A Message from Fr. Robert regarding the recent criminal sexual misconduct in the Church.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I share the pain and dismay that many of you have felt these past weeks concerning the criminal sexual misconduct of clergy as detailed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. The abuse, dating back several decades, is so abhorrent it leaves us shocked. Then the story of alleged misconduct by former Cardinal McCarrick many years ago was revealed and conflated in the media with the Grand Jury report. It all leaves us saddened and distressed.

The abuse of the young and vulnerable, especially when committed by clergy or religious persons, is criminal conduct contrary to the Gospel and a betrayal of sacred trust. So our first concern is for the spiritual and emotional healing of victims. We know that the Church of Washington has worked for decades to reach victims and offer healing and support. Although nothing we do as individual Christians will be sufficient to make the wounded whole again, the Grace of God is more powerful than all. We can continue to pray for victims and help draw them back to the healing embrace of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Archdiocese has been a leading force in the quest to protect children and the vulnerable. Our efforts include the education of clergy, parents and responsible adults, background checks for employees and volunteers, strict rules of conduct and reporting of misconduct and above all vigilance. Despite all this, the reports on the present crisis make it seem like the evil has just occurred and that no efforts have been made to ameliorate it. But we should take encouragement in the fact that our efforts are succeeding through God’s mercy.

One recurring theme is that of accountability. We know that some bishops made errors in judgement that seemed to favor protecting the Church’s reputation over protecting children and the vulnerable. The recent letter of Archbishop Vigano has created additional questions about what the leaders of the Church knew about Archbishop McCarrick. Accusations and opinions abound but we must evaluate what we hear very carefully, especially if they come from the secular press.

On Labor Day, the priests of the Archdiocese met and prayed with Cardinal Wuerl. He listened carefully to our thoughts and expressions of pain and dismay. While the criticism of him in the public forum seems unfair, he has expressed his desire to do whatever is good for the Church because he loves the Lord and the Church. He asks us all to pray earnestly with him for victims and for healing for the whole Church.

Sadly, some have decided to express their anger toward the Bishops by staying away from Holy Mass. Of course that action does not help anyone. It is the Eucharist, the source of Grace and peace that we need most in this crisis. Staying away would leave us weakened and subject to temptation ourselves. Doing the work of charity and educating the young in the Faith is still our mission. We should embrace it with joy. The Lord will heal and build up his Church without doubt. We must stay close to him in prayer and Sacrament.

Faithfully in Christ

Rev. Robert Buchmeier