Parish Statement on Clergy Abuse Scandal
Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
I want to address a painful topic, but one that cannot be ignored. Last week was devastating for our Church and, for many of us, even for our faith. The revelations of clergy sexual abuse in the recently-released Pennsylvania Grand Jury report has reopened old wounds. It is particularly terrifying because the scope and enormity of the scandal that we first heard about in 2002 seems to have vastly increased. No words seem sufficient or even helpful right now, but I feel compelled to say something. Personally, I feel disheartened, disgusted, and demoralized because of the abusive, negligent, and corrupt actions of a number of shepherds in our Church; men who were supposed to be trustworthy and examples of good moral behavior and leadership have betrayed us in ways that are unspeakable.
There are only two things I know to do right now. We need to pray, first and foremost, for the victims who have been broken by these predators and their supervisors and who have lived in silence and in the shadows for far too long, that they may somehow experience a measure of healing and justice. As hard as it is, we also need to pray for the perpetrators and the bishops who committed negligence and malfeasance against the flock they were supposed to shepherd. Finally, I know this is self-serving, but I also would ask that you pray for the overwhelming majority of priests who are innocent, hard-working, and faithful, and who would never in a million years even think about harming a child.
Second, we need to take care of our own corner of the Catholic world and focus on the good in our community. At Saint Brendan, the safety of your children is our primary concern. We follow every child protection mandate and guideline developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Every priest, teacher, staff member, coach, and volunteer who has regular and close contact with children is fingerprinted through a national FBI database and must successfully complete a comprehensive child safety program called Virtus. No exceptions. Furthermore, no priest is ever alone with a child in an unmonitored situation. Even during confessions, children at the school go with their teachers and the rest of the class, and we recently installed clear glass windows in the confessional so that anyone can monitor the activity inside. I pray that the precautions we have taken will put your minds at ease, at least to some extent.
On behalf of the leadership of the Church, I want to say that I am so sorry for what has happened and that I pledge to you to continue to pastor this community with integrity, trustworthiness, and transparency. I make one final pledge to you. Despite the horrendous nature of what has happened, we will not allow the contemptible and shameful actions of some in our Church to derail us from the crucial mission given to us by Jesus Christ to change hearts for God and make disciples for the Lord.
To read Archbishop Cordileone's Letters on the National Sexual Abuse Revelations, click here.