An Open Letter to Pope Francis

Your Holiness:

I was a nobody. A lost sheep – a victim of sex abuse in the Catholic church who was “thrown away” by the priests and bureaucrats in the Diocese of Orange, California. I was disposable. But unlike the parable, no shepherd came to look to me. Alone and isolated from my community, my family and my faith, I had to struggle to heal myself. Against the odds, I succeeded. And now I speak for those who still suffer alone, in silence.

I am not a nobody anymore. And that is why I am writing to you.

You have reached out to atheists and agnostics. You have said you cannot judge the homosexual community. Those were huge steps, but very easy things to do. You followed your heart and the teachings of the Bible. Now I ask you to do the hard thing: embrace the lost sheep that your people sexually abused, shunned and shamed. Tackle the “elephant in the room” that has been ignored for so long.

Doing that will be difficult. But rumor has it that dying on the cross wasn’t terribly easy either.

You have a bishop in Missouri, USA, who was convicted of child endangerment. Why is he still a bishop? I can’t help but think that Jesus would weep to see that secular authorities are doing more to save your lost sheep than you are.

You have Cardinals in the United States who have covered up abuse, yet they stand in judgement—saying that victims are just bitter, money-grubbers.

You have children in danger world-wide because bishops refuse to remove offending clerics and continue to cover up their crimes.

You have victims—hundreds of thousands of victims world-wide—who only want three things: justice, healing and child safety. The only person in the world who can give that to them is YOU.

How do you do this? Well, saying you’re sorry is not enough. You know that. It didn’t work before and it won’t work now. Victims and Catholics need action. You must remove and punish offending clerics and everyone who has covered up abuse. You must turn over documents to civil authorities. You must tell the bishops to stop their legal fights against victims. You must beg for forgiveness and offer atonement for the sins of your shepherds. I could write a list, but I don’t want to limit the scope of what you can do. You’re the POPE—you can do anything. No one is going to fire you.

It’s time to take your job security to heart. You MUST change the dialog of your bishops. Victims are not your enemy. They are your teachers and your guides. Only your true humility and real action will change the course of the crisis. Until then, everything else you do and say will continue to ring false.

Jesus was a rebel. It’s time for you to follow in his footsteps.


Joelle Casteix



4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Pope Francis

  1. As a life-long Christian, and an EX-CATHOLIC who left because I lost respect for Catholicism after seeing these things go on, I would personally like to thank you for writing this open letter. I hope that you’ll publish the pope’s reply. Which is to say, I hope there will be a reply that you can publish. Or, to put a finer point on things, I just hope there will be a reply!
    When I was growing up, I went to a certain un-named Catholic church in a certain-un named Diocese of (small citrus fruit often used to make juice) where there was a certain Irish priest who is also un-named but some people use his first name as a slang term for ‘toilet’ (which is appropriate as it works out). The fact that we all called him “father” was, unknown to most of us at the time, not just a formal saluation (as it also works out). One of my friends at the time used to refer to this man as her ‘boyfriend’. Which we all thought was weird. Because we didn’t know that she was being honest.
    Because never in a million years would we have suspected him of being capable of fathering and paying for an abortion (yes, using church money – where else does a priest get money?).
    Many years and broken lives later, this man is living in Anaheim with his wife, having left the priesthood. His wife, as it works out, was formerly the wife of one of his parishoners – whom he had an affair with – after being freed on bail by the man whose wife he took.
    Oh – and did I mention that the man who allowed this cover-up over several decades is now a Cardinal and was part of the conclave who elected the new pope? The same pope you are writing to now?
    Jesus forgives sins. As for me, I’m struggling to forgive my former church. Any my former youth pastor. And sometimes even myself for not believing my friend all those years ago. I think a lot of people chose to look the other way.

  2. SB131 vetoed. Brown showed guts. It was unfair. Now reword the bill and include tax supported schools. Still, I don’t think it will pass. A similar bill in Hawaii covered government agencies and it still fsailed. Teachers union pressure?

  3. I salute you for writing this letter which portays honesty, right Christian thinking and humanity. I also wrote to the Pope asking that he act positively to clear up the mess the church is in because of Chils abuse and all that brought that about. The people ask me all the time ” Where are the other priests, why are they not vociferous and standing up for victims/survivors. People abused are streaching out their hands for help and are literally having their hands tied behind their backs and thrown away. To say that the actions ( or rather inactions ) of bishops, not only in the USA but also here in Scotland and elsewhere is a disgrace is putting it mildly, it is , in my opinion, a mokery and an insult in the face of God.

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