Courage for Healing
Last week, all of the dioceses of the state of New Jersey released the names of clergy credibly accused of abuse of minors. On Saturday, Pope Francis laicized Bishop Theodore McCarrick, after a life of distinguished service to the Church, coupled with abuse of minors, seminarians, and clergy. This week bishops from around the world gathered to meet in Rome, from Feb. 21-24. (The deadline for this weekly letter to you is Wednesday morning, hence the delay.)
My fervent prayer is that bringing these disturbing actions to the light will facilitate healing. The words of our Bishop O’Connell this week express my own sentiments. He wrote with “greatest sadness and a heavy heart” that he releases these names, but also with “great admiration and respect for the courage” of those people abused by clergy to come forward, he hopes this publication will assist to heal the awful wounds. With our Bishop, I fervently hope “the release of these names will encourage anyone who was abused as a child but has not reported that abuse to come forward now.”
Several clergy on the list served at OLPH. I share those particular names with you:
Richard C. Brietske, ordained in 1962, has one accusation of credible abuse in 13 assignments over a long career. Frank C. Iazetta, ordained in 1967, has multiple credible accusations in 11 assignments. Joseph F. McHugh, ordained in 1973, has multiple credible accusations in 7 assignments. At the time of writing, I do not know if any particular abuse claims come from those in our OLPH family.
My heart grieves for all affected by abuse. Abuse of minors (by clergy or frankly anyone) does not only affect the individual, but harms the family and the community to which the youth belongs. This sin damages the whole community. And it is the duty of the whole community to work towards healing.
As I mentioned in my Sunday homily, the Catholic Church is at the vanguard of creating an utterly safe environment for our children to grow into fine women and men. We have made great strides since the 2002 Dallas Charter. Many safeguards are in place. I hope that all institutions like other denominations, public schools, sports teams, and groups that work with young people, would be courageous and adopt the same stringent standards. This terrible scourge is not a Catholic problem, but a human problem. Sexual abuse of minors is most often committed by family members or close family friends. Therefore, eradicating this scourge from our society will require the efforts of the whole community.
Please pray for all those who have suffered sexual abuse, for their healing, but especially for their courage, to come forward and work towards the healing process.
May God be with us!