To: Priests and Deacons of the Diocese of Baton Rouge
Re: A statement regarding recent matters in the Church in other parts of our country. This statement should be read in its entirety by the presider or deacon at all Vigil and Sunday Masses this weekend.
Recently reported abuses by some clergy from other Catholic dioceses in our country leave us heartbroken and sickened. As the Church continues to address the issue of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, news of the horrendous and inexcusable offenses committed by a former
cardinal and revelations of the decades of criminally and morally reprehensible abuse contained in the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury reveal a spiritual crisis in our Church.
Our shame is intensified by the sometimes failure of Church leadership to hold abusers accountable.
In the words of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “… we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership. The result was that scores of beloved children of God were abandoned to face an abuse of power alone. This is a
These recent news reports have revealed a mishandling of reported allegations; a covering up of
sinful actions; and an institutional failure to not hold offenders accountable. Understandably there
are concerns about how prolific such abuses have been throughout the Universal Church throughout the years.
The responsibility of any diocese goes beyond expressions of sorrow and prayers for those affected.
As the local Church of Baton Rouge, we are committed to accountability and transparency regarding
our response to accusations of sexual abuse by the clergy of our Church. We have worked diligently to be transparent in reporting all criminal sexual behavior by diocesan clergy with minors in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
Our goal is to do everything in our power to protect children. This involves the need to hold every Church leader to the highest standards of morality. If we fail to protect children, we have failed in a fundamental mission of our Church.
Our current policies and procedures for handling reported accusations can be found on the diocesan website under the Child and Youth Protection link. We have been faithful to the principles articulated in these policies and procedures, and we are committed to their continuing application, timely
implementation and rigorous enforcement.
In the midst of this situation, we turn to St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians: “Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore, we are not discouraged.” (Chapter 4:1, 7-9, 16).