Toledo, OH - Bishop Daniel E. Thomas arrived in Toledo in 2014 after serving for eight years as Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
While there, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was in the grips of scandal and public outrage after two grand jury reports exposed dozens of priests sexually abused hundreds of children for decades.
He was named in a 2011 grand jury report, not as an abuser, but for helping to clear an accused priest. The report suggests that decision contributed to the suicide of the accuser.
Bishop Thomas exclusively told WTOL 11 the number one lesson he learned in Philadelphia that is shaping his leadership of the Diocese of Toledo is putting clergy sex abuse victims first.
"I think the first thing I learned is that the first care and first effort has to be for the care of the victim. The second thing I learned is that what came out of the results of that grand jury report which in fact I have made here in the policy and procedures of your Diocese in responding and addressing allegations," Bishop Thomas revealed.
This includes separating an investigator's role from the victim's assistance coordinator who takes in allegations of abuse.
But an examination of the websites of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Toledo Diocese reveals differences in the approach to using this medium to inform and conduct outreach about clergy sex abuse.
In Philly, the sections on clergy sex abuse appear more robust-including the "Status of Clergy" section with pictures, locations of ministries, and ecclesiastical status of accused priests. In contrast, the website of the Diocese of Toledo features only one page devoted to the Office of Child &Youth Protection and Victim Assistance with the entry dated January of 2014-months before he was installed Bishop.
"We have only one allegation that has been brought in. The act of an allegation of a priest that's been dealt with. The priest has been removed since that time And we are currently making every effort in honesty and transparency and most of all to make it friendly to any victim who may look at the site, who would be searching because they remember their abuse," he said .
Bishop Thomas acknowledged the Catholic Church has lost credibility, not just with its fiercest critics but with confused and angry believers and nonbelievers. He promises to continue working towards healing and justice for clergy sex abuse victims.
"What we need to do is allow our action to follow our resolve. And make sure that action is robust, compassionate to victims and just regarding anyone who is accused," pledged Bishop Thomas.