I spent one of the most fascinating afternoons imaginable in New York City yesterday, a city of countless fascinating places to visit.
In the company of two very dear friends, I visited – for the first time – Ground Zero.
Also for the first time, I visited the indescribably remarkable and compelling 911 Museum.
One of my friends, Maria, is a docent at the 911 Museum and if anyone could resurrect miracles out of mounds of rubble or somehow give life back to death, it is Maria.
Both Maria and our mutual friend Blanche (they’ve been friends since college) lost friends in 911 so there were many extremely poignant moments during our afternoon together.
I will tell you about that visit and do so as soon as possible, putting together all my memories, my feelings and the stories Maria told us, together with some photos.
Today, I’d really like you to focus on the following letter as the drama of the sex abuse crisis and reaction to the McCarrick scandal, seem to have no end.
AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUNG CATHOLICS
Another excellent offering from First Things on the sad and sordid case of Archbishop McCarrick and the situation of sexual abuse by clergy in the Church.
These young people will make you think. They tell you of their love for the Church and for the good and faithful servants of the Lord and they tell you of their fears and hopes and their demands on Church leaders. These youth in their own ways are all leaders now, as you will see by their signatures, and will surely be even greater ones in coming years.
I hope and pray that the Holy Father and the October Synod of Bishops for youth put everything the young people have said in this Open Letter at the top of the synod agenda.
In fact, I hope and more than anything else that someone on the papal staff brings this to the attention of Pope Francis.
Here’s the First Things article:
Archbishop McCarrick’s predatory career would not have been possible without the culpable silence or active complicity of men at the highest levels of the Church. Revelations of his abuse have therefore gravely damaged the credibility of the whole Catholic hierarchy. Here a group of young Catholics speaks with one voice about the need for a cleansing fire.
Their statement is non-partisan, assuming nothing but the eternal validity of the Church’s teaching. They call for an independent investigation of who knew what and when, a new intolerance of clerical abuse and sexual sin, and public acts of penance by Catholic bishops. They promise to work and suffer for the Church, and to strive for holiness in their own lives. As children of the Church, they ask for fathers who honor the Father above. They are confident that their pleas are heard by God. They hope that they will likewise be heard by the priests and bishops who fear him.
“Dear Fathers in Christ,
In preparation for the upcoming Synod on Young People, the Vatican asked for reports from young Catholics around the world concerning their faith and the role the Church plays in their lives. Some of us are younger than others, but we were all children in the decades leading up to the sexual abuse crisis of 2002. In light of that experience and the recent revelations about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, we answer the Church’s invitation to speak.
Our experiences have given us cause for gratitude, but also for anger.
We are grateful for the way good priests and bishops lay down their lives for us day after day. They say the Mass, absolve us from sin, celebrate our weddings, and baptize our children. Through their preaching, teaching, and writing, they remind us that Jesus Christ has conquered evil once and for all. Their daily sacrifices give us blessings of infinite worth. For all of this, we are profoundly thankful.
We are also angry. We are angry over the “credible and substantiated” report of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of a minor. We are angry over the numerous allegations of his abuse of seminarians and young priests. We are angry that “everybody knew” about these crimes, that so few people did anything about them, and that those who spoke out were ignored.
In addition, we have heard reports of networks of sexually active priests who promote each other and threaten those who do not join in their activities; of young priests and seminarians having their vocations endangered because they refused to have sex with their superiors or spoke out about sexual impropriety; and of drug-fueled orgies in Vatican apartments.
As Catholics, we believe that the Church’s teaching on human nature and sexuality is life-giving and leads to holiness. We believe that just as there is no room for adultery in marriages, so there is no room for adultery against the Bride of Christ. We need bishops to make clear that any act of sexual abuse or clerical unchastity degrades the priesthood and gravely harms the Church.
We are scandalized by the fact that men like Archbishop McCarrick have held positions of authority in the Church. Indeed, we are alarmed by reports that Pope Francis acted on McCarrick’s guidance in creating cardinals and appointing men to senior positions in the Church. Men McCarrick mentored and lived with are now important archbishops and heads of Vatican dicasteries.
We want to know what those men knew about McCarrick and when they knew it, especially since “everybody knew.” If the pope himself knew, we want to know that as well.
You are the shepherds of the Church. If you do not act, evil will go unchecked. As members of your flock, we therefore ask the following of you.
We ask you to agree to a thorough, independent investigation into claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick, both of minors and of adults. We want to know who in the hierarchy knew about his crimes, when they knew it, and what they did in response. This is the least that would be expected of any secular organization; it should not be more than we can expect from the Church.
We ask that the silence surrounding sexual impropriety in the Church be broken. We ask that bishops take clear action when priests flout the Church’s sexual teaching and that networks of sexually active priests be rooted out. We ask that good priests be given the freedom to tell their bishops what they know, without fear of reprisal. Along with these actions, we ask that bishops engage in formal acts of public penance and reparation.
We also commit to the following. We will refuse to be silent when we see or hear of sexual assaults taking place anywhere in the Church and by any person, clerical or lay. When those we know are assaulted, we will encourage the victims to come forward. We will stand with them until justice is done. We will not accept silence and inaction. Rather, we will publicly name and expose those who harm others and superiors who fail to take action when others are harmed.
We will likewise speak out when we discover clerical sexual impropriety. We will work to protect the good priests and seminarians who are threatened when they refuse to condone the sins of their fellow clerics, or when they speak out about them.
Above all, we pray for holiness in our Church and in ourselves. We pray for good priests and bishops who can lead us on to the vision of God. You constantly remind us that Jesus Christ is the fountain of mercy. Please do not forget that he is also the judge of the world.”
The letter is signed by 43 young people who contribute to various publications, including First Things, Commentary, National Review and Catholic Herald. They attend Catholic universities and public institutions. They hail from the U.S. and the UK. I have not listed their names for reasons of space but they are here: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/an-open-letter-from-young-catholics