.- Cardinal Edward Egan has issued a letter to all pastors of the Archdiocese of New York, confronting, head-on, rumors of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse and who “claim that they have been the victim of unjust treatment, deception and lack of understanding” on the part of the cardinal.
The cardinal’s letter follows an anonymous and scathing letter which was sent by an anonymous group of clergy, and which casts the cardinal in a bad light and calls for his resignation.
“At the core of the letter, and the declaration in support of it by Msgr. Howard Calkins, are stories that are being told by priests who have been found guilty of sexually abusing minors after thorough treatment of their cases, according to well-established archdiocesan procedures,” the cardinal wrote.
“The archdiocese has always been careful to respect their privacy,” he wrote. However, he added, “this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
The cardinal went on to outline new procedures that will be undertaken in cases where priests have been found guilty of abusing a minor but “reported to be speaking untruthfully about the matter.”
“He will be called in to see me and invited to write a letter correcting his statements and offering his apology. His letter will then be made public,” the cardinal wrote. “If he refuses to write the letter, he will be asked to appear before a panel of six priests -- three members of the Presbyteral Council and three vicars -- to make his case. Thereafter, officials of the archdiocese will make our case. The panel will study the matter and issue a report to the Presbyteral Council.”
The cardinal said the faithful will be informed so as to protect the archdiocese from the dissemination of future falsehoods regarding the sexual abuse of minors.
The cardinal asked that the priests discuss the matter at their vicariate meetings in November and add to the agenda of the Presbyteral Council in December.
The cardinal said he intends to visit the 19 vicariates during their regular meetings in the new year and will review the new process he has adopted.