Bishop Accountability
  Guest Column: Healing Can Begin As Diocese Responds

By the Burke Family
Quad-City Times
December 19, 2003

Editor’s note: This column written by Ed Burke is signed by his brothers Al and Eugene, sister, Helen and nephew Pat McClimon. The Burke family came forward in a Barb Ickes column in the Dec. 14 Times with allegations of sexual abuse within the Davenport Diocese.

Bishop Franklin this week agreed to personally meet with the Burkes. The family intends to arrange for a meeting after the holidays.

The Burke family was inspired to come forward and stand in unity with the young men who have filed sexual abuse lawsuits against the Davenport diocese. We respect their courage and we invite others to stand with us. At Mass last Sunday in one of the early prayers we prayed for justice and truth. My prayer is that these six young men experience these virtues from the Diocese of Davenport.

I remembered the Bishop in my communion prayers today and hope the Bishop remembered each of us. I do not want to linger over his letter in response (published in the Sunday, Dec. 14 QUAD-CITY TIMES) which states, “it has been my practice and desire to meet with any individual who believes he or she has been abused at any time by one of the priest of this diocese.” My family’s recall is slightly different.

My brother, Al, while meeting with the Chancellor never recalls being offered the opportunity to personally meet with the bishop. My sister Helen’s first letter received no response. Her second letter, six months later, January 2003, made no allegations against the Diocese of Davenport but merely wanted her family to receive an apology from the bishop as the Spiritual Head of the diocese. I am sure it was not intended, but the letter she received from the Chancellor conveyed no opportunity to personally meet with the bishop.

Please believe me when I say that the abused are not the enemy of the church! Most of the abused who I have met and know are extremely active in their parishes. So what do we want? We want what we were taught in our formative years in the Roman Catholic Church by our clergy and lay leaders. If the Davenport Diocese sinned against these six young men that sin cries out for:

Atonement and restoration.


Resolve not to commit this sin again.

In a wider context we would appreciate it if you and your brother Bishops would:

*Begin to show more respect for the laity. Recognize how well the laity does support priests of integrity.

*Begin to work to regain the laity’s trust so that you can speak with moral authority.

*Begin not to expect deference from the laity, except in matters of theology, for today’s laity is coming of age in the Body of Christ to understand that we are all called to the same holiness, each with a different role where we can work together to grow in holiness and help each other heal from the many abuses in life.

I look forward to the future when our family, as member of the Body of Christ, can break bread together with the bishop around the table of life with the chairs of justice, truth, peace, love, joy, forgiveness and laughter present and filled to the fullest.

We welcome our meeting with the bishop personally as equal members of the Body of Christ with no need of lawyers present.

In closing I forgive my abuser and pray for a healing between the abused and the Hierarchy.


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