BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori announced new measures to deal with church sexual abuse, after a national conference of bishops took no action on such reforms at a conference in Maryland last year.
“The church is in crisis,” Lori told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “We have zero tolerance.”
He offered an apology to those who have survived abuse.
Bishop Adam Parker said the church was in the process of turning over documents to Maryland’s Attorney General, whose office is investigating the abuses and how the church handled them.
The documents date back to the 1960s.
The archbishop defended the work done to publicly name accused priests by the late Cardinal William Keeler, but he said “it’s clear he did not handle everything according to the standards” now known to be necessary while Keeler was archbishop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
A grand jury report last year accused Keeler of inaction to protect children from pedophile priests and the archdiocese changed plans to name a new Catholic high school in Baltimore after him.
Baltimore also got national attention from “The Keepers”—a documentary that explored sexual abuse allegations against Father Joseph Maskell and the unsolved murder of a nun who knew the truth. Maskell denied the allegations and has since died.
“It’s a long and arduous journey toward restoration and renewal,” Lori said.
The church will now have an Independent Review Board that investigates abuse and other complaints filed on the archdiocese website. People can also call an ethics hotline at 1-888-572-8026.
Lori said the third-party review should instill trust.
Members include former Baltimore City police commissioner Fred Bealefeld. The chair is retired Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Murphy.
Bishops are also required to sign a new code of conduct to report abuse.