BALTIMORE, Md. — Weeks before a worldwide papal conference in Rome addresses cases of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, Baltimore’s Archbishop is getting a head start on bringing reform.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said “I talked to a lot of people in the Archdiocese, lay people, parishioners, parish leaders, my own team, and said listen, we can do this ourselves.”
The Catholic Church is in the midst of a crisis causing many parishioners to question their faith.
“We certainly need to address this crisis forthrightly, but we also need to share what we have done to rid the church of the scourge of sexual abuse, and to address the crisis by reestablishing the bonds of trust,” Lori said.
Thousands of survivors have accused thousands of priests worldwide of decades of sexual abuse. Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has released the names of nearly 100 credibly-accused clergy. It’s currently turning over hundreds of files dating back to 1965, to the Maryland Attorney General’s office.
Archdiocese of Baltimore Bishop Adam Parker said “there are specific files that they have asked to see and our internal team is in the process of gathering them. They are being produced for them, and that's on a rolling basis. There are quite a few files to be produced, and we have already delivered over 50,000 pages to the Attorney General. So, it’s a very significant project.”
“It’s a very significant undertaking for us, but one that we’re taking very seriously. And, in order to be as open and transparent as is possible,” Parker added.
Many victims have sought the church to release more information on the histories of the accused.
“The outreach and pastoral care for victims-survivors has to be really a very big priority in all of this. We can never forget the people that have been harmed,” Lori said.
“Sometimes we do this in our private conversations with victims-survivors. What we have done in releasing the names, as you might have noticed is we didn’t simply just put down the name of the credibly-accused. “We put in there a lot of information about each of them, including when the allegation was made, and when we acted upon it,” Lori added.
It may not have been enough information for some survivors, but Archbishop Lori wants to restore trust in the church with a series of reforms to update its child protection policies.
Those new polices include a ‘code of conduct’ for bishops to sign, an online reporting system called ‘Ethics Point,’ and the creation of an independent review board to receive and handle reports of abuse.
“They will look at it, they will investigate it, they will report to law enforcement, they will report to the Pope's representative in Washington, the Papal Nuncio,” Lori said.
WMAR-2 News asked Archbishop Lori what he thinks about the accused clergy who created the sex scandal within the church.
“I would hope that like all of us who are sinners, myself include survivors, there would be in their mind and heart and soul, some sense of the damage they did, not first and foremost to the institution of the church, although that damage has been great, but to the victims,” Lori said.