In response to our hurting Church

In response to our hurting Church

We are sad. We are angry. We are frustrated. We are members and friends of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. The news from Pennsylvania brings on us another wave of shame as we acknowledge that even greater pain has been inflicted on children and families and on all the faithful by our brothers in the priesthood and our hierarchy.

The Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania follows the recent resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, scandals in Chile, Australia and elsewhere, and the investigation into the Boston seminary. At every level, our Church is in pain.

In the face of these horrific realities, we cling to our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We ask for healing of those who have been hurt. We ask for clear judgment, restitutive justice and appropriate penance for those who have done evil or who failed in any way to protect children and families from evil.

We are as shaken as were the apostles on Good Friday, but we remain committed to our mission and our determination to be a pastoral voice of hope and joy within our pilgrim church and world, weak and sinful as we all are.

We trust in God’s love and reign. We base our hope and our joy in Jesus and in the Spirit who gives us the inspiration and strength to say and do what we must.

  • Those responsible for these scandals within this Church that we love must, individually and corporately, publicly apologize and ask forgiveness for what they have done and what they have failed to do.
  • The seminary process which has formed Catholic clergy for centuries must be fundamentally reformed to make it effective and adequate for our times. Our Association reaffirms our recommendation and request that the U.S. bishops adopt significant changes for the sixth edition of the Program of Priestly Formation, as proposed in a document we submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in January 2018. Preparation for priesthood must include faithfulness to Vatican II, a call to a life of service to God and God’s people, formation in pastoral settings among the people whom candidates will serve, and authentic human psychosexual development. Discernment regarding the continuation of priesthood candidates should include faculty and staff with pastoral experience and participation of laity, women and men, who have had experience of the candidates in the course of their formation.
  • We deem it especially important, indeed essential, that women be involved in the formation and decisive discernment of candidates for priesthood and integrated at every level, from top to bottom, in the power structure of the Church.  (The AUSCP White Paper on Priestly Formation, along with a letter to the USCCB, are available at the AUSCP website:
  • We pray that God will give all of us who serve as pastors, priests, bishops, deacons and faithful the strength to root out the pride and ambition of clericalism and its scandalous behavior.
  • We heartily support Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and the USCCB executive committee, who called August 16 for an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops, and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. “These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity,” DiNardo said.


We pray for the People of God and we stand ready to assist in any way we can, as our Church addresses the moral and spiritual catastrophe of abuse.




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  1. Roy Donovan says:

    We know Pope Francis got it badly wrong in Chile because he listened solely to the dominant group – that of the Bishops. He had the generosity of spirit to admit he got it wrong.

    Will he have listened mostly to Cardinal Farrell!??
    The Irish Bishops!?
    The organisers of the WMOF!? Will he think that because there was Fr. Martin SJ & a women’s conference at WMOF that all is well??!!

    Will anybody tell him that there is an alternative being organised to the Phoenix Mass in the Garden of Remembrance and why this is happening?

    Will any of the views of the ACP have been received by him?

    I am sure that he has learned from Chile – that there are many valid alternative views to those of the dominant powerful groups within the Church.
    It will be interesting to see whose views will influence his visit here.

  2. William O'Brien says:

    I am not a supporter of the Bishops for the most part in their action and inaction. The scars of rape and violence are not eradicable, ever. The individual can heal over time, but there is no such thing as closure. It never ends, the nightmares continue as anyone with PTSD can attest – Witness the destructive nature of bullying and its destructive effects lasting into the lives of individuals. Years of therapy are helpful, but not a cure.
    However, we need to understand (and rightfully condemn) not only the culture of the hierarchy at the time and the culture of silence that pervaded the church and society as a whole, and continues to do so.

    The bishops in the United States had two sources of information and direction. The first and the most important is the scripture, which calls for both forgiveness and hope. The second is the science of the times. There was the greatest difficulty perhaps. While forgiveness and hope must be accorded, protection of others is paramount, therefore the perpetrators should have been removed, rather than simply transferred from place to place.
    The psychologists and psychiatrists of the times believed that they could “cure” pedophiles and adjust them to living a more mature sexuality. And so many of these men were sent to treatment centers with the expectation that they could be “reformed” and returned. We know now that that was not a possibility.
    Therefore we have to look not only to the past and our (our communal responsibility, our communal fault) sin, but also to the future and what steps we can and should take. The church is working to prevent future abuse and will struggle with it for decades to come.
    all of this should give us a perspective for reading the “Pennsylvania Report.”
    Protecting the institution at the cost of destroying lives is never acceptable and ultimately destroys the very institution being “protected.
    An accounting of the steps take in individual cases should be are public as much as possible, however those who are dead (or otherwise incapable of self defense) should be redacted and their names not provided unless they were proven to have committed these grave actions.
    We are removing many names from buildings and institutions because of the report. This is not unlike our society at large in the United States. However we should also be mindful of the words of Marc Antony in Julius Caesar in his eulogy for the fallen tribune/emperor. “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”
    Before we condemn bishops on a wholes basis we should be mindful of the criteria they had at their disposal and the criteria they used.
    God bless the men and women in the Garden of Remembrance, I pray for their ability to find healing and strength and the terrors that live within them might be eased and tamed, even knowing full well that they can never have “healing and closure.”

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