Accountability

Created: September 20, 2018

Last updated: June 17, 2019

A letter from Archbishop Lori:

Click here to read an update from Archbishop Lori (June 17, 2019).


A letter from Archbishop Lori:

May 10, 2019

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

www.archbalt.org


A letter from Archbishop Lori:

Feb. 26, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Last week, Pope Francis convened a gathering of Catholic leaders from across the world to devise consistent global standards and protocols for how Church leaders must deal with instances of sexual abuse. The meeting represented an important milestone in the Church’s long-standing efforts to rid the Church of abuse – efforts which have been undermined in the past by inconsistent and inappropriate handling of allegations.

The Church must finally get this right if we are to achieve true and lasting reform and healing, especially for those so grievously harmed. I believe the Holy Father is committed to achieving this goal.

Pope Francis rightly declared an “all-out-battle” against the scourge of sexual abuse of minors. During the Summit, he referred to these acts perpetrated by members of the clergy as “abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth.” It will now fall to the leaders of the Church in the Americas, Europe and Asia to define “concrete and effective measures” that will be applied consistently regardless of geography or culture. Since 2002, such measures have been in place here in the United States. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People requires zero tolerance, the review of all cases by lay review boards, and mandatory reporting to civil authorities, among other things. Evidence shows the Charter is working, as current allegations of child sexual abuse in the U.S. are extremely rare. But the recent case of Theodore McCarrick has exposed another area that must be addressed, that of bishops being held accountable for misconduct and handling of allegations.

In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we have not waited to act on this important measure of accountability. Zero tolerance means zero tolerance for any person – priest, lay employee, volunteer – and yes, bishop – who commits a criminal act of sexual abuse against a minor, who sexually harasses another person or who enables such heinous conduct. And any allegation against a bishop is made directly to members of the Archdiocese’s lay child abuse review board, with instructions that criminal complaints be immediately and directly reported to police.

We have no more urgent priority or solemn task than to rid our Church of this scourge which can only be characterized as criminal and evil, and to walk the long, arduous journey toward healing with victims and all whose mental, emotional and spiritual health has been harmed by criminal acts of abuse by representatives of the Church.
Reconvening with my brother bishops here in Baltimore in June, I intend to urge that the same rigorous requirements of accountability and transparency that we have implemented within the Archdiocese of Baltimore be similarly adopted in dioceses across our country.

In my many listening sessions and discussions with you over the past year, you have made it abundantly clear that we have no time to lose – and our commitment must be absolute. I wish to assure you that I – along with my brother bishops and the lay leadership of this Archdiocese – agree fully and share this sense of urgency.

Pope Francis reiterated his commitment asserting that “the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. I stand in solidarity with him in making this same pledge on behalf of our local Church. The life and renewal of the Catholic Church depends on clear and unequivocal action. We pledge our constant efforts to restoring the trust of those the Lord has asked us to lead, and to working tirelessly to bring about the renewal that Christ offers all who trust in Him.

Sincerely in Christ,

Archbishop William E. Lori


Archbishop Lori announces measures to combat sexual abuse crisis, hold local bishops accountable

During a Jan. 15 media briefing at the Catholic Center in Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori announced actions that will ensure even greater accountability and transparency in the way the Archdiocese of Baltimore handles allegations of abuse and misconduct by any and all bishops, priests, employees and volunteers.The new measures include the implementation of an independent third-party reporting system that includes the accountability also of bishops – something that has yet to be implemented on a national basis.

The system, known as Ethics Point, routes all such complaints directly to members of the Archdiocese’s Independent Review Board, currently led by two retired judges. The members would then report the allegations to civil authorities and to the Apostolic Nuncio, the pope’s envoy in the United States who is directly involved in the supervision and appointment of bishops.

Archbishop Lori also told members of the local media that he has asked the Independent Review Board to issue an annual report to parishioners regarding the Board’s review of the Archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases the prior year. In addition, he announced the Archdiocese was found to be in full compliance with mandatory child protection policies by an independent national auditing firm, which conducted its review in November 2018.


Click the video above or click here to watch the news briefing in its entirety.

Also see: 
– Baltimore archbishop takes steps to increase reporting of abuse, seeks to move archdiocese ahead on reform (Baltimore Sun)
– Baltimore archbishop implements new procedure for reporting allegations against bishops (WBAL-TV)
– New report highlights archdiocese’s response to child sexual abuse (Catholic Review)
– Review board develops policy on allegations against bishops (Catholic Review)
– Archdiocese passes child protection audit for 2018 (Catholic Review)
– News release: Archbishop Lori Announces Measures to Combat Sexual Abuse Crisis, Hold Local Bishops Accountable


Archbishop William Lori’s homily for the weekend of November 17/18, 2018:


Click above to view the video, or click here to listen to the audio version.

As a note, the Archbishop recorded this video prior to the meetings, where it was expected the bishops would vote on the episcopal accountability reforms. On multiple occasions throughout the public sessions, the Archbishop urged the leadership of the USCCB to take some formal measure of support from the bishops for the proposed reforms, as a way of signaling to our people that the bishops are fully behind efforts to hold bishops accountable, just as the Church holds accountable other members of the clergy, religious, lay employees and volunteers.


Below, read the Archbishop’s statement from 11/13/2018 about the announcement concerning the planned vote on episcopal accountability reforms. Archbishop Lori was among the first bishops today to urge leadership of the USCCB to include on the agenda some formal method for gauging the support of the body of bishops for the reforms that were to be voted on at the meetings this week.

Like many of my brother bishops, I have spent much of these past weeks and months listening to the laity, clergy and religious of my diocese. They face a crisis of identity and question the fundamentals on which they have based their faith. They are hurting and angry and they want change. And they rightly demand it yesterday. They want greater transparency, greater lay involvement—especially of women, and they want bishops to be held accountable the same way we hold others in ministry accountable.

They are sick of hearing “child sexual abuse” and the name of their Church uttered in the same breath and they can’t fathom how and why we are still struggling to rid the Church of the crime and sin of abuse that we have now been confronting conspicuously for some two decades.

In 2002, some of the faithful left, while others gave us the opportunity to create a robust and transparent approach to eradicating sexual abuse from the life of the Church. Most of us thought that what we put in place at that time was appropriate and sufficient.  Then came the summer of 2018, the events of which have caused many to understandably ask if the Church is systemically flawed, if it’s irreparably damaged and if it’s even possible to save.  They question if it’s possible that we still do not “get it.”

Believing in the inherent goodness of Christ’s Church, we came together this week to try and fix what’s broken and to humbly place ourselves in the center of necessary reform. Representing the Church in Baltimore and with the pain and suffering of abuse survivors ever present on my mind and in my heart, I affirm the measures on which we were prepared to vote and strongly advocate for a strict code of conduct to which we bishops must be held, and I further advocate for an independent body to which allegations against bishops can be reported. I wish this for the Church in the United States and for the Church in Baltimore and I pray these measures will give our people greater confidence that their Church is being led toward goodness and holiness by individuals who are, in fact, good and holy. This is an essential step to reminding our people that the Church is not any one priest and it’s not any one bishop. The Church is Jesus, the Body of Christ. The Church is the One whose love and grace flows forth through those who believe in Him to bring light to the world.  In this period of true crisis, may we have the courage to let His light pierce the prevailing darkness and shine through.


Resources:


A letter from Monsignor Woy

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

We live in an unparalleled time in the life of the Catholic Church in the United States. The sexual assault of children by members of the clergy and its coverup by Church leaders has unleashed feelings of anger, betrayal and disgust in all members of the Church. Abuses of the past, left unresolved, have created a lack of deeper healing for victims, a cause for many to question the Church’s effectiveness, and a thwarted message of evangelization. Over this past month since the release of the grand jury report issued by the attorney general of Pennsylvania and the credible accusations of misconduct by the former archbishop of Washington, Fr. Ewing and I have held a number of listening sessions with various groups of parishioners and staff. I thank those who have taken the time to speak with us and share their feelings and concern for our Church and those whose lives have been changed forever as victims of clergy sexual abuse.

It is apparent that members of the parish are looking for assurance and some answers that impact the life of our parish as we begin a new pastoral year and academic year. Many have articulated the need for concrete resolutions.

First, we are committed at the Cathedral to providing a safe environment for all the children entrusted to our pastoral care. Be it in the School of the Cathedral, the Sunday School of Religion or youth ministry program, the safety of children is absolutely paramount. Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has set high standards for the screening and training of employees and volunteers to assure a safe environment for children. Attached find “How the Church Responds When,” which summarizes how the Archdiocese responds to allegations of sexual abuse and what protocols are in place to assure a safe environment for children. It is a strict requirement of all volunteers and staff in our parish that they receive formal training in abuse prevention and protection of the vulnerable. It is our duty as a community to protect our members, and any violation of this expectation is not tolerated.

Many questions were posed during listening sessions concerning the Archdiocesan response to the abuse crises. Attached is a fact sheet summarizing that response. I believe you will find the information detailed in the sheet helpful.

These are challenging times, and there will be difficult days ahead as this dark chapter in the Church’s life continues to unfold. Admittedly, these crises reflect a failure on the highest levels of church leadership, for which a quick and easy solution on our part cannot be reached. Fr. Ewing, the parish staff, and I pledge that we will work every day to the best of our ability to care for the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Cathedral parish and school. It is our hope to restore your trust in the mission of the Church “one parish at a time.” Please pray for us. It is not an easy time to be a priest.

Since my arrival as Rector four (4) years ago, I have turned to the Pastoral Council for advice and counsel on how best to understand and respond to the needs of the parish. The council members are “my eyes and ears” in the larger parish community. The Pastoral Council exists to receive and relay the needs of all members of the community for the spiritual well-being of every parishioner. On our parish website, you will find names and pictures of council members. I encourage you to approach them and to voice whatever concerns you have about the parish, especially our response to the abuse crises. A special email address is now available, where you can also offer your concerns and comments. Messages sent to parishcouncil@cmoq.org are directed to council members.

In closing, I simply ask for your prayers to the Holy Spirit for the purification of Church, for the well-being of our parish, and for the healing of all victims of sexual abuse.

Sincerely,
(Rev. Msgr.) Richard W. Woy
Rector