STEUBENVILLE - The pastoral leader of 39,000 Roman Catholics in Southeastern Ohio Friday urged parishioners to pray for the Catholic church and victims of abuse.
"Once again the Catholic church is faced with a barrage of news stories about people who have been deeply affected by abuse and reports of abuse. This is a serious matter within the church because abuse is a terrible crime and a sin for which there is no excuse," said Bishop R. Daniel Conlon during a meeting with area news reporters at the Diocese of Steubenville offices.
"Eight years ago we saw similar reports in the United States, and we now see it in European countries," he said.
ASKING FOR PRAYERS — Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville urged Catholics Friday to continue to pray for the church and victims of abuse.
-- Dave Gossett
"There are three points I would like to make today. The church is 2,000 years old, and we have faced a serious crisis during those years. There have been unsavory leaders during our church history. But we have managed with God's help to deal with those issues," remarked Conlon.
"We have made great strides in the United States, and we respond to any complaint," Conlon continued.
He instituted the Child Protection Decree in March 2002 and approved revisions to the program in 2009.
"And third, we must remember the church is made up of sinful people. But the church is made by God, and the church continues to do the work of God. We need to be confident of God's grace, and we will be able to do God's will. We have to be trusting and confident in God," stated Conlon.
He said he was not in a position to comment on recent allegations of abuse by Catholic priests in several European countries.
"I don't have any specific information about these cases. But I know that during our diocesan minimal dealings with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith then led by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), I thought our issues were handled very well," said Conlon.
Conlon said he decided to publicly address the abuse issues with local news reporters, "because there have been so many stories in the news."
"When you have an organization receiving so much negative attention you know members will have feelings about the issues. I want to address those feelings and concerns of my flock," explained Conlon.
"I have had a few people ask me about the abuse allegations. We have no current allegations we are dealing with in the Steubenville diocese. But it is my responsibility to provide pastoral leadership for the faithful in these 13 counties in Southeastern Ohio," said Conlon.
"I urge all Catholics in the diocese to pray for Pope Benedict and all Catholics in those countries dealing with the abuse issues," concluded Conlon.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)