September 9, 2018

I want to say thank you. So many of you have offered words of support and assured Fr. Michael and me of your prayers over these past three weeks. I also want to thank those of you who have written and spoken directly to Fr. Michael and me about your deep concerns over the sexual abuse crisis. I want to thank you for your willingness to be honest with us and to express your anger and hurt.

The details that have emerged in the past several weeks of sexual abuse and the cover-up of that abuse by bishops has been shocking. The graphic details of abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report are sickening. We find ourselves at a loss to understand how a priest could do such a thing to a child, let alone 300 priests doing this to more than a thousand children over the course of seventy years.

In addition, we learned this summer that one of the most respected churchmen in the United States, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, has credible accusations against him of sexual abuse as well as inappropriate relationships with priests and seminarians over a long period of time.

We wonder how this is possible. We wonder how leaders in our church could allow such things to go on without stopping it. We wonder where our leaders went astray and put the needs of protecting the reputation of priests and bishops above the protection of children.

In addition to all this, we now have accusations and counter-accusations directed at Pope Francis and other leaders in the church about an extensive cover-up. What is particularly divisive is that these accusations and counter-accusations have come from people who have a long history of being divided along ideological lines. And so we are left to ask, where is the truth?

In the midst of all this, I was able to go away on retreat a couple of weeks ago. This was a retreat I scheduled months ago, but the timing could not have been better for me, or for the twenty other priests on the retreat at the Palisades in Federal Way. The title of the retreat was “Healing the Whole Person,” and was led by people from the John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

Fr. Michael had gone on this same retreat last winter, and a few of our parishioners had also gone on a similar retreat here in the Northwest last year. I found the experience personally healing as well as offering opportunities to seek healing during this time in our church.

One of the fundamental principles of healing that we talked about is the need to identify the places of woundedness in our lives and then to invite Jesus into that woundedness. We are called to then trust his desire and his ability to heal us and to make us whole.

And while there is much to be done to seek justice and accountability on the part of those who have led us to this place of crisis in our church, we also need to seek the healing presence and love of Jesus in this moment.

In the days ahead, let us continue to pray for one another. Let us continue to pray for, and demand accountability from, the leaders in our church. And let us trust that the Lord Jesus has the desire and the ability to heal us and to make us whole. He desires that for us as individuals and as a church.

May God continue to bless you and keep you close to His heart.

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni