NEW YORK – A report from the Maryland Attorney General detailing the history of child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore applauds archdiocesan efforts to implement protective measures and respond to allegations over the last two decades, but also notes that its credibly accused list should be expanded, and the structure of its Independent Review Board assessed.

The 454-page report, published April 5, details more than 600 instances of child sex abuse by 156 abusers from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. According to the report, the majority of the abuse took place between the 1940s and 2002 – the year the U.S. Bishops implemented the Dallas Charter, establishing a set of procedures dioceses must follow to address allegations of sexual abuse.

Still, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said the improvements since 2002 don’t negate what happened in the past, and offered an apology to the victim-survivors.

“Today’s report from the Maryland Attorney General is first and foremost a sad and painful reminder of the tremendous harm caused to innocent children and young people by some ministers of the Church,” Lori said in an April 5 statement. “The detailed accounts of abuse are shocking and soul searing.”

“To all survivors, I offer my most earnest apology on behalf of the Archdiocese and pledge my continued solidarity and support for your healing,” the archbishop continued. “We hear you. We believe you and your courageous voices have made a difference.”

In a statement, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said, “this report shines a light on this overwhelming strategy, and it was the courage of survivors that made it possible.”

The Maryland Attorney General’s office launched the investigation in 2018 to examine child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the serial cover-up of that abuse by archdiocesan leadership. The report contains every current or former Catholic clergy member, seminarian, deacon, member of a Catholic religious order, or other employee of the Archdiocese who has been the subject of credible allegations of child sex abuse in Maryland made known to the office.

“The incontrovertible history uncovered by this investigation is one of pervasive and persistent abuse by priests and other Archdiocese personnel. It is also a history of repeated dismissal or cover up of abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy,” the report states. “While every victim’s story is unique, together they reveal themes and behaviors typical of adults who sexually abuse children, and of those who enable abuse by concealing it.”

Parts of the report were redacted to protect confidential grand jury materials. The redactions include nine names on the list of 156 abusers.

Most of the abusers and those who covered up the abuse are dead, and therefore the report acknowledges that it is too late for the victims to press charges. Instead, the report has a stated goal of exposing the archdiocese’s history of transgressions to “bring some measure of accountability.”

To that end, the report makes multiple recommendations.

One is for Maryland lawmakers to amend the statute of limitations for civil actions involving child sex abuse. State legislators passed a bill that would do just that on April 5, sending it to Gov. Wes Moore who has said he supports it. Current Maryland law allows victims until age 38 to file such claims.

The Maryland Catholic Conference has called the legislation “unconstitutional” and “unfair.”

Another recommendation is for the archdiocese to expand its list of credibly accused to include anyone who committed an act of child abuse under the auspices of the Archdiocese, opposed to just priests.

The report also highlights potential limitations of the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board to respond to abuse allegations, noting that the review board can only consider information provided by the Archdiocese, and that it has no investigatory capacity.

In general, however, the report states that since the U.S. Bishops implemented the Dallas Charter in 2002 – mandating the archdiocese create an Office of Child and Youth Protection and the Independent Review Board; the way the archdiocese has addressed allegations of clergy sex abuse has completely changed.

The report acknowledges that the Archdiocese of Baltimore was one of the first dioceses in the nation to publish a list of credibly accused priests. That list now has 152 names, including those of priests who were accused of abuse after their deaths. The report also states that the archdiocese has offered financial assistance to victims for counseling, and created a mediation option for victims seeking a direct payment.

“Based on the records of the Archdiocese, the Charter did significantly improve the internal handling of reported child sex abuse,” the report states.

Lori said regardless the archdiocese must not forget the abuses of the past.

“Today’s strong record of protection and transparency does not excuse past failings that have led to the lasting spiritual, psychological and emotional harm victim-survivors have endured,” Lori said. “We continue to improve and build on the changes and accountability that define today’s Archdiocese.”

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg