SAINT EDWARD CATHOLIC CHURCH & SCHOOL
STATEMENT ON THE RECENT DISCLOSURES OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN PENNSYLVANIA AND WASHINGTON, D.C.
August 19, 2018
The last weeks’ news of depraved, wicked sins against chastity by priests, bishops, and even a cardinal in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have justly led most of us to feel a sense of righteous anger.
Demands about how this could have happened — and what must be done to make sure it never, ever happens again — ring out in social media, around family dinner tables, and in the hearts of the faithful.
At Saint Edward, too, there are those in our parish family who have been deeply wounded by these events. In light of sincere questions parishioners have raised, the clergy and staff of our parish and parish school want to update our brothers and sisters about how we will respond in justice and truth to make sure our children and vulnerable adults are protected and kept safe.
First, if anyone has knowledge of any criminal abuse of children or vulnerable adults by someone in the parish or parish school, contact law enforcement (the Tennessee Department of Children Services 24-hour reporting hotline is 877-237-0004). If you need help in contacting law enforcement, contact the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator at the Diocese of Nashville, and he will help connect you with the best resources (the coordinator may be reached at 615-783-0765).
If you are an adult victim of sexual abuse from childhood, we still encourage you to reach out to law enforcement first, but even if you choose not to, please still reach out to us. If you are the victim of abuse of any kind by clergy or any employee of the parish or parish school, bring it forward. It will be addressed quickly and justly. If you have directly witnessed sexual advances or any type of abuse, bring it forward as well.
All such actions are sinful and scandalous, and we cannot allow anyone to use their position or power to abuse another person. Again, in addition to injuring individuals, these actions injure the very Body of Christ, His Church. It must be stated unequivocally: every person, whether clergy or lay, married or celibate, is called to Christian holiness in their human sexuality. This means that sex and sexual intimacy are reserved exclusively for one man and one woman within the bonds of lawful matrimony. Anything else is sin, and any sexual activity by celibate clergy, against the bonds of matrimony, or with a child or vulnerable adult, is particularly heinous and perverse.
Next, St. Edward has taken concrete steps to protect our children besides ensuring open reporting. Electronic locks protect the outer doors and inner hallways of our buildings. Every step is taken to ensure no children are alone with adults. Comprehensive criminal background checks are conducted upon all clergy, staff, and volunteers before allowing them to interact with children. All parish clergy and staff are mandatory reporters for criminal and immoral sexual assault or advances upon children or vulnerable adults. Parish Religious Education and parish school students in grades K-8 receive “Safe At Last” training, so they will know what constitutes inappropriate behavior by adults and how to report if it should happen. New gates will be installed to protect our parish campus. Our confessional has been renovated by building walls completely separating the two sides and separate doors to access each side. This ensures the privacy and protection of both priests and penitents.
Finally, in order to make reparation to our Lord for these grievous sins, St. Edward Parish will:—
- Keep Friday, September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as a day of parish-wide penance and reparation for these sins;
- Observe Wednesday, September 19; Friday, September 21; and Saturday, September 22 (the customary Autumn Ember Days), as parish-wide days of fasting (1 meal and 2 small collations or snacks) and abstinence (refraining from meat) in penance and reparation for these sins;
- Institute the public recitation of the Holy Rosary after every Wednesday Mass in penance and reparation for these sins, beginning Wednesday, August 22, the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
- Encourage all parishioners and parish school families to begin praying the Holy Rosary together at least weekly, starting on Wednesday, August 22. Since we are in a spiritual battle, it seems most fitting to heed Our Lady’s advice in praying the rosary. During her apparition in Fatima, Portugal she told us, “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war,” – Blessed Virgin Mary May 13, 1917.
- Publish and encourage all parishioners and their families to pray daily, or at least on Fridays, this prayer in penance and reparation and for the protection of children and vulnerable adults:
Almighty and merciful God, look with compassion on our affliction, and so lighten your children’s burden and confirm their faith, that they may always trust without hesitation in your fatherly providence.
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that your people may avoid the contagion of the devil and follow you, the only God, in purity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.