Statement by Bishop Wilton Gregory
Thursday, June 13, 2002
"Today, we got down to work to resolve decades of pain. This morning, we began our formal proceedings by listening to Scott Appleby from Notre Dame University and Margaret Steinfels, Editor of Commonweal Magazine.
Both thoughtful and respected professionals, they made constructive observations, criticisms and recommendations for Bishops to consider as we confront the crisis of sexual abuse of minors.
I wanted to share with you, on behalf of all of the Bishops, my response to the stories told by the four victim survivors here today. Words are inadequate to express my admiration for the courage of Craig, Paula, Michael and David in coming forward to share their stories. I can say without fear of contradiction, that Bishops not only heard them, we listened and we were moved profoundly. They not only shared their stories, but even more importantly, we shared their tears, and we felt their agony.
What stood out for me, was not only the trauma of sexual abuses they suffered, but it was the breaking of the bond of trust between a priest in a position of authority and an innocent child, that was so profoundly moving.
We relived the crime of sexual abuse. But we also re-lived with them another crime. That crime was robbery. The robbery of their childhood.
Well, Craig, Paula, Michael and David and all the victim survivors, we cannot restore your innocent childhoods that were robbed from you. But we can prevent the robbery of other children's childhoods. That is what we pledge to do.
We pledge to remove the secrecy that Dr. Frawley-O'Dea called the cornerstone of sexual abuse. What David Clohessy called the "infected wound" can only be healed by openness, forthrightness and courage.
What you showed to us today is our model for healing – open, forthright and courageous action.
That is my pledge. David implored the faithful to "withhold your judgment, and not to settle for less than real change."
We intend to deliver on that pledge."