Forty young Catholics have signed an open letter to priests and bishops calling for “a cleansing fire” in the wake of the McCarrick revelations.
Published by First Things, the letter calls for “a thorough, independent investigation into claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick, both of minors and of adults. We want to know who in the hierarchy knew about his crimes, when they knew it, and what they did in response.”
It asks that the “silence surrounding sexual impropriety in the Church be broken,” and that “bishops take clear action when priests flout the Church’s sexual teaching and that networks of sexually active priests be rooted out. We ask that good priests be given the freedom to tell their bishops what they know, without fear of reprisal.”
The signers also request that “bishops engage in formal acts of public penance and reparation.”
Finally, they make a personal commitment to “speak out when we discover clerical sexual impropriety,” and to “protect the good priests and seminarians who are threatened when they refuse to condone the sins of their fellow clerics, or when they speak out about them.”
“Above all,” it concludes, “we pray for holiness in our Church and in ourselves. We pray for good priests and bishops who can lead us on to the vision of God. You constantly remind us that Jesus Christ is the fountain of mercy. Please do not forget that he is also the judge of the world.”
Matthew Schmitz, who helped to organise the effort, told the Catholic Herald: “Our signatories come from several countries and a wide range of backgrounds. That reflects how widespread the frustration is at the Church’s failure over the last 16 years to address the problem of clerical abuse.”
“Cardinal McCarrick liked to call himself ‘Uncle Ted’. One thing this letter makes clear is that young Catholics don’t want creepy uncles – they want men worthy of being called Father.”
“Some of the young people today combatting sexual abuse were victims themselves,” Schmitz added. “One thing we want to do with this letter is empower and embolden them.”
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