From Fr. Jim about the Abuse Scandal in our universal Church
You have seen and heard from the Archbishop about the current experience of the Abuse Scandal precipitated by the Grand Jury Report from Pennsylvania. I have been working with the parish pastoral staff to say something to you as well. What I have determined to do, however, is to use what others have said, (I had some major input in the St. Vincent de Paul statement) because I think that they say it succinctly and well. I fully embrace and endorse their words and share them with you. Fr. Jim
From the Leadership Conference of Women Religious USA
Sexual abuse is a horrific crime, and the horror is so much worse when committed by persons in whom society has placed its trust and confidence. Equally difficult to comprehend is the culture within the church hierarchy that tolerated the abuse, left children and vulnerable adults subject to further abuse, and created practices that covered up the crimes and protected the abusers.
We call upon the church leadership to implement plans immediately to support more fully the healing of all victims of clergy abuse, hold abusers accountable, and work to uncover and address the root causes of the sexual abuse crisis. We believe that the work to implement the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its subsequent revisions has been an important and effective step in addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. We have watched the Conference of Major Superiors of Men diligently work to assure the protection and safety of children and youth and applaud its efforts. However, it is clear that more serious action needs to be taken to assure that the culture of secrecy and cover-up ends.
We also call upon church leaders to attend to the severe erosion of the church’s moral standing in the world. Its members are angry, confused, and struggling to find ways to make sense of the church’s failings. The church leadership needs to speak with honesty and humility about how this intolerable culture developed and how that culture will now be deconstructed, and to create places where church members can express our anger and heartbreak. We call on the leaders to include competent members of the laity more fully in the work to eradicate abuse and change the culture, policies, and practices. We are committed to collaborate in the essential work of healing and transformation that our church so desperately needs.
Finally, we recognize that the vast majority of priests have not committed abuse and are suffering greatly because of the actions of some of their brothers. We offer them our prayer and support as they continue their ministries in these very challenging times and as they too struggle to understand the complexity of factors that led to this deplorable situation.
From John Foppe Archdiocesan Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
St. Vincent De Paul once wrote, “Some people look but never see. Others see but never look.”
As painful as it is, we need to look at the sexual abuse crimes and subsequent coverups - and see what we can do as Vincentians. Over the past years, the St. Louis SVdP Council has strived to create a culture of proactively seeking out all in need. Certainly, these victims are among those most in need right now.
We care about these victims. We grieve for not only a loss of their innocence and dignity, but also for their loss of self-esteem, psycho-sexual development and ability to trust others. We grieve that many are permanently impaired by the perpetrators’ sinful behavior, lives lost and forlorn because they trusted someone who violated not only their faith, but their bodies and their very selves. We are keenly aware of the terrible pain these actions have caused the victims and families . . . years of struggle, terrible memories, disrupted lives - and even loss of faith.
These victims and their families are all around us and feel abandoned by the Church. First, they were hurt by the perpetrators, second by the coverups of the hierarchy and third by the lack of solidarity from the laity.
We Vincentians might think we don’t encounter abuse victims and might ask, “What can we do?”
I urge us all to be aware and sensitive. . . to look and to see these abuse victims as Neighbors in Need.
Next, we should be ready to help. “There is no act of charity foreign to the Society,” said Blessed Frederic Ozanam.
Finally, pray for the victims, their families and our Church.
I am so grateful to every Priest and Bishop who remain faithful to their vows and lead lives of holiness. I encourage us to make a strong effort to let our clergy know we pray for them as well.
Thank you for courageously looking into our Neighbors’ eyes, seeing their pain and making visible the face of Christ.