As Catholics throughout Greater Boston heard Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s message at weekend Masses assailing the church for “clerical sins and clerical failures” that caused the clergy sex abuse crisis, a letter asking all US Catholic bishops to resign over the scandal topped 1,000 signatures.
The letter, published Friday on the website Daily Theology, says the crimes documented in a recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report about child sex abuse by more than 300 priests “evince a horror beyond expression.” The letter requests the bishops resign collectively as a “public act of repentance and lamentatThe signatories include a monsignor who serves as pastor at two Catholic parishes in Lexington, staff at Catholic colleges and schools, lay leaders, and parishioners.
Laura Atwood Duran, a parishioner at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Chatham who signed the letter, said the bishops need to go — even if they had no role in protecting abusive priests — because they are products of a system that seeks to “protect Mother Church against all scandal, no matter what the cost.”
“This is not OK, and we are not supposed to be silent about it. And if we are, then we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing as Christians,” she said. “We need fresh people.”
The letter implores US bishops to follow the example of their counterparts in Chile, who offered their resignations in May for failing to protect children from pedophile priests.
Bill Mitchell, a Brookline resident who signed the letter, said the church’s failures call for an act of “severe humility” from its leaders.
“The clericalism and the attitudes toward celibacy and the deep and unconscionable discrimination toward women in the church so undermine the moral hierarchy . . . that something striking needs to be done,” Mitchell said. “This looks like a good step in that direction.”
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