffering, the children . He laid himsef down for them.

    Will His church now, resist doing the same thing? Will we cover our mistakes and continue to complain about how we are being abused in the press, for the sake of preserving our institution? Are we going to continue to walk over the children who lay injured in our path? Why? Why would we do that? That doesn’t sound like Christ to me.

    We should not be afraid . We are imperfect, and we as the Church can survive this. God knows that. But we will not survive it in good stead, until we all have a serious “Come to Jesus” at all levels of our church and ourselves about this unspeakable crime.

    This is so hard. God Bless us all.

  5. Was Cardinal Law being awarded a basilica in Rome an example of the Vatican’s” justice system”?

  6. Speak out to everyone. The bishops and the pope need to hear us speak.

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