A personal letter on the abuse crisis from the editor in chief, Rev. Matthew F. Malone, S.J.
This letter is not a subscription renewal notice or a solicitation for support. I am writing to you from my heart about the crisis in the American church.
This is an agonizing time for the church in the United States. Catholics across the country are reeling from the recent disclosures of past sexual abuses committed by members of the clergy and the catastrophic failure of many of the church’s leaders to protect the most vulnerable among us.
I want you to know that we at America share your feelings of anger, sorrow and fear. As I keep reminding the editorial team, however, we have the luxury of being able to do something in the midst of our sense of helplessness: We can do our jobs. That is what we’ve been doing this summer and what we will continue to do in the weeks, months and years ahead.
In short, America is here for you. We don’t think of ourselves as just a magazine or a website. America Media is a ministry. As journalists, evangelists, as your fellow Christians, we promise to accompany you through this trial, to do everything in our power to provide you with the news, analysis and spiritual resources you need. Above all, we will strive every day to be faithful to our mission and motto to “Pursue the Truth in Love.” We need to listen to the truths of the victims and survivors above all. We need to help them tell their stories. And we need to pursue the truth about the cover-ups and failures, no matter where it leads.
But in order to do all of that, we also need a reason to keep the faith. Many people are asking right now why anyone would remain a Catholic in light of this scandal. It’s a fair question. I’ve heard from a lot of good, honest people who, looking at the record of crimes and cover-ups, ask how we can still talk about God or the church in any meaningful way.
In a recent Gospel reading at Mass, we were told that many of Jesus’ disciples were abandoning him. He asked the Twelve Apostles if they were going to leave too. Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” As one of our executive editors said the other day, for those of us who choose to stay, Peter’s words are the life raft we cling to amid the wreckage of the American church.
But Peter’s story doesn’t end there. You know it well: Peter abandons Jesus, denying him three times. Yet after the resurrection, Jesus comes back for Peter, asking him three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter says “yes,” Jesus replies: “Feed my sheep.”
The summer of 2018 is not the first time that our faith has been tested. It will probably not be the last time, either. But the Gospel tells us that even when the church fails to be faithful to God, God never ceases to be faithful to us.
God is loving us even now. The pain of abuse and betrayal is real, but so is the healing power of love and reconciliation.
Jesus Christ still lives. Thus faith, hope and love will never die.
We are praying for you. Please pray for us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Matthew F. Malone, S.J.
President & Editor in Chief
P.S. You can access all of our news, analysis and resources about this crisis at www.americamagazine.org/abusecrisis.