The bishops of the state of Georgia have vowed to be open and transparent as the attorney general conducts an investigation into clerical sex abuse in the state.
In a statement released by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta on Tuesday, April 30, the archbishop said that both he and Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah, had “offered [their] full support and cooperation to Attorney General Chris Carr for a third party file review of both Georgia dioceses.”
According to Gregory, both he and Hartmayer have cooperated fully with authorities regarding the investigation and file review, and they have all agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding.
At the conclusion of the review, a report detailing sexual abuse by members of the clergy in the state will be released.
“I reiterate my genuine concern for all who have been hurt directly or indirectly by abuse of any kind by anyone and I renew my commitment to healing, transparency and trust,” said Gregory. “I believe this review is an important step in the long journey forward.”
Carr, the Georgia attorney general, told an Atlanta news station that the investigation was months in the making, and that there has already been an agreement into how the review process and investigation will be conducted. The investigation will be run by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.
In November, the Archdiocese of Atlanta released a list containing the names of 15 priests, deacons, and seminarians who had been accused of sexual abuse of minors. Every individual on the list was either dead, removed from active ministry, or had been convicted of a crime.
Carr is urging any and all victims of sexual abuse to come forward. He said he is unsure how long the investigation and review will take.
On April 4, Gregory was announced as the new Archbishop of Washington, DC. He will be leaving the Archdiocese of Atlanta later this month, and installed in Washington on May 21. At a press conference announcing his appointment to the Archdiocese of Washington, Gregory pledged to be truthful and transparent during his time leading the archdiocese, as he had during his time in Atlanta and leading the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"I walked away from my time as president [of the USCCB] knowing this one thing: that I told them the truth as best as I could. And that's what I will do with the Archdiocese of Washington,” said Gregory at the April 4 press conference.
During his time leading the USCCB from 2001-2003, Gregory helped shape the Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis, playing a leading role in the drafting and implementation of the Dallas Charter and USCCB Essential Norms.
Gregory is currently part of a special task force, along with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, charged by the USCCB with examining proposals for increasing episcopal accountability in matters of clerical sexual abuse.