Pastoral letter regarding clergy disclosures
By Bishop William Patrick Callahan
Diocese of La Crosse
January 18, 2020
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ:
The Protect and Heal initiative of the Diocese of La Crosse, our response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis, now includes a most essential ingredient: the disclosure of the names of clergy with a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse.
This disclosure of names is an important step: the Church must again confess to this evil and pledge our prayers and support to all victims and their families. To all victims and their loved ones, everywhere: I and so many others continue to offer prayers and assistance. I realize that our promise of continued prayer and support may not seem to be enough; for your pain, suffering and anguish will always be a part of you. I am sorry, however, for all you’ve suffered.
The disclosure of names is a necessary step. Victims inform us that it assists in their healing process and it provides them with no small sense of justice. Victims and their loved ones must no longer suffer in silence and isolation.
This is also a painful step. It’s painful to all victims, certainly, for their nightmare resurfaces yet again with this public release; and it is painful, too, for all good and faithful laity and clergy who continue to feel anger and humiliation for the abuse of both power and conscience committed by these men.
Even with that, the disclosure of names is the right thing to do, for all of us!
The list of names of clergy with a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse, found on the Protect and Heal page on our website, will remain public and up-to-date: names will be added if and when future allegations are sufficiently confirmed. As promised and as needed, prudent transparency has replaced unacceptable secrecy.
The Diocese of La Crosse’s Protect and Heal initiative is now about moving forward. Details can be found on our website, including contacts, reporting procedures, safe environment training, support for those who have been harmed, and more. Many of these measures have been in place for years and they have been effective for years.
As your Bishop, I commit to openness and transparency. I encourage all victims to come forward as we offer our willingness and ability to assist in the healing process. I pledge my continued efforts to protect against future abuse. I promise that every future allegation will be addressed professionally and thoroughly.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.