NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - In a clear majority, the Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to create a new hotline for sex abuse within the catholic church.
Rev. Michael Burbridge is the councilman over communications for the conference and said the move is a step in the right direction.
“This work is essential, it’s urgent and we must accomplish it," Burbidge said. “I’m really pleased with that sense of momentum that we have here.”
A third-party group would take allegations of sexual abuse or cover-up via a telephone hotline and an online web link. It’s supposed to go live within a year, and once open, operators would relay any allegations to regional supervising bishops.
In a news conference Wednesday (June 12), Burbidge said there will still be other resources available until the hotline comes online.
“Any concerns, whether they be against bishop, priest, whatever, some mechanisms are still right there," he said. “If you need to call civil authorities, call civil authorities, if you need to call metropolitan, call the metropolitan. The third party system will be another way to do that.”
But Morris Daniels, an alleged church sex abuse victim said he has his doubts.
“My opinion on it? Waste of time," Daniels said.
Daniels spoke to FOX 8 after he filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New Orleans for failing to protect him when he was a child at Holy Rosary in the 1980s. He said defrocked Deacon George Brignac raped him repeatedly and the church knew about it.
“It’s still painful, the pain never goes away, it never goes away. This is something I’m going to deal with until I die,” Daniels said.
He’s since settled his lawsuit with the church for an undisclosed amount, but Daniels said he doesn’t want to stay quiet. He said it was hard enough sharing his story decades after the abuse, and doesn’t believe anyone will pick up the phone to dial that hotline.
“Parents don’t know about it, they’re not going to call. Friends don’t know about it, they’re not going to call, so you tell me who’s going to call that number? No one. It is a farce,” Daniels said.
At the time of the announcement, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond was in Baltimore at the conference, but he released the following statement:
“I strongly support the proposal that was passed today to create the third-party system allowing for confidential reports of violations regarding sex abuse and cover-ups by bishops. We need to not only do the right thing but we need to be transparent. Let us not forget that the most important people in these situations are the victims. We not only reach out to them but we pray for them.”
As for the hotline information, leaders at the conference said they will start disseminating it to local parish dioceses once it becomes available.