Archbishop Addresses Crisis, Expresses Faith In Pope
Published: April 29, 2010
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, left, answers questions about the most recent sex abuse scandal confronting the Catholic Church during a press conference on the plaza at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta. It took place prior to the April 23 Mass with American Cardinals. Standing with Archbishop Gregory is The Catholic University of America president Father David O’Connell. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
ATLANTA—Questions about the clergy sexual abuse crisis dominated a 30-minute press conference held by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory prior to the Cardinals Mass on Friday, April 23. Archbishop Gregory spoke prior to the 21st American Cardinals Dinner, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to raise money for scholarships at The Catholic University of America.
The archbishop said he had confidence that Pope Benedict XVI knows the severity of the situation and will take the right steps to address the situation.
Archbishop Gregory, who was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, as the American bishops wrestled with the sexual abuse crisis, asserted that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “was the strongest voice” in the Holy See during that time.
Archbishop Gregory said the church around the world is going through what the American bishops did before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that calls for removing priests from ministry for abuse, creating a safe environment for children and young people and the establishment of a lay-led advisory board to handle these matters.
“Anytime we learn a child has been harmed, it is a great moment of sadness,” he said. “That moment is intensified when the perpetrator is a member of the clergy.”
While the American bishops have adopted careful and well thought-out protocols, the archbishop said it is unlikely the Vatican would adopt them as the universal policy without changes. He said other countries have different laws and legal procedures that would need to be taken into consideration.
But the pope is taking a pastoral approach, meeting individually with victims, as he did recently in Malta, said the archbishop. That is a much different experience than just reading about cases in a file, he said.
“That changes people,” Archbishop Gregory said.