January 02, 2005

Diocese asks forgiveness from abused

Columbia Daily Tribune

Published Sunday, January 2, 2005

Media coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has helped us understand the great pain and devastation of that sin. Stories of survivors have awakened us to the power that someone in authority has over another and the human destruction that occurs when that trust is violated.

Understandably, this has stirred feelings of anger toward those who have perpetrated this wrong and compassion for those who have endured it.

In the Diocese of Jefferson City, the compassion is pervasive. We have reached out to victims and offered assistance in counseling, education and employment. Most people accept that the church has not only a responsibility to provide assistance for healing of the harm done but also an opportunity to reach out to someone in need of the restorative grace our faith provides.

We must acknowledge the anger as well. People feel hurt and betrayed by trusted people in trusted institutions. However, at least in the history of this diocese, the betrayal was by the sickness and selfish desire of individual priests and not by their bishops and other clergy. These men used the cover of their priesthood to violate the sacred innocence of children. No one understood the dreadful impact of those secret lives, but that fact does not acquit church leadership.

We have failed. It pains me to know that abuse was being perpetrated by members of our clergy without the bishop of the diocese being aware. I sincerely apologize for it, but there is nothing I can do as a bishop to change the past. What I can and must do, with others’ prayer and collaboration, is confront the truth, alleviate some of the pain and take steps to ensure this will never happen again.

Posted by kshaw at January 2, 2005 02:04 PM