Stepping into the Archdiocesan Office Building just minutes before the press conference, I spotted two former colleagues from the Catholic Standard and Times. As I said hello, the elevator doors opened. Cardinal Rigali and Archbishop Chaput emerged and stopped to greet them. Turning to me, Cardinal Rigali extended his hand and asked with a smile, “and who are you?”
I extended my hand and introduced myself. His Eminence recognized my name. It was a polite, uncomfortable and a profoundly sad moment for me.
He had graciously met with my husband, Damian Dachowski, when he ran for a political office a couple of years ago. When I sent the request this past Spring, I really believed the Cardinal, or at least one of the Bishops, would meet with me. I wanted to share concerns on behalf my readers. Many of them are faithful Catholics leaving the Church or on the fence because of the child sex abuse scandal that emerged with the 2011 Grand Jury Report. We needed ministry. Instead, we received a carefully-worded response from the Office for Communications.
Between his time in Rome and a reluctance to personally deal with this issue, it is my impression that Cardinal Rigali left much of the clergy sex abuse issues to his Bishops. Does this let him off the hook. No. His apologies during Tuesday’s press conference seemed genuine but do nothing to help the victims and those whose faith in the institutional Church is shattered.
Later, I would meet a Philadelphia pastor who was brave enough to speak candidly about the issues and recognized the severity of the cover up and its cost, both spiritually and financially to the Archdiocese. He offered me what seemingly so few clergy could – hope. Someone in the clergy “got it.” That hope has kept Catholics4Change.com going.
Now, we need a leader who can renew the hope of all Catholics in Philadelphia. While I’m aware of Archbishop Chaput’s history in Denver, I’m not a fan of knee-jerk reactions. We can leave our minds open – along with our eyes.