OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - “And to pray for healing for all those victimized by the sinful behavior of church leaders and others in our church,” said Bishop Terry LaValley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg.
The message on Sunday was clear. Bishop Terry LaValley led an annual mass to pray for sexual abuse survivors, particularly victims of church leaders. The Diocese of Ogdensburg is defending at least 80 lawsuits, claiming clergy members sexually abused minors with some cases dating back to the 1960′s.
“To seek healing for them and to continue to providing assistance in whatever way we can,” said LaValley.
Bishop LaValley says they have held the same mass on the first Sunday after Easter for about five years. He says the timing coincides with April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Because these folks suffer for a lifetime. The wound is real and the scars remain. We need to acknowledge that,” said LaValley.
Bishop LaValley says that the church does encourage victims to come forward. He wants to assure that their voice has been heard. And as he mentioned during mass, church leaders have to be held to a higher standard.
“You expect your priests and bishops to lead by example, and we should,” said LaValley.
Last summer, the Syracuse Diocese declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as a result of similar claims. Bishop LaValley says they would not rule that out, but it’s too early to say whether they will declare bankruptcy or not.