West News Wire: In a recently released report from Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown, more than 150 priests and other members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore are charged with sexually abusing more than 600 children.
According to the investigation, which looked into tens of thousands of papers dating back to the 1940s, there were “likely far more” mistreated children than 600.
In the study, it was said that “the sheer number of abusers and victims, the depravity of the abusers’ behavior, and the frequency with which known abusers were given the opportunity to continue preying upon children are astonishing.”
The Archdiocese of Baltimore was founded in 1789 and is the country’s first diocese.
In its inquiry, which was launched in 2018, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General looked for cases of abuse, but also the effort by leadership to cover up the illegal behavior.
“While every victim’s story is unique, together they reveal themes and behaviors typical of adults who sexually abuse children, and of those who enable abuse by concealing it,” read the report. “What was consistent throughout was the absolute authority and power these abusive priests and church leadership held over victims, their families and their communities.”
The 463-page report offers detailed accounts of the abuse, as well as the impact that abuse had on victims some of whom faced substance abuse, depression, anxiety, attempted suicide and other mental health conditions and challenges in the years after.
The report accuses Archdiocese leaders of dismissing reports of abuse, exhibiting “little to no concern for victims,” and failing to “adequately investigate complaints.”
Archbishop William E. Lori apologized to survivors for the “harm caused” by the Church in response to the report. He said the report captures a period in the Archdiocese’s past “when our response to such allegations was woefully inadequate.”
“We hear you. We believe you and your courageous voices have made a difference,” an April 5 statement read.
Lori said he met with victim-survivors on his first day as Archbishop, and argues the Church is working to ensure “transparency and accountability” in responding to reports of abuse.
He continued, “Through difficult, although deeply meaningful, meetings, I have experienced your brave witness, and the power of your words and testimony compel my personal conviction to ensure we do everything possible to prevent future incidents of abuse and promote healing for survivors.”
The agency also recommended the expansion of public accountability for those who commit an act of child abuse.