May 2, 2002
Abuse of Children Is ‘Terrible Crime’
The following letter was read at Masses in the parishes of the archdiocese on the weekend of April 20-21.
My Dear Friends in the Lord,
As you know, the Holy Father has directed the cardinals of the United States to travel to Rome for a consultation regarding the tragedy of the abuse of minors by clergy. As I embark upon this important journey, I ask for your prayers for the success of this meeting.
The abuse of children and young people is a terrible crime. It must always be for us a top priority to care for them and to protect them. I will do everything in my power to ensure, as much as is humanly possible, that such abuse by clergy will never happen again. You should expect nothing less of me, and the other leaders of our Church.
Over the past 15 years, in both Bridgeport and New York, I consistently sought and acted upon the best independent advice available to me from medical experts and behavioral scientists. It is clear that today we have a much better understanding of this problem. If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry. Our present archdiocesan policy reflects the new and better understanding that we have now. Its principal objective is to prevent abuse and to act immediately when an allegation of abuse arises. Towards this end we are cooperating with the public authorities to guarantee that our children are safe and secure.
I ask all of you to join me in praying for those children who were the victims of abuse and for their families, and for all those who may have suffered, even indirectly, from the terrible actions of a small number of priests.
As we focus our efforts towards effectively addressing this problem, I also ask you to remember the goodness and dedication of the overwhelming majority of our priests. I am sure that you will agree that during these difficult times they have not faltered in their commitment to serve you. They need our prayers, support and encouragement.
May our Faith sustain all of us throughout this crisis.
Very truly yours in Christ,
Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York