Palm Beach Bishop Apologizes to All Church Abuse Victims

Herald-Tribune [Palm Beach Gardens FL]
Downloaded June 19, 2003

The bishop of a diocese that lost its two previous bishops to sex scandals has apologized to the church's victims and vowed to permanently remove all abusive priests.

"I realize that no words can ever make up for the pain and betrayal you have experienced, but I want to try to do what I can to promote healing for you and for all those affected by this abuse," Bishop Sean O'Malley wrote in letter to the Diocese of Palm Beach.

O'Malley offered victims counseling and an assurance that other children would be protected.

"The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to immediate reporting of all incidences of alleged abuse by church personnel to the proper authorities," O'Malley said in the letter, published in The Florida Catholic magazine last week. "And we pledge full cooperation with those authorities in their investigation. There will be no coverup."

The Palm Beach Diocese has complied with a national survey designed to determine how many priests have been accused of sexual abuse since 1950, how the cases were handled and how much they cost the church. It will also participate in an audit designed to check compliance with new sexual abuse prevention standards adopted last year.

O'Malley was installed as bishop last October, replacing Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell. O'Connell resigned in March 2002 after he admitted that he spent time naked in bed with one of his students at the Missouri seminary where he taught in the late 1970s. The student had turned to O'Connell for counseling after being molested by another priest.

In 1998, former Palm Beach Bishop J. Keith Symons abruptly resigned after admitting he molested five altar boys decades earlier.


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