Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with Boston-area priests Tuesday afternoon about the sexual abuse allegations that have recently come to light against clergy in the Catholic Church.
Tuesday's meeting with hundreds of priests at St. Julia Parish in Weston, Massachusetts, came after a scathing report from a Pennsylvania grand jury that found more than a thousand children had been sexually abused by priests over seven decades — crimes the church covered up.
"News of recent days has been difficult for survivors, first and foremost, but also for all Catholics," the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement.
Locally, the priests were expected to discuss issues that have been facing the church, including allegations at St. John's Seminary.
O'Malley recently canceled a trip in order to deal with the allegations at St. John's Seminary. According to the Archdiocese, the biannual meeting was also a chance for O'Malley to connect with priests.
Many priests who left Tuesday's meeting said they still have confidence in the Church and cardinal, who they described as emotional and somber in the meeting.
Those who have worked with victims in the church abuse scandal, including local attorneys, said they were not expecting much from the cardinal or the meeting.
"You’re dealing with an entity that’s gotten caught allowing be wholesale sexual abuse of children for decades upon decades upon decades. Tens of thousands of children worldwide by thousands of priests, while thousands of supervisors turned their backs on innocent children, why would you think the church is going to back and change on a dime," asked Mitchell Garabedian, attorney for clergy abuse victims, who joined protesters outside the parish.
Abuse victims like John Burke have been watching the abuse unfold for some time. He was one of the protesters outside of St. Julia Parish.
"For this to still go on it’s absolutely insane," Burke said.
Priests who met with O'Malley defended him against the attacks and pushed back against calls for his resignation.
"If all the bishops were to resign now, it would take longer to get people in place to move forward," said Father Kevin Leaver of St. John the Baptist.
Beyond Boston's archdiocese, a grand jury report implicated hundreds of "predator priests" in Pennsylvania, and retired Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed from public ministry after he was found to have sexually abused a teenage altar boy.
Last week, O'Malley said he did not see a letter that was sent to his office in 2015 concerning the allegations against McCarrick.