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.