My friend Father Michael Duffy from the Diocese of Rockville Centre posted this letter in his parish bulletin this weekend. This is a good shepherd.
My Dear Friends,
I hope you have had a restful and blessed summer. I’ve certainly enjoyed the many visits I’ve had with families from our parish. Thank you for your kindness and generosity in inviting me to spend time with you.
These last days of summer I had the opportunity to spend in study and rest, as I traveled to California to attend a conference on preaching hosted by Bishop Robert Barron. Over 300 priests were present. It was a blessed time to be together, to study and grow in our preaching skills, but most of all to share in priestly fraternity amid so many troubling headlines.
In many ways, this summer has been a tempus horribilis for our Church. We’ve witnessed the revelation of terrible sins and crimes by now-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and his removal from the College of Cardinals. We’ve seen the shattering revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and heard heart breaking testimony of survivors of Clergy sex abuse. And finally, last weekend, we read incredible accusations of coverup launched against the Holy Father, by a former Ambassador of the Holy See to the United States. Every one of these moments is cause for tremendous concern. Each should be independently investigated, and those responsible should be held accountable because no one should be above the law. Ever.
For our Church to truly recover from these awful revelations, we must first have transparency and clear steps going forward for how these things can be prevented from ever happening again. Our first response to these crimes must never be to defend ourselves, but rather to join the victims of these crimes, entering into their horror and pain. These sins truly cry out to God for vengeance. Indeed as our Lord says in Matthew 18:6, “ Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Of course, I am not calling for violence against the perpetrators of these crimes, merely making the Lord’s words my own, to underline the horror of these actions.
I must be honest with you – my heart has been broken this summer as I read with close attention each of these revelations. I love the Church with my whole heart. On the day of my ordination, I took the Church as my bride. And I will love her until my last breath. I recognize the terrible things that have occurred, and I call on those in positions of responsibility to ensure that proper steps are taken so that your trust can be restored and never endangered again. Here in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, we take the protection of minors and vulnerable adults very seriously. If there is ever any concern for the safety of a child or vulnerable person, please do not hesitate to call the police and the diocesan hotline for the protection of children at 516-594-9063.
Finally, what can we do about all these stories? How are we to react? First, of course, is to call for real accountability. Beyond that, as in all things, we turn to prayer. We trust that the Lord remains with His Church always. We trust that He will never abandon us, most especially in times of great need and crisis. Furthermore, we commit ourselves to our personal holiness, primarily through the time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and frequent confession.
As your pastor, I pledge to each of you that I am personally committed to renewing my own spiritual life daily. I renew my commitment to my interior life of prayer and sacrifice. I recommit myself to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, to regular spiritual direction, and to the frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this bulletin, there is a letter to the People of God that I have added my signature to, calling for priests to offer prayer, fasting, and sacrifice on September 13th. I invite you to read it and to prayerfully consider joining me in spiritual solidarity, for the reparation of sins by priests and bishops, and for the healing of victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Finally, beginning the weekend of September 9th, as a sign of repentance, and imploring almighty God’s protection for His Church and His people, we will end every Sunday and daily Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes with a recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. This prayer was commonly said at all Masses before Vatican II, and I believe now, more than ever we need to be saying it together, immediately following the dismissal and before the recessional hymn.
Let us be honest, Satan loves this crisis. He rejoices when a priest sins, especially against a child. When something or someone consecrated to God is used for evil, Satan accomplishes his goal – turning souls away from Christ and His Church. We must fight this good fight together as baptized People of God, claimed for Christ. The truth is that, even though it may not yet feel like it, the Lord has already won — the Devil just doesn’t know it yet. We must not lose hope. We must not lose sight of the victory Christ has already won for us on the Cross.
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
God Bless you all. Thank you for your fidelity to the Lord and for not losing hope. Please know I am here for you and that I have given my life for each of you. If you find yourself angry or hurt by this current crisis, as I am, I am available for you. Come see me. Let’s talk.
In Our Lord and Blessed Lady,