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February 8th, 2012
08:24 PM ET

Retired New York Cardinal Egan retracts apology on Catholic priest sex abuse

By Laura Batchelor, CNN

New York (CNN) - A decade after the sex abuse scandal that plagued the Catholic Church across the country, retired Cardinal Edward Egan has taken back his apology for how the church handled the issue.

In an interview published this week in Connecticut Magazine, Egan denies any sex abuse happened under his watch in Bridgeport, Connecticut, or in New York.

"I never had one of these sex abuse cases. ... Not one," he told the magazine. Referencing the apology he issued in 2002, Egan continued, "I should never have said that. I did say 'If we did anything wrong, I'm sorry,' but I don't think we did anything wrong."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests responded with a press release saying Egan was "unrepentant, self-absorbed and painfully dismissive of the abject suffering of tens of thousands."

"Most bishops have a dreadfully skewed and self-serving view of the crisis," the release said. "But most work very hard to conceal it."

Egan successor as archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, spoke briefly on the matter at a news conference in the city Wednesday. "I'm not familiar with the extent of the interview, but all I know is I'm grateful for what Cardinal Egan did here," he told reporters.

Brian Wallace, director of communication of the Bridgeport diocese, where Egan was bishop from 1988 to 2000, told CNN, "If there is one thing Catholics agree on, (it) is the abhorrence of child abuse, any form, and the need to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

The timing of Egan's comment coincides with the Vatican's four-day summit on the sex abuse scandal, titled "Towards Healing and Renewal."

CNN's senior Vatican analyst, John L. Allen Jr., says the attitude behind Egan's denial was in fashion 10 years ago but has been abandoned.

"Based upon this week's Vatican summit on sex abuse, the position that Egan expresses in the interview would not be in line with the positions of the Catholic Church," Allen said.

Egan also denied the church has a responsibly to report cases of abuse, telling Connecticut Magazine, "There really wasn't much in the way of (things being kept) hidden. I don't think even now you're obligated to report (abuse cases) in Connecticut."

That contrasts with a statement at this week's summit by the Vatican's chief prosecutor of sex abuse, who said the church has an obligation to report sex abuse.

"Egan is stuck in a mind set that just isn't the case any more," Allen said.

And Wallace told CNN, "We know the abuse was real and it happened. Catholics are united and it won't happen again."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • New York

soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Dionisio

    not to mention the big permlobs that our civilization is facing today on what to believe and that almost over 61% of teachers in USA University are atheist and are not teaching children (future doctors, politicians) about the truth about our planet but instead prefer to teach them that duum Daerwin theory which makes us all animals, soulless and more coming from an explosion definitely excluding the possibility of a creator PEOPLE we must act quickly.. if you are saved by God.. than grab on any tools you can help with and do something for our planet if not, do it for the sake of your children and future generations to come. They might not be able to even hear about God in the present future.Please think about it do anything you can to spread the world of God!

    September 7, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  2. momoya

    @Credenza

    Your position is that the Catholic Church hasn't done anything wrong because the individual abusers used their free will to abuse children. Recently, a school in California closed its doors after two teachers there were convicted of child abuse. When a school has a child abuser on its hands, the school board and administrators invite law enforcement and investigation. If the school did not do everything in their power to stop such abuses, they would be complicit in the crimes–so they cooperate in rooting out the individuals AND the problem.

    The RCC hasn't done all it could to stop child abuse; they're complicit. Your assertion that the RCC is not to blame is sickening; however, your remarks are symptomatic of the entire power structure. As long as the RCC has supporters like you, it will continue to shift blame and deny involvement. The RCC's continual refusal to investigate the issue and bring an end to child abuse within their organization shows just how little they care for children and for the world–or for how normal people view an organization who demonstrates such wide-scale disgusting behavior.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  3. nothing new here

    Kudos to The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests!!
    Keep up the good work.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • KeninTexas

      SNAP started as a a good idea with good intentions, but it's turned into just another money making business just like the lawyers out there coaching people to making outrageous and in many cases, false claims just to make a buck. This is not to say crimes were not committed, and those should be prosecuted. But so should the fraudulent claimants along with those that enabled and encouraged the fraud.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • chief

      re kenintexas .... the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri started as good idea...... but i guess creating a country club for ped preists isnt about money.... about denial?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Cardinal, regardless of what you say, if there is a God and he is Omniscient, you are in seriously deep dodo. You did not protect the sheep. You invited the wolves in to feast on them and moved them to new flocks when they were discovered. Iwonder what the Good Shepherd will say to you on judgement day?

      February 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  4. nothing new here

    Tax the churches.
    They should pay taxes, just like us little people.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • David Blake

      amen

      February 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  5. Bret Larson

    Go look any long term organization and check out all the skeletons in their closet.

    Pointing to the Catholic Church as an exception is just religious persecution.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Wow. Really? Can you point to any other organizations that systematically, globally, and for decades routinely covered up heinous crimes and implicitly allowed the abuse of children? I mean, I can think of a few organizations, but they're pretty much limited to militias in third world countries.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • chief

      so are catholic priest part of an organization pf are they men of God?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  6. El Flaco

    The Christian Church has fallen on hard times. The leadership of the Church – Protestant and Catholic – is shot through with corruption. The best Christians are all in the pews.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Lilyrosalie

      I disagree with you. The best christians have abandoned the pews and followed their consciences instead. There the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of people, unimpeded by the arrogance and hypocrisy of church teachings and teachers/priests.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Meh

      Leprechauns are far far more reliable. Plus they have lots of gold to boot.

      February 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  7. johneboy

    "If there is one thing Catholics agree on, (it) is the abhorrence of child abuse, any form, and the need to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

    If there is one thing Catholic abusers and those that may have to deal with the the fall out agree on, (it) is the abhorrence of being caught abusing children and the need to make sure they don't get caught again.

    Oh and by the way, you lay people who have a problem with child abuse, go screw yourselves. The church of St. Peter, the only true church, is infalable . . .

    February 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  8. sean burns

    I'm ashamed that I was ever a catholic.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Credenza

      Why? The degenerate members of the clergy and those who covered it up used their free will to do the dreadful things they did to children. THEY did it. There was NO directive from the Church to do it.

      The Catholic FAITH doesn't change. Some of the people in it are a downright disgrace but to deny my faith because of them????? NO WAY.

      Jesus was quite explicit when he said that if anyone gives scandal to little ones, it would be better if they were thrown into the millpond with a millstone round their necks. THAT is part of our faith. So is the gift of free will. God gave us that with the 10 Commandments as guides for living. They have to face HIM.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • chief

      the second problem is that the catholics protect their "religion" at the expense of the little ones ...

      February 10, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Don't be ashamed Sean, be glad you are not supporting them with your money anymore. Here is the bottom line. If someone supports the church with money and the Church remains unrepentent (which is obvious from the article above), then they too are participating in abusing children too. One way to stop the crime is to dry up the funds.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Don't be ashamed Sean, just be glad you are not supporting them with your money. Here is the bottom line. If someone supports the church with money and the Church remains unrepentent (which is obvious from the article above), then they too are participating in abusing children too. One way to stop the crime is to dry up the funds.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Meh

      DO NOT BE ASHAMED. Be proud that you escaped from the mental slavery that religion is.

      February 15, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  9. Insulted

    It saddens me that so few people can see that the church has become the anti-christ.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Credenza

      Sister Lucy, one of the 3 children to whom Our Lady appeared to in Fatima died recently aged 93. Some years ago she said that within the Church there is an element that is using , I quote "Diabolical disorientation" to destroy the Church from within. This scandal is all part and parcel of that.

      In the world at large AND within some parts of the Church, Satan has never had it so easy. Let's face it, todays world makes Sodom and Gommorah look like a bunch of sissies and look what hapened to them!. But Jesus promised that the gates of hell will NOT prevail against His church.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  10. Tony

    Edward Egan is a COWARD, plain and simple. He waited until he retired to recant something that ultimately HE chose to say in the first place; coerced or un-coerced by his superiors in Rome (only a milquetoast ecclesiastic could be coerced to such).

    Conversely, he could have also recanted his insincere "apology" days, weeks or months after he said it (well before retiring).

    Yet, it is his own self interest and fear of the vatican that prevented him from saying what he really thought/felt – and it is this same self aggrandizing motivation to preserve his tainted "legacy" that has lead to him reneging now via this revisionist attempt at perception shaping for the masses (probably hoping he could cull a bit of the same vacuous sympathy as the late Joe Paterno did from a few misguided loyalists after his own woeful dereliction of duty).

    Whether or not he was complicit in the ills (or the subsequent cover up) of pedophile preist – directly or indirectly – under his aegis is somewhat trivial at this point. In the end, however, Egan can at least take some credit for one positive that his weak excuse for spin control has wrought . . . the sad fact that his tenure at St. Patrick's Cathedral has reminded the world that Edmond Burke was right: "all that is required for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing."

    February 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  11. ashrakay

    "I should never have said that. I did say 'If we did anything wrong, I'm sorry,' but I don't think we did anything wrong." ... I never said that ra.ping a child is wrong... What is wrong with this guy?

    February 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  12. JoJo

    Thanks Egan for yet another confirmation for me that I made the right decision in rejecting Catholicism for Humanism. Thank you.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Me too. When the churches are led by sociopaths and others too cowardly and self-serving to hold them accountable, then organized religion will not get you to God or to good. I find the "to each his own path to God" to be more fundamentally moral.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  13. Sbul

    Another reason why we should not trust the men who are in charge of the Catholic church. They can't even be honest when they are saying they are sorry.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Yes, well...... there is a difference in saying that you are truly sorry verses saying that you are sorry that you got caught. It has something to do with humility and repentence, but apparently the "good" Cardinal forgot that part of the theology he has studies and taught for so long.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  14. christopher

    Would someone please explain to me how I, a "godless athiest" understands that child molestation is wrong but people who run a church don't get it??

    February 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • JoJo

      Because morality is no longer necessarily connected to religion. I've found that Humanists are more ethical in general. That hit home to me especially when I saw so many "Christians" enthusiastically supporting the unnecessary, lie-based, torture-laden, trillion dollar Iraq holocaust.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • nothing new here

      Because these church people are too worried about their futures – and protecting their own interests.
      A trivial matter, like child abuse, is not going to get in the way of their tax-exempt funds.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Lilyrosalie

      Um, you are moral and they are amoral??

      February 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  15. Argle Bargle

    More proof that this is NOT the Church Christ started, but a darker, more sinister copy, meant to draw men away from the truth.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Daniel

      1. Why is the use of headphones dniurg the lesson no longer allowed in this Computer Apps Class? Our Computer classes haven't gotten enough work to be done through the time we've been in school, so no headphones will be in use as well explore the web unless we are announced to be able to. I believe every student should follow these rules unless they want to have consequences.2. When may students use headphones? They may use headphones, dniurg free time when our teacher allows us to have free time.3. Who determines when FREE TIME is?The computer teacher will inform us when we have free time, if not well then we won't have it.4. Why did the 5 students receive detention from Dr. Egan? Those students received detention from Dr. Egan because, they were using bad language in Gaggle.net.5. What is a filter? (Look online for answer if you do not know.)A filter is where bad language gets caught.6. How does Dr. Egan find out about students using inappropriate language on Gaggle.net? Dr. Egan gets a filter with bad language, and if she decides its bad well then those following students or student will have to follow the consequences of an hour detention, etc.7. How long is the detention Dr. Egan gives for using Gaggle inappropriately?Dr. Egan gives an hour detention for using Gaggle inappropriately.8. Why will Mrs. McIntyre be sending your parents an email?Mrs. McIntyre will send our parents an email of our work to see the progress of our work and our ability. Many of us students do excellent work and i believe our parents should see our work and be proud of us, as well to see our quality. But those who don't do work will follow those consequences at home.So for those students step up your game.9. Why might you want to step up your game if you are not doing your best work when answering the Focus Questions?i personally would step up my work for good grades and to actually learn something. As well since your parents are going to read and see your work I believe you should work harder to impress your parents. Students should always do good in school and impress your parents as well to have a good education and be someone in life, a career.10. Why am I making these changed to how our class runs? We only have computer classes until January and we need to step up our game to learn all the materials we need to learn. So no free time unless its announced my our teacher or else you will have to follow the consequences.Short essay: Write a brief paragraph (3 sentences or more) explaining how you feel about the rule changes I am putting in place to help our class succeed. (25 points)Everyone has there opinions and there thoughts about the rule changes. I personally agree with our teacher because she's putting us in a place to help our class to succeed. School is to have fun but there comes a point were you need to step your game up, have your head up high and get ready to work and learn. School is to learn to prepare us for the future, but if we just foul around the whole time well we wont get anywhere to succeed this class. So I will try my best to be successful because I want to be someone in life.

      September 9, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  16. Daddy2010

    The problem with some people is that they don't know when to stop talking.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  17. joe

    i bet his has packed some serious fudge in his lifetime.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  18. CTYank

    The cardinal is still subject to the authority of the civil officials, and should behave accordingly.
    In such a matter he is NOT the judge. Far from it.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  19. Kent Bowen

    A senile priest more interested in his legacy than anything else.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  20. chedar

    This guy sounds like the pope.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.