As you heard me say from the pulpit and as you may have read from our bulletin insert last weekend, the Minnesota Child Victims Act removed all statute of limitations for historical cases of the child sexual abuse for church-related abuse for three years. This statue of limitation ended this past week on May 25, 2016. During that time, some 73 cases of clergy sexual abuse have voluntarily come forward in the St. Cloud Diocese against some of our parishes. Most of these cases range from the 1950’s thru the 1980’s. No doubt there may be more who have chosen not to come forward for various reasons of their own. All clergy involved in these cases are either dead or no longer in active ministry. Both the Church of St. Peter and the Church of St. Paul are among some parishes that have been named in a lawsuit regarding some of these abuse victims. This is sad and tragic news indeed! To paraphrase Bishop Donald Kettler, ‘As a Diocese and as a Church, we must be as transparent as possible to help clarify the specifics of these cases, settle these lawsuits, and bring some sort of healing to those who have been unjustly harmed in the past.’ Bishop Kettler also says, ‘These lawsuits should not affect the day-to-day operations of either our parishes or our Catholic schools.’ Currently we have a Diocesan Attorney working with other attorneys to settle these cases, which will take some time.
If you have not done so, please read the bulletin insert Bishop Kettler asked us to provide to you with more details and information. Let us continue to pray for a fair settlement and healing for victims and survivors, their families and our own parish communities as well. Let us also do our best to ensure that these abuses will not occur in the future again!
What our local Diocese and parishes are going through, we should know, is really symptomatic of the larger proliferation of adult and child pornography and sexual abuse (both child and young adult) happening in our country. Sexual abuse occurs in other churches, social institutions, both public and private, work places and within families. We as a nation need to push forward to address these problems in all these areas and levels as well! The good news is at home we are attempting to move forward and do something about it!
This being said, with regard to what we as a Catholic Church are going through, all this should not diminish what the Gospel of Jesus is all about! Without trivializing abuse or abuse victims, we should know that “The Church,” has always experienced scandal and the need to reform throughout our 2016 year life, beginning with Judas who betrayed our Lord. Despite our Lord’s betrayal, the early apostles moved on. They did not allow this to take away from what Jesus had done to redeem sinful human nature or send the Holy Spirit to help us and is still with us. Throughout history, the Catholic Church has gone through periods of growth, but also great need of reform. This is what happens when we belong to a “living body” that is both fallen and human and yet divine. There have always been some bad Popes, bad Bishops, bad Priests, Monks and Nuns and bad Catholic lay faithful who in the name of Jesus and the Church have done some terrible things! And yet, Jesus promised he would always be with us and that the darkness would not prevail. As a good lay friend once told me “The Catholic is about so much more than this! We should not let this overshadow the beautiful truth of Christianity and all the good that has been done.” We as a Catholic Church continue to work to feed more hungry people, care for more sick, do more charitable work, and contribute more charitable money than any country and secular institution throughout the world! We will survive and press on! I believe after this period of trial we will be a stronger, more authentic Church who honestly seeks to follow Christ! So, let’s hold on to the good that we got and what God will continue to bring. Holy Mary Mother of God…pray for us!