To the Most Reverend Members of the USCCB,
I am a concerned Catholic professional with degrees in both civil and canon law. I am also a wife, a mother of three and a pro-life and anti-surrogacy activist. Consistent with the teachings of the Church, I have sponsored immigrants and assisted illegal entrants in attaining citizenship. My husband and I are active parishioners in San Francisco, California and Park City, Utah. We have raised our children in the Church and weathered with the Church the shocking exposure of suppressed incidents of sexual abuse against children by some of our clergy.
I have been faithful and involved.
The recent exposure of the sexual abuse by and lifestyle of Cardinal “Uncle Ted” McCarrick opens old wounds of betrayal by the clergy and a new, far more serious chapter in the moral authority of the Episcopal conference. The credibility and viability of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is now in question.
Those of us who have followed the Conference’s response to the 2002 Boston Globe expose found reassurance in the employment of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study, first, the scope of the sexual abuse and, subsequently, the causes and context of that abuse. We also embraced the USCCB’s 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People as a sincere statement of action and as a watershed moment creating transparency and cooperation with the laity to prevent any further abuse and scandal. Through contributions of time, talent and money, the laity stood side-by-side with the USCCB and our dioceses to expose, heal and compensate the gross sexual wrongdoing of clergy. We stood upon promises from our shepherds that reporting, exposure, and sexual safety were the new norms; admissions of wrong-doing and recompense and healing for victims, the new spiritual language; and zero tolerance of clerical predatory behavior, the uncompromised standard of all bishops.
Yet, here we awake again to scandalous headlines: “American Cardinal Accused of Sexually Abusing Minor Is Removed From Ministry” (NYT); “Man Says Cardinal McCarrick, His ‘Uncle Ted,’ Sexually Abused Him for Years” (NYT)); “Cardinal McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, accused of sexual abuse and removed from ministry” (WashPost). Allegations now include sexual molestation of minors as well as sexual predatory behavior with young seminarians and priests.
More, media disclosures insist that the predatory behaviors of Cardinal McCarrick have been well known for decades. This from religion writer Julia Duin: “Numerous journalists – and Catholics – knew that McCarrick has been accused of this sort of thing for decades and that he cultivated male seminarians for sexual purposes for years.“ The American Conservative writer Rod Dreher makes similar assertions in his article “Cardinal McCarrick: Everybody Knew.”
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