What are our rights as Catholic laity?

Sent: Sunday, April 07, 2002 6:30 PM
To: frbloom@holyfamilyparish.net
Subject: Anger and frustration

Dear Father Phil

My husband and I, lifelong Catholics, are feeling so frustrated, angry and 
powerless regarding these new allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Most 
disturbing, are the reports of cover-up and transferring known offenders to 
other parishes. 

Our parish priest has made but a fleeting reference to the 
crisis, basically asking for prayers. Our Archbishop's fund appeal letter 
arrived, with no mention of this crisis, no apologies, no outline of what our 
Diocese is doing to addresss this problem- just please send money- more than 
you did last year would be nice. 

Did I mention that our previous pastor has 
taken a temporary leave of absence from the priesthood. No one in the parish, 
including his closest friends and staff have any idea as to his whereabouts?
What are we to do? We're finding it very hard to keep supporting our church 
financially. We feel as though there is this attitude- just give us the 
money, any information will be provided to you on a 'need to know ' basis- 
which we will decide what you need to know. 

My question to you is- how do we approach this? We don't want to continue to 
support a system that protects predators- and leaves the victims to twist in 
the wind!! What are our rights as Catholic laity to demand dialogue,openess 
and perhaps more power and contol- since we've seen the abuse of unquestioned 
power and authority by some bishops.

Please advise.



Dear Eva,

I have been thinking about your letter for the past couple of days. Not knowing the situation is your archdiocese (I assume it is not Seattle) I am unsure how to respond. Here is part of a letter our archbishop sent:

In the mid 1980s, we first faced the tragic problem of sexual abuse in our local church as two cases of priest pedophilia were reported in the Archdiocese of Seattle. At that time, we turned to the professional community for guidance and counsel as we sought ways to address these problems in an open and forthright manner. In cooperation with our community advisors, Archbishop Hunthausen ordered the systematic examination of all personnel files and asked the State Attorney Generalís Office to review them with an eye toward the safety of our children.

Then the archbishop outlined some of the steps taken to assure protection of children in all institutions under his supervision. Until the Boston scandal broke, I had assumed something similar was done in all U.S. dioceses. In my Holy Thursday homily, I shared with the congregation how disheartening it was to find out that as late as the early 90's priests sexually involved with underage children were not removed from ministry, but put in situations where they had continued access to teenagers and younger children.

It seems to me appropriate to ask your archbishop what has been done and what is currently being done to assure children's safety. The fund appeal letter would seem to provide a good moment to do so. It may be that your archdiocese has already published something and would be able to send it to you and your husband.

The issue of "cover-up" is a bit more complicated. Obviously "transferring known offenders to other parishes" is an outrage - and should be punished legally and probably also by public obloquy of those who failed in their responsibilities. However, regarding the temporary leave of absence of your previous pastor, while it must be terribly painful for people who worked with him and were close to him, still it seems to me people must distinguish between desire to know and right to know. That was a pretty unwieldy sentence, but do you see what I am saying?

My prayers for you and your parish. Please pray for me - also for all of our bishops. I would not want to have their responsibility. Am having a hard enough time in my much more limited area.

God bless, Eva.

Fr. Phil Bloom

Pedophilia or Pederasty?

Pedophilia and Teaching of Bible

Other Letter regarding Boston Scandal

Letter from Former Catholic

Catholicism is the Answer

Felony Pedophilia

Is Celibacy the Problem?

"devil is asserting his power"

"you want Holy Priests, then we must adopt them..."

"I would still like to see him stay"

Homily on Boston Scandal

Homily on Local Scandal