SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH

I think that most of us thought that the sexual abuse crisis in the Church was behind us.

On the one hand since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has been implemented since 2002, our parishes, schools and institutions have been safe environments.  Even in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report most of the cases occurred more than 30 years ago.  These years have been painful for all of us as we learned the harm that was done to the victims by clergy who abused them.  It was an heart-rending betrayal by the offending perpetrator bishops, priests and deacons of the trust placed in them by the people.  It was criminal and sinful.  There were nights when I cried after hearing survivors tell their stories.
But now on the other hand we read the revelations about Theodore McCarrick and  the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.  We are angry, ashamed and shocked at what we have learned.  As bishops we fall on our knees and ask God’s mercy on us  and the leaders in the Church for the terrible mistakes that were made in response to what happened and also for the failure of those who knew and did nothing.  We must do penance by opening the doors of accountability for our actions or lack of action.  I have said many times that the Church goes on because of the faith of the people.  But now we must say more – we must call upon our laity to provide wisdom and give direction for the renewal and purification of the Church.  The Church must do what we all do individually as sinners: confess our sins, do penance and amend our lives.  Our confession must be totally honest and humble; our penance must be a new conversion to God in how we follow Christ and we must make those changes which are necessary to insure the dignity, safety and well-being of every child of God.
And now I will read the letter that Bishop Myron Cotta, our bishop, has written to us.

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