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The Suffering Church: A Call for Prayer and Holiness

My Dear Friends in Christ,

            In light of the horrible and tragic revelations about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, I want to take a moment to raise this difficult issue in our midst. Even with all of the challenges we face here, right now in the pastorate, I feel the need to begin to address this directly. I echo the words of our Holy Father in his Letter to the People of God.

            Such heinous acts are beyond my understanding, especially with those called to serve the children they abused, those called to stand in for Christ Himself. I’m sickened over the abuse of so many children by the criminal acts and irresponsible practices of so many priests and bishops. I am so angry that at least some church hierarchy placed the institution of the Church over the safety and protection of children. I ache that these revelations will damage, perhaps even destroy, some people’s commitment to the Church and their faith in Christ, that some who so desperately need Christ in their lives will now not know Him. You may be appalled and angry too. You may be so angry that you are contemplating walking away from the Church. I get that. I do. And I pray you don’t. We cannot equate the clergy, the hierarchy, or even the institution of the Church with the Church itself. The Church is Christ’s Body, headed by Christ alone and He established the Church for us that He might continue to share and to shower God’s grace on us, promising always to be with us and that even Hell itself would not prevail against it.

            On behalf of the Church, and in unity with Archbishop Lori, I am sorry. I am sorry for the unimaginable harm and irreparable damage done to children. I repeat, I am sorry to all victims and their families, for those who were hurt and then hurt further by being ignored, had their abuse covered up, or told to go away. As our Holy Father said, no effort to beg pardon will be enough but we must try, and continue, to beg forgiveness. I ask you to pray with me, to make it an expressed part of your prayer every day.

            In light of such horrible past tragedies and realizing that often times abuse is unknown, cries unheeded, I want to offer with you our pastorate as place of a healing, compassion and empathy, a safe place for all of our children and young people, where all, but especially a victim, will feel support and consolation. To assist in that process, we will be scheduling additional times for prayer and additional prayer services including Eucharistic adoration for victims and for reparation of the Church’s failures to protect our children.

            As a part of creating a consoling place for survivors and a safe place for all of our children, we are reviewing all of our parish procedures that affect this issue, even tangentially. I want to be sure that we have done everything we can to prevent this from happening again, let alone here. As our Holy Father said, it is at least a slight comfort that the vast majority of cases are from many years ago and that none of those reported in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report are since the sweeping changes called for by the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. And I’m also consoled by our efforts, policies and procedures here in Baltimore that have gone even beyond what was required by the Charter for the safety of our young people.

            Again, we pledge our prayers for victims of child abuse and their families. We renew and strengthen our commitment to maintain the highest possible standards of safety for all of our children in all of our programs. We firmly resolve to redouble our mission to reach out and make disciples. And, respectfully, humbly, I invite you, despite everything that has been revealed and anything to come, to continue to stand with us in that mission.

Peace,

Additional Resources

Reflection by Archbishop William E. Lori

Reporting Abuse