Please Take 5 Minutes and Do This Today!
I’m feeling pretty good about yesterday’s news that Archbishops Weakland and Cousins will no longer be honored with their names on prominent Catholic buildings in Milwaukee. (If you missed it, you can read my take here.) I was also encouraged by the tone and content of the letter Archbishop Listecki sent to announce this news and outline his commitment to addressing clergy sexual abuse.
As I said yesterday, this a small step, but it’s still something. I also think it’s a great opportunity to offer some positive feedback to Archbishop Listecki, to let him know that people notice when he does the right thing.
So, I am asking all of you to take 5 minutes today for one small action:
Please write Archbishop Listecki a brief email and say thank you.
Seriously, it will take you 5 minutes or less. Don’t overthink it. Short emails are probably more effective anyway.
What to do:
Use the subject line “Thank You”
Write a brief note of thanks (By the way, the formal manner of addressing an Archbishop is “Your Excellency,” but I also think “Dear Archbishop” is fine in a brief email. It’s up to you.)
Do not offer any criticism at this time. If you want to encourage further change, you could say something like “I look forward to seeing continued improvements in the way our Archdiocese handles the issue of clergy abuse and cover up.” Let’s keep it positive right now.
Sign with your name, your parish, and your city. (Note: If you are not from this area, I still think it’s worth sending an email to let Archbishop Listecki know that his actions are noticed even outside of our Archdiocese.)
Comment below or on Facebook to let me know when you’ve sent your email!
Why I think this is worth your time:
My understanding is that Archbishop Listecki does personally read all of his emails. He may not reply to all of them (and I definitely wouldn’t expect a reply to this one), but this is the best way to contact him.
It’s important to recognize positive steps, even while we keep in mind that there is still much work to be done. Everyone likes to be recognized when they do something right, and positive reinforcement is always a good way to encourage continued steps in the right direction.
A flood of emails about this issue will help Archbishop Listecki know that the people of God really do care and are paying attention.
For everyone who has been hesitant to speak too loudly about this issue, this is a simple, positive, non-controversial way you can do a little something to show that this matters to you.
What to say thank you for:
The most publicized positive step has been the removal of Archbishop Weakland and Cousins’ names from the Cathedral parish center and the Archdiocesan headquarters. If that’s important to you, you can definitely recognize that positive step. However, I also think it would be helpful to draw attention to other positive pieces of the Archbishop’s letter. So, you could also chose to thank him for:
The honest, pastoral, non-defensive tone of his letter
His recognition that the Archdiocese has not always treated victims well (“Let’s face facts; abuse survivors were not always believed or treated justly by the archdiocese… regard for priest offenders often trumped care for victims.”)
Acknowledging episcopal failings as a key part of the crisis
His mention of a “pattern of mismanagement” by Church leaders
The commitment to rebuild trust “without becoming defensive to the legitimate questions and valid concerns people have raised”
An apology that accepts at least some personal responsibility for the problem (“I apologize for any of my own actions that have been a detriment to healing.”)
The clear explanation of concrete steps the Archdiocese currently takes in response to allegations of the sexual abuse of minors
Adding more lay members to the Community Advisory Board and Priest Placement Board
So, please choose one of these points, or another that is important to you, and say thank you. This doesn’t mean you think everything is perfect now, or that you won’t be contacting Archbishop Listecki again later with more questions and concerns. It just means that you’re willing to recognize a positive step when it happens.
Could you please take 5 minutes and do this right now, before you forget? If you had time to read this blog post, you have time to write this email, right? :)
Your voice matters.
Template (but it’s best if you reword this so all of our emails don’t sound alike!):
Dear Archbishop Listecki,
Thank you so much for your March 22 “Love One Another” letter about our Archdiocese’s response to the clergy abuse and cover up crisis. I care deeply about this issue, and I appreciate __________
I look forward to seeing further progress in our Archdiocese. Thank you for this positive step in the right direction.
St. Mary Parish, Milwaukee
Test everything; retain what is good.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:21