The goal is the truth

First slide

As top American prelates grapple with the latest fallout from the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge told the listeners of the Walk Humbly Podcast that he and his brother bishops know that the faithful expect results.

“It’s very serious, but it is very important to note that this is an investigation, and so we have to allow for that investigation to take place through a very deliberate process and with the ultimate goal of the truth surfacing,” Bishop Burbidge said.

“When bishops meet in November, which we do every November in Baltimore, we are well aware that we have to come out of that meeting with concrete actions and steps … as we continue in a specific way to look at a mechanism to hold bishops to a greater and more rigorous accountability,” Bishop Burbidge said.

His comments follow the Sept. 13 retirement of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va. Bishop Bransfield is under investigation for sexual harassment of adults.

To fill the leadership gap, Pope Francis appointed Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori as administrator of the West Virginia diocese and gave him a mandate to investigate the charges against Bishop Bransfield. 

“It’s very serious, but it is very important to note that this is an investigation, and so we have to allow for that investigation to take place through a very deliberate process and with the ultimate goal of the truth surfacing,” Bishop Burbidge said.

For a better understanding of the issue, Bishop Burbidge urged people to refer to Archbishop Lori’s Sept. 16 homily. (See story on page 3.)

“While (Archbishop Lori) will oversee the investigation and have to submit a report to Rome, the specific duties of carrying out the investigation will be delegated — which he is allowed to do — to a lay person with great expertise and background in this area so that all voices are heard,” Bishop Burbidge said.

In the podcast, Bishop Burbidge also spoke about the Sept. 13 exoneration by a district attorney of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., who was accused of sexual misconduct with a child.

Bishop Burbidge emphasized that unfounded allegations are a “disservice” to victims of abuse who often struggle with coming forward and telling their story; as well as the importance of due process with any allegation of sexual abuse.  

He also recounted how he was able to meet last weekend with Arlington seminarians studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. He said they are weathering the fallout from the crisis well.

“Every one of them said what we all say that (they) have various emotions as we go through this crisis, including sadness and anger and confusion, but to the man, every one of them said that at the seminary they are receiving tremendous support,” Bishop Burbidge said. “As I’ve said many times, I have great confidence in the seminaries that we are using, and the leadership and support being given to them.” 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018