The statement and petition: “Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners & Lay Leaders on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States”
“Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People.
We urge them to follow the example of Chile’s thirty-four bishops, who resigned collectively in May of this year after revelations of widespread sexual abuse and corruption were brought to light. Through prudent discernment, Pope Francis ultimately accepted three of these thirty-four resignations. It should be noted that the active bishop-to-Catholic ratio is almost the same in Chile and the United States, and that the geographical scope of the crisis in this country appears to surpass that of Chile. After years of suppressed truth, the unreserved decisiveness of the Chilean bishops’ resignations communicated to the faithful a message that Catholics in the United States have yet to hear, with an urgency we have yet to witness: We have caused this devastation. We have allowed it to persist. We submit ourselves to judgment in recompense for what we have done and failed to do….”
41 thoughts on “Petition Requests Leadership Resignations”
I do not disagree with this but it is NOT the core problem. The problem is not the bishops per se. As a former RC Seminarian and someone with three Masters degrees with one in Human Performance Systems I can address this. I worked as the HPS pro in the Office of Human Resources at the Smithsonian and am now retired. I can say as a professional that this problem is endemic to the actual structure of the RC Church. The Church is a sacramental church. According to RC theology the church cannot exist without the bishops and their priests and deacons to administer the sacraments. So…..do you see the problem here? The ‘bad guys’ are literally immune from admonishment or removal or the sacraments die. Do not believe for one minute that the episcopacy is not aware of this. This was put in place I can assure you to specifically keep these people above the fray. They are literally gods in this regard. They cannot be removed except by the Pope and even that is only ceremonial. The organization is a lock for these people and when Constantine set all of this up with the bishops in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea the entire point was to keep the Church organized and above all obedient to the Emperor and aims of Rome. There is no democracy in any sacramental church….that is reserved for Protestantism. And even then democratic movement is limited. If this is going to be truly addressed then the actual structure of the sacramental churches must be radically changed. The power must flow from the episcopacy back to the believers in the pews. That will NEVER happen. Trust me. This was designed to be this way and the abuse of small children by officers of the church is collateral damage of this mindset.
I am so happy to know that when I was 13 I was nothing more than “Collateral Damage”.
Michael that is not what I meant and if you took it that way I apologize to you. I myself was sexually harassed in seminary, in Catholic high school and even in Catholic college by both priests and nuns. I know what it feels like. But the truth is that sexual abuse of children and young adults is a clear out growth of how the RC Church, and all sacramental churches, are structured. There is NO WAY to completely stop this problem BUT a fundamental change to how the RC Church is structured relative to exactly who holds the power would go far to limit the damage to children. I meant no insult to you. But I am obligated by conscience to call this as I see it. Tom
I understand what you meant and I am shaking my head at the truth of your statement. No insult taken. I had not looked at it this way before, I think you are spot on. I did not word my initial reply well. My apologies!
We are in this together Michael. Hang in there. We can get through this brother and have a meaningful life. Your Brother, Love, Tom
Michael, never see yourself as collateral damage. You are a victim of a sick system. I am so sorry.
I am long past being a victim.
I tend to agree with you. It is very much like asking the United States Congress to do term limits.They would never vote to limit their ability to run for office. As the Pope and the Hierarchy moan and groan about how this is so horrible and something must be done, they will continue to make sure the laity has no real power, except for money. That is the only power the laity actually has. And most of them are too concerned with paying their way into heaven, they will never stop giving.
Jim I agree completely. The sacramental churches MUST have some sort of priesthood in order to administer sacraments. That is how it works and THAT fact puts them into a sort of organizational royalty that cannot be effectively assaulted. As harsh as this sounds this is much more a problem of organizational structure than one of a rotting officer corps within the organization. OF COURSE what these church officers are doing is wrong. No one argues that. BUT….how did this go on for so long and not be effectively challenged? I suspect that since this was addressed by Jesus in the Gospels it was occurring in the Christian groups while Jesus was still alive. Otherwise he would not have addressed the issue. Given my background I see this as a deliberate attempt by the Romans who set this church up to actually foster a sort of “immunity of the royalty” on this issue and other issues. This would fit in perfectly with how Rome was organized at that time. Essentially the Patrician could get away with murder…..hence the church that they created had their Elitist mindset in protecting the priests, bishops and deacons in the fashion of how the Patricians were protected under Roman law.
Thomas: As we have seen from many of these Bishops,they have no problem building themselves palaces. There is no question in my mind that these Bishops consider themselves to be royalty. One thing that struck me in reading this latest Grand Jury report is how the Bishops acted as if they were above the laws of men.They could circumvent laws of the State by telling victims not to report crimes to the police,they could protect their priests by moving them from one parish to another without telling the receiving or giving parish. Statute of limitation reform is the only thing that will give any amount of justice to those of us who were abused as Catholic children.Unfortunately the Catholic Church has made an alliance with the Republican party and Statute of limitation reform is truly a long shot.
Jim…well again I must agree with you. But I look at churches the way I look at car dealerships. They are selling a product. The product is hope. The hope that they are selling is a belief that this life is not meaningless, that there is a reward at the end of life for being cooperative to authority, complacent in your personal pain, willing to give when you have little to give. Essentially it is a benign attempt at mind control. The basic guiding mission statement would be “The Church is called to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and the beliefs of the Christian faith, to maintain the worship of God, and to inspire in all persons a love for Christ, a passion for righteousness, and a consciousness of their duties to God and their fellow human beings. We pledge our lives to Christ and covenant with each other to demonstrate His Spirit through worship, witnessing, and ministry to the needs of the people of this church and the community”. Sounds nice huh? NONE of it is measurable. NONE of it is based in real human interactions that can be quantified or perhaps even observed. It is in a very real sense a benign (or not so benign attempt?) to keep us all children until we can meet the great Zeus like Santa Claus in the sky and get our reward. Many scholars think that the Church was specifically developed by Roman Patricians at the highest levels of Roman society to keep the poor down and do it without having to use expensive armies. (Joseph Atwill for one and even Robert Price, a former Bapitst Minister, might agree on some of this). With that as a starting point you must understand that from a Roman patrician pt of view abusing children sexually is the right of the ruling class (i.e. the Roman ruling class). Proceeding from that point, it is no big deal. It is their privilege. Children are to be used, especially poor children. Once you grasp that in fact that Church was designed to mimic Roman Society at the highest levels relative to the Hierarchy then all of this makes an evil sort of sense. They are only exercising their rights as Patricians. Once you can get a feel for this you begin to understand how long this has been going on (hint: since day one) and how common this is among sacramental church priesthoods. Sacramental churches cannot exist without a priesthood. They know that. Hence…..abuse on all levels whenever they wish. Tom
This is correct. The problem is much larger and it’s a systemic problem. When the culture of priesthood is clericalism, there is a grand sense of entitlement. They do it because they believe they deserve it. It’s not just sexual abuse of minors that we deal with (though that is the most despicable, reprehensible, disgusting behavior that can occur). We have priests who are living beyond the lifestyle of most of us. Why? They believe they are entitled. We have priests who travel extensively leaving their parishes and duties. Why? They are entitled. We have priests who spend parish money enhancing their lifestyles. Why, They are entitled. One thing leads to another. One thing builds on another. It is a serious systemic issue. These guys know that the church cannot exist without them and it’s true. They are also protected by Canon Law. Let’s not look at the abusers (they are disgusting). Let’s look at the system. It’s so time to clean house. I don’t see how it can be fixed.
They are not immune, but the laity have to force a change by withholding ALL financial contributions to this corrupt organization. The bishops only care about one thing and that is money! Not you, not me, not the children, just money and only money. Once the cash stops flowing to Rome changes will be made. But the docile submissive sheep in the pews will never do that and the roman mafia will continue to rule as always. I really believe most Roman Catholics are too stupid to think for themselves or stand up for themselves.
Thomas, please correct me if I am wrong…
I understand that the faithful can receive the sacraments by “will” or “wish” or “desire” and, from such a state of mind, receives all of the grace inherent in them without a priest actually administering them.
I have been taught if a priest is not around. If you confess your sins and say an act of contrition God forgives you. In the case of war or emergency,
Also there is Baptism by desire if someone desires to be baptized before death etc. in extreme conditions.
I am not sure. YOU MIGHT be right but I have no knowledge of this. In other words, a layman cannot celebrate mass, hear confessions, administer the Sacrament of the Sick, confirm, marry someone in the church, etc. As to the theological implications of desiring a sacrament….wow…..I do not know how to answer this.
Thomas, I read a few years ago that my understanding of receiving the sacraments by “will” or “desire” is alluded to in Canon Law. I have no idea if what I read is correct. I am researching it. But, for the sake of argument, let’s agree momentarily that I am correct. It completely removes the faithful’s reliance on priests for sacramental grace which is why individual exit-Catholics follow it, today, in order to maintain their faith while remaining autonomous and nonaligned with what they perceive as an unconscionable priesthood and institutional Church. If the sacraments by “will” or “desire” is not official Catholic theology, who would be surprised? Clerics wrote the theology! They want us and our salvation to be dependent on them. It’s the epitome of power and control. Does it seem likely that God rejects the faithful’s “will” or “desire” to receive the grace of the sacraments in light of an unconscionable priesthood and institutional Church? No. Indeed, it’s likely that His grace is magnified ten-fold.
If it requires for the present pope to retire so be it. I think the world of Pope Francis but if it takes his resignation to get the laity involved we will have to deal with it.
Nancy seems like more and more of his council of 9 is involved in cover up and abuse. Is it that he has poor judgement picking his advisors or is it that bad their are no decent bishops or cardinals around? Or is Pope Francis involved in this himself? We will see.
This is the best suggestion i have heard in years. What are the odds that anyone of these hypocrite’s will have the guts to do it?
They still don’t get it. Why should they? Even the Pope’s letter yesterday was all in the past tense and purposely vague ie:o
“We acknowledge as an ecclesiastical community that we were not where we should have been”
Not where we you should have been? Please! If this wasn’t so serious it would be laughable.
As most of you know who have been on c4c since the beginning, I am a sexual abuse survivor raped by 3 catholic priests. None of the 3 saw justice, they are all dead now and my solace is knowing that I do believe in a God of justice. Committing these heinous crimes against the most vulnerable, our children and doing them in the name of God will cause these so called priests great pain as they meet their maker.
I wish to say to Thomas that I fully understand how this institution was created and thank you for being so clear in explaining it. All I want to add to this very sad and evil institution called a church is this, when a priest rapes a child either in body, mind or spirit, what has been shredded is HOPE. The representative of God the priest leaves for that child, NOTHING, for him or her even God has been stolen!
Hi Vicky, it’s Kate. It’s been way too long since we have communicated!
Over the years, you have repeatedly written about the emptiness and Godlessness you endure because of your abuse. My love and prayers continue to go out to you. But somehow, some way, something deep within you was alive and imparting the strength and wisdom you have exhibited over the years in the way you have spoken about your abuse experience on C4C, in church, and at public events, particularly in the early-ish years. You were a source of inspiration and knowledge to all. You were a spokesperson for many survivors. You were their rock. You showed them the way when they could not find it. You were something, not NOTHING! I know you. You are an extraordinary survivor who, through all of the trials, tribulations, heartache, sorrow, and adversity, copes, maintains an evil keel, endures, grows in wisdom, and gives to others. You’ve always been a saint in my book, Vicky. Love you. And thank you.
Kate I second that……I have tears in my eyes. I was waiting for you Vicky to comment. Vicky through your strength, compassion and frankness you have educated many including myself leaving a lasting impression changing us for the better. I have no doubt kids are safer and many survivors have been helped by your speaking out and actively advocating for children. You have been a true blessing to many. I am grateful personally for everything you have done.
Beth, thank you! It was always so nice to spend time with you and have our interesting discussions. I learned from you as well. I always knew you to be open to what I would say which says a lot about you and your heart. You were a wonderful support for me when I would get a bit depressed about the heaviness of sexual abuse. You would have encouraging words and a hug. You were their when I needed a lift. You are a faithful and devoted support for those of us who are suffering. I knew I could depend on you to be there if I needed you. I am most grateful for you and the times we spent together fighting for this worthy cause.
My Dear Kate, How wonderful to hear from you. I have always loved your responses on c4c so straightforward and intelligent. I have missed you. You are dear to my heart. Your beautiful words to me left me with tears slowly coming down my face. I needed to step back, take a breath so I could take in your heart-felt words of comfort and love. I am so humbled by what you said. You are so wise. I needed to be very respectful of the survivors when I would post. Now I feel I can say that the strength and deep courage came from my deep love of the Divine. I refused to allow any priest or church to take that life-line away from me. I was able to put the blame where it belonged. My journey continues, I still work on myself so that one day soon I will know inner peace. I could not be where I am today without a Divine presence in my life. I know I am protected and loved. I have always been honest and true to who I am and because of that vulnerability you and many others on this website have seen me and heard me. I cannot adequately put into words how much it meant to me, I am so grateful to you and Beth and Jim for that sacred gift. I believe it is one of the top 5 that most if not all survivors crave, just to be seen and heard with an open heart. All the rage we feel at what was done to us, under that hate and anger is a deep, deep hurt and a sorrow that penetrates deep in our souls. We have so betrayed. To the survivors who may be on this website, you are not suffering alone, their are people who truly get it and care. Do not give in or give up you are so worth it! Don’t give this evil and cruel institution the satisfaction of killing your soul and your spirit. Rise up! Stand with fellow survivors and those that support you and cry out your anger and hurt. We get it! If you survived this sexual abuse as a child you can survive it as an adult. My fellow survivors we can do this. Don’t give in to the pain, don’t go down that deep hole, speak out, speak your pain allow yourself to be comforted. Every single one of you are worth it. Stand with me we will stand together!
Vicky; You have been a true inspiration to this victim/survivor.I miss reading your inspirational words on this site. When I first came on this site, you and Rich were the two people who gave me hope that there was a way through all of this. When i read the Philadelphia Grand Jury Reports back in 2005 and 2011, I literally cried . I cried for all the other victims but mostly i cried for the little boy who was molested back in 1961 in the church sacristy. I cried for myself. As i trudge through the current Grand jury report,I am mostly filled with anger,not tears. i truly feel sorrow for all the victims who are named in the latest report.But I no longer feel sorry for myself. I have grown a lot in the last few years. And you had a great deal to do with that.
Dear Jim, between you and Kate and Beth tears keep coming. Thank you my dear fellow survivor! I wanted so, to give hope and some small solace to you and the other survivors. My heart hurt so for you. We have fought together the hard long fight and still we don’t give up. I am so pleased that you took such good care of yourself by crying for that little boy inside you. This is exactly what we all must do, embrace that small child inside and tell her or him it was never your fault. As the adult I am here to love you and comfort you without judgement. We are in this together, I will never leave you, I love you and I will take care of you. This is how you begin the healing process. I am so proud of your recovery, how very strong and courageous you are and have proven that to your little boy, he depended on you and you bravely took him by the hand and showed him he had nothing more to fear you would always be there to protect him. I am over the moon happy for you!!!
I miss all of you. I stopped by because the news of the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania has brought up more feelings in our home.
I believe the victims. I always have.
Hi Survivors Wife, I am so sorry. Big hug. I missed you and your insights as well. Its all very sad. I finally had a good cry today. The depth of the suffering overwhelmed me today. I am relieved the corruption and abuse is exposed but I don’t have words to explain how tragic this is….
I think I live in the Bermuda Triangle of clergy abuse denial. I’m sad and angry all at once.
I have added my name to the list. I also asked all my contacts on Facebook to do the same.
I am glad that the theologians, educators and lay ministers within the universities and parishes are speaking up. This is a voice that we haven’t heard from yet and these folks need to be regarded. I see this effort as good.
I think there are several levels of change needed. Obviously, the statute of limitations needs to be lifted. Francis can’t change the laws of the lands. We have to do that. Pope Francis can react and respond to what the People of God are asking. If bishops have lobbied against state laws, they should be handing in their resignations along with those who have protected and kept hidden child predators. They have been blocking justice and they cant be trusted!
Within the systemic church, priesthood should be redefined and restructured and a married clergy should be established.This will offer a spirit of “normal” family life.Regional rectories, away from parish churches and schools should be set up for unmarried clergy. Married clergy should live in neighborhoods and community. Why can’t their be both priesthoods? Francis can change this.
I think all reports of child violations should go directly to the district attorneys offices and no reports to pastors and diocesan offices. There is confusion when PREP children who attend lessons (like good touch-bad touch) and reveal or comment on strange or inappropriate behaviors in their public schools. what to do? who to call? Notify parents what their children say?
Three weeks ago and prior to the Grand Jury Report my parish of almost 40 years had removed a priest for an alleged abuse. Until things really change, I can’t participate in parish life. There are catholic universities and colleges and small communities that offer liturgical celebrations. These are good for Catholics who stayed in the church but feel very uncomfortable in the parish church.
After so many years and now, with the help of Josh Shapiro and other DA offices and a few politicians who have repeatedly tried to establish new laws, this may be the breakthrough needed to get the people in the pews to believe this is real. We already know its bigger than this last PA Grand Jury Report because new allegations are being reported.
The church has failed its children and families and has not led the way in restorative justice for child victims of abuse from clergy and other adults. I don’t understand why the church sent a healer to Boston and to Philly they sent a bishop who was markedly successful in blocking the bills to open the statute of limitations in Denver. So the church in Philly is dwindling and so many people have left the church here.
I am a 2005 graduate of St.Josephs University BS Theology. I really believe/hope that this motion by theologians can help things change. Justice for survivors is very close to my heart.
As Pope Pius X said in a 1906 encyclical letter :
“ The church is in essence an unequal society …..Right and authority…reside only in the pastoral body…as to the multitude…its sole duty is that of allowing itself to be led and of following its pastors as a docile flock.
Just read an article that Pope Francis knew about Cardinal Mc Carrick and covered for him. The former papal nuncio stated this and said the Pope must resign.
This present Pope Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Mccarrick Archbishop Anna cardinal Pope Francis which warned about Cardinal Mccarrick by father Boniface Ramsey who sent a letter to the Vatican before Pope Francis made Mccarrick a cardinal. this is the same Pope that protected his pedophile friend Marcel Marceau from any kind of prosecution. My friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg with what goes on in Rome and in every diocese in the world.
“Truth is not truth”. Sadly that is the state of affairs in this country. The problem is that this was said by a lawyer representing the President of the United States.One could also imagine hearing Archbishop Chaput or any other Bishop in the world saying that or doing things that represent those sentiments. When Francis was elected pope, I thought maybe, just maybe he would be the one to finally make the necessary changes to stop the sexual abuse of little children and come clean about the role that previous popes, and most Bishops had in the cover up. Shortly after his election, stories started to emerge that Francis had done the same things in Buenos Aires that other Bishops had done throughout the world. When Francis came to the United States, He told Bishops from across the United States that he admired them for all they had endured due to the sex abuse crisis.The next day, he met with victims who had been hand selected by Chaput. One of those victims was not molested by a priest but by a family member. Francis has constantly gone from one side to the other on this issue. His latest words have done nothing for me to believe that anything will ever change in the Church. The only justice victims will ever receive will be done through the courts and Statute of Limitation reform.