Baltimore archbishop addresses clergy child abuse ahead of expected public report

Archbishop Lori Archbishop William E. Lori. | Katie Yoder/CNA

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori in a letter to parishioners Monday addressed “the evil of child abuse” ahead of the expected release of a Maryland attorney general report detailing decades of abuse in the archdiocese.

“On behalf of the archdiocese, I offer my heartfelt apology to the victim-survivors and their families,” Lori wrote. “More than anything, in this moment, though, I want to pause to recognize and validate that the vile and horrifying abuse that is the subject of the attorney general’s investigation represents a grave betrayal, and that it has had devastating consequences for victim-survivors.” 

The 456-page report compiled by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh will be released this Wednesday, according to the Baltimore Sun. 

Besides detailing victims’ abuse at the hands of clergy members, the report is said to contain the names of over 150 Baltimore priests responsible for abusing over 600 children between the 1940s and 1990s.

Though a judge ruled the report confidential in December 2022, Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Taylor Jr. issued an order that a redacted version of the report be released to the public.

Neither Lori nor the archdiocese has opposed making the report public. In his Monday letter, Lori said he hopes “this public accounting” will “help to usher in a new era of peace for people who were harmed, strength for our communities of faith, and restoration for the Church in Maryland and beyond.”

While admitting the Church’s failings during the investigated period, Lori’s letter asserted that the archdiocese has changed its policies and become a leader in responding to and combatting the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

“No one credibly accused of child abuse is in ministry in the archdiocese today,” Lori stated. “For decades, the archdiocese has also been reporting allegations to law enforcement when they are learned.” 

Despite these more recent strides, Lori expects the attorney general’s report will reveal grievous abuses and sins on the part of the Church. 

“The report covers a period in the archdiocese’s past when our response to such allegations was woefully inadequate. Much has been and will be said about our failures in this regard,” Lori said. “All of this will be devastating to read, especially for victim-survivors, and yet another painful reminder of failings in the Church’s past and the terrible harm inflicted on many innocent children.” 

Lori has been archbishop of Baltimore since 2012 and was not in charge during the period under investigation. Nevertheless, he has faced criticism because of the abuses being revealed. In December a group of survivors and advocates accused Lori of attempting to cover up the abuses and called for his resignation, the Baltimore news outlet WBAL-TV 11 reported

In his letter, Lori stated: “I am committed to accompanying the parishioners of the archdiocese as you each seek to come to terms with the contents of the report.”

“Please pray that God’s loving presence brings victim-survivors lasting comfort and complete healing,” he added. “Pray for the Lord Jesus Christ to guide his Church on a continued path toward reconciliation. Pray that our collective sorrow is forever channeled into the steadfast protection of all of God’s children.”

Lori also announced he will be issuing a full response and pastoral letter following the report’s release. 

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