Cardinal O’Malley laments ‘egregious failures to protect children’ in wake of scathing PA grand jury report

BOSTON (WHDH) - Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley issued a statement Thursday addressing a shocking grand jury report that found that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s, and senior church officials covered up the abuse.

“There are times when words fail us – when they do not capture the depth of overwhelming situations we sometimes face in life. For the Church in the United States this is one of those times,” O’Malley wrote. “The Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report and the first-hand expressions of horror and devastating pain experienced by survivors once again wrench our hearts with the unimaginable that tragically is all too real for those who carry this pain. Once again we hear each excruciating word they share. We remain shamed by these egregious failures to protect children and those who are vulnerable and affirm our commitment that these failures will never be repeated.”

O’Malley went on to say that the Catholic Church “must embrace spiritual conversion and demand legal transparency and pastoral accountability for all who carry out its mission. This transformation is not easily achieved, but in all aspects it is imperative. The way we prepare priests, the way we exercise pastoral leadership and the way we cooperate with civil authorities; all these have to be consistently better than has been the case.”

The report, which found that the actual number of victims could be in the thousands, put the number of abusive clergy at more than 300 — 100 of whom are dead.

“As I have stated previously, there are immediate actions that we can and must take. The clock is ticking for all of us in Church leadership, Catholics have lost patience with us and civil society has lost confidence in us. But I am not without hope and do not succumb to despondent acceptance that our failures cannot be corrected,” O’Malley continued. “As the Church we have the responsibility to help people not to lose hope, that was Jesus’ message to all those he ministered to, especially in times of great trial. There is too much good in the Church and in our faith to lose hope. Often it is survivors who courageously teach us we cannot lose hope.”

“The crisis we face is the product of clerical sins and clerical failures. As a Church, the conversion, transparency and accountability we need is only possible with the significant involvement and leadership of lay men and women in our Church, individuals who can bring their competence, experience and skills to the task we face. We need the help of the laity to address this scourge on our people and Church. If the Church proceeds with deep recognition of these realities the future can hold the opportunity to earn back trust, confidence and support from the community of Catholics and our society. We must proceed quickly and with purpose; there is no time to waste.”

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