June 23, 2019
By Bishop Felipe Estevez
Since last August, I have responded to letters from Catholics and members of our community who have voiced their concern for the church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis.
I have pledged my commitment to transparency and accountability, and I have taken action to ensure there is a full accounting of the diocesan safe environment program, which was initiated in 1989 by Bishop John Snyder.
I had anticipated that a “Report to the Faithful” would be ready for public release by the new year, but in October, Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi, announced her office is investigating the seven dioceses in Florida to ensure the church is properly handling allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese has cooperated fully with the state’s investigation, and the report will be released once the investigation is done. I want this report to be accurate and complete and reflect any findings from the state’s investigation.
In a guest column, “It is time for Bishop Estevez to disclose all” by Chris Shea and Joseph Lowrey, they wrote, “In an unacceptable and intolerable fashion, a directive has cut the laity out of any investigation; it also fails to explicitly direct clergy to report abuse to secular authorities.” This statement and others they made are untrue.
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