March 14, 2005

Bishop offers abuse apology

Toledo Blade


In a long-awaited apology to victims of clergy sexual abuse, Bishop Leonard Blair yesterday addressed more than 200 parishioners, victims, and their supporters at St. Pius X Church - acknowledging the suffering of victims, inviting others to step forward, and declaring that Chet Warren, a former priest, had committed "grievously sinful and criminal" acts.

Dressed in traditional Lenten vestments, Bishop Blair turned to Teresa Bombrys, who had been abused as a child by then-Father Warren, at the end of morning Mass.

"I want to apologize to you, Teresa, in person and publicly as the bishop of Toledo for the harm you have suffered. And my apology goes to anyone who has been abused whether at this parish or anywhere in the diocese of Toledo," he said.

For more than seven minutes, Bishop Blair read from a prepared statement that was later lauded by victims as possibly a pivotal event in the continuing struggle between the diocese and victims of decades-old sexual abuse.

"I think that when we look back on this in history, today will stand out as a significant moment," said Barbara Blaine, an attorney and founder of the national support group for victims, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Ms. Blaine, too, had accused Mr. Warren of molesting her as a child. Yesterday's public apology prompted her return visit to the parish where she had been raised, and brought both her personal crusade and her national movement full circle.

Posted by kshaw at March 14, 2005 06:50 AM