Letter from Bishop Lopes

Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter writes to the faithful on the ongoing scandal within the Catholic Church.

Dear Faithful of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter,

This has been a difficult few weeks for the Catholic Church in North America.  We have seen reports of episcopal negligence and malfeasance in the face of clerical sexual abuse, coupled with some reports of bishops themselves guilty of sexual predation.  The report of the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania has reopened old wounds and inflicted new ones on victims, their families, the Catholic faithful at large, and indeed, the larger society.

There have been many statements and commentary about all of this, and I do not wish just to add to the multiplicity of words.  I would simply echo the words of the great Saint John Paul II: there is no room in the priesthood for a man who abuses a child.  In our particular context of the Ordinariate with both celibate and married clergy, I would add that there is no room in the priesthood for a man who commits an act of violence—physical, psychological, or sexual—against his own wife or children.  And there is no room among those who call themselves Shepherds and Pastors for a man who would cover-up an instance of abuse.

I am confident in the policies and procedures in place ensuring that our Ordinariate is a safe environment for all of our children.  All of these are publicly available on our website and they will be followed and enforced at every level.  But policies do not bring about holiness, and isn’t that what we all so deeply desire?  A Church that lives the faith once delivered to the Saints in integrity and in good conscience?  Holiness is something that ultimately comes from God, so it is something for which we should pray and labor:

Pray for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, so that the peace of God beyond all understanding may heal their hearts and minds in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Pray for priests, that they may live their lives in integrity of heart, faithful to the vows of their ordination.  Pray the Prayer of St. Michael daily, especially for priests! The Devil is never happier then when he corrupts a servant of God. 

Join with me in setting aside 30 minutes of prayer before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to pray in reparation for the sins committed by clergy and faithful alike, sins which have disfigured the Body of Christ and caused many to turn away. 

Find some way to express Christian charity to your neighbor.  Sin repels, but authentic love attracts and transforms. 

September 21 is Ember Friday after Holy Cross Day.  As your Bishop, I will offer that day in particular penance for the sins of bishops.  I invite you to pray with me and offer some act of penance that day for the renewal of the Church.

The sins we have read about in these weeks have filled us with shame and with righteous anger.  But one thing we should not feel is afraid.  The Evil One thrives in darkness, so the bright light of truth, through painful in this moment, is purifying.  

Our Ordinariate exists because men and women of great faith placed everything on the line for the adventure of truth and Catholic communion.  Even in the midst of these trials, I see that the joy of fidelity still draws people to Christ.  I continue to receive letters from Anglican clergy seeking to join us.  I have heard from three new communities this summer trying to form Ordinariate parishes. We have admitted 3 new seminarians, young men of faith and integrity who desire to leave all to follow in the way of the Lord.  May our fidelity then be our most eloquent response to the current crisis in the Church.  For the one in whom we trust is the Lord!  And he is risen from the dead!

Your servant in Christ,

+Steven J. Lopes