January 31, 2013
In my email to you last Friday, I mentioned that a further 20,000 pages of documents from clergy files would be released by the Archdiocese sometime in the next few weeks. In fact the documents have just been released today.
Archbishop Gomez has written a letter to the people of the Archdiocese, which you can access at , along with the other statements on the clergy abuse files. The Archdiocese will shortly be posting the released documents on their website.As we brace ourselves for the contents of the documents and for the media storm which will follow, I would like to offer three “anchors” to help us work through what will be for many of us a time of greatly conflicting emotions.
The Anchor of Prayer
Bringing the pain, the hurt, the anger we may feel to prayer is to remember that above all our faith and trust belong to Jesus Christ and to our loving God. We cannot reconcile what happened in the past with whom we are called to be as Church, but we can trust that, if we open ourselves completely to allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through us and in us, healing and transformation will take place.
Keep praying for the victims of abuse and their families. Pray that they may find comfort in knowing how much their sorrow is our sorrow, and how much they are loved and cherished by their brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep praying for our priests, who dedicate their lives to us in ways that are unimaginably sacrificial, and who carry this wound deep within them. Keep praying for Archbishop Gomez and all of our Archdiocesan leaders for wisdom and strength in this time of trial. Pray too for the hierarchy who are named in the clergy files…they need our prayers and forgiveness. Let us pray for ourselves and for one another for healing, forgiveness and for unity.
The Anchor of How our Church is Protecting Children Today
In so many ways, the healing and transformation necessary for our Church here in Los Angeles has already been happening. As difficult as you may find the news articles, it may help you to remember how much our Church is doing to protect our children. To date, over one million children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have received Safeguard the Children training and education while they are under our care. Tens of thousands of adults (including all priests, Parish Life Directors, deacons and all Archdiocesan and parish employees) have been VIRTUS trained and fingerprinted. You can read more about this and about our parish Safeguard the Children Committee, by clicking here.
While protection and prevention efforts are critical, our Church today has also made sure that the victims of abuse are cared for as much as possible through the Archdiocesan Office for Victims Assistance Ministry. The staff of the office put in untold hours and incredible amounts of heartfelt compassion and patience in taking care of victims of abuse. With so many lessons learned and put into effect, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has become a model in child protection efforts. In the past calendar year alone, the Archdiocese spent over $400,000 in training programs, background checks, fingerprinting, etc. Last Sunday, the Daily News published an article on our Safeguard the Children efforts, which I would encourage you to read.
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The Anchor of Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Whatever good news we have to share about what our Church is doing now does not diminish the suffering of the victims of abuse that carries on to this day. Our Church’s valiant efforts to protect children in our day may not lessen the pain we feel as media reports revisit a time in our history as a Church when we did not protect our children and young people. This final anchor speaks of how Mary might help us in this struggle between the past and the present.
Last night, as I was walking home across the Gathering Area, preoccupied with all of this, I looked over to Mary in the Grotto. Someone had lit votive candles at her feet which were pinpricks of light in the surrounding darkness. I always look to Mary for comfort as I am leaving the Pastoral Center, but this time I was profoundly struck by the serenity and all encompassing love she exudes, and how in her own life, through her Son, she was able to transform darkness into light, and suffering into forgiveness.
Remember how Mary stood vigil at the foot of the Cross, accompanying her beloved Son to his agonizing death. Imagine how she must have felt, the torment of emotions she must have experienced as she realized the depth of betrayal: Jesus’ friends, the band of twelve, nowhere to be seen, except for the Beloved Disciple; Judas, the traitor who was seated at the Last Supper, selling out Jesus for a bag of silver; the ugliness of the crowd who turned on Jesus; and the vindictive triumphalism of the Jewish religious authorities in getting rid of the Galilean troublemaker. So much anguish, so much hurt…how can a mother ever forgive something like this when her child has suffered beyond belief?
And yet she did. We know that Mary experienced the transformative love of the Resurrection and was able to overcome her own anguish and torment. Transformed by the love she experienced through her Son, she forgave the impossible.
Like Mary, we too are invited to open ourselves up to the transformative love of the Resurrection in which our faith is rooted, and which makes forgiveness of all things possible. Hold Mary’s example in your hearts and pray that we can emulate her great love and forgiveness.
As we walk together through this as a community of faith, I would welcome your continued feedback as to how best the parish can respond to your needs during this time. I can be reached at email@example.com or at (626) 403-6105.
Yours in Christ,
Parish Life Director