With the release of the Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania last week, which followed closely upon revelations of misconduct surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Catholics are rightly outraged, disgusted and heartbroken to have to confront yet again the horror of the abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The greater the trust, the greater the betrayal.
And while the Church in the United States has been proactive in establishing safe environment policies to ensure the protection of children, the past misdeeds of so many and the failure of many Church authorities to act swiftly and justly, with integrity and transparency, have left so many — lay and clergy alike — suffering yet again from a wound which many hoped had begun to heal. Our diocesan church expresses profound shame, regret and remorse, while realizing that none of these emotions could remotely compare with the suffering of the victims themselves. Decades of silence, aspersions of doubt and a lack of validation have only compounded the effects of the abuse itself.
We can and must do better as a Church to accompany victims of abuse. And we must commit ourselves to creating an environment of transparency and accountability in the Church at all levels, so that such abuse will never occur again. In a moment of such profound confusion and doubt, we do well to heed the advice of the Psalmist, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in mere men, who are powerless to save” (Ps. 146:3). We dare to believe that the Church will be purified and that the Church will be saved, because it is Christ himself who purifies and saves her.