Toronto

Toronto archbishop addresses abuse scandal

The archbishop of Canada's largest archdiocese directly addressed the sexual abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church worldwide in a sermon at Toronto's St. Michael's cathedral on Sunday.

The archbishop of Canada's largest archdiocese directly addressed the sexual abuse scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church in a sermon at Toronto's St. Michael's cathedral on Sunday.

Archbishop Thomas Collins, who has a seven-minute video of an almost identical speech posted on the archdiocese website, repeated much of that statement during Sunday's sermon.

Collins admitted the sex abuse scandal, in which high-ranking church officials have been accused of covering up sexual abuse by priests, has shaken the world's one billion Catholics.

"It seems not a day goes by in recent weeks without hearing about Catholic priests who have sexually abused those entrusted to their care, or of its failure of their superiors to deal rightly with that," Collins said.

"To our shame, some have used the awesome gift of the priesthood for base gratification."

One bad priest can 'cause great suffering'

Collins called on the church to focus on helping victims and to scrutinize how it responds to abuse complaints.

"Our first concern must be for those innocent people who have been abused," said Collins. "To help them overcome their suffering and help them take whatever steps are needed to be as sure as possible this does not happen again."

"These scandals are fundamental exceptions of priestly goodness. Just one priest gone wrong can cause great suffering," he said.

Collins pointed to the Toronto archdiocese's procedures for handling abuse complains.

He said the archdiocese has issued invitations to experts on psychology, the law and ethics to participate in a panel to review abuse procedures. Recommendations on how they can be made more effective will be reported back to Collins by July 31.

"In the archdiocese of Toronto, for more than 20 years we have operated under sound protocols and procedures to deal with any accusation of misconduct, and they have served us well," he said.

Parishioners leaving the cathedral gave Collins's sermon positive reviews Sunday.

"The church has so many wonderful clergy [members] and unfortunately we had a few bad apples," Josephine Wan told CBC's Michael Dick. "We have to look at forgiveness and look after the people who have been abused. Hopefully, the church will take action so it will not happen again."

With files from CBC's Michael Dick

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