letter to bishops

Your Excellency:

Here are some things you may want to consider regarding the current unpleasantness surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Church.  Taking this entire situation to prayer, to spiritual direction and to therapy I have made some conclusions and connections that I believe are inspired by God.

 When individuals first approached the members of the Church hierarchy and those in their employ with allegations of abuse, (or at the very least, unseemly behavior), they were ignored, not believed, disparaged, threatened, some combination of those things and ultimately silenced.   Therefore some victims of abuse retained lawyers in an attempt to be heard by Church hierarchy. Sadly it seems when assets are involved then the weak are listened too.  Would lawyers have become involved if the problems were dealt with as they arose?  I think a case could be made that lawyers would not have been involved.

The reaction and inaction seems puzzling because it is the antithesis of what the Church really stands for, that is, the gospel of Christ.

Ugly things have been said by both sides on this issue.    Unfortunately even more negative things have been added by third parties who have a negative agenda that is not congruent with the moral authority given to us by God.  That said, here are perceptions of what Church mouthpieces have put forth, from a victim/survivor of clergy sexual abuse, one who has worked extensively with an array of abuse victims.

  • Wanting to be heard and acknowledged by the hierarchy of the Church is not in and of itself anti-Catholic.  Please don’t go there.
  • Citing diocesan need to hold onto money for charitable works is an insult.  It suggests that helping the victims of abuse is not a charitable work.  (More on that later.)
  • Putting forth that the viability of Catholic Schools is as important in the mission of the Church as helping to heal the psychological wreckage imposed by clergy et. al. is also insulting and hurtful.  (More on that later too.)
  • Shifting the blame of the scope of the scandal onto the media and disparaging lawyers who have been retained by victims is a red herring and takes the focus off of what the real problem has been.  This tactic also encourages the faithful in the pews to attack the victims. 

Many, if not most, of the victims are or were active, baptized, members of the Church therefore they are a part of the Body of Christ.  There are some members of the Body of Christ who now hate God, (wrongly), for what was done to them and the uncaring, (sometimes vicious), reaction of the hierarchy.   As you are aware God is all too often blamed for bad things and the sins of man. 

Because of this fracture in the Body of Christ it behooves us to actively seek out those members of the body who can be considered lost sheep.  It is vital that we seek them out, minister to them and if possible bring them back to our glorious Church…or at least get them to a point where they don’t hate God any longer.  Causing someone so much pain that they now hate God is a sin I cannot fathom.

The ministry of seeking these lost sheep and reconciling them with the Church should be the number one, most important thing that we do as a Church at this time in history.   In the gospels Jesus seeks out the lost sheep.  He heals them as our loving, compassionate, merciful brother and God.  That is the outreach work that is mandated by love.  That is the outreach work that is mandated by the example we have in Christ.  Abandoning lost sheep is anathema to Jesus. 

For now this needs to be the only charitable work of the Church.   Everything else is chaff.   Taking responsibility for driving some people out of the Church and taking responsibility to reconcile them teaches people more about the love of God, love that should be reflected by the Church, than any school ever could.

There are no other diocesan considerations as vital and as essential as this. God will provide for the Church.  Things, assets, money is not important…people and the salvation of souls is what is important.

In Our Merciful Savior,

About follow1in3

I am a Roman Catholic priest ordained for the Diocese of Wilmington, DE who is also a victim of clergy sexual abuse. I am often angered by the insensitiviy and hostility of other clergy, the hierarchy and the so-called people-of-God. If clergy, bishops included, really and truly understood abuse, (any kind of abuse), I would not feel the need to blog on occasion. It is very frustraing.
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