"If one member suffers,
all suffer together with it."
On August 20th, His Holiness Pope Francis
issued an impassioned letter to the People of God throughout the
Catholic world, and chose to begin with this quotation from 1st
Corinthians. It is a strikingly appropriate Scripture verse with
which to begin his letter, since the August report by a Pennsylvania
Grand Jury on the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children and
young people by hundreds of Catholic clergy has triggered terrible hurt,
anger, disbelief, bewilderment, and sadness among believers here at
home, across the nation, and indeed around the world. In the brief
time following the Pennsylvania report, it has become increasingly
evident that the sexual abuse of minors has often been coupled with a
shameful abuse of power by some of those with greatest authority in the
Church, to minimize or cover up such crimes.
As a parish family, we weep with all who have
suffered abuse of any kind by a priest, religious, bishop, etc.
Their hurt--in many cases inflicted decades ago--is a violation that can
make living a healthy, productive life virtually impossible, even with
the passage of time. We pray for them and their loved ones, first
and foremost. But we also weep for our beleaguered Church, which
in many ways has worked earnestly for the past 15 years to safeguard our
children, teens, and vulnerable adults from any kind of predation, and
to make the requirements for the psychological and emotional wellbeing
of those who would enter ordained ministry that much more comprehensive
and stringent. It feels as if so much hard work has been undone by
these most recent revelations.
But if I can be so presumptuous as to quote my
own letter to the parishioners of St. Lawrence on August 17th,
"I choose to believe with St. Lawrence and all
the holy men and women of every age that the Church is the beloved
family of God, cherished and delighted in despite the frailty of its
members. We are as human a community as any other, except for the
marvelous fact that the Spirit of God is alive in the midst of his
people, as our constant Companion, Advocate, and Guide. God will
never abandon us—no matter how often or how painfully we may stumble.
That, of course, is the Good News at the heart of all Jesus proclaimed:
that in spite of our sinfulness, weakness, and imperfection, God
chooses this people
as his Bride; opens his arms to forgive our sins; and walks alongside us
as we make our pilgrim way to our true home."
Even in the midst of
the scorn, outrage, and ridicule (much of it understandable and even
deserved) that come with ongoing revelations of the abuse of persons and
of power, let us continue to live in hope, clinging to the hand of our
and to one another,
trusting that the Lord has not abandoned his people, but is no doubt
leading us through a period of trial and purification to a more perfect
union with Him.
For the latest statements by our Bishop, John O. Barres, in response to
the current crisis; the full text of Pope Francis' letter to the People
of God; and the policies and programs already in place in the Diocese of
Rockville Centre, go to
For the full text of Father Brian's August 17th letter to the
parishioners of St. Lawrence,
For a very candid, unvarnished, and insightful
Answer" by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop, Robert Barron,