US Bishop: abuse crisis not about ‘policies’ but priests committing ‘evil’
ARLINGTON, Virginia, August 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Virginia Bishop Michael Burbidge said the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis isn’t about lack of diocesan policies, rather, it’s about “evil” being committed by priests and bishops.
“Priests and bishops should not need policies to keep from committing immoral acts or to report heinous crimes to the authorities. We should need only a well-formed conscience, a commitment to Jesus Christ, and fidelity to the promises of our vocation,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
Explaining that he was ordained a bishop the same year the US Bishops enacted their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, Burbidge said he’d implemented the Charter’s policies throughout his time as a bishop, and offered assurance to members of his diocese that abuse allegations were reported to authorities and assessed by the Arlington diocesan review board.
But, he said, policies do not give a full accounting of the sexual abuse scandal.
“Policies are essential,” Bishop Burbidge said, “and they must continue to be implemented and followed.”
“This crisis, however, is not only about policies,” he stated, “it is about evil, the moral failings of priests, and at times a lack of courage and integrity on the part of bishops and other Church leaders.”
Burbidge wrote that he shared the suffering of victims of sexual abuse by clergy, as well as “the suffering of all who have lost trust and confidence in leaders of our Church.”
He said he felt anger and shame upon hearing about sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the “horrific accounts” in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and he apologized to the victims.
Evil must be rooted out, the bishop wrote, and young people must be protected.
The bishops said further that it’s natural for people to question their trust in the Church right now, but implored readers to, “Please always remember that Christ is Head of the Church and that he never fails us.”
Requesting prayers for the priests of the diocese, Burbidge said, “While the Lord in his divinity works through his bishops and priests, at times they in their humanity fail to protect the flock, even in the most disturbing ways.”
Fall-out continues since the Pennsylvania grand jury report’s release last week and revelations in June of allegations against disgraced now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick for abusing a minor. Members of the Catholic laity are increasingly calling for answers from Church leadership for how the abuse crisis was allowed to happen and continue for decades.
Since the McCarrick accusations were reported additional allegations against the disgraced cardinal have surfaced, unveiling that the actions of “Uncle Ted” - as he had dubbed himself to his targets - were a widely known “secret” in the Church and some media.
The exposure of McCarrick’s reported abuse of seminarians and young priests also prompted victims of other abusers to come forward with their experiences, signaling a widespread institutional network of same-sex abuse.