The Archdiocese of Boston’s top liaison to victims of sexual abuse and their families is stepping down this month.
Barbara Thorp, a licensed social worker, has directed the Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection since the clergy abuse crisis erupted in Boston a decade ago. She has worked for the church for 35 years.
Thorp is among a small circle of advisers who have helped Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley navigate the church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis, his central challenge since he arrived in Boston in 2003. She was one of three top aides who accompanied O’Malley to Dublin last year when he conducted a review — at the request of the Vatican — of the Archdiocese of Dublin’s handling of its sexual abuse crisis. In Boston, Thorp has also been the face of the church to many people hurt by abuse.
“Barbara Thorp has been a beacon of hope for survivors and their families,” O’Malley said in a statement Thursday. “Her care, concern, and compassion have been essential in bringing healing to many survivors and their families, and to the wider community of the church. These last 10 years have been life-changing for everyone impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse. I have relied on Barbara’s sound judgment and expertise in responding to the needs of survivors.”
In the statement, O’Malley added that child protection and pastoral care to those harmed remain the church’s highest priorities. The church is searching for Thorp’s successor, he said.
Another top aide to O’Malley on sexual abuse, the Rev. John J. Connolly Jr., stepped down last year to return to parish ministry.