23 August 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In light of the recent report on clerical abuse by the grand jury of Pennsylvania, I have felt compelled to address this by briefly commenting on how disheartening this has been. Just the idea, let alone the evidence produced, of over 1000 children and young people abused by hundreds of clergy and religious is stunning.
Although this is not a “new” revelation regarding the crime and sin of sexual abuse of minors by clergy and religious in the Church, hearing it again for the first time in this latest disclosure from several Catholic dioceses of the state of Pennsylvania continues to add to the shame and embarrassment of an institution that was designed to care for and shepherd the most vulnerable members of its flocks.
The words of the Prophet Jeremiah are echoed in a timely way: What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23,1 - NLT).
I hope these latest revelations compel us to reflect deeper about our roles and responsibilities as pastors and teachers of young people entrusted to our care spiritually and emotionally. Also, I hope that we are already acquainted with the protocol spelled out in the Province’s Handbook on Maintaining Ethical Ministry with Minors and Adults.
I encourage our Augustinian communities to spend time in prayer and reflection together processing how this affects us collectively and, at the same time, how we can be agents of change in the institutional Church as well as in the environment overall. Sexual abuse and other forms of abuse run rampant in all sectors of life, besides the Church. It’s present in our homes, workplace, schools, and in the political realm. Let us listen to our people and to one another. Although we are wounded ourselves, God’s grace and mercy will strengthen our resolve to accompany many who are hurting and yearn for healing as we seek healing for ourselves collectively and personally.
I strongly encourage you to read the Holy Father’s Letter to the People of God dated 20 August 2018 and to share this message with whom you live, work and minister.
Very Rev. Anthony B. Pizzo, O.S.A.
Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel (U.S.A.)
Province of St. Joseph (Canada)
Vicariate of San Juan de Sahagún (Chulucanas, Peru)