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PITTSBURGH: Anglican Bishop Responds to Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

PITTSBURGH: Anglican Bishop Responds to Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

By Rt. Rev. James L. Hobby, Jr.,
August 30, 2018

To the Clergy of the Diocese, grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been struggling personally and pastorally with how to respond to the release of the Grand
Jury's report on sexual abuse in six Roman Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.

The stories in the report stir horror at the abuse; followed closely by anger at the cover up. Men who
represented Christ broke laws, betrayed trust, and violated children. My heart cries out for judgment,
for retribution, and for some way of making things right. But, nothing can undo the horror; no
human solution can ever "make things right." Certainly, victims' stories should be heard and their
pain validated, perpetrators should be kept from continuing abuse and those who are guilty of
crimes should be brought to justice.

But, how do we as shepherds help the people under our care process this evil?

First, we lament with the victims. Individuals and families were traumatized physically, emotionally,
and spiritually; both by the abuse and then by being silenced and marginalized. These are wounds
that get infected and refuse to heal, except by supernatural intervention. Lament acknowledges the
pain with weeping and cries out to God for healing; healing made possible because of the work that
Christ has done on the Cross.

Two prayers have anchored my lament for the Church. The pronouncement of forgiveness comes
after confession during Morning and Evening Prayer and says:

"Almighty and merciful Lord, grant us absolution and remission of all our sins, true
repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen."

I pray that all four things we pray for (true repentance, forgiveness from God, transformation, and
intimacy with God) will find full expression in the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Pittsburgh and
Greensburg, in all denominations, and in all our congregations (recognizing that unfaithfulness in
leaders occurs throughout the Church).

The other prayer that has given expression to my heart's cry is the one we prayed together on the
Sunday after the report came out:

"Keep your Church, O Lord, by your perpetual mercy; and because without you the frailty
of our nature cause us to fall, keep us from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things
profitable for our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

The report is a horrific description of the "frailty of our nature" and "things hurtful."

Secondly, we need to have compassion for current leaders who are trying to find a way to lead a
community through unimaginable pain and darkness. Not every leader was an abuser. Not every
leader covered up abuse. But, all are seen as complicit, which makes leading the process of
rebuilding trust so much more difficult. Please pray for Bishop Zubik (Pittsburgh) and Bishop
Malesic (Greensburg). Pray for healing and transformation in the whole Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has called for 40 days of prayer and fasting (beginning
August 21). I invite you to join me in joining them in this season of lament and repentance. I will be
praying for the four things outlined in our absolution in Morning Prayer:
True repentance: no more hiding in darkness or minimizing sin.
Absolution and remission of sin.
Amendment of life: both personal and corporate transformation.
Grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit: first, for the victims; then, for the truly repentant.

I want to stand in solidarity with my suffering and repentant Roman Catholic brothers and sisters; in
the pain and anger of the victims, in the hard work of rebuilding trust, and in the lament of our
"human frailty that causes us to fall" and to do "things hurtful."

Finally, please assure folks that our Diocese has a clear and established policy on child abuse and
sexual misconduct (which is reviewed regularly). In our policy, for those with responsibility for the
care of minors, the first steps when someone suspects child abuse are to call the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania (800-932-0313) and the Diocesan Office (412-281-6131). Reports will be investigated
by the State and the Diocese concurrently. Clergy are also required to have background checks and
to receive training in the prevention of sexual abuse. For more information folks can go to the
Diocesan website: www.pitanglican.org/child-abuse-policies.

Let's walk together through this dark season with grief and sadness, holding on to hope because of
Christ's redeeming work.

Lamenting and trusting,

(Signed) Jim

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