BALTIMORE — The Penn State scandal over a former football coach accused of sexually abusing young boys "reopens a wound" for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, a leading bishop said Monday.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the crisis reminds the bishops of their own failures to protect children.
In the church, the case of one abusive priest in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002 led to years of revelations that bishops throughout the country had moved guilty priests among churches without alerting parents or police. At Penn State, former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over 15 years, and school administrators have been accused of not doing enough to stop suspected abuse when it was reported to them. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty.
"It reopens a wound in the church as well," said Dolan, the New York archbishop. "We once again hang our heads in shame."
Dolan made the comments in response to a reporter's question at a national meeting of bishops in Baltimore.
He said the scandal shows that abuse of children is not limited to any particular faith or to clergy. Still, he said the church has "a long way to go" in making up for its mistakes.
Dolan said he'd welcome a partnership with Penn State administrators on a national education campaign to stop abuse. Among the bishops' reforms is safe environment training in each diocese for adults who work with children, which helps them identify when a young person is at risk.
"Our love and prayers go out to the victims, the families and the whole Penn State community," Dolan said. "I know it's a bit of a clichÉ, but we know what you're going through."