"Rise up, Lord, in your anger"

An abridged version of Fr. Alex's comments this Sunday:

As pastor of this parish I feel it is my responsibility to speak to you in this moment.  I recognize that this is a difficult time as many of you may have relationships with the victims, with the perpetrators, or you may be a victim of abuse yourself, but I would like to speak with you frankly about my own thoughts, as the time for polite obfuscation is clearly behind us.

I was a senior in high school when the Boston Globe first broke its story about clergy abuse in 2002, so by the time I was ordained a priest in 2012 I was aware (as we all have been over these last 20 years) of the issues of child abuse that have plagued us and came into a church that had already enacted many measures to keep its children safe.  As a young priest ordained post-scandal I probably had a naïve vision about what my role could be in the church--about how I would have the opportunity, like some kind of Old Testament prophet, to over time transform and help guide the church to a better place little by little.

I now know that I, like many of us, was naïve.  

Now, this does not mean that I believe Bishop Bambera is wrong about the work we have done in protecting children, I think he is correct about that.  Even a single case of abuse is too many and our work in stopping child abuse can never end, but any of our volunteers or parents would most likely be able to testify to the great work that has been done by the people of this and other parishes in ensuring the safety of our children.

My naiveté did not have to do with our capacity to end abuse, but with our ability to abolish the structures that allow this sort of thing to happen--these terrible crimes, structures that allow for the lack of accountability and oversight.  We need reform--real, legitimate, intense reform.  It is clear now that for that to happen we will have to rely on you, the People of God. I say this to you not because I believe I have all of the answers, but precisely because I know that I do not and that if we desire to serve God truly we must be honest with one another and resolve work together, that there will be no knights-in-shining-armor in this story, only a faithful and dedicated group of people seeking to shine the light of God even when the shadows loom.

I do not want to give you the impression that there is no hope, there is always hope--hope for victims, hope for all of us.  There are good people in the world, good people in the pews, there are good priests, there are good bishops.  To all of those good people now is the time for actions, not words--actions on behalf of the victims, actions that will reform and heal the Body of Christ.  The true work of reform, guided by the Holy Spirit, will lead us down a difficult and sometimes lonely path, but when we walk with God down that path, God walks with us.

Thank you, please remember to pray and care for the victims of abuse, and may God bless you.