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Proper response to sins: 'not denial but repentance'

Archbishop Wenski's statement on Pennsylvania grand jury report

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Archbishop Thomas Wenski issued this statement Aug. 17, 2018 in response to the report on historic abuse cases issued by the grand jury in Pennsylvania.

Last week, a Grand Jury in Pennsylvania released a disturbing report on historic abuse cases that occurred over seventy years in the State. The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts, like those that former Cardinal McCarrick is said to have committed, were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from her past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.

Most of the discussion in the report concerns abuses before the early 2000s. By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse. In the Archdiocese of Miami, we take seriously our responsibility to provide a safe environment for all God’s children; and any member of the clergy credibly charged with having abused a minor or vulnerable adult is permanently removed from ministry.

Church history and our daily experience give ample evidence of the sinfulness of the members of Christ’s body. But, should we be surprised that a Church that Jesus founded to save sinners finds within her ranks sinners? Nevertheless, the failure of many members to live coherently the faith they profess is a counter witness to the Gospel. On the eve of his election as pope, Cardinal Ratzinger decried the “filth” to be found within the Church, and then as Pope Benedict remarked that when the “world reminds us of our sins” the proper response is not denial but repentance.

Let us pray for all victims of sexual abuse.  May they realize that what happen to them was not their fault. May the Lord heal them. Also, let us pray for those priests who strive to serve God’s people with integrity; and, let us pray for each other: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Comments from readers

Mary Brick Spencer - 08/27/2018 05:58 PM
I pray for you that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit who will guide you as sheperd of your flock and to be filled with the truth.
chuck maher - 08/22/2018 02:54 PM
The Church should promise to not use its legal arm to delay, deter,obfuscate or hinder in any way the search for truth in this matter.
Marcella - 08/19/2018 05:23 PM
I beg you Archbishop Wenski to please remove any such filth (abusers, actively gay priests, outright dissenters, and thieves) in our archdiocese. How can the Church teach what is right if its representatives are corrupt? No place is free from this evil and we know this filth is here. Please put structures in place for lay people to have a serious part of the work of this cleansing, as the people no longer trust the bishops or the Vatican to do the job. Also, let us have Masses of reparation, organized rosaries, fasting, etc. Most importantly remove the priests who are not living up to the chastity the job demands, and certainly any who are abusers. Make sure our seminarians and children are safe. We don't want silence agreements to protect priests, we want abusers of any kind to be in jail and/or dismissed after a fair hearing. We don't want any "corporate speak" and CYA. We want you to be as angry as we are. We want to see you fighting to clean up any mess we have here and in the rest of the country. If this happens we will have a springtime of faith here in the Archdiocese. If not, we will descend into the evil mire, and the churches will be empty. I have always trusted you, as a father and an honest faithful man, and we are counting on you. But you will held accountable both by us and by Christ.
Paul Schlachter - 08/18/2018 03:54 PM
The ongoing scandal, not just of clergy taking advantage of their position by forcing themselves on the young, but of the coverup by the hierarchy over decades, outrages me and everyone who looks for accountability from our leadership. I was born and lived my first two years in Pennsylvania, visiting frequently after that. It is especially unfortunate that these revelations did not come from internal study and reporting but from the secular judicial system. We understand well that we must try to resolve our conflicts among ourselves and not take our quarrels “to the pagans,” but haven’t it been the courts that uncovered the unspeakable treachery at all points? We would have expected our ordinary to express his sorrow and regret, and to confide in a reporting and review process that acts in secret and is not accountable to the people of the archdiocese. In other words: It happened somewhere else and we’re just fine here; trust us. I for one look not for public relations but accountability. The right person to make a statement at this time would be the chair of the archdiocesan Review Board or the Victim Assistance Coordinator, in other words a layperson who is actively engaged and able to judge whether our local processes are adequate to the grave scandal that affects us all.
Margaret bowra - 08/18/2018 09:06 AM
Thank you archbishop the people need to hear this so. They know nothing is being hidden This is very upsetting these men hurt children in the worst way How bad they must of hurt Jesus they will have to answer to Him I would not want any of these men near me But I know I must forgive them because Jesus will And I also know no .one is with out sin I pray for healing in our church and for God to continue to guide you

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