Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori on Monday praised Pope Francis’ decision over the weekend to accept the resignation of a former Washington archbishop who has been accused of sexually abusing boys.
Lori said he was “shaken” by the revelations that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, had been accused of abusing boys and young priests and of sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.
In a statement posted to the Archdiocese of Baltimore website, Lori said that without changes to the church’s culture, “our credibility will continue to erode and we will fail in our duty to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ with integrity.”
Francis received McCarrick's letter offering to resign from the College of Cardinals on Friday, after a spate of allegations that the 88-year-old prelate had for years sexually abused boys and was guilty of sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.
Francis ordered McCarrick’s “suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial,” the Vatican announced Saturday.
Lori said Francis’ action “is a step in helping eliminate the evil of sexual abuse in our church and in building a culture of accountability and transparency, and I am grateful to the Holy Father for his actions.”
“We must make clear that we will not tolerate criminal and evil behavior, regardless of the rank and standing of the accused,” Lori added.
Lori, who has served as the 16th archbishop of Baltimore since 2012, noted revelations of sexual abuse by church officials in Australia and Chile and said he “strongly” supports Francis’ response to the scandals.
“Building on the Holy Father’s efforts to strengthen the accountability of bishops, some bishops in the United States are discussing proposals to do the same,” Lori said.
He said the proposed measures would make it easier for victims to report abuse by any member of the church.
“I will contribute actively to those discussions and will fully implement their results in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to best protect those in our local Catholic community and all those we serve,” Lori said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.