Abuse in the Catholic Church . . .
Finding a Way Forward
This page includes important coverage about recent developments in the sexual abuse scandal and the church's response to it. This material may help answer some of your questions and concerns about the issues.
An Update from Archbishop William Lori
Dear Friends in Christ,
The past year has been difficult for many in our Church. Over the past months, we found ourselves discussing, yet again, the Church’s failure to appropriately handle allegations of child sexual abuse and abuse of power by those in authority. Many of you have had these difficult conversations with friends and family members. Many experienced internal struggles over questions about the Church’s leadership and governance – and some were led to question even the faith itself.
During the many listening sessions and parish visits I conducted over the past year, I have tried to listen to the questions so many have been asking and to appreciate the anguish and anger many have felt. Many of you generously shared your feelings and frustrations and your struggles. By doing so, you helped me and my co-workers to better understand what our Church needs to do to heal and to become safer and once again worthy of your trust. It guided the actions I’ve taken since then, including implementing the first-of-its-kind third-party reporting system for allegations against bishops. I expanded the responsibilities of our independent child abuse review board to include receiving allegations against bishops and issuing public reports of their important work reviewing the Archdiocese’s handling of abuse allegations. These and other steps are described in greater detail in this story by The Catholic Review.
I write also to share news of new Church law created this week by Pope Francis, who also clearly heard the voices of people throughout the world. The law announced this week establishes uniform and universal requirements for allegations of child sexual abuse, as well as for those who abuse their authority, including bishops. In addition to mandating how allegations of child sexual abuse are handled, the Pope also calls for clear standards of pastoral support for victims and their families and for whistleblower protections for those making allegations. I am further heartened that the Pope places emphasis on the handling of allegations of those who abuse vulnerable adults and on allegations of sexual abuse through intimidation and coercion by those in positions of authority.
More about these new safeguards and protocols is included in the article. I pray it gives you renewed confidence and faith that the Church is listening to God’s people and enacting measures that will bring about true and lasting reform and renewal for the Good of our Church.
May God bless us and keep us always in His love!
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Archdiocese, Review Board release 2018 reports on child and youth protection
More than 30,000 adults and 39,000 children received safe environment training in the 2018 fiscal year, according to the annual child protection report from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. More.
Archdiocesan leaders respond to pope’s reforms on accountability
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori welcomed Pope Francis’ May 9 document clarifying and revising norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse. More.
Archbishop Lori: Church has many reasons to get right response to child sexual abuse
A week into National Child Abuse Protection Month, Archbishop William E. Lori visited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops chapel to celebrate midday Mass for employees of the conference to reflect on the church’s work to develop policies and procedures to prevent child abuse by those within the church. More.
Pope: No more excuses; time for ‘all-out battle’ against crime of abuse
The time has come for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth, Pope Francis said, closing a global four-day summit on child protection in the Catholic Church. More.
Archdiocese of Baltimore to hold virtual town-hall meetings for input on sexual abuse crisis
September 21, 2018 Catholic Review Staff
Archbishop William E. Lori spent the five weeks after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report listening to clergy, seminarians, educators and laity with meetings, listening sessions and chatting with parishioners after Mass on at least eight occasions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to download a fact sheet about frequently asked questions concerning the abuse crisis and the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s response.
Click here to download an information graphic about the abuse crisis.
Click here for information about the upcoming Listening Session on September 25 in Libertytown.
Accountability: A Reflection by Archbishop Lori
Accountability: A Reflection by Archbishop Lori
Catholic Baltimore Radio Interviews
Jerri Burkhardt, director of the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection, speaks about the charter for the protection of children in this Sept. 24, 2017 radio interview:
Archbishop Lori speaks about accountability during the following Aug. 12, 2018 radio interview:
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct
September 19, 2018, Catholic Review Staff
WASHINGTON — Pledging to “heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us,” the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee Sept. 19 outlined actions to address the abuse crisis, including approving the establishment of a third-party confidential reporting system for claims of any abuse by bishops.
Archbishop Lori hears faithful’s concerns about scandals
September 18, 2018, Catholic Review Staff
In the five weeks after a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report detailing allegations of sexual abuse of more than 1,000 minors by 301 priests, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore visited more than a dozen locations in the archdiocese to hear the comments and concerns of the faithful about the scandals in the church.
The archbishop met with priests, deacons, seminarians and Catholic Center staff, and he addressed Catholic school educators at a convocation in late August. Along with the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops and the vicar for clergy, he conducted regional listening sessions at three locations, meeting with principals and some teachers and staff in the afternoon and with pastors and parish leaders in the evening.
Pope Francis appoints Archbishop Lori as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is seen at Wheeling Hospital in this February 2017 photo. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation as bishop of the diocese Sept. 13 and appointed Archbishop William E. Lori as apostolic administrator. (CNS photo/Colleen Rowan, The Catholic Spirit)
Fr. Kevin outlines parish action plan in response to the abuse crisis in the Church
September 9, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are so grateful for all of the parishioners who have taken the time to share their thoughts, questions and concerns regarding the crisis in the Church. Please know our parish staff is working with great determination and pastoral concern to best address the concerns raised by our parishioners. If I might explain what we are currently doing and offer some thoughts for the very near future:
1. We stand in solidarity and support all victims, and those who have supported victims. Survivors of child sexual abuse deserve to be listened to. We promise to listen and to act on their behalf.
2. As priests, we continue to address the current abuse scandal. This is an issue of justice and the Word of God demands that we address it.
Fr. Kevin reflects on Pa. Grand Jury Report
August 31, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This year, I celebrate 25 years of being a priest. I have been blest to serve the Lord and his people. I love priesthood, I love the many ways that people have invited me into their lives.
These past couple of days, however, I have felt sucker punched. Listening to the pain of survivors of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania has been gut-wrenching. My heart bleeds for those who have had the strength to come forward with courage and dignity, and speak of their abuse. My heart bleeds as well for those survivors who bare their pain in silence, unable or unwilling to speak about the unspeakable. I ache for their families and friends who walk with the pain of those who have been abused, but can only walk so far; they cannot understand a survivor’s daily reality.
Archbishop Lori says allegations open old wounds for abuse victims
August 14, 2018
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore acknowledged the renewed pain and anger caused by clergy sexual abuse following the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that details some of the actions taken by Cardinal William H. Keeler when he was a bishop in Pennsylvania.
“At this difficult time in the life of the church, we in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are especially saddened and troubled by the news of the late Cardinal William H. Keeler’s failures while serving as Bishop of Harrisburg, one of six dioceses cited in the grand jury report,” Archbishop Lori said in a statement Aug. 14. More