MILWAUKEE (AP) — New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Thursday that one of the biggest problems facing the Roman Catholic Church is the number of people who identify as former Catholics, including many who left because of the 'sinful' behavior of clergy and other Church members.
Dolan, the former Milwaukee archbishop, made the comments during his first appearance in the city since the archdiocese released the personnel files of 42 priests with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse against them in July.
Dolan didn't explicitly mention abuse, but he acknowledged that some Catholics who left the church because "they have been shocked, saddened and nauseated by the sinful behavior" of some of its members. He said Catholics should not hide from that.
"It's not a bad idea to fess up to the sinful side of the Church," Dolan said.
He went on to say that those who love the church do so despite its problems.
"We admit her flaws and we love her all the more because she is Christ on the cross," Dolan said.
Dolan gave the Milwaukee archdiocese's annual Pallium Lecture, a talk on spirituality that he started while serving as Milwaukee archbishop from 2002 to 2009.
The archdiocese faces claims in federal bankruptcy court from hundreds of sexual abuse victims, who have accused Church officials of covering up priests' crimes and transferring them to new churches without warning parishioners.