TODAY   |  June 02, 2011

Archbishop: Sex scandal must not be forgotten

New York City’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that priests’ sex abuse of children was “so tragic, so nauseating that we’ve got to keep remembering it” in order to continue with the church’s renewal and purification.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with a special road cast from rome, vatican city . now it's time to talk about issues facing the catholic church . we're honored to be joined by the archbishop from new york, timothy dolan .

>> i'm the one who's honored, matt.

>> let's talk about the things that are in the headline. one saying i'm an ex-catholic. 42% say they don't attend services on a weekly basis. that can't be good news for the church. have you been able to get your arms around the main reason, the main reason why it's happening?

>> those are chilling, sobering statistics and we bishops have to look at it square in the eye. no pastor is going to be content with statistics like that, to get our people back, to excite them about the faith. that remain as high pastoral problem. for the first time there's a sizeable group of catholics who say i'm no longer catholic. we've always had a group of catholic who say, i'm kind of lax but --

>> these are people leaving.

>> one of the things i think we've got to do, matt, i i had to use a modern word, but maybe some type of marketing to find out why. why are people leaving? i think some of them are leave because of scandal. i think some of them are leaves because of materialism and temptations to the life. i thinking some are leaving because they're on one side or the other that maybe the catholic church has modernized too much and others because it hasn't modernized too much.

>> when you talk about scandal, one that comes to mind is the sexual can zal of children by a priest.

>> you bet.

>> you said something fascinating rae cefascinate ing recently. you said you don't want it to be over. it haunted the church and it's so painful you think it should continue to haunt the church. can you explain that?

>> yeah. thanks for recalling the situation. it was so horrible, tragic, nauseating, we need to keep remembering it so the steps of purification going on in the life of the catholic church continue. this isn't an issue of, oh, good, that's over with, let's move on. it has to continue to haunt us we can't let up our vigilance or let it happen began.

>> there was a study release add short time ago. they said they couldn't put their finger on one reason why the priest abused children . maybe it's because the priests were not prepared for the revolution of the '60s and '70s that a lot of us lived through. this was less about a lifestyle but about predators.

>> yeah. you're talking about a sin, but also a krierjs pre rr -- crime, predation. that study was good. it showed contributing factors. le what caused it, they can't give a real crisp answer to. we can. sin causes it. they said here's some contributing factors. you mentioned some of it. maybe from the '60s and '70s, maybe a lack of screening and preparation. those are things that might contribute to it. what causes it? i think we've got to delve into the study, glean reasons and see --

>> you don't feel as if there could be direct correlation as celibacy and homosexuality.

>> i was grateful to see celibacy was not the contributing factor, thanks be to god.

>> you were recently -- you are the highest profile person of the catholic church in the united states . you have enormous charisma, a great personality.

>> thanks.

>> you are being charged with the task of bringing trust back and convincing catholics that the church does, in fact, serve their needs. how do you go about it.

>> i don't know, matt. thanks for the compliment. one of the things is you a have to be honest. every morning the most important thing we do is mass and every mass starts with through my fault, through my fault, through my most degree vogrievous fauchlt we are sinners. to say that very humbly and say come on in, you're in a family of imperfect people, we're all trying for virtue, for sanctity, we're alli trying to be saints. let's do it together. let's say with the grace and mercy of jesus christ and together as a spiritual family with common values that we cherish, we can make some progress here. i don't know. that's my posture, anyway.

>> i wish you luck.

>> thank you, matt. good to be with you.

>> don't go away. we're going to spend more time. we're going to have much more