Statement by Bishop Baker: Pope John Paul II’s Holy Thursday letter to priests

The Holy Father’s recent statement on clerical sex abuse is consistent with his overall approach to the moral evils of our time. He does not skirt them, conceal them, or hide them. He is one of the world leaders who has always confronted the moral issues of the day openly, honestly, fairly and fearlessly.

He has in the past and continues today to condemn this evil forthrightly. He has identified child sexual abuse as among the most grievous forms of evil in our time.

I am alarmed by every single situation of child sexual abuse and am reminded of the Lord’s strong condemnation in the Scriptures of anyone who brings scandal to a child. I am filled with great sadness and concern for the suffering of the victims, their families and the Church as a whole and these sentiments I am expressing are shared by the dedicated priests, religious and lay people who labor with me to bring the Gospel to our people.

Aggressive action is being taken in our church to carefully identify any adult — clerical, religious, or layperson — known to have sexually abused a minor, and remove that person from any Church-related ministry. Our Church and our society deserve no less. The well-being of our children is at stake.

Together with people of other faiths, we hope to work together to foster the virtue of chastity in our society, without which there is no charity. Also, as religious leaders, we the clergy, will best foster that virtue by practicing it ourselves.