An Open Letter to Pope Francis

Catholic Whistleblowers
November 29, 2016

Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City State


Re.: Your support of secrecy over the virtues of truth and justice

Dear Pope Francis,

On November 19, 2016 you created seventeen new cardinals of the Catholic Church. Just before they received their red biretta and ring as signs of their new office in the Church these seventeen bishops recited the Cardinals’ Oath, which says, in part: “I, N., Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, promise and swear, from this day forth and as long as I live, ….. not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to Holy Church, …..”

No doubt, confidentiality and secrecy play a good role in human life because no one has a right to know everything. Families have secrets, businesses have secrets, governments have secrets, and even the Church needs secrets – all for the good of the people involved.

Yet, when confidentiality and secrecy deprive people of the truth and the common good, confidentiality and secrecy must take a backseat to the revelation of the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that might be for some people.

Indeed, how many court battles have there been these past decades as victims / survivors of clergy sexual abuse have struggled to bring forth the truth in the pursuit of justice, while bishops have fought to prevent this from happening? And how many more court actions are still needed?

Moreover, we ask, what motivates such behavior by the Catholic bishops in the Vatican, in the United States, and throughout the world? Protecting money? Fear of embarrassment and loss of reputation? Obviously, yes to both questions. And perhaps there are other motives as well.

So, who can change all of this? You, Pope Francis. Truly you have done many good things as the leader of the Church, and with some risk involved as not everyone in the Church agrees with you. But in matters of the clergy sexual abuse you have done little. Furthermore, you certainly have not addressed a critical human reality as it applies to this issue: without truth there is no justice and without justice there will be no healing. And the revelation of the truth helps to protect children and vulnerable adults.

How sad it is that you continue the Cardinals’ Oath. But, you can change this reality by publicly announcing that all cardinals and bishops are released from all forms of vows, oaths, and promises that bind truth and justice to secrecy. Let’s move into the light of truth for the good of all people.

You have the power to make this change. Now you need to do so.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Rev. James E. Connell, J.C.D.

2462 North Prospect Avenue #204

Milwaukee, WI 53211



Members of the Catholic Whistleblowers Steering Committee who sign this letter are:

Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., (West Orange, NJ); Rev. Ronald D. Lemmert (Peekskill, NY); Sr. Sally Butler, OP (Brooklyn, NY); Rev. Patrick Winchester Collins, Ph.D. (Douglas, MI); Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN (New Castle, DE); Sr. Claire Smith, OSU (Bronx, NY); Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, OP, J.C.D. (Vienna, VA); Rev. James E. Connell, J.C.D. (Milwaukee, WI)

cc: Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States

Members of the News Media throughout the USA








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