Pax Christi USA, as a national, nonviolent Catholic movement dedicated
to a spirituality of nonviolence and peacemaking and committed to
human rights, we are impelled to ask the following question:
CAN A CHURCH BETRAYED BECOME A CHURCH REDEEMED?
The People of God are experiencing yet another public
betrayal with the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s
disclosure last week of the continuing abuse and secrecy in a Church
entrusted with witnessing to the Gospel.
There is no rationale or apology, no matter how well worded, thought
out, or eloquent it might be, that excuses the actions of the
perpetrators, the complicity, the rationalizations, and the cover-ups by
those in positions of trust and authority.
- To all those with the courage to speak your truth after years of
being held hostage by fear and silence…we pray for your
- To all those members of the Grand Jury who heard the pain of lost
innocence and prepared such a comprehensive report…we
commend your endurance.
- To all those families who are affected by these betrayals of
trust…we ask the God of unconditional love to sustain you.
- To those mentioned in past, present and future reports for both
illegal and/or immoral conduct against God’s most vulnerable
people…we entrust you to the God of Justice.
How does an institution heal after such a profound betrayal? There
is no ‘fix’ short of a total transformation of the policies, practices, and
procedures within the structures of the Church. There needs to be a public profession of
complicity, along with real and symbolic proof that the institutional
Church is trustworthy.
This rebuilding of trust will take years, because the transformation needs to
be radical. Truth, accountability, and transparency need
to replace secret archives, loyalty to a highly dysfunctional system, and
a gross misuse of power. We desperately need a clergy who are more
committed to the needs and protection of their people than to the
institutional Church. For this radical transformation to be real it must
include opportunities for ALL people to be engaged in painful, deep, and
honest dialogue; otherwise, we cannot hope for the Beloved
Community, as envisioned by God, to emerge among us.
May we who are angered, disgusted, saddened, disillusioned, and ready
to give up on an institution that once nourished us remember that our faith
is in a lavish God who craves a relationship with us and offers us the fullness of life promised by the Holy One who gave his life
and death for us.
We invite parishioners to gather in large and/or small groups to share
openly and honestly the pain, hurt, and mistrust you are feeling, and
together find creative ways to bring about healing and reconciliation.
We invite regional and local Pax Christi chapters to facilitate the above
conversations in their areas.
We also invite Catholic organizations to advocate, facilitate, and
encourage such dialogues.