By now, you have seen accounts and excerpts from the Aug. 14 Pennsylvania grand jury report on the scourge of sexual abuse of minors that covers six dioceses over 70 years and reveals accusations of 300 priests having sexually abused 1,000 children.
Like you, I am appalled, angry and saddened that clergy would violate their vocations and the innocence of so many young people. The report also contended that many of the bishops of those dioceses systematically covered up much of the abuse.
Pope Francis, in his Aug. 20 “Letter to the People of God,” acknowledged Church leadership’s failure, stating that “we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, joined the Pope in his condemnation but focused on the homosexual subculture among the clergy: “There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publicly deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary.”
Trust in Church leadership is flagging in many places in the world; in others, it is gone. While the Church needs an investigation into the failure of leaders and for them to be held accountable, we also need the remaining leaders to act swiftly, surely and decisively to restore order.
In April 2002, four months after the sex-abuse scandal broke in Boston, Pope John Paul II called the U.S. bishops to the Vatican for a summit. The results were the Dallas Charter and greater accountability for priests and deacons. Many are calling for Francis to call a summit of his own, to remedy the deficiencies of the charter and demand greater accountability for bishops.
This is far from over, but the answer begins as we kneel before God in prayer and fasting and then rise to action infused by his wisdom and grace. God will purify his Church — one way or another.
The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary was a day after the grand jury report was released. It served as a fitting reminder to turn to Our Lady at this difficult time. Let’s seek to be inspired by her fidelity, even in the face of such evil.
God bless you!