Statement of Bishop Edward J. Burns
I am most disheartened in learning the details of the attorney general’s grand jury report on the history of abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. What I have read is heart-wrenching and I cringe at the thought that these criminal acts were conducted by men who were to be trusted. This report comes on the heels of the revelations of the egregious and sinful acts of one of the highest ranking clergymen in our country, Archbishop McCarrick, the former Cardinal of Washington, D.C.
I know the anger, betrayal and pain I feel is felt much more intensely by the victims and their loved ones. I know all of us who love our Faith can’t believe that we must once again ask the question, how could this happen in our Church?
We have taken tremendous measures to effectively screen candidates to the priesthood and to train all who work in the Catholic Church in order to maintain a safe environment. In the Diocese of Dallas alone, a total of 125,130 Individuals have completed Safe Environment training since 2008. Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania report is another example that we must do more and we have to do better. I support Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and his call to begin addressing abuse of power by bishops and major superiors. At the same time, I know that words alone will not address this issue and I am in the planning stages of taking some steps here in the Diocese of Dallas. These actions will be detailed in the near future after consultation with our Diocesan Review Board (the lay board that holds the Diocese of Dallas accountable in assuring a safe environment in the Church).
We must find a way to do a better job of protecting the people we serve, especially the most vulnerable. We cannot grow complacent or lukewarm in addressing this most critical issue. I recognize that my brother bishops and priests will only be able to restore the trust and credibility of our Church by truly being the men we say we are.
We must always pray for the victims of sexual abuse and their loved ones, that God our Father will bring them comfort and healing. Let us also fervently pray that the Holy Spirit will help us purge from the present and the future all the sins of the past.