Watch CBS News

Cover-Up Of Sex Abuse By Catholic Priests Linked To Baltimore Church Leader

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The archbishop of Baltimore is promising action Wednesday, one day after a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania uncovered hundreds of priests linked to sex abuse cases.

A Pennsylvania grand jury released a 900-page report detailing decades of widespread sex abuse by priests.

Baltimore's long-time Catholic leader, the late Cardinal William Keeler, failed to report some of those crimes.

Report Details Sexual Abuse By More Than 300 Priests In Pennsylvania's Catholic Church

The Archdiocese of Baltimore said the current archbishop would support any change that holds church leaders accountable.

"Those of who worked and knew the cardinal are struggling to reconcile the man we knew or thought we knew with the person we read of in this report," said Archdiocese of Baltimore spokesperson Sean Caine.

Archdiocese of Baltimore employees who worked under the leadership of late Keeler are trying to reconcile.

Keeler, the 14th archbishop of Baltimore, was once praised for publicly naming more than 50 "predator priests" in 2002 and is now listed among those who investigators say failed to report priests for sexually abusing children in Harrisburg, Penn., decades ago.

"To find out that he was a far different leader in his early time as a bishop in Harrisburg -- where he clearly made really bad choices, that had really bad consequences - is something that a lot of people, including myself, are struggling with," Caine said.

The explosive report outlines cases involving hundreds of priests and potentially thousands of young victims.

"The next case highlights the horrendous abuse perpetrated by one abuser priest on an entire family. Gus Giella sexually abused five sisters from the same family," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Shapiro said Tuesday the Harrisburg diocese knew of and could have stopped that particular case.

At the time, Keeler was a bishop.

"The most eye-opening thing, for me, has been to meet with victims, to talk to victims, to try to listen to them," said current Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori.

In a recorded statement, Lori said he's dealt with the fall out of the church's sex scandals since the 1990s.

With the latest wave, Caine said Lori promises more than prayer.

"Would be supportive of any changes or reforms that would bring about true, honest accountability for anyone who works in the church, including bishops," Caine said.

As for Keeler, his body is in the crypt at the Baltimore Basilica. But plans to name a school in his honor have changed.

Follow @WJZ on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.