Archbishop says he’s heard pain, anger over sex abuse and plans to push for accountability
Archbishop George J. Lucas has heard from priests and lay Catholics about sexual abuse in the church. And this weekend he is responding.
Priests have been instructed to read remarks from the archbishop at all Masses, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor and spokesman for the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The remarks follow reports of sexual abuse by priests across the country and elsewhere, including allegations against the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
A grand jury report in Pennsylvania has accused some 300 priests of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1940s. And recent reports of misconduct by priests in the Diocese of Lincoln hit even closer to home.
“Many have been hurt and shamed by this abuse,” Lucas says in his remarks. “This hurt and shame are enduring because they took place where people should have been safe and respected.
“My shame is deepened by the knowledge that so many in positions of responsibility and trust ignored the cries of the victims and turned away when those who are so dear to the Lord needed their protection and care.”
The archbishop’s statement follows a meeting with a group of archdiocese priests that shared “the pain and anger of our parishioners,” according to the weekend statement. Clergy at the meeting “several days ago,” including Lucas, shared their desire for “proper accountability and for healing in the church.”
The archbishop said the priests pushed for him and other bishops to make sure that the church has structures in place to judge “allegations of misconduct on the part of bishops.”
“All must be able to have confidence that there are transparent and effective ways for bishops to be held accountable for their actions,” the statement says.
“Like so many of you, my brother priests are hurt and demoralized by what we have heard.”
Lucas encouraged all “to turn to Christ and beg his companionship in these days.” He said he is committed to fasting and praying each Thursday for mercy and healing for the church and has invited priests to join him.
Lucas is reassuring those in the pews this weekend that the archdiocese is committed to protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults and to healing victims of past abuse. The statement said abuse can be reported to Mary Beth Hanus, the archdiocese manager of victim outreach and prevention, at 402-827-3798 or 1-888-808-9055.
McNeil said abuse allegations are taken seriously and reported to police.