When the three Colorado dioceses entered into an agreement with the Colorado attorney general to conduct an independent review of all files related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests, there was a commitment by all of the bishops to get everything out in the open in a spirit of transparency.
This means that horrible details of past sins by priests would be made public. Indeed, parts of the Independent Review are very hard to read and may leave the faithful feeling discouraged, angry, sad or hurt.
No matter what you may feel as you read through the report, there are a few important things we as Catholics need to keep in mind.
1. It’s appropriate to feel hurt or anger.
While much of this report had already been disclosed, seeing the details from 70 years assembled in one place makes it especially terrible to read. We are certainly appalled, incensed and devastated by the incidents of abuse in the report and this horrible history — and no one in the current Church is making any excuses for what happened back then. The pain caused to the innocent can never be forgotten no matter how long ago it occurred in the past.
2. Our hearts are with the survivors.
Our primary concern is for those who were harmed — while no apology is sufficient, we are truly sorry on behalf of the Church and hope that we can assist in the healing process. We hope the independent reparations program will encourage others to come forward for healing.
3. We can always do better and must never get complacent.
We are committed to continuing to improve our response to all allegations — while we know we have made great strides and been able to help many people, nevertheless we will implement the recommendations in the report and we will learn from those who came forward and felt they weren’t treated appropriately.
4. Our culture has changed — thanks to many of you.
We are thankful for the tens of thousands of people who have made the commitment to ensure our children are safe and that the Archdiocese is a community where sexual abuse of minors will not be tolerated. Their work and continuing vigilance is one of the primary reasons that there has not been a substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by a diocesan priest in 20 years.
5. Support your priests.
We are grateful to our current priests — they have carried the cross for sins they didn’t commit, and humbly served while under the scornful eye of society. It’s important for everyone to know that the report found no substantiated allegations against any of our diocesan priests currently in ministry. Together we will persevere, rebuild trust within our community, and become stronger as we serve and love the Kingdom of God.