Letter to Be Read at Mass, Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 by Order of the Most Reverend J. Douglas Doshotel, Bishop Diocese of Lafayette.
What has happened in our church is beyond belief, it is beyond comprehension. It is a failure of leadership at every level. For years and years popes and cardinals and bishops and priests have used a secret system to cover up child sex abuse by priests.
But this failure of leadership is nothing new. The prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament cries out woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my flock.
Jesus says it would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
The media is now using the term predator priests. And yes those who used their positions of power and authority to sexually abuse children are predators, monsters really.
And that makes me embarrassed and ashamed because every priest is not a predator. Those of us who are good priests trying to do the right thing are just as devastated and dismayed and hurt as you are.
Why do you think I don’t wear clerics. I stopped wearing them in public when the abuse cover up broke in Boston almost 20 years ago.
But the media would have you believe it’s only priests who are predators. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Statistics show that children are 100 times more likely to be sexually abused by someone in the public school system than by a Catholic priest.
And for decades there have been more new cases reported annually in the protestant and non-Catholic churches than in the Catholic church in the United States.
Child abuse is not a Catholic problem. Child abuse is not an American problem. Child abuse is a global anthropological problem.
Child trafficking. Child sexual abuse. Child labor camps. Child pornography. Child slavery. The statistics are staggering. To use and abuse those who are most vulnerable and impressionable is a horrific crime. To take away a child’s innocence is a terrible sin.
In the gospel the people don’t want to hear about Jesus giving his flesh and blood as food and drink. Many are so disturbed that they simply walk away.
To me that sounds very much like us today. People are leaving the church in droves. So we should ask ourselves will we also leave?
To whom should be go? To the Protestants? To the Evangelicals? The risk of abuse is still there, it’s everywhere. Wherever we go, we must be vigilant. But we cannot leave Jesus. Jesus is our only answer out of this mess.
I want to assure you that abuse and cover up is not happening here. All of our staff, all of our volunteers and myself, we are all background checked. We are all trained. And we are never alone with minor children.
When our servers come into the sacristy before Mass the door is always open and unlocked and there are many adults coming and going. When our young children come for religion classes their parents must accompany them.
And to those who are victims of sexaul abuse, I say to you we are so sorry for what has happened to you. It is a terrible tragedy. And you didn’t deserve it, but there is hope. There is healing. There is life. There are those of us out there who can help bring about that healing.
But you have to seek us out and you have to be willing to do the work necessary to bring about that healing. We cannot live as victims wallowing on our own self pity. We must move forward.
People may ask us, will you also leave? Lord, we are embarrassed, ashamed, horrified, disgusted. Some of the reports leave us sick to our stomachs but Lord to whom shall we go?
Lord, you are our only way out of this mess. Lord, come quickly and help us.