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Spotlight Report

Bishop writes of 'sorrow' over abuse

By Bill Dedman, Globe Correspondent, 2/20/2002

The leader of Roman Catholic bishops in the United States expressed "profound sorrow" yesterday for the cases of sexual abuse of children by priests.

The written statement by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, follows reports by the Globe Spotlight Team that the Archdiocese of Boston has known for decades about child molestation charges against dozens of priests.

"We understand that your children are your most precious gift," Gregory wrote. "They are our children as well, and we continue to apologize to the victims and to their parents and their loved ones for this failure in our pastoral responsibilities."

The conference of bishops does not set policy for the church; each bishop operates independently, on authority from Rome. But Gregory, bishop in Belleville, Ill., said the bishops renew their vow to protect youth from abuse.

"While we still have much for which we need to be forgiven -- and much to learn I am very heartened by the professionals who work with both victims and abusers who encourage us in this work . . .

"While we have made some tragic mistakes, we have attempted to be as honest and open about these cases as we can, especially in following the law on these matters and cooperating with civil authorities. We remain committed to seeing these initiatives implemented fully, because the Church must be a place of refuge and security, not a place of denial and distress."

This story ran on page B8 of the Boston Globe on 2/20/2002.
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