Dotcommonweal has the surprising story about the vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his response to the sex abuse crisis: "Last week, Fr. James Connell, vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, stood on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and called on his bishop to release documents related to the local sexual-abuse crisis: 'I am absolutely convinced that we need the truth. Justice requires that the truth be known.' His appearance was a surprise to SNAP, which organized the press conference."
Today Fr. Connell released an open letter to priests asking them to "raise our united voices" in calling for greater truth regarding the crimes of sexual abuse. (CW has posted a PDF of the letter on their site.) Some excerpts:
Surely, everyone wishes that this crisis would be resolved for the good of all. Unfortunately, however, I find that some people are saying that the victim/survivors should simply forgive and move on with life. Yet such an expectation overlooks what seems to me to be the necessary sequence of events for forgiveness and peace to happen: (1) knowing and understanding the whole truth; (2) doing justice based on the whole truth; (3) allowing healing to blossom over time; (4) then granting forgiveness that releases one from bondage; and (5) finally welcoming the peace that comes from healing and forgiveness.
What has caused me to be more attentive now to this scandal and crisis? Listening to and being moved by the stories that I hear. These stories can be discomforting but they are part of the truth needing to be revealed and understood.
My brother priests, obviously the revelation of the truth is not forthcoming easily, but we can be the catalyst for change. We have been sent into the Lord’s vineyard with a mission to provide voice and witness to all that Jesus Christ is about. I trust that you will do all that you can to help bring about a grace-filled resolution to this crisis and scandal. And, as I say, we need to do this in a vocal and public way.
I suggest that this Christmas season we raise our united voices in calling for the necessary sequence of truth, justice, healing, forgiveness, and peace, regarding this most difficult challenge in the Church. Indeed, doing so in this season of peace would provide a route to peace for all who suffer in any way because of sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Besides his bold statements, what is especially noteworthy about Fr. Connell's comments is the high position he holds in the archdiocese.