For healing: new leadership
Letter to the Editor
Cara Anthony, Corrine Carvalho, Sherry Jordon, Susan Myers and Kimberly Vrudny of the Department of Theology, University of St. Thomas
July 26, 2014
[See the List of Faculty of the Department of Theology of the University of St. Thomas. See also the 9/12/14 letter to Archbishop Nienstedt by theology faculty of the University of St. Thomas.]
We are tenured female faculty in the Department of Theology at the University of St. Thomas representing Christian traditions both Protestant and Catholic. We are expressing our own views and are not speaking for the university.
After learning still more about the sex abuse scandal in this archdiocese through Minnesota Public Radio's documentary, "Betrayed by Silence," and the brave affidavit by Jennifer Haselberger, we cannot in good conscience remain silent any longer. We are speaking out on behalf of the children, past and present, who have been molested and whose cries have been ignored.
We teach a tradition that proclaims a God of love who cares for the downtrodden, and we find it difficult when that biblical message is met with skepticism and resistance in our classrooms because of the behavior of clerics who abuse their positions in the church. It is not easy to speak publicly. It has been painful to learn of indiscretions by individuals whom we know, and whom we have liked and respected. We recognize that leaders of good will have made unacceptable choices in a larger system warped by the abuse of power.
We are especially concerned about the victims of clergy sexual abuse and about the systemic efforts to protect the priests who are harming the most defenseless and vulnerable among us -- the children. We recognize the hypocrisy of the clergy when they judgmentally rebuke congregants for sexual behavior they deem deviant when some of them are pedophiles, and when some of them have abused their positions of power to protect child molesters. Moreover, they have done these things with full knowledge and intention, which, according to Catholic moral thought, makes their crimes all the more egregious.
If it is found that any crimes have been committed, they should be prosecuted. Moreover, we see a need for a restoration of trust within this archdiocese for healing to occur. Because we believe in a God of justice and of mercy, restoration of community requires that abusers acknowledge wrongdoing and undergo the long, hard, arduous task of reconciliation. This entails sincere contrition, public truth telling and adequate restitution.
For genuine healing to occur, we believe it is necessary to have new leadership at the archdiocesan level, leadership that includes individuals who are neither perpetrators nor enablers of abuse. Rather than leaders who use power to protect themselves and their fellow clergy, we need ministers who put the children first, and who truly understand how to heal the brokenhearted.
We join with all the other communities throughout the world that are taking action to end the abuse of power that has enabled the criminal sexual misconduct of priests and their protection by the hierarchy to go largely unchallenged for decades.
Cara Anthony, Corrine Carvalho, Sherry Jordon, Susan Myers and Kimberly Vrudny