For the past few months, I have prayerfully discerned the best way to respond to the shattering events of this past summer: The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, Allegations against Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Vigano’s Letter and the daily news reports of law enforcement and prosecutors demanding Priest personnel files for review.
I remain concerned for those abused by anyone representing the Catholic Church, and the impact of this abuse on their lives. For all Catholics, these reports have shattered trust, confidence and respect for church leadership. In addition, I am deeply troubled by reports that some Bishops have not responded and taken action to these renewed reports and new allegations of abuse and failure to act, toward our most vulnerable.
These events have weighed heavily on me as I know they have on all of the people of the Archdiocese. Over the past few months, I have consulted with various lay professionals with legal and judiciary expertise as well as the lay staff of the Archdiocese to design the best way to provide accountability and transparency for all of the people of the Archdiocese and the local communities.
Therefore, I have executed a decree establishing an independent commission of three extraordinary people of upstanding reputation and credentials to review all priest and religious personnel files as well as all reported allegations of lay employees and volunteers.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who have worked with me to define the scope of this review. I am especially grateful to the commission members who have accepted this task to review, evaluate and report on how the Archdiocese can be transparent, accountable and improve its governance. The work of this commission will help to ensure confidence in the safety and care of the most vulnerable.
I ask you to remember those in prayer who have been victimized by anyone representing the Catholic Church. I will continue to keep you all in my prayers. Please keep me and my fellow bishops in prayer as we meet to address these issues and follow the Holy Spirit where it leads.
In The Heart of Christ,
† Paul D. Etienne
Statements from Archbishop Etienne
- A Statement from Archbishop Paul D. Etienne About the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults (WEB)
Statements or Letters from Pope Francis or the USCCB
- Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis “Motu Proprio” Regarding New Universal Law for the Church Relating to Sexual Misconduct (WEB)
- Letter of the Holy Father Pope Francis to the Bishops of the United States of America (PDF)