The terrible news out of Pennsylvania this week brought revelations that our own former Archbishop was found by a Grand Jury to be criminally negligent. This, following revelations earlier this summer of multiple, credible charges of child abuse by the former Archbishop of Washington.
Nativity stands in unity with Archbishop Lori and his official statement. Both the enormity and the depravity of the revelations provoke an array of responses, so many in fact, that to choose any one would seem to diminish my real reaction. Above everything I find myself appalled and angry.
I am appalled and angered that at least some church hierarchy, over an extended period of time, valued the institution of the Church over the safety and protection of children.
I am appalled and angered that the criminal acts and irresponsible practices of so many priests and bishops led to the abuse of so many children.
I am appalled and angered that these revelations will damage and perhaps even destroy some people’s commitment to the Church and their faith in Christ.
I am appalled and angered that, as a result, some, perhaps many who desperately need Christ in their lives will now not know him.
You may be appalled and angry too. You may be so angry that you are contemplating walking away from the Church. I get that. I do. And I pray you don’t.
Beginning in September, we will offer Eucharistic Adoration every Saturday, to invoke God’s mercy in the face of this catastrophe. To launch this new practice we will set aside the entire weekend of September 15 & 16 as a special time of prayer and adoration. We had been planning a weekend celebration that weekend, marking the parish’s 50th anniversary, but this is not a time for celebration. It is a time for prayer and new resolve.
We cannot allow men, however important or eminent their position, to get in the way of our faith in Christ. We cannot base our faith on any human being. Not a bishop, not the pope, especially not me, flawed as I am. To base your faith on any human being and their actions is a folly destined for disappointment. Christ alone is our foundation.
Neither can we equate the clergy, the hierarchy, or even the institution of the Church with the Church itself:
- the Church Christ, and Christ alone heads
- the Church Christ established as the wellspring of grace
- the Church he promised not even hell itself would prevail against (a promise now being put to the test).
We pledge our prayers for victims of child abuse and their families.
We renew our commitment to maintain the highest possible standards of safety for all of our children in all of our programs.
We firmly resolve to redouble our mission to reach Timonium for Christ, and to help other churches do the same elsewhere.
And I respectfully, humbly invite you, despite everything that has been revealed and anything to come, to continue to stand with us in that mission.