22 January 2018
The Edge of Elfland
Over the past few months I have been part of a group which existed for the express purpose of creating a public letter to the Catholic Bishops. Before the current news cycle makes us forget other problems within our Church, I want to make sure this message gets out. I did not contribute to any of the text, I won’t try to make that claim, Dr. Holly Taylor Coolman of Providence College has been the chief architect. But I am glad I was a part of this from early on. The idea is to get as many signatures as possible. We want this letter to get national coverage. Not to spread anyone’s name, but to ensure that the Bishops respond.
Below is the text of the letter. I ask that you read it and prayerfully consider signing:
Dear fathers and brothers in Christ,
We write with profoundly heavy hearts. The latest wave of revelations regarding sexual abuse in the Church, and the way in which that abuse was covered up and made possible, has pushed us to a breaking point.
Abuse and the enabling of abuse are not simply individual sins to be forgiven. They are a radical and ongoing affront to the Church’s witness to the Gospel. They communicate contempt for the people of God, and particularly the most vulnerable members.
As bishops, successors to the Apostles, you have the roles of teaching, governing and sanctifying God’s people. The response to many cases of reported abuse represents failure to accomplish these on the most fundamental level. We are asking you now to take responsibility as a pastoral body for this failure.
We are not your enemies. We are your people. We grew up in your schools and parishes. We brought our children for baptism. We are parents, teachers, workers, scholars. For some of us, work in and for the Church is our livelihood. We are simply heartsick.
For the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the Church, we the undersigned plead with you to recognize the extreme gravity of this uniquely consequential crisis and t0 respond in a courageous and serious manner.
We implore you—as a Conference and as individual bishops—to consider bolder actions, including public penance; the voluntary release of all relevant diocesan records to civil authorities; the establishment of lay-led oversight committees; prayer for the victims, both private and public; the creation of remembrances for the victims and their suffering; the resignation of those in authority; and even dismissal from the clerical state and exposure to criminal prosecution; as well as any other measure that addresses this calamity.
We urge you to act with all the courage and intelligence that can be brought to bear, coupled with an urgency that recognizes the current and future consequences of this catastrophe.
Put aside strategies of minimization or mitigation.
For the sake of Christ and his Church, do not delay.
David Russell Mosley