It was not lost on the child sexual abuse survivors who stood in front of the Archdiocese of Baltimore headquarters on Cathedral Street that it was Good Friday.

“I would ask if you want to be a good Catholic, a responsible Catholic, instead of when you go to church today, reading your prayer book, I would urge you to read the report,” said David Lorenz, leader of the Maryland chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, at a press conference there Friday.

Lorenz was referring to the Maryland Office of the Attorney General report released Wednesday, which details decades of child sexual abuse and said more than 100 priests or other archdiocesan personnel were accused abusers. While some saw the report as a step toward justice for survivors, it also protected alleged enablers of abuse — members of the clergy, the media and law enforcement officials who had their names and identifying characteristics redacted or removed from the report, survivors said. Many of these people are accused of knowing the abuse was happening and did nothing to address it, and sometimes covered it up.

As church bells sounded in the background, advocates from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests condemned the Archdiocese for its lack of response and transparency surrounding the report and the hundreds of cases of sexual abuse. They called on the archdiocese to hold public meetings to discuss the report and publish all the names of accused abusers, the entire assignment history of each of them and last known status.

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William E. Lori, the archbishop of Baltimore, and parishes listed in the report issued written statements and issued interviews with media outlets The archdiocese also published a pastoral letter and Lori spoke with victim survivors individually Wednesday, said spokesman Chris Kendzierski. Intercessions were said during masses across the Archdiocese praying for victim survivors and for healing and will continue to be said, Kendzierski said.

Lori released a statement the day the report came out calling it “a sad and painful reminder of the tremendous harm caused to innocent children and young people by some ministers of the Church.” Some parishes released their own statements, such as St. Marks, where at least four pastors committed abuse while they were assigned to the parish.

Other parishes, such as Our Lady of Victory and St. Clare Catholic Church, referred to the archdiocese’s Office of Communications.

Kendzierski told The Baltimore Banner on Thursday that what is said in Easter Sunday sermons will be up to the priests and pastors. However, church leaders were told to keep the focus on healing and apologies. Kendzierski said later in an email that he’s spoken to a few parishioners about the report.

“Like all of us there is shock, horror and sorrow involved for what the victim survivors endured and what they have had to live through, not to mention the past failures of the church where they practice their faith,” he said. “It has to be devastating all around.”

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When Teresa Lancaster filed a lawsuit in 1994 against Father A. Joseph Maskell, a pastor and counselor at Keough High School, the Archdiocese of Baltimore told her no one had ever complained or raised concerns about him.

After reading the report, she realized the church had lied. The archdiocese, the report reads, was “aware of concerns about Maskell’s conduct towards children” as early as 1966.

“If they had stopped Maskell in 1966, as they should have, I would not have been abused in 1970,” Lancaster said at the press conference, holding a poster with photos of herself as a young girl that read “Maskell destroyed my faith.”

Survivors from other archdioceses stressed that the abuse detailed in the report is not isolated. The report indicated that priests who were ordained in the Archdiocese of Baltimore have abused children in other states, sometimes after they were reassigned to another parish because they were found to be credible abusers in Maryland.

“Archdioceses is nothing but arbitrary lines on a map,” said Frank Schindler, who is a survivor of abuse from the Archdiocese of New York, holding a portrait of his younger self as he spoke. “The pattern of the Catholic Church throughout the country is documented in that report.”

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The release of the report, especially with the redactions, is just the tip of the iceberg, survivors believe. Now, they are expecting the archdiocese will challenge the constitutionality of the Child Victims Act of 2023. The act, which Gov. Wes Moore is expected to sign next week, would remove the statute of repose, allowing more survivors to file lawsuits against sexual abusers.

But survivors, Schindler said, are preparing themselves for the challenge come Oct. 1, when the law is enacted. They say they will continue to pressure the church to hold accused abusers accountable.

“We as survivors have power and we’re standing up,” Schindler said. ”I want to say to Archbishop Lori we’re here now and we’re not going anywhere.”

“Amen,” Lorenz said.

Baltimore Banner reporter Kristen Griffith contributed to this report.

clara.longo@thebaltimorebanner.com

Clara Longo de Freitas is a neighborhood reporter covering East Baltimore communities. Before joining the Banner, she interned at The Baltimore Sun as an emerging news and community reporter. She also has design and illustration experience with several news organizations, including The Hill and NPR. 

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