Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, who is chair of the bishops’ child and youth protection committee, said “general prayers and apologies are necessary, but not sufficient” for victims of sexual abuse.
The bishop, writing in a column for the Aug. 5 issue of The Catholic Moment, diocesan newspaper of Lafayette, said it is important to acknowledge victims and survivors of abuse and to give them “the present moment when someone has already stolen parts of their past and future.”
Regarding the sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington, Bishop Doherty said it has “renewed public inquiry about all of us bishops.”
He also said the U.S. bishops will need to examine a Pennsylvania grand jury report when it is released sometime in early August. The report is based on a months-long investigation by the state’s attorney general into sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Many of the claims go back decades.
Bishop Doherty said he is trying to frame his “disgust, anger and sorrow in some graced way” and has found some guidance from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 7, where he distinguishes between “sorrow for God’s sake” versus “worldly sorrow,” which brings death.
“I pray that ours will not be a worldly sorrow, ” he said, speaking of the U.S. bishops.
Bishop Doherty said the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick surprised him because he had never heard anything about them.
“There is evidence that various people made allegations and had reported them in the United States and in Rome. What has gone wrong? We deserve to find out. If the news is damaging, we have to hope it will damage and then help to correct an allegedly corrupt process,” he wrote.
He also said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will “have responses to the McCarrick reports and whatever else surfaces in Pennsylvania.”
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