FEB. 12 – My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I speak to you today as your Archbishop, your shepherd and pastor. My concern is for all of you who belong to Christ and his Church. I speak to you who are active members of the flock of Christ and also to you, who, for one reason or another, find yourselves distanced from the Church.
The release of the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report this past Thursday brings great sadness and distress to every Catholic, to every person. Once again the issue of the sexual abuse of minors is raised, as well as the role of the Church and her leaders in addressing this abuse. As Catholics we are hurt and confused, and perhaps even quite angry and feeling betrayed. We are keenly aware of Saint Paul’s words, that if one part of the Body of Christ suffers, all the parts suffer with it (1 Cor. 12:26). All of us are afflicted at this moment.
Those suffering the most are victims of sexual abuse. In them, we see Jesus suffering in our midst. Just as Mary, Model of the Church, embraced her crucified Son, so we, as the Church, embrace all victims with our love, compassion and concern. I ask you to join me in praying everyday for victims of sexual abuse, invoking the tender intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. We pray that they will have real hope in Christ and will truly know they do not stand alone. We stand with them and their families.
Many of you suffer in solidarity with your priests who serve you so faithfully. They themselves are suffering. It is deeply painful that the sinful choices of some of our priests have caused great harm in the Church. What we must remember is that Christ is the true priest and in him the priesthood does not forfeit its integrity. The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. Let us support our priests with our constant prayers.
Many of you find yourselves wondering how to react in light of the recent Grand Jury Report. This is a moment for renewed faith. We believe in the never failing love that God has for us and in his compassionate mercy. Jesus is the presence of God’s love and mercy in this very moment, to each of us and to the whole Church. On the Cross, Jesus continues to reveal this love and mercy, a message proclaimed in the Gospel and celebrated fully in the Holy Eucharist. I encourage you to join me as we turn together to Jesus. He sustains us. He sustains the whole Church. His cross and resurrection conquer all sin and give us faith and hope, which must remain strong in our hearts as we vigorously commit ourselves anew to do everything possible for the protection of all children and for the prevention of any abuse in the future. Let us confidently place our faith and hope again and always in Christ!