"We Are Profoundly Sorry That We Have Failed You" - An Open Letter to Survivors
It has been a bit quieter on the In Spirit and Truth blog lately, as I’ve been focusing on my work with Awake, our new ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I have found it truly energizing to gather with a team of fellow Catholics who share my love for the Church and my desire to work for reform, renewal, and healing. I am so grateful for the way the Holy Spirit is moving here!
(Side note: While I haven’t had as much time lately to write blog posts, I have still been keeping up with sharing daily news updates on the ISAT Facebook page. If you don’t use Facebook, you can always catch up on those posts on the ISAT website here. As hard as it can be to absorb what feels like a constant stream of bad news, I believe it’s really important for each of us to be well-informed about these issues so that we can be more effective advocates. And I do try to share positive developments, inspiring quotes, and helpful Scripture passages for reflection as well!)
The Awake Leadership Team has been patiently listening, learning, planning, and praying together since March, and we are excited to be finally taking our first steps in a public way. Since our website launch a few weeks ago, we have been blessed to connect with many wonderful folks - young people and older adults, laity and clergy, longtime advocates and many who are just beginning to wake up to this issue in our Church. The Spirit truly is alive and doing something new in the Body of Christ!
Today, Awake is launching our first public action - signing and sharing an Open Letter to Survivors. This is a heartfelt letter of apology from Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to all who have been abused in the Catholic Church. We know that this is just one small gesture, but we believe it’s a good place for us to begin.
We are welcoming signatures from Catholics within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as well as from supporters anywhere in the country (or world!). You are warmly invited to read and add your name to the letter as a sign of support and solidarity with all those who have experienced abuse in our Church. We have already received some very positive feedback on this letter from several survivors of clergy abuse, and we hope this gesture will make at least a small difference to many others.
An Open Letter to Survivors
A Message for All Who Have Experienced Abuse in the Catholic Church,
From Catholics of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are writing as members of the Catholic Church, to offer you an apology. We are deeply sorry for the abuse you experienced in our Church and for the lifelong aftermath of that abuse.
The abuse you endured was horrific and inexcusable. The Church should have been a sanctuary for you; we are so sorry that it was a place of trauma instead. What you suffered wasn’t your fault, and we want to apologize for every time you were blamed for someone else’s sins. We are sorry for any time someone suggested that sharing your story would bring shame or scandal to the Church. We are sorry for the many ways your abuse was ignored, minimized, and covered up by church leaders who should have protected you.
We recognize that many of you have been speaking out for decades, and we apologize for all the times that we in the Church didn’t listen, doubted you, or lacked the courage to act. We trusted the wrong people, and we didn’t trust you. We rarely gave you the support you needed and deserved as you sought justice and healing. We offer no justifications or excuses, only our sincere regret for the ways that our actions may have separated you from your spiritual home and deepened your pain...
You can read the rest of the letter and add your signature at www.awakemilwaukee.org/theletter.
Please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will guide this letter to any person who might find it helpful.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Renew the face of the earth.