In my column last week, I made a reference between the comparison of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and our own sexual abuse crisis in the Church. The similarity being that when all the bitterness was over, we are left with a lack of trust; with our country being unable to protect us and the Church being unable to protect, most especially, our children. There is a profound sense of betrayal on the part of our laity and also the clergy because those who abused betrayed not only the lay faithful, but also their brother priests, deacons and their bishops. These abusers have shaken the foundations of trust, which are essential to any organization, especially one which is the Church of Jesus Christ.
As a Bishop, it is my responsibility to meet with people who have survived sexual abuse by a member of the clergy. It is among the most painful and challenging ministries, but it is also a privilege. On one hand, hearing their stories of abuse involves coming into contact with pure evil. On the other, I also am able to see how God’s grace works in the lives of the survivors. The evil some of my brothers have done shakes my faith, but the courage and testimony of those who survive confirms that evil is not the last word.
In an extraordinary move, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has written a “Letter to the People of God” regarding the historical sex abuse cases of six dioceses in Pennsylvania, sadly a past problem which extended throughout the United States and even throughout the world.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program (IRCP) has allowed the Diocese of Brooklyn the opportunity to reconnect with many victims who had come forward in the past, and who thought they had been forgotten.
As Bishop of Brooklyn, I am announcing a significant new step in the ongoing effort of the Diocese of Brooklyn to address the wounds of those sexually abused by members of the clergy. It is called the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.