Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl Racine announced earlier this week that his office has started to investigate the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. The investigation is focusing on clergy abuse, a problem that has been plaguing the church for decades.
Clergy abuse has been brought to light in recent months as part of a grand jury report highlighting abuse by more than 300 priests in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.
Racine spoke at an Oct. 23 Mayor-Council Breakfast, saying: “I can report that our office has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese — which is a nonprofit institution — violated the District’s Nonprofit Act by potentially covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.”
Local churches are not taking the instances lightly. Holy Trinity Church on N Street NW has responded to the crisis through a Season of Discernment, according to the Rev. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., pastor at the church.
“Over the past four months, more than a dozen parish listening sessions have occurred, in which hundreds of parishioners have participated,” Gillespie said. Since then, over 60 pages of parishioner responses have been compiled.
“On Sunday, Nov. 4, we are having a ‘Next Steps Parish Forum,’ whereby parishioners are invited to engage in conversations to decide action steps involving various themes extracted from the listening sessions,” Gillespie noted.
Racine announced a new portal for victims to report abuse to his office. The Office of the Attorney General will review all of the allegations and, if needed, refer instances to the authorities.
Persons who are victims of child sex abuse by clergy or have knowledge of it are asked to report it to ReportClergyAbusetoDCOAG.com.