My dear friends:
Like me, you may have been deeply saddened, upset, and even angered by the further revelations published in the LA Times earlier this week concerning the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the priest sex abuse scandal. More painful and difficult revelations are likely to follow with the release of the 20,000 pages of documents by the Archdiocese sometime in the next few weeks. Statements from the Archdiocese concerning the released documents can be accessed at http://www.la-archdiocese.org/Pages/default.aspx.
The scandal of how our Church dealt with priests who abused children and young people will be with us for a long time. It is a wound that we will continue to carry as a Church. Our sorrow, our grief and our anger on behalf of the victims and their families, who have suffered so much, are great. Our compassion and love for them are boundless.
Some of you may be asking yourselves if our children are safer now than they were twenty or thirty, or even ten years ago. The answer is a resounding “yes”. Our Church today is not the same Church that you will read about in the media in the next few weeks. I can say without any hesitation that no institution has learned more from the appalling mistakes of the past than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Those of you who volunteer in our parish and school know first-hand the safeguards the Archdiocese has instituted. Tremendous effort is made to check the backgrounds of those who work with children through fingerprinting. Training in VIRTUS (the Archdiocesan program to prevent child and elder sexual abuse, is also required of those who work with or around children so that as a community we are better educated to spot and report abuse. At Holy Family alone, more than 800 parishioners, employees, and volunteers have been fingerprinted and more than 1200 have been VIRTUS trained (all priests, Parish Life Directors, Pastoral Associates, Deacons, and other employees are mandated to be fingerprinted and VIRTUS trained by the Archdiocese). Thank you for your compliance with these requirements so that we can keep our children as safe as possible.
Our Safeguard the Children Committee( https://holyfamily.org/2150/safeguard-the-children/), consisting of parishioners and staff, has made herculean efforts in the past 10 years to educate our parish and to implement policies and procedures which will ensure that every possible step is taken to protect our children. The Archdiocese mandates that every Safeguard the Children Committee is headed by a parishioner to ensure independence. Many on our committee are parents and grandparents of children in the parish, and the Committee actively recruits lawyers, social workers, therapists and others who have worked with abused children. Today, we are a Church that protects our children.
As we look ahead, we take comfort remembering that we are God’s people. We know that God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, is with us always and in all places, and that God’s Holy Spirit is working in and through us now. We are beloved beyond measure by our God, and he walks with our Church through this time of crucifixion to resurrection, leading us into the light.
It is in this spirit of hope, trust and confidence in our loving God that we turn to him in prayer. Please pray for all the victims and their families who have suffered so greatly. Pray for Archbishop Gomez and our Archdiocesan leadership. Pray for all our priests who carry this pain in the depths of their being. Let us also pray for all those who are involved in any way in the cover up and scandal of the abuse of children in the Church. May the anger and hurt we feel be healed with forgiveness and love. Above all, may this be a time when we come together in unity to take strength from one another and from our community of faith at Holy Family.
Yours in Christ,
Parish Life Director
P.S. I welcome your questions, comments and concerns at (626) 403-6110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.