Bishop's Letter to Abuse Victims

Tucson Citizen
September 20, 2004

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to meet with some of you to listen to your anger, your hurt, and your sense of betrayal.

This has touched my heart and left me struggling to know how best to help you heal.

As the Diocese enters the process of reorganization, again I think of you with concern and with a longing to restore your trust and heal your hurt.

To each of you I extend my deepest personal sorrow, and I communicate to you the sorrow of all the people of the Church of the Diocese of Tucson.

I believe that God is closest to those who suffer and hurt and that He alone can heal. I believe that He can and does work through others to bring about healing, and I believe that the process of reorganization we started today can be an instrument of healing.

I want you to know that I have not taken this step to avoid responsibility for what happened to you or to hide anything. On the contrary, I truly see the reorganization process and the reorganization plan that we have submitted as the only and best way that the Diocese can address its responsibility to you, can continue to meet its commitment to institute programs to prevent abuse, and can continue its mission to all those who depend upon the ministry and outreach of the Church.

Please know that I am willing to meet with you individually or in a group. I am willing to pray with you, if that would bring about healing. I have asked our Catholic community to pray for your healing and to remain open to you with compassion.

The Diocese will continue to build on what we have done to meet our common commitment to protect our children, youth, and vulnerable adults. We will continue to require that all persons who serve in the Diocese must follow the law that requires reporting reasonable suspicion of child abuse of any kind from whatever source.

The Diocese will continue to require screening and orientation of all who serve in the parishes and schools, whatever their role. We will continue to educate staff, volunteers, parents, and children so that we will respond effectively to signs of abuse or even risky behavior.

The Diocese will continue to partner with law enforcement and child advocacy groups in our communities to address the societal issues of child abuse.

The Diocese will continue to reach out those who have been abused, to encourage them to come forward to make a report to civil authorities, and to seek assistance through the Victim Assistance Program. This program, now in place for two years, is for anyone who has been abused by a worker for the Church, no matter when or where the abuse happened. You can contact the Victim Assistance Program at 634-0344 in the Tucson area and 800-234-0344 outside the Tucson area.

I continue to pray for your healing, and I have asked all the people of the Diocese to pray for your healing.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D.
Bishop of Tucson


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