I got some feedback from a priest I respect and trust. This is what I’ve come up with. I plan to mail it today.
Dear Bishop Malooly,
I hardly know how to start this letter to you. In your statement on the diocesan web site and subsequently reported by the News Journal in reference to the jury awarded settlement in the case of John Vai your statement that it was a shame the people of St. Elizabeth parish have to pay for the sins of Fr. Francis Deluca 40 years after the fact was both irresponsible and flippant.
What was the purpose of such a statement? I know that you know that all the people that make up the Body of Christ are responsible for one another. I would like to remind you of the encyclical written by Pope Pius XII from 1943 on the Mystical Body of Christ:
“That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. “Christ,” says the Apostle “is the Head of the Body of the Church.” If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity, according to those words of Paul: “Though many we are one body in Christ.” But it is not enough that the body of the Church should be an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: “the Church is visible because she is a body.” Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely “pneumatological” as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond.”
“But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are linked together in such a way as to help one another. And as in the body when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain, and the healthy members come to the assistance of the ailing, so in the Church the individual members do not live for themselves alone, but also help their fellows, and all work in mutual collaboration for the common comfort and for the more perfect building up of the whole Body.”
The response that you gave in no way helps build up the Body of Christ. It only serves to inflame the existing opposition and in some cases hatred vetted toward victims of clergy sexual abuse. The response that you gave also makes you look petty, which I don’t think you are, it does not fit the dignity of your office or your state in life as a bishop and it supplies ammunition to the enemies of the Church, (SNAP for instance), who keep pounding home the point that the hierarchy do not understand how complex this issue is or how deeply and multifaceted the suffering of victims can be. The appearance that your response gives is that money is the most important issue in this whole mess and not the salvation of those who have been victims of clergy sexual abuse as well as the perpetrators, (also members of the Body of Christ). You are going to be a target of criticism no matter what you say or do not say about every issue imaginable. That comes with your office. But instead of knee-jerk reactions or an overwhelming desire to get some comment from your office out in the public domain there are times when it would be more prudent to say nothing. This was one of those times.
Personally I was so encouraged by your Installation homily when you spoke of wanting to do all you can for victims of clergy sexual abuse. That is probably why I am so disappointed now. And here is one other thing for you to ponder. The clergy sexual scandal is a scandal that was solely caused by clergy and members of the hierarchy. One can accurately say that it is a Church-birthed scandal. As it compares to other charitable causes and social ills that the Church is involved in: right to life issues, the poor, hungry, homeless, it is the only social ill that has its root cause in the Church. A horror that was caused by the Church should take precedence by the Church in every effort of charity. We caused it so we need to make it right.
Rev. John Lunness