Expression of Concern October 2, 2018
Dear Cardinal Cupich:
We are inspired by one of the central texts of The Second Vatican Council. The Council stated in Lumen Gentium that, "the laity, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, are permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.”
Therefore, in the hope that out of this time of unprecedented betrayal, anger, and disillusionment in the Catholic Church, great change can yet come; and with the urgent desire to preserve the Catholic faith for our children and grandchildren, we the undersigned concerned parishioners and friends of Christ the King Parish in Chicago, offer as follows:
● We want to remain in the Church and not flee from this catastrophe. We want to stay and fight for a Church which is faithful to the Gospel. Distilled to its essence, our call is for our parishioners and for those of our neighboring parishes to stay, to remain in the Church, and fight against clericalism and the abuse of power.
● We believe that the current leadership of the Catholic Church has failed, appears tone deaf, and does not fathom the full threat which the child sex abuse crisis presents to the Church.
● The Church hierarchy has inflicted upon itself an extreme loss of credibility. The people have lost trust and confidence and are deeply disillusioned. This is experienced by the laity as a betrayal of epic proportion. The consequences are far reaching; many Catholics, especially in the younger generation, have become alienated from the Church which they now view as corrupt and hypocritical.
● We grasp the role played in the crisis by human frailty, failed human judgment, grievous human error, and tragic human blind spots. These may explain some actions by the Church hierarchy in this crisis, but they do not excuse them.
● In absolute horror, we ourselves, as Church members, rebuke and censure: 1) the abusers; 2) those who covered up and thereby worsened the abuse and; 3) the leadership of the hierarchical Church which turned a blind eye, delayed, stalled, and took no ownership of this nightmare. We call for the Church, late or not, to limit, sanction, or laicize all three levels of offenders, as appropriate. Those involved as bishops should be relieved of their positions of leadership and authority. We demand acknowledgment, accountability and action from the Church.
● We demand that the Church hierarchy, which has utterly failed to police itself, and which has willfully abandoned its moral responsibilities, be pried open to skilled lay oversight in all matters concerning sexual abuse.
● We have always supported the worthy ministries which depend on the Archdiocese for financial support. Nevertheless, we will now examine whether pressing on the levers of lay financial power can be used to help the laity in being heard.
● We intend to seek clarity and detail on what has happened with regard to child sexual abuse, the abuse or harassment of seminarians, the suppression of truth and the denial of justice by our Church. We have an obligation to do no less. We will consider how our parish can help those who have been harmed and how our parish can pray in an open and concerted way for their forgiveness. We will also pray for God's mercy and for a redeemed Church.
● We will gather data and confirm what we hope to be true: that our Archdiocese has been in good compliance with the mandates issued by the American Bishops in Dallas in 2002 to reform the reporting and handling of all claims of abuse. Where there is good news, we will share it clearly with the parish. It defies logic, however, for bishops to be omitted from the requirements of the Dallas Charter. Therefore, we call for the mandates of the Charter to be expanded and apply to bishops as well as to priests.
● We want to be a positive force for change in the Church. We see a relationship between the mishandling of the crisis and an insular hierarchy. We believe that there is a need for a major restructuring to allow for greater lay leadership and participation by women. We will explore how this can be accomplished now in our parish.
● We will not join in any hatred. We will not collaborate with those who seek to falsely assign blame for the abuse of children to the gay community.
● In total grief, we stand in solidarity with the victims who were sexually abused as minors.
● We support and embrace the vast majority of Catholic priests who are blameless but now part of the collateral damage.
● We are determined to protect the mutual respect and affection which exists in our parish even as we struggle to understand and process the crisis, and work toward protecting the faith.
● Finally, we are encouraged by the Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on September 19, 2018 and your Commentary published in the Chicago Tribune on September 26, 2018.
Signatories to the Expression of Concern:
CC: Ms. Betsy Bohlen, COO for the Archdiocese