NC Catholics use Eucharistic Congress to 'renew religion' following accused sexual abuse scandal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thousands of Catholics from all over North Carolina are counting this weekend's Eucharistic Congress as a chance to renew their religion.

"Jesus, he's the reason I come and to just learn more about my faith,” Catholic Joyce Ziolkowski said.

Within the Catholic faith, a dark cloud hovers regarding reports of sexual abuse .of children by priests.

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For the first time, Diocese of Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis spoke out publicly about the allegations, which include recent reports of sexual misconduct of a retired Washington, D.C., archbishop, and a bombshell grand jury report detailing decades of child abuse in Pennsylvania.

"The horrible sins of abuse and misconduct and the sins of abuse of power and position have reared their ugly heads in the church, and for this we are saddened and outraged,” Jugis said.

Fellow Catholics agree with Jugis’ statement.

"We've had in this diocese, as well as the other two in the Carolinas, zero tolerance,” Catholic Greg Duncan said.

"It's something that we are all concerned about and we are wanting something done about it,” Catholic Paul Mitchell said.

The bishop asked God to have mercy on the church and to cleanse and purify it.

"God will bring healing to victims and help us, all of us, all of the faithful to rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of holiness of life,” Jugis said.

While these sexual abuse allegations only apply to a small percentage of the Catholic Church, others say they will continue their praise.

"Ninety-nine percent are serving the Lord the way he intended (them) to,” Duncan said.

The Eucharistic Congress will continue Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center, where the bishop plans to further discuss abuse turmoil during closing Mass.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed some incidents that may have occurred the Carolinas.

Channel 9 found one priest is accused of taking a victim on overnight trips and vacations, including to Myrtle Beach.

Another priest is accused of taking a victim and two minors to Hilton Head.

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