As you are aware, the Archdiocese of Hartford published a list of the names of priests, both living and deceased, who had credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them. Their ministerial assignments were also listed.
As you also may be aware, Fathers Hebert Clarkin, John Graham, Joseph Rozint, Felix Werpechowski, and Peter Ziska all had assignments, at one time or another, at either St. Augustine or St. Paul Churches. I need to emphasize that even though these priests are on the list, it does not necessarily mean that any accusations came from their time here. For many of you, this may come as a shock and is certainly a cause for anger or hurt. As I mentioned before, I am angry, hurt and disillusioned myself. At the core of all of this is a betrayal of trust by those we have been asked to trust the most. This makes these revelations even more disturbing.
It is all the more necessary, then, that we continue to support each other with our faith. God is bigger than any sin. Remaining strong and committed to the timeless truths of our faith and finding support in one another will see us through this tremendous challenge. As I mentioned before, despite even the gravest of failures and weaknesses in our church, we have such a legacy of truth and grace onto which we can hold. There is a world of people, young and old alike, who are searching for meaning and desperately want to know who they really are and discover their real purpose in life.
Although mired and veiled in the “sins of our fathers”, we have the very answers they seek. We need to focus on God’s Word, continue to be nourished by the Eucharist and remain strong in our commitment to one another in order for the healing of this wound to occur. I am confident that we can do so and I am with you. There is so much life and beauty here that we can celebrate and so much good that can be achieved.
Archbishop Blair asks me to assure you again that there are no priests ministering in the Archdiocese of Hartford today who have credible allegations against them. Since 2002 the Archdiocese, along with most of the universal church, has made great strides to protect our children and young people.
Although the institutional church and the clergy must take full responsibility for what has happened, it still affects each one of us. We all need to work toward and pray for healing on all levels: for the victims and survivors, the institution, ourselves, and anyone who has been affected by this in any way. The leadership of the church and the bishops must change the way they “conduct the business” of the church to ensure that something like this does not happen again. I trust and hope that they will do so. Even more so it is my hope that our faith and the faith of all our Catholic people be strong as we move through this difficult time and that we one day be brought to a place where we can learn to trust again. There are so many good priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders who really and truly love the church and desire nothing more than to promote the goodness and wisdom of the Gospel.
And, the best witnesses and inspirations of hope are you who continue, in spite of our difficulties, to find a home here in our parish and in your faith. The example of your fidelity and love sees me through more than you know and as your pastor, for this I am truly grateful. I am also grateful to Archbishop Blair for providing this transparent look into one of our most dark times. May all of these efforts work to secure justice for all who have been harmed by the church at the hands of her clergy.
In my moments of prayer this week I will continue to pray for you, as I always do. Please remember me in yours. Remember: there is always hope. God does not abandon us and light always conquers darkness. A stronger, more enlightened and bright future awaits.
May the wisdom of God our Father, the gentle compassion and love of Christ our Lord and the gentle and loving guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you all,