Bishop apologizes for sex abuse by priests

Bishop Barnes photoBishop Barnes (Photo via YouTube)

Bishop Gerald Barnes of the Diocese of San Bernardino has issued a public apology after releasing a report that lists 34 priests from the diocese who may have been involved in sex abuse.

Seven of those abuse cases took place at parishes in the Coachella Valley.

“We are pained to think of the many lives that were impacted by the sinful and unlawful acts of those priests who committed them,” Bishop Barnes said. “Some will recognize names on this list, more will recognize the parish communities where they served. It makes this crisis more local to us, and may increase our feelings of sadness and outrage.

“Apologies, at this point, can seem hollow and I regret that because I can imagine how painful this has been in the lives of many victims. Still, I do want to state my sincere apology,” he added.

Barnes outlined steps the diocese has taken since 2002 to prevent further incidents. They include:

 Adopted a zero tolerance policy for clergy with credible allegations of abuse, and worked closely with law enforcement in all reports of abuse.  Implemented fingerprinting and extensive background checks for all clergy and lay employees in our Diocese

 Made mandatory for all Diocesan ministers the VIRTUS training program to educate in how to recognize and prevent the sexual abuse of children

 Established the Diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that all Safe Environment policies and our Pastoral Code of Conduct are followed