I would like to speak a word on the horrifying news that has come from Pennsylvania recently about the abuse of minors by priests. Our bishop Luis Rafael Zarama has published a letter in response which can be found here. Pope Francis added his own letter earlier today in which he stated that “we showed no care for the little ones.” Last weekend we prayed during the Prayers of the Faithful for all victims of abuse. The news about ongoing abuse by priests within the church has shaken many people, and shaken peoples’ faith in the leadership of the church.
This past weekend at St. Francis I heard from people who were deeply troubled by the news out of Pennsylvania. How could this have happened? Why was it allowed to happen over such a long period of time? How can we be sure that it won’t happen again? We have been asking the same questions among staff and teachers here over the past few days. All painful questions, all cries of hurt and betrayal.
It’s hard to know what to say in response. It’s not a matter of only saying we’ll pray and hope things get better. This seems deeper. I felt that this past weekend at mass here. And so in light of the pain that is out there, we will be hosting parish prayer service/listening sessions on Tuesday, August 28, one at 10am and another at 7pm in Founder’s Room. Our hope is that these gatherings might serve as a way for the people of this community to come together and hear one another. All are welcome.
On a personal note, we friars feel deep outrage over the news from Pennsylvania – outrage for the victims, outrage at the abusers, outrage at a church hierarchy that turned a blind eye, outrage that a trust has been betrayed. Each of us responded to our Franciscan vocation out of a sense of serving God’s people, and this is not at all the church we expected to find. We are sorry that the people of God have had to go through these painful revelations yet again, years after the news first emerged out of Boston. Please know that here at St. Francis we are committed to a strong Safe Environment program that ensures that all children be kept safe – that this is a highest priority for all of us here. And blessings to all on your week..
Fr. Steve Patti OFM