My dear Friends in Christ,
A Pennsylvania Grand Jury released, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, a report detailing the names of 301 priests who sexually abused over 1,000 minors over a 70-year period in that State. This report, coupled with the recent revelations regarding the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and seminaries in Boston, Mass., and Lincoln, Neb., has shocked and angered God’s people, including myself.
These revelations call to mind for me, as I am sure it does for many of you, 16 years ago when we, in the Diocese of Covington, faced a similar crisis. It was an extremely difficult time for us as a Diocese — for our people, for our priests, for me and most especially for the victims of sexual abuse.
Meeting individually with over 200 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse by priests changed my life. I have seen the pain in their eyes and in many instances shared their tears from their experiences. Their pain lives in my heart and impacts every decision I make in my quest to protect children and vulnerable adults. I will carry their pain with me to the Bishops’ Conference in November as we again discuss the concrete changes that need to occur within the governance of the Church to better address the sin of sexual abuse within the Church.
Pope Francis, in his Aug. 20 statement concerning the findings of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, said, “Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening.”
I assure you that in our Diocese we will continue to do everything we can to address this issue. I commit myself to acknowledging and working together, with our priests and people, toward this important task, that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening.”
Let us begin by placing ourselves in Christ’s hands. Please join me in praying for the victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, that they may find peace and healing in the arms of Christ. Pray also for the good and faithful priests who, with me, are humiliated and disheartened by the sins of their brother priests, that they may continue to live faithful lives in the example of Christ.
Christ, alone, suffered death on the Cross to redeem us from our sins. Now, Jesus, we place our trust in You.
Yours devotedly in the Lord,
Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, D.D.
Bishop of Covington