By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says church leaders are strongly committed to protecting young people and addressing the fallout in the wake of clergy sex abuse scandals, including those in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who studied for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion, was recently elected president of the conference. He is now head of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Kurtz says he is supportive of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s direct and firm measures to deal with the crisis, but he concedes it’s an ongoing concern across the country for all bishops:
“We’re made great progress,” he says. “Is there more that needs to be done? You’d better believe it. To continue to create a safe environment, we need to do more. And I would also say that I hope that our example will be a help to other parts of society in which, sadly, abuse is all too common.”
Kurtz says the bishops conference has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on abuse of any kind – by clergy, employees or even volunteers in a diocese or archdiocese and is reaching out to the victims on a pastoral level.
He says transparency and public accountability are critical steps in the church’s goal of restoring the faith and trust of the community at large.