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Cardinal voices sorrow for clergy abuse, affirms commitment to child protection and helping survivors heal

(A new Maryland law reopening the chance to sue for damages over sexual abuse will take effect on Oct. 1. Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory wrote the following letter to people in The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington on Sept. 29, 2023.)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

With the passage of the Maryland Child Victims Act, I anticipate that our Archdiocese of Washington will receive claims involving past allegations of abuse by members of its clergy. Of course, I cannot speculate on how many cases may be filed. What I can and must do is express again how profoundly sorry I am for past acts of abuse that occurred within our cherished Church.

Our Archdiocese remains steadfastly committed to providing a safe environment for all young people entrusted to our care. The comprehensive child protection policy we first published in 1986 has been reviewed and updated regularly to reflect the very best practices. These efforts are overseen by an independent advisory board comprised primarily of lay experts in the field. Our archdiocesan policies mandate FBI background checks and training for all church and school employees and volunteers who have contact with children. We provide annual safe environment training to all children in our schools and religious education programs. In the last twenty years, the Archdiocese has spent approximately $7 million on training and other preventative measures.

Our policies mandate reporting of all allegations of abuse to appropriate authorities and cooperation with law enforcement. Anyone accused is placed on leave pending an investigation. Our Archdiocese maintains a zero-tolerance policy; that is, any cleric, lay employee, or volunteer who is found to have abused is immediately and permanently removed from ministry. 

I renew my pledge to continue these efforts, and I reaffirm our commitment to bring healing to survivors, their families, and the faithful.  More information on our child protection and safe environment policies, practices, and resources may be found at

A fact sheet is available at

With personal regards, may I remain, 

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

Wilton Cardinal Gregory, 

Archbishop of Washington