2018: one of the difficult years for us
Catholic Priests and our Church.
For us priests and church leaders the celebration of Christmas and the New Year this year is greatly muted. We are embarrassed and ashamed by how our clerical culture allowed some of our own brothers grievously to wound so many of our children and youth.
No matter the number of offenders from among our ranks, all of us priests, or at least some of us bear some of the blame. We did not take good care of some brothers among us. Clearly as a simple example, we should have dealt more resolutely with those with drinking problems. But more to the point if we knew thirty and forty years ago what we know now we would have questioned certain other social behavior in which our brother priests engaged. For example, we observed priests spending an unusual amount of time with minors. Such behavior then seemed to us who observed it to be if not a kindness at least innocent. We should have known better. Such behavior was clearly unsuitable for men who would have been blessed to find their social health among their brothers.
"I bring all this to our attention in this season of hope in a new year because I want you to know that we in my religious order are taking steps to restore our community’s health: first of all a commitment to total transparency; in addition, over the past ten or fifteen years we are taking much more seriously our day to day care of one another. We meet frequently to discuss the standards we set for ourselves.
"I believe we know now what to do. We ask God’s help in carrying it out. We practice, too, the Marian devotions that can sustain us. We priests are sustained, too, by witnessing especially in this season the devoted love of so many in our congregations for their family members, and for others, the sick and the poor. We priests need to grow in this way, too.
"God will stand by all of us. The darkness in the Church dims our spirits. And the darkness will trouble us for years to come. But may the celebration of Joseph, Mary and their Child open our hearts to new ways of finding God’s love."