August 15, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
It is important that we as a church – the people of God – pray for those in leadership that they will be people of integrity and faithful to the promises they have made to Christ and to the church.
In recent weeks, we have seen allegations of sexual abuse made against a cardinal and a local, former deacon who had been removed from ministry. Other questions have been raised about how sexual abuse allegations have been handled by bishops in the United States and other parts of the world.
It is possible for all of us who love the church to be saddened, discouraged and perhaps even angered by the actions of church leaders who have been unfaithful to their commitments. No one should suffer sexual abuse from anyone, especially not from a member of the clergy. There is no way to justify these actions.
In 2002, there were serious concerns about how U.S. bishops handled these types of allegations. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People gave us a process to resolve these allegations and to help us, as bishops, to be transparent and accountable.
This is an important time for church leaders to recommit themselves to the protection of children and young people. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the policy we have committed to in the Archdiocese of New Orleans are very thorough and specific. We follow these policies faithfully. Sometimes, those who do not understand the process question this, but I, along with my coworkers, are intent on being faithful to what we have promised.
It is important that I note that the allegations we have received recently of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy date back approximately 30 to 40 years. Because of this, we are sometimes left with more questions than answers and cannot judge or draw conclusions about what was in the hearts and minds of those making these decisions decades ago. We know more now about sexual abuse, grooming and patterns of behavior than we knew 40 years ago.
We, as the church, are totally committed to our safe environment program. Included in this issue of the Clarion Herald is a letter I am sending to all those involved in ministry with children in our archdiocese. In many years, we have not received a credible allegation of inappropriate behavior that has taken place in the present time. This gives evidence of vigilance by leaders in our parishes and schools.
Most importantly, I once again extend my prayerful support and apology to victims of sexual abuse. I have met with several victims through the years, and hearing their stories gives me an opportunity, in some small way, to share in their pain. However, I will never know the pain they have experienced and still are experiencing. We, as church, must reach out to victims and accompany them in their search for healing. We must also remember and pray for those abused within families and by others in society.
Because the church is human, each of us is a saint and a sinner. Throughout the centuries, the church has experienced other grave crises, but God is faithful, and he will lead us to healing. We must learn from our mistakes, our sins and our lack of integrity and move forward with hope.
Wishing you God’s blessings, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans
Any questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.