WASHINGTON—A recent grand jury report from Altoona, Penn., and the award-winning movie “Spotlight” are painful reminders that the Catholic Church must remain vigilant in the efforts to protect children from “the scourge of abuse,” said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
“Once again, the wounds inflicted through these heinous crimes have caused great pain and further mistrust in the Church,” Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska, said in a statement. “We must never lose sight of the fact that every victim/survivor has personally experienced profound injury, suffering, and betrayal.”
Bishop Burns also highlighted the importance of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002. The charter established policies such as collaboration with law enforcement, the permanent removal of offenders and the creation and maintaining of safe environments for children.
The full statement follows:
A Statement on the Protection of Children
Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau
Chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People
March 3, 2016
This week brought painful, but important, reminders that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect children from the scourge of abuse. The movie “Spotlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It chronicles the courage of the victims and the journalists who told their story. In statements from Cardinal O’Malley in Boston and the Vatican newspaper in Rome, the Catholic Church renewed our determined and firm resolve to protect children and felt deep sorrow for the tremendous pain.
On Tuesday, we received news of a grand jury report out of Altoona, Pennsylvania. Although I can’t speak to the specifics in Altoona and would defer to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference as to any statewide impact, like everyone, I read the news with great pain.
It is heart wrenching and shocking to hear of this grand jury report or of any incidents of abuse, and it is even more disturbing when we learn that innocent children were abused by priests within the Church. Once again, the wounds inflicted through these heinous crimes have caused great pain and further mistrust in the Church. We must never lose sight of the fact that every victim/survivor has personally experienced profound injury, suffering, and betrayal.
These moments are a reminder why the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002, exists and must be followed. This highlights all the more the importance that we never grow complacent. As stated in the Charter, we are to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies, permanently remove those who have offended, and effectively create a safe environment for our children. Only with vigilance can we ensure that children are kept safe and so allow the Church to help our people in a process of healing and address the mistrust that rises from these cases.
CNS/photo Alessandro Di Meo, EPA: In this 2013 file photo, St. Peter’s Basilica is reflected in a puddle of water at the Vatican.