I am a member of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and I serve on the Leadership Team of the Association. As a result, I participated in the writing of the statement below responding to the Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania and other related events. I share the statement with you to help all of us deal with this scandal of our Church. I have had the opinion shared with me that sex abuse is a purely legal issue and that the Church should not be so publicly involved with how abuse accusations are resolved. I understand the legal implications of sex abuse charges, but I also know that, as a pastoral person, I have to deal with the moral and pastoral implications of these horrific acts. We are a strong Church and we will hopefully learn and grow as a people of God.
I am off to France on Monday morning for 12 days; please have a splendid Labor Day weekend.
Let us continue to pray and sacrifice for peace in our world! In peace and courage,
A statement from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: In response to our hurting Church August 17, 2018
We are sad. We are angry. We are frustrated. We are members and friends of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. The news from Pennsylvania brings on us another wave of shame as we acknowledge that even greater pain has been inflicted on children and families and on all the faithful by our brothers in the priesthood and our hierarchy.
The Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania follows the recent resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, scandals in Chile, Australia and elsewhere, and the investigation into the Boston seminary. At every level, our Church is in pain.
In the face of these horrific realities, we cling to our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We ask for healing of those who have been hurt. We ask for clear judgment, restitutive justice and appropriate penance for those who have done evil or who failed in any way to protect children and families from evil.
We are as shaken as were the apostles on Good Friday, but we remain committed to our mission and our determination to be a pastoral voice of hope and joy within our pilgrim church and world, weak and sinful as we all are. We trust in God’s love and reign. We base our hope and our joy in Jesus and in the Spirit who gives us the inspiration and strength to say and do what we must.
- Those responsible for these scandals within this Church that we love must, individually and corporately, publicly apologize and ask forgiveness for what they have done and what they have failed to do.
- The seminary process which has formed Catholic clergy for centuries must be fundamentally reformed to make it effective and adequate for our times. Our Association reaffirms our recommendation and request that the U.S. bishops adopt significant changes for the sixth edition of the Program of Priestly Formation, as proposed in a document we submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in January 2018. Preparation for priesthood must include faithfulness to Vatican II, a call to a life of service to God and God’s people, formation in pastoral settings among the people whom candidates will serve, and authentic human psychosexual development. Discernment regarding the continuation of priesthood candidates should include faculty and staff with pastoral experience and participation of laity, women and men, who have had experience of the candidates in the course of their formation. We deem it especially important, indeed essential, that women be involved in the formation and decisive discernment of candidates for priesthood and integrated at every level, from top to bottom, in the power structure of the Church. (The AUSCP White Paper on Priestly Formation, along with a letter to the USCCB, are available at the AUSCP website: http:// www.uscatholicpriests.org/priestly-formation-1
- We pray that God will give all of us who serve as pastors, priests, bishops, deacons and faithful the strength to root out the pride and ambition of clericalism and its scandalous behavior.
- We heartily support Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and the USCCB executive committee, who called August 16 for an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops, and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. “These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity,” DiNardo said.
We pray for the People of God and we stand ready to assist in any way we can, as our Church addresses the moral and spiritual catastrophe of abuse