Atlanta Archbishop Scolds Church Leadership, Says ‘Cloud Of Shame’ Hangs Over Church Because Of Sexual Abuse

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

The Archbishop of Atlanta lambasted Catholic leadership over the church’s series of sexual abuse scandals, saying it has brought a “cloud of shame” over priests.

Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Atlanta, delivered the scolding via video and written statement Thursday in response to the recent allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Gregory lamented that trust and admiration given to men like McCarrick had been misplaced and the inevitable result is innocent priests will be wrongfully judged as monsters. (RELATED: Former Papal Adviser Denounces Church’s Response To McCarrick As Too Weak)

“I express my profound anger, sadness, and distress concerning sexual abuse by Church leaders of children, young people and those over whom they exercised authority,” Gregory said in his statement.

People are angry, as well they should be, that our Church is once again viewed as a haven for criminal deviant behavior. I know our priests are hurt that they are again being judged with a jaundiced eye, as perhaps too dangerous to be trusted with the Church’s children.

‘Our people are disappointed with bishops in general who seemingly cannot or will not act decisively to heal this festering wound. They are perplexed and sickened that the Holy See may well have dismissed multiple warning signs that should have halted Theodore McCarrick and others earlier in their careers.

They are disheartened that situations both here in the United States and in other countries continue to dominate social media and call into question everything the Church has done to safeguard children and adults from manipulation and violation.

Gregory claimed that Catholics are especially enraged over the alleged abuse of young seminarians and children at the hands of McCarrick, and declared “any pastoral negligence in protecting our people is similarly grievous,” as exemplified in “Chile, Australia, Honduras, Guam and other places around the globe.”

“We are weary of this cloud of shame that continues to shroud Church leadership and compromise our mission,” said the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gregory said that he met recently with archdiocesan seminarians and commanded them to notify “Director of Vocations, one of the Auxiliary Bishops or me personally” if anyone ever, in any context, made advances or comments that made them uncomfortable.

He also called on the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to engage lay people in seeking new ways to prevent and properly address abuse, arguing that oversight by the laity might be the only effective way to truly curtail abuse in the church, since the trust of the bishops has been severely compromised.

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