The following are excepts from Bishop Thomas J. Tobin's column dealing with sexual abuse by priests.
For those who were abused: "In the name of the offenders, I ask your forgiveness and pray that the harm you have suffered will be healed and that it will not forever affect your perception of the church and practice of your faith."
Help: "The church has a moral imperative to provide whatever personal and pastoral assistance is necessary and helpful to the victims."
Policy: "Since 1994 we have had in place the Child Protection Policy, a good and effective policy that has among its purposes: To prevent child abuse through education and awareness programs; to adopt and implement fair procedures and due process for alleged victims and their families; to ensure a prompt pastoral response to alleged victims; and to define the actions to be taken by the diocese when complaints are received."
Allegations: "We are fortunate that to date in the Youngstown diocese we have received no reports of, nor are we aware of, any incidents of sexual abuse of children that have occurred in recent years. However, if any individual has credible information about incidents of abuse of children by any member of the church, there is a serious obligation to report it to the church and civil authorities without delay."
Reporting: "The diocese will report any new incidents of sexual abuse of children by our clergy (or others involved in the work of the church) to civil authorities and we will cooperate fully with any subsequent investigation. We will also strongly encourage parents of victims, or other responsible adults to report incidents of abuse to civil authorities. They have every opportunity, right and duty to do so."
The future: "Contrary to the public impression being given and received, this is not a time of grave sin in the church; the sinning took place many years ago, a generation or two ago. On the contrary, this is a courageous time of pruning, purification and renewal in the church, and through this painful process the church will emerge better and stronger than ever."