Detroit archbishop on sex abuse scandal: Repent or get out
On the eve of the grand jury’s scathing report of church leaders protecting more than 300 “predatory priests” in Pennsylvania, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said that priests who have impure relationships with others must repent or give up the priesthood.
He stressed that all clergymen – including bishops like him – must be held accountable for their behavior.
Vigneron’s remarks came Monday in two similar letters – one for clergymen, the other for believers as a whole – released prior to the publication of the report, which for decades accused leaders in six Pennsylvania dioceses of protecting the Church and the world Offenders to be interested in the welfare of more than 1,000 victims.
“Men of God have hidden everything”: the church protected 300 “predatory priests”.
Vigneron said he shared the pain of facing recent allegations of abuse in the church. He also said he was praying for the victims.
“I find a temptation among some to despair as to whether things can change,” he wrote. “We know, however, that reforms can only take place if hope is alive.”
“We must go on with the conviction that God will not leave his church. He wants it to be cleansed, cleansed of these sins, and raised to life.”
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Vigneron’s letters were written in anticipation of the report and in the light of revelations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s misconduct, according to Archdiocese officials of Detroit.
McCarrick, who once served as Archbishop of Washington DC, recently resigned after alleging the 88-year-old prelate had sexually abused boys for years and was involved in sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.
The Pennsylvania investigation is the latest scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse to shake the Catholic Church.
Investigations are underway closer to home in the Diocese of Saginaw after two priests were suspended from service on allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Rev. Robert DeLand was arrested in February and is awaiting trial. Rev. Ronald Dombrowski was suspended from the ministry in March.
The diocese published the names of four former priests and one former deacon in April who had been removed from service a few years ago on credible allegations of abuse. In addition to an investigation by district attorneys, the Diocese of Saginaw has asked retired Judge Michael Talbot to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
In Detroit, Vigneron wrote that he wanted to recognize how daunting and discouraging it is “that we are again faced with moral flaws in the priesthood.”
Vigneron referred to the words of then Pope John Paul II. Hin, who said in 2002 that it must be clear that bishops and superiors are primarily concerned with the spiritual well-being of souls and that there is no place in religious life for people, do the harm to the boy.
“Building on the indictment of St. John Paul and given the accounts of former Cardinal McCarrick’s sins against chastity, I affirm that priests who seek to lead a double life by deceiving the Church through impure relationships with others do so must repent or give up their pastoral office, “wrote Vigneron, who promised to hold clergy to account.
Vigneron said he, too, had a responsibility to live up to his commitment to celibacy.
“To this end, it is important that I stick to my prayer and ascetic habits, especially regular confession and spiritual guidance,” he said. “In standing before the judgment of Christ, I humbly give an account, acknowledge my weaknesses, and ask for forgiveness and healing.
“Should I lapse into my chastity, I should not only be corrected by those responsible, but also by every brother or sister who was aware of my fall,” he wrote.
Vigneron noted that the Archdiocese of Detroit has instituted education programs and other steps to prevent and combat sexual abuse.
When allegations of misconduct arise, the archdiocese reports them to local police and works with investigators, Vigneron said. If claims are well founded, the names of the defendants are published. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since the abuse.
Still, Vigneron said the recent news of abuse allegations proves that clergy and lay people need to remain vigilant.
“This summer’s news confirms why we, as bishops, priests, Church officials and lay people, must remain vigilant to protect children from abuse, and redouble our outreach and healing efforts for those most vulnerable to sexual abuse are “he said. “I remain fully committed to this goal. We can never be satisfied with what has been achieved.”
Contact Ann Zaniewski: 313-222-6594 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
How to Report Abuse
The Archdiocese of Detroit does not set any deadlines or deadlines for reporting sexual abuse of minors by priests, deacons, and other personnel. To speak to the Archdiocese’s Victim Support Coordinator, call 866-343-8055 or email [email protected]