Support the Troops
Over the past week, we Catholics have come face to face with evil. We saw that, in our own Church, troubled priests, to whom we looked as ministers of sacramental grace, as collaborators in ministry and indeed as friends, had committed despicable acts of evil upon our most innocent and precious members, our children.He does get that it's the good, humble and honest ones who will suffer most because of this.... So sad.
This knowledge, and the depravity of the acts detailed in the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report, affects me deeply. I grieve for the pain and humiliation victims of clergy sexual abuse have suffered.
To them I say, once again, with a heavy heart: I apologize to you personally. Your suffering is borne by all Catholics. All believers stand with you for support and are united with you in prayer. These words are meant to be first steps of healing, which I pray you will receive through the grace of God....
Many years ago I dedicated my life as a priest of Jesus, the High Priest, to serve Him and His Church, the people of God. Today I acknowledge the betrayal of abusive priests, as do so many dedicated priests here in the Archdiocese. These good and faithful servants of our Lord feel especially hurt. I know they have endured uncharitable comments or perhaps silent stares of condemnation from some members of the community. I extend my fraternal admiration for all the selfless service they render. They strive for personal holiness as they lead the people entrusted to their care to a deeper relationship of love with our Lord Jesus. To them I say with a full heart: thank you for all you do and are.
I express these words with deepest gratitude. But my words are not enough. I invite all the faithful to consider times in your life when a priest celebrated a significant moment in your life with you, or consoled your family at a time of grief, or in some small way accompanied you on your journey toward holiness of life in Jesus.
As you have considered the evil perpetrated by a minority of priests over several decades, I ask you to take the time to thank personally one of the overwhelming majority of priests who have performed generous service to you and the Church over a much longer span of time. If a priest has ever led you closer to the Father’s love, now may be the time to thank him personally with words of your own.