Acknowledging recent allegations of sexual misconduct or misbehavior leveled against a deceased Lincoln priest, Bishop James Conley of the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln said he is committed to ensuring that the "high standards of chaste behavior" expected of priests and other church officials are fulfilled.
"As a bishop, I apologize to anyone who has been harmed by the failures of the church's own leaders to live according to the Gospel, especially to those who have suffered the pain of abuse or coercion," Conley wrote in this week's edition of the church's Southern Nebraska Register.
The bishop urged anyone with "any information or concerns about past or current sexual immorality in a parish, school or apostolate in the diocese" to report their concerns, including to law enforcement agencies if criminal activity may have occurred.
"It is well-known that sexual abuse and coercion are not unique to the Catholic Church," Conley wrote.
"When sexual abuse and coercion take place in the context of the family, they make it hard to trust in the goodness of God the Father; the same is true when abuse takes place in the context of the church," he wrote.
"Christ promises new life. May he renew his church and renew the hearts of those who are suffering," he wrote.
Conley noted that a former seminarian and priest in Lincoln recently leveled extensive accusations about the behavior of a deceased Lincoln priest in an article published in a blog online.
In the article posted to The American Conservative website, Peter Mitchell, now a former priest, wrote: "I experienced profound discrimination as a seminarian and later as a priest because I was a heterosexual in an overwhelmingly homosexual environment where sexually active gay priests protected and promoted each other."
The article prompted a number of online responses that disputed portions of Mitchell's assessments of behavior in Lincoln.