LETTER FROM REV. JOHN VIEN, PASTOR OF MARY QUEEN OF PEACE
I trust that many of you are aware that Archbishop Carlson has released the names of clergy from the Archdiocese of St. Louis who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them. For all of us who love Jesus and love the Church, this latest revelation brings up many feelings and emotions. Some may be growing weary of the topic. Others may be reeling from seeing names on the list that they would never have expected. Most are experiencing a range of emotions, including grief, sadness, anger, and betrayal. And some may be feeling relief that at long last, the name of someone they knew to have committed a crime has been made public. All these emotions, and any others you may be feeling, are perfectly understandable.
Some people have questioned why the Archdiocese is publishing names, particularly of priests who are deceased. The fact is some of their victims are still alive.It is important for them to know that they have been heard and they have been believed. Some will learn for the first time that they were not the only victim of a particular perpetrator. As for those on the list who are living, some question why this is being publicized now, perhaps many years after the allegations were made. “What about mercy?” you may ask.We all know God’s forgiveness and mercy abounds for all who have true repentance and ask for forgiveness. Yet that does not mean they do not have to face the consequences of their behavior.
About two-thirds of dioceses across the nation have released such lists. Archbishop Carlson believes that publishing the names is the right thing to do. He has said, “For too long, victims have felt alone and in the dark. They have carried the burden of crimes committed against them for years. We have heard and seen the devastating impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Publishing names will not change the past. However, it is one important step we hope offers a sense of justice and helps in the long process of healing.”
That is really what all this is about… the process of healing. We all know the Church has been damaged and the faith of many has been shaken because of the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the failure of leadership by bishops. I hope that this important step brings these sins, these crimes, and these men out of the dark so that they can be purified by the light of the Lord Jesus. While the Archdiocese can do its part, only Jesus can heal the Church.
I encourage you to pray about this. We will have opportunities for common prayer to heal the Church. I encourage you to talk about this with people you love and trust, sharing your experiences and emotions and finding strength in one another and in our faith. Fr. Aaron, Deacon Tom, Deacon Joe, and all the members of our Parish Staff are available if you need to talk or vent or share.
I am praying for you, for your healing and faith, for all those who have been abused, and for all those on the list. As a priest, as a representative of the Church, as your Pastor, I am sorry. I am sorry for the sins and crimes of my brothers in the clergy and the bishops who failed us. I am sorry we are facing this again. I am sorry for my own sins and failings. Still, I believe that this time of pain and challenge will lead to healing and grace. After all, that is the Paschal Mystery, our sharing in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. With faith in Jesus and in the power flowing from his Resurrection, we will move forward together. Let us pray for one another!