Archbishop response to clergy sex abuse crisis

Life will be victorious

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Recent weeks have been painful for all who love the church and our Catholic faith.

Catholics in the United States were rocked by the Aug. 14 Pennsylvania grand jury report revealing over a 70-year period that 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses had been accused of sexual abuse of more than a thousand children or adolescents. The accounts of what the victims endured are gut-wrenching and, frankly, depict despicable crimes perpetrated by those who were called to be protectors of God’s people.

While these were not new incidents that had only been recently discovered, the impetus of the grand jury report was to investigate how church authorities (bishops) had responded to victims, what consequences were imposed on perpetrators, and the actions taken to protect people from future harm. Sadly, the report showed many bishops were woefully negligent in their responsibilities.

The grand jury report came just a few weeks after the announcement that the Archdiocese of New York judged credible and substantiated a recent allegation regarding the abuse of minors occurring many years prior by then-Father Theodore McCarrick, who became the cardinal archbishop of Washington. Even more troubling were the simultaneous revelations that settlements had been made with adult victims of McCarrick by the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark where he had served previously as the diocesan bishop. Most of the adult victims were seminarians and priests.

This rightly shocked and angered Catholics of the United States. Understandably, it shook their confidence in their bishops. It has prompted many questions and concerns. How was it possible for McCarrick to advance in the leadership ranks of the church? Who knew what and when?

Understandably, many Catholics are angry, confused and saddened by this. Many are asking questions: Did we not go through all of this 15 years ago? Has nothing been done? Don’t the bishops get it? Many are tired and ashamed of hearing bad news about the church they love. For others, this is all new. In 2002, they were too young or not paying attention to these issues within the church. Confronted with these questions and concerns, what are we to do?

Prayer

Our first response to any personal, familial or — in this case — church crisis should be to pray. Be assured that I am not suggesting that is the only thing we need or can do, but I believe it must be our first response. First and foremost, we must pray for healing and comfort for victims. Secondly, this is a moment to pray for the purification of bishops, priests and the entire church.

Our Lord tells his disciples when they are unable to liberate a young boy from possession by an evil spirit that in some confrontations against darkness, the only effective tools are prayer and fasting. I personally will begin a strict discipline of fasting and abstinence on Wednesday and Friday of each week, begging for the grace for me and my brother bishops to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewal and cleansing of the church. I will also offer one Mass a week and one rosary each week for the healing of victims.

I invite every Catholic to adopt some additional practices of prayer and penance for victims and for the purification of the church. I also intend to offer communal prayer opportunities for these intentions.

Intensified commitment to the care of victims

It is painful for me to read the sordid details of the abuse of innocent children and young people. How miniscule my discomfort compared to the horror that the victims actually experienced! An essential part of our response must be a deepened commitment to care for the victims of these crimes committed by representatives of the church.

I want our archdiocese to lead the way in the care of victims. I am grateful to the excellent assistance that has been provided to many who have been victims of misconduct by the clergy and others in ministry. There is nothing that encourages me more than when I receive a communication from a victim, expressing gratitude for the care they have received. There is nothing that pains and saddens me more than to hear the disappointment from some victims with the inadequacy of our response to their suffering. I am committed to strengthening our ability to assist and accompany victims on the path of healing.

Improved accountability of bishops

Both the McCarrick scandal and the grand jury report have raised serious questions about the accountability of bishops. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has promised that the conference “will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the conference will advocate with those who do have authority. One way or another, we are determined to find the truth of this matter.”

Cardinal DiNardo also announced he will present a plan to the full body of bishops that includes: 1) an invitation to the Vatican to conduct an investigation in concert with a group of predominantly laypeople identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board; 2) develop new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and 3) create procedures to resolve complaints against bishops that will be prompt, fair and transparent. I wholeheartedly support Cardinal DiNardo’s proposals to improve the accountability of bishops.

Every bishop reports directly to the pope. No other bishop has the authority to hold another bishop accountable. For instance, the three other bishops in the province of Kansas do not report to me. I do not have authority to intervene in the diocese of another bishop. My responsibility as archbishop is to convene the other bishops of the province to promote a spirit of cooperation and cultivate unity for the good of the Catholics and all the people in our respective dioceses.

It is inconceivable to me that the bishops who were involved with the settlements for McCarrick’s misconduct did not bring these matters to the papal nuncio (the Holy Father’s ambassador to the United States) and the nuncios failed to inform the pope at that time and those who assisted him with the care of bishops.

Just this past week, the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, released a statement that claims he and his predecessors, Archbishop Pietro Sambi and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo (both now deceased), did inform the respective popes. In my experience of Archbishop Vigano during his tenure as apostolic nuncio, he was a man of integrity. There are also respected sources that are contesting elements of Archbishop Vigano’s statement.

This development makes it even more imperative that we embrace Cardinal DiNardo’s commitment to pursue the truth of why McCarrick was allowed to continue to exercise public ministry and continue in the College of Cardinals, when his sexual misconduct and abuse of power were already known. We must do all that we can to ascertain the truth and then allow the chips to fall where they may.

What has been done?

Sadly, one of the tragic consequences of these high profile scandals is the obscuring of the real progress that has been made throughout the church with our safe environment programs, our enhanced ability to investigate allegations of misconduct, and our increased efforts to accompany and assist victims.

When we receive an allegation of some form of sexual misconduct by a priest or any other employee, if it involves a minor, we immediately communicate it to the proper law enforcement agency as well as to our own Independent Review Board (IRB). We also enlist the expertise of a former FBI agent and Kansas Highway Patrol detective to investigate and help us determine the truth. Our investigation is always coordinated with law enforcement so as not to interfere with those responsible for investigating a crime.

The IRB is composed of a victim of clergy sexual abuse, an attorney who has long advocated for abuse victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and one priest. The IRB is not an investigative body, although they always offer the opportunity for both the person making the accusation and the accused to meet separately with the IRB. The IRB is presented with the results of the investigation conducted by the former FBI agent. The IRB is not a decision- making body, but advisory. With the benefit of their counsel and that of others, it is ultimately my responsibility what action is to be taken with regard to a particular case. I am so grateful for the assistance of the IRB in responding to accusations of misconduct with minors. Their advice is invaluable.

Transparency

In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation, there have been calls for other states’ attorneys general to launch similar probes. This is a decision for an attorney general to make based on whether he or she believes it is an appropriate, necessary and wise use of state resources.

We have always in my tenure as archbishop and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement. To ensure that we have an accurate historical knowledge of how the archdiocese has responded to allegations of misconduct, I have decided to engage an independent law firm with the expertise and staff to conduct a review of our priest personnel files going back to 1950.

Transparency is imperative with any substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct by any church leader, regardless if the victim is a minor or an adult. I have told the priests of the archdiocese that our people have a right to expect us to live in a manner consistent with our promise of celibate chastity. As priests and bishops, we are public persons. In addition to the higher motivation to live a holy and virtuous life, we should not do anything that we are uncomfortable with being reported to our parishioners or appearing in The Leaven and/or the secular media.

At the same time, I have a responsibility to protect the reputation of our priests and other employees from false accusations. This is why we employ an experienced and competent investigator to help us to determine to the best of our ability the truth.

If a priest has been involved with some level of misconduct, not involving a minor, the archdiocese requires that he undergo a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual evaluation. Usually, this results in their participation in some type of recovery program to understand the causes that made them vulnerable to misconduct and to develop the skills and identify the resources they need to live their priesthood with integrity.

If they are able to re-enter ministry, our experience is that it is best practice for the priest to be transparent with parishioners when he begins his new assignment regarding the reasons that occasioned his leave of absence. This has proven helpful for the protection and reassurance of parishioners, as well as for the health and recovery of our priests.

Conversion and renewal

This is a moment for conversion and renewal of the entire church, but especially for bishops and priests. The only way forward for renewal is to acknowledge and confess our past sins, as well as to make a firm purpose of amendment not to repeat them.

Both the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the earlier national study by John Jay College commissioned by the U.S. bishops in the wake of the 2002 scandal reveal that a high percentage of victims of clergy sexual misconduct were postpubescent males. In other words, much of the misconduct involved homosexual acts. We cannot ignore this reality.

Pope Emeritus Benedict gave guidance to seminaries and vocation ministries regarding the nonacceptance for priestly formation those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. All candidates for the seminary have to be able to give evidence for their capacity of living celibate chastity with both integrity and joy.

The requirement of celibate chastity for Catholic priests is not because the church does not value marriage and the importance of family life. No, just the opposite! The church asks her priests to relinquish what is arguably most precious and most dear, precisely because it is most precious and dear. The priest’s willingness to commit to a life of celibacy makes no sense if Jesus did not suffer, die and rise from the dead for us. The church asks her priests to stake their entire life on the truth of the paschal mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus.

Celibacy is first and foremost to be a witness to the truth of the Gospel. The priest’s life is meant to be a living symbol that challenges his parishioners to place God first in their lives above everyone and everything else. Celibacy also allows the priest to be available and accessible to his people. A priest is able to go wherever his gifts are most needed by the people of God without having to weigh the necessary question of a husband and biological father whether this ministry is good for his marriage and children. It is this embrace of the charism of celibacy that increases a priest’s ability to become a true spiritual father to his parishioners.

It is not enough for those seeking ordination to the priesthood to accept reluctantly celibacy as a necessary burden to become a priest. If our heart is not into embracing the challenges and beauty of celibacy with joy, then we are setting ourselves up for failure and wounding our people.

Nor is it sufficient for priests to live celibacy faithfully, but not be able to teach with conviction and enthusiasm Catholic sexual morality as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Our Catholic understanding of human sexuality is beautiful and guides those who embrace it to the path to authentic love and happiness. The priest needs to be able to articulate, in a convincing and compelling way, why heterosexual intimacy outside of the marital covenant is gravely immoral, as well as why homosexual activity is also always seriously sinful.

My priority in evaluating men for the seminary as well as the suitability of our priests for serving God’s people is their commitment and capability of living celibate chastity with fidelity and joy.

The gift of the priesthood

I have been a priest now for more than 43 years. It is an incredibly blessed life. Priests have the opportunity to be the human instruments that God uses to touch with his grace the hearts of his people. We are privileged to spend our entire lives striving to help others come to know the good news of God’s love revealed for them in Jesus Christ.

At the same time, it is not any easy life. Jesus does not promise his disciples an easy path. I tell our seminarians that being ordained a priest is, in effect, placing a target on your back for the devil. Satan will do anything to strike the shepherds in order to scatter the flock. The priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and generosity to serve God’s people as a priest. In my travels throughout the archdiocese, I witness and am edified by the zeal and dedication of our priests.

Conclusion

The reason for this current crisis is not primarily one of individual weakness, but failures of the accountability of bishops. We, bishops, are sinners in need of God’s mercy. The Gospels reveal the frailty of the apostles — the first bishops. By every human measurement, they were unqualified to accomplish the mission Jesus had entrusted to them — namely, to make disciples of all nations.

The Gospel narrative is strewn with examples of the apostles being slow learners, possessing unhealthy ambition, exhibiting jealous rivalry, succumbing to cowardice, abandoning and even denying Jesus in the face of danger. Our Lord prefers to use the weak in accomplishing his mission to make clear that the fruits realized are the results of God’s power, not the wisdom or talents of the church’s ministers. I certainly fit the profile of being a very weak and frail instrument.

This is not a moment for any of us to allow ourselves to yield to natural feelings of discouragement and despair. It is an occasion for all of us to recommit ourselves to living lives of integrity.

For me and my brother bishops, it is a time to renew our determination to strive to be shepherds who follow the example of Jesus, the good shepherd. Please pray for me and my brother bishops as we seek to make structural reforms that will ensure greater accountability on our part.

Jesus tells his disciples his yoke is easy and his burden is light — not because what he asks of us is not difficult, but because Our Lord promises to shoulder the yoke and carry the burden with us as we strive to follow him. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in the fidelity of his promises to be with us until the end of time and to send the Holy Spirit to guide his church.

48 Responses

  1. P Brown at |

    There are no easy answers. But I know this: Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church. The enemy wins only if people lose faith in this promise and focus on human sin. No matter their rank or title, people will fail, sometimes in unspeakable ways. They will ignore the Church’s beautiful teachings. Christ cries with these victims! Will good people also turn their backs on the Church He established? Or do we instead run to the Holy Eucharist and to Reconciliation? Do we pray the rosary. Mary stands with her foot on the head of the serpent in victory and her loving arms wrapped around her hurting children. God will cleanse, heal and triumph if we let Him. God bless you, Archbishop!

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  2. Nicholas at |

    Carefully crafted piece that smoothly pivots from the evils of bishops protecting predators to a subtle attack on the pope. Interesting that one question about McCarrick goes unasked: what did John Paul II know when he elevated McCarrick to bishop. Was he complicit? Should his beatification be re-examined in light of this and other instances where the alleged saint protected predators? But that question isn’t asked because the cynical bishop is attempting to use the abuse scandal to further an agenda while deflecting attention from himself and his fellow bishops. His eminence doesn’t want anyone prying into his handling of the scandal. Something might come out into the light, like recent revelations that bishop Di Nardo is doing the same old thing: covering for a predator. So, another duplicitous display by a bishop. Shameful.

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  3. John at |

    Dear Archbishop Naumann, I am angry with this pope and his response thus far. You wrote a good letter. The only thing I take exception to is the fact you say you have no authority over other bishops. I understand that, but when you hear things when gathering with other bishops and clergy you have a responsibility to report it regardless if you have authority over them or not. Report it to the Pope or the papal nuncio. There should be an immediate investigation to see if the allegations are true or not.
    Everyone should be able to receive forgiveness but they should also receive justice. No one with these records of abhorant behavior should ever be in positions of power (bishop or cardinal) over others. They should be in jail making amends for their crimes, not moved to another position or “out of the limelight”.
    It is a tough time to be soliciting funds for a capital campaign when doners wonder if the sacrificial giving they do is going to lawsuits for these criminals.

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  4. Sandra Ippolito at |

    God bless you, Bishop. Although I am not in your diocese, I will pray for you and for all your brother bishops and priests to provide all of us the truth and most importantly concrete steps to prevent this from happening again. Thank you for your well-written presentation of the facts and concrete steps for healing.

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  5. Sean Reilly at |

    Something I wrote for a friend (and for myself as well). Posted it to my Facebook page so I can refer to it when I’m having moments of doubt or crisis… With all the upheaval in the Catholic Church these days, many are angry and have left, or are thinking of leaving. I understand the anger. I’m angry too! But imagine a faithless, secular world for a minute. No religion. No HOPE. That’s what the devil counts on when he infiltrates our church and works his evil through its shepherds. He’s sinister and very patient. He’ll wait for the leaves to fall, and the branches to rot and break, before he moves in to cut down the trees. Then all we’ll have left is a barren wasteland. I think our society today is well on its way. Our foundation — our faith and our church — is crumbling beneath our feet. Now more than ever, we need to pray, to stand shoulder to shoulder, to not surrender to evil and to be counted. We need to send a message that evil deeds are wrong and must be punished, but that we support the mission of Jesus Christ, who died at the hands of evil people, to save them and to save us. He gave us our Church as a parting gift, before he drew his last agonized breath on that cross. Wow! Leaving our church, to me, opens the door a little wider to oblivion. That’s what we cannot allow. Focus on Jesus on that cross.

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  6. Jacque T at |

    I am looking for someone to help a holy priest who is being crucified by his bishop. The unfettered power over our holy priest from powerful unchecked bishops can be a very bad thing. We have a priest, you know the kind-Jesus on earth- and he is being crushed by his bishop. He has not been able to defend himself and publicly shamed without proof. I heard they take them out of office to impoverish them so they don’t have funds to defend themselves and have the power even to circumvent cannon law. That’s exactly what is happening here. I’m not going to hear of these things anymore and do nothing. I’m fighting for our holy priests. If you would like to find out about this one case to help a holy priest and expose this abuse of power, please send me a message. The priest will talk to you and I have a letter he sent to all his brother priests in his diocese that I can share.

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  7. Jason Pieper at |

    Archbishop Naumann,
    I appreciate your thoughtful response to this trying situation. Both your spiritual, as well as your concrete actions are refreshing. You mentioned that you have enlisted the help of a law firm to review the personnel profiles going back to 1950. Will you provide public access to these profiles on the archdiocese’ website, and if so, when? As someone who’s had both a family member and a close personal friend be molested by a priest in our diocese, I feel that it would bring closure and healing to see that the Church publicly acknowledges the sins committed by these particular men. I also believe that the publication of every profile can serve a purpose beyond public condemnation. While having a recent conversation with my family, we were saddened by the fact that we had forgotten the names and faces of many of the priests who have served our parish in the past. It would be nice to be able to search for past priests by parish and to reflect upon the lessons they have taught us. I hope you take these comments into consideration, and may God continue to bless you.

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  8. Arabella Derige at |

    Praise God for Archbishop J. Naumann who shows what a true shepherd of the flock is. We, the faithful, are deeply hurt by these scandals and we are looking for guidance from our church authorities on what to do and more importantly, assurances that these evils deeds will effectively routed out of our Holy Mother Church.

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  9. James at |

    Well done, good Archbishop Naumann. A superior improvement over other statements from the episcopate. I am particularly impressed by the citation relating to the priesthood, celibacy, and homosexuality, and on the gift of the priesthood in the unabridged document.
    The only thing I miss is an awareness that this situation has developed in an environment where the deep truths of the faith have been neglected and abused as well. The decay and decomposition of Roman Catholicism is, to borrow a phrase, a moth eaten “seamless garment.”
    We really do have to get back down to basics. Before we were scandalized the baptized have been starving for the depth content of the faith.
    God reward you.

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  10. Olga Padilla at |

    In my opinion priests can conceal this sickness for years and no one find out until the child is a grown man. I think only men should help the priests during mass, NO CHILDREN!!! Children are innocent and very vulnerable and can be coerced into anything. Altar servers should be men only!!!!! All 4 of my brothers were altar servers and I pray no one ever hurt them, because they would have never told.

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  11. Mary Bennett at |

    Thank you Archbishop Naumann! I am praying for you.

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  12. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio at |

    Thanks, Archbishop, for your excellent letter, of great help not only to the people of your archdiocese, but all the People of God. Be assured I am praying for you and your clergy during this difficult time.

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  13. Virginia Meeker at |

    I was so glad I was able to find your thoughtful statement about the current crisis. I have loved the Catholic Church for almost 70 years, and was only able to participate in RCIA, confirmation and receiving the Eucharist since Easter Vigil of this year. I am so glad that I am able to stand as a believer of and in our Church. If only non-sinners were in the church, there would be no church…nor even a need for one. That Christ died for us is evidence of our great need and of His redemptive love for us. The Church has suffered much over the centuries and still prevails. I am praying daily for her, the victims, the clergy (especially parish priests who are on the firing line) and for my own priest Fr. Bill Bruning.

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  14. Pat Conway at |

    Thank you . God bless your efforts. I believe the elephant in the room is homosexuality and it needs to be addressed at every level. I also feel like a victim in that my trust in our church leadership has been rocked by the mishandling , misleading, continued lies, posturing, pompous denials & shameless efforts to distract us from pursuing or seeing the real Truth. I am sorry for our good holy priests to have to endure the backlash from this scandal but the fullness of the truth is necessary now for all to see and be there exposed. I feel shame too. I’m praying and I will fast and I will not let this drop again.
    Let your light shine Lord.
    Jesus I trust in You.

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  15. Robert Luchi at |

    I thank Archbishop Naumann for his heartfelt prayers for both the victims of clergy sexual abuse and the priests and bishops who committed them and his welcoming to all of us to join him in praying for them. I congratulate him for his carefully thought out and rigorous plan to create a climate in this Archdiocese, modeled on the command of Jesus that we love one another as God loves us, a love that carries with it unwavering respect for the dignity on another.

    I offer these thoughts about Archbishop Naumann’s Archdiocesan plan to forthrightly address the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

    I am left with some concern about the independence of an IRB appointed by the Archbishop. I have some concern about their limited role as advisory to a future Archbishop who might not have the same commitment to rigorous evaluation and action in verifiable sexual abuse cases.

    I appreciate learning about the composition of the IRB. I hope that the IRB will have a substantial number of women among its members. Women have valuable instincts and feelings about the safety of our children. I was heartened to learn that Archbishop O’Malley of Boston appointed Sr. Janet Eisner of Emmanuel College as head of an investigative committee looking into recent allegations of misconduct at St. John’s Seminary.

    Finally, some thoughts about the role of the laity. The laity will continue to admire and support ordained clergy and religious sisters while understanding that they are human and far from immune to attacks of the Devil. The laity must be forthright in reporting misconduct to ecclesiastic and secular authorities and be confident that their concerns will be heard and acted upon.

    I applaud Archbishop Naumann’s invitation to the laity to adopt some additional practices of prayer and penance for victims and purification of our Church. I hope you will consider another step. Sometime between now and the end of Advent every parish in the Archdiocese should hold a series of services to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, the perpetrators of these acts and the healing of our Church. In this way the laity would play an important and prominent role in the process of resolving the sexual abuse crisis, a process you have so clearly described in The Leaven.

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  16. philip Gough at |

    Need to create & send a questionare to all current priests and seminarians to identify what current institutions are obviously still accepting candidates with obvious homosexual tendicies. Then identify and get rid of the recruiters and replace them with holy ones and educate them how to identify the culprits.

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  17. Bobbi Hiltibidal at |

    This is a quote from a CNA article by J.D. Flynn dated September 3, 2018.

    “Catholics of all theological perspectives could do justice for abuse victims through an unbiased investigation of facts. Viganò’s memo raises questions that, whatever the answers, seem to merit serious inquiries. It remains to be seen whether those opposing such an investigation, including some prominent bishops and cardinals, will relent, or at least better articulate their positions. It also remains to be seen whether Pope Francis will support such an investigation, making files available, and breaking his silence on Viganò’s story.”

    Archbishop, please do all you can to ensure the facts come to light. Those who have suffered abuse deserve no less. Pope Francis’ insistence on “prayer and silence” is a failure of leadership the Church cannot afford in these difficult times.

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  18. Ned Smith at |

    Thank you for sharing both your your thoughts and plan. Unfortunately, The message that the Holy Father’s homily today directly contradicts your commentary and is greatly concerning to me as I believe that there are a great many Catholics that are deeply concerned about the issues currently facing our religion. Questioning the practices of the clergy and even taking it to the next level of demanding answers and/or change should not be considered divisive. Instead, due to the systemic coverup by many leaders in the church, the Catholic clergy must become 100% transparent and allow some lay oversight. Otherwise, even great Catholics will lose trust in the organization at all levels. Every church and Diocese as well as the Vatican must both embrace atoning for the sins within the clergy and implement change. This cannot take place if the Pope or anyone within the faith promotes silence.

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  19. Beverly Ransdell at |

    This has made it soo hard for my grown children to feel close to the Catholic Church any longer ornfor them to send their children to Catholic school or to raise mu grandchildren Catholic. I am sure this outcome was Satan’s plan!

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  20. Beverly Ransdell at |

    This has made it soo hard for my grown children to feel close to the Catholic Church any longer ornfor them to send their children to Catholic school or to raise mu grandchildren Catholic. I am sure this outcome was Satan’s plan!

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  21. Henry at |

    I am greatly disappointed in our Church and in this letter. I expected more from the archdiocese and the archbishop. I will pray for you and our Church.

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  22. JENNIFER Rogers Cummings at |

    Pls Bishop remove these priest, that is my prayer, they need to be turn over to the law. Your responsibility to these priests should end at the moment the sexual act has been recognized. As a catholic myself , I struggle with cover up of people, priest when it comes to sexual abuse of children. The good Lord knows how much I pray for all of you. Has the Lord ever spoke to you saying they need to go. This is my church, my Eucharist ! When will the church stand by us. May the lord keep you and protect you. Pls protect the NEW Type of innocence. The young children who have suffered in silence. I am weak therefore, I’m not in a position to pray for priests who have abused children.

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  23. Jeff Yochim at |

    The elephant in the room is the existence of a filthy sodomite cabal comprised of an alarming percentage of the prelates. Until that sewer is drained, these “responses” are just chin music.

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  24. David Hynes (Church of the Ascension) at |

    I applaud Archbishop Naumann for his excellent reporting of the current crisis in the Church which focuses on the failure of bishops and possibly those higher in the hierarchy of the church to properly deal with the handling of those perpetrating the abuse on both children and adults. He is very open, honest and forthright in portraying the issues behind the abuse and the mishandling by the hierarchy in dealing with it.
    I particularly agree with his closing statement of ” … let the chips fall where they may.”
    As Father Spitzer has noted in his “Father Spitzer’s Universe” podcasts on EWTN, the church has always consisted of saints and sinners and will continue to be so, due to the inherent sinfulness in all of us. However, this does mean that these issues of sinfulness must be dealt with quickly, fairly and thoroughly.
    The rituals, traditions, doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church are just as valid and relevant today even in light of these misdeeds.
    Leaving the church offers no purpose in resolving these problems. In comparison, a study of abuses in Protestant denominations over the last few decades has shown similar problems there. Analysis into such abuses in over 300 different denominations is much more difficult but the study was able to compile its findings based on liability Insurance claims by the churches. An average of 260 abuses per year in Protestant denominations was compiled & reported in the study.
    In comparison, the current reporting of 1,000 abuses in the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation over the past 70 years comes to an average of 14 abuse incidents per year.
    Clearly this is not just a Catholic hierarchical problem, it is a widespread societal issue clearly caused by declining standards in our society due to growing secularism.

    The creation of oversight groups of lay persons to serve as a form of outside boards of directors into the proceedings of church parishes is a wise idea. Everyone, clergy and lay person, is a potential saint, which the church clearly needs more of to be actively involved in guiding it into the future.

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  25. KiAnn Caprice at |

    Archbishop,

    Thank you for your letter. What is needed, amongst all you mentioned and more, is for the Church leaders from the Pope to local Priest to join in a statement in support of all victims coming forward. Those victims need to know they will recieve the full support of the Church, it’s protection, and help however needed. As brothers and sisters in Christ to all that were harmed, we owe our family this.

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  26. John Prince at |

    It’s time for the bishops to man up and purge the existing homosexual and pedophilia priests.
    It’s also time for the church (Vatican) to take a hard look at allowing priests to
    marry. And females to become priests.

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  27. Bob.Kathy Dorst at |

    Excellent. Thank you Archbishop!!!
    The Dorsts

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  28. Brenda at |

    Thank you for this strong stance, and not shirking behind the “clericalism” excuse. I was born and raised in your diocese (though I belong to Wichita now), and I have always had a dro respect for you! We pray for all the faithful Bishops strength and perseverance. For the unfaithful we pray for their dismissal, and conversion.

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  29. Judy Silhan at |

    Thank you Archbishop Nauman, for being one one of the ever-growing number of bishops and priests acknowledging that many bishops were negligent in their responsibilities. I support you and am praying for you and the other faithful bishops.

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  30. Gordana Jarmek at |

    My favorite:
    ” Satan will do anything to strike the shepherds in order to scatter the flock. The Priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and generosity to serve God’s people as a priest.”

    Beautiful! Thank you very much dear Archbishop Naumann for your beautiful, honest heart filled with love for our Lord and His people. You are a Holy man and I praise our Lord for the gift of your life.
    Jesus is the Truth and the Way, and only truth will set us all free. He dispels all the darkness so His Beautiful powerful Light can shine through. He makes all things new.
    I love our beautiful, rich Catholic Faith and support our Church 100%. I love our precious Priests and Bishops, and with my whole heart pray and fast for our precious Shepherds. Every day I place my dear Priests and Bishops under the guidance of The Holy Spirit and the powerful Motherly love and care of our Blessed Mother.
    May God Bless our Priests and Bishops always!

    Reply
  31. Maureen Kavanaugh at |

    This is a wonderful article, Bishop Joe, thank you!!!

    Reply
  32. Ronald Bonesteel at |

    According to CNS and LifeSite news, Pope Francis blamed “clericalism” in the Catholic Church for creating a culture where criminal abuse was widespread and extraordinary efforts were made to keep the crimes hidden.

    Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has targeted clericalism as an illness in the Church, an ailment that pretends “the Church” means “priests and bishops,” that ignores or minimizes the God-given grace and talents of laypeople and that emphasizes the authority of clerics over their obligation of service.

    Clericalism, he said, involves trying “to replace or silence or ignore or reduce the people of God to small elites,” and a “peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority” that is “common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred,” and that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people.”

    “Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” the pope wrote in a letter Aug. 20 to all Catholics.

    Does the Archbishop’s lack of any apparent reference to clericalism indicate he disagrees with the Pope’s assessment?

    Reply
  33. John J. Smith at |

    Thank you Archbishop and to all our priests who devote their lives faithfully serve us, the Laity, and lead us to heaven! We all share in the failings of being human, but also have the forgiveness of our sins by our Lord available to us.

    Please continue to work to ensure the people of the Church come before the institution of the Church.

    Reply
  34. Richard Bockwinkel at |

    Gospel Mt 23:23-26
    Jesus said:
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
    You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin,
    and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
    judgment and mercy and fidelity.
    But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
    Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
    You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
    but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
    Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
    so that the outside also may be clean.”

    Reply
  35. Diana Ortiz at |

    Thank you Archbishop, I have been watching for your response to the Vigano letter and have noted you said “he was a man of integrity”.

    Reply
  36. Hayley at |

    God bless you Archbishop!

    Reply
  37. Ann Thomas at |

    Thank you, Archbishop Naumann, for answering your call to the priesthood and for shepherding us, Christ’s sheep, as our Archbishop. I appreciate you addressing these problems within the church head on and being pro-active in order to protect both our seminarians and children from future abuse. My prayers go with you and our Church.

    Reply
  38. Anneliese Steden at |

    Please, remove all,offenders and all homosexuals!

    Reply
  39. Judith Conigliaro at |

    Thank you Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. Your words are most endearing to a devote Catholic who is most distraught with what’s going on in the Holy Church. I am in my late 60’s and this is so difficult for me as someone who grew up before Vatican II with its own diversity. My parents are both dead, but they were sickened in 2002 with the abuse scandle. I am relieved they are not around now to witness this latest mess. I recall Vatican II tearing apart the priests who I grew up with in my parish – some leaving, nuns leaving, it was devastating to say the least. But to think that abuse of children was going on back then makes me even sadder. Your letter was touching and just the kind of words to begin to heal my heart.

    Thank you and May God Bless You and your work

    Reply
  40. Clarice Baum at |

    Thank you very much for your openness In sharing this information. All of these current situations sadden me very much and I find it very difficult to defend the church that I love to the younger generation in light of these tribulations. have known Archbishop Nauman since his early years as a priest and very much appreciate his attempts at being completely transparent in these problems that are facing our church.

    Reply
  41. Robert Hill at |

    Best response I’ve seen yet. God has blessed the people of Kansas! The only thing I would respectfully suggest is that there be a meeting “on the life of bishops,” as called for by Abp. Chaput. If it were up to me, I would also require that serious unchastity, like abortion, be a sin that only a bishop (and perhaps the diocesan exorcist) can pardon. And all priests should limit viewing of TV! Godspeed.

    Reply
  42. John O'Brien at |

    Archbishop Naumann,

    Thank you for this thoughtful, direct, intelligent, and humble letter. To my mind this might be the best (in the sense of getting at the crux of the issue from many key angles) written response since the revelations of Cardinal McCarrick and the letter from Archbishop Vigano was released. Thank you in particular for leading by example in the journey of prayer and penance.

    Please know of my and the faithful’s support of you and our other Bishops who continue to lead the flock in truth and charity. I direct faith formation for the young adult hub parish in Denver, CO and will be proud to share your letter with our team of small group leaders (we have 200 millennial-aged small group members in 28 groups this fall.) And although that’s a small number in the scheme of things, if our Lord started with 12 and changed the Roman Empire, what might he do with a small group of young adults (or whatever the age may be) who are genuinely devoted to the Way, the Truth and the Life in 2018? With wisdom like yours (and your brother Bishops including Archbishop Aquila) who continue to feed the flock true food in the midst of this winter of the Church, my hope is strong.

    Thank you again Archbishop.

    John O’Brien

    Director of Faith Formation
    Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
    Denver, CO

    Reply
  43. Gwen at |

    Dear Archbishop Neumann,
    Your response to this crisis has warmed my heart! Your care and concern for the victims above all is truly what is needed. And the spiritual example you are leading and calling us all to follow is inspirational. Additionally, I beg that the bishops embrace the request of Our Lady of the America to solumly process her statue at the National Cathedral in Washington DC.
    Thank you for this humble, sincere and heartfelt statement. I am very proud of my Archbishop and the example of our diocese!
    https://www.romancatholicman.com/lady-america-high-time-heed-call-2/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email

    Reply
  44. Eddy flores at |

    Me uno a sus oraciones arzobispo jose y a los ayunos , y para pedir por todos estos niños en su tiempo sea sanados sus corazones y Dios conceda la paz y por cada uno de nuestros sacerdotes para que no se sientan solos y cansados mis oraciones en el amor de Jesus y maria para gloria de Dios
    MJM Eddy flores

    Reply
  45. Carolyn Anderson at |

    Beautiful Statement – thank you Archbiship Naumann. May God bless and protect you. Thank you.

    Reply
  46. john callewaert at |

    Thank you, Archbishop Nauman, we appreciate very much your response to this news. We are less worried having read your post. We will find time to pray and fast, more. John and Deanna Callewaert. God Bless you and your Priests and fellow Bishops. You lift up our hearts.

    Reply
  47. Diane Linder at |

    Dear Archbishop Naumann, thank you for being a Shining star in this dark period of our Church. My prayers are for all our leaders and our church

    Reply
  48. Claudia Wertin at |

    I believe we need to look at how the church is structured. There is a need to revise the order of things and create something new out of the chaos and pain. No structure should remain if it puts the vulnerable at risk. It use to be that the flock were looked at like children–we are now adults and participate as parts of the living body of Christ. This means married clergy, women pastors and bishops and equal footing in the church. All of us being present and aware and accountable can protect our people.

    Reply

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