A statement from Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese, Ph.D., regarding the Pennsylvania abuse case:
I join my fellow Catholics in our collective, deep disappointment as we learn of the long-term abuse of children in Pennsylvania by priests. As the leader of the oldest Catholic university in Florida, I feel compelled to join the public conversation, and in particular, echo Bishop Gregory Parkes’ remarks.
As a member of our board of trustees, I believe the Bishop speaks for all of us at Saint Leo University when he says, “I am saddened and angry to learn of the Pennsylvania grand jury report that spans a 70-year period and details tragic incidents by priests accused of abusing and exploiting children. I recommit my efforts to protecting youth and vulnerable adults from any type of abuse.”
At Saint Leo, we too will not waver in our commitment to support and protect the most vulnerable among us. We will not waver in teaching our students that this is a lifelong commitment they should take with them into the world. All people are our sisters and brothers, and we will have concern for them as we would our own families. We take seriously our obligation to inform our students of that true Catholic value system.
In addition to our private prayers for the victims and their families, I have asked our chaplain of University Ministry, Father Kyle Smith, to pray for them publicly during our campus Masses. As Catholics, we believe in a liturgical tradition to comfort and fortify ourselves in support of the larger community. It is important that our students and staff understand that Catholics have a responsibility to support one another both locally and globally.
May God bless these victims and their families as well as provide each of us the strength to engage with our church and seek ways to ensure this tragedy never occurs again.