.- Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said after the release of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Study that bishops in the US are taking significant steps to better screen vocations and improve formation at the seminaries, and that there is still a strong commitment to improve measure to prevent sexual abuse.
“The picture that emerges sadly is one of those who broke faith with their people, their priesthood, and their religious vows,” said Bishop Gregory. He also highlighted, at the same time, that the report underscores “the fault of church leaders who failed to appreciate and effectively act on the gravity of the abuse problem.”
“The heartfelt sorrow that we feel for this violation and the often ineffective ways with which it was dealt has strengthened our commitment to do everything possible to see that it does not happen again,” he added.
Bishop Gregory recalled also that “Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has dedicated this present Lenten season to concern for children. In that spirit, I ask every bishop to make a concerted effort to reach out, in an individual, personal, and pastoral way, during this holy Lenten and Easter season, to all those abused as children and their families who have not yet been reached.”
Addressing priests, the President of the USCCB said that “both your bishops and your people know that the vast majority of you are faithful, generous, and upright men whose lives of dedicated service are very much valued and appreciated. Together we are called to greater holiness of life and integrity of ministry.”
In conclusion, addressing lay Catholics, Gregory promised that “as far as it is humanly possible to know such things, I assure you that known offenders are not in ministry. I can say with absolute assurance that the bishops now have in place the means of responding immediately to allegations, assisting victims, and removing offenders from ministry”.