More than 150 members of the Catholic clergy are accused of "horrible and repeated" pedophile acts on at least 600 children, from the years 1940 to 2002 in Maryland, revealed Wednesday April 5 the American justice, denouncing the "complicity" of the Church.
These archdiocesan priests and staff "carried out repeated horrific acts on the most vulnerable children in their community, while the archdiocese's leadership turned a blind eye," according to a report by the prosecutor of this Northeastern state.
This document concerns the archdiocese of Baltimore, very close to the capital Washington. It is the result of an investigation opened in 2018, as in many other states, following a shock investigation in Pennsylvania.
Some 156 members of the Church are identified there, suspected of pedophile acts on more than 600 children. But the real number of their victims "is undoubtedly much higher", note the authorities, who recall that only a small proportion of rapes are reported.
They insist on the "complicity" of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which "refused to take into account the allegations of sexual violence against children". "When it became impossible to deny," the Church would simply move those involved into positions where they sometimes worked around children again, according to the prosecutor's office. “The Archdiocese was more concerned with avoiding scandals or negative publicity than with protecting children. This report, although official, does not constitute an indictment.
Apologies from the Archbishop
In 2018, a Pennsylvania Attorney's Office investigation uncovered pedophile acts committed by more than 300 "predatory priests" on at least 1,000 children, and covered up by the Catholic Church.
This report had caused shock waves in the United States, and many states had, in turn, discovered thousands of other victims.
For its own investigation, the Maryland Attorney's Office relied on hundreds of thousands of documents as well as testimonies from victims and witnesses. The overwhelming majority of those implicated are named, but most of them are deceased and therefore cannot be prosecuted.
After the report was released, Archbishop William Lori offered his "deepest apologies" to the victims, admitting in a statement that these "diabolical acts [had] taken place". He pledged that this "condemnable period" in the history of this archdiocese would be "neither concealed nor forgotten". "Radical changes" have been decided since the late 1990s "to put an end to this scourge," he said.