Address given at the Milwaukee Wanderer Forum, December 6-7, 2002 Co-sponsored by the St. Gregory VII Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith Wanderer Forum Foundation, & Living Catholic SeminarsBy [then] Bishop [today] His Eminence Raymond Burke [then] Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin Introduction
What has happened in the last eleven months in the life of the Church in our nation is something that I could never have imagined. Having grown up in the Catholic faith, in a family which has always loved the Church and had the deepest respect and affection for her pastors, it has been most difficult for me to comprehend the seemingly unending stories of the sexual abuse of children and young people by Catholic priests and bishops, recounted in the newspapers and through the other communications media. It has been equally difficult to comprehend the reports of the callous manner of handling such abuse on the part of certain Church authorities. What has been a scandal for so many in the Church has also been a scandal for me as a bishop of the Church. I have to confess to times of profound anger with individuals who have perpetrated such crimes and with bishops who have not taken appropriate action to discipline the perpetrators and to protect children and young people from such profound harm.
Having met and spoken with a number of victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, I have painfully come to understand more and more the long-term and devastating effects of the breach of the most sacred trust between a child and his or her spiritual father. It has been understandingly difficult, at times, to respond with the attitude of Christ, with the attitude which our Catholic faith teaches us and in which our Catholic faith forms us, to the scandal which you and I have suffered.
For me as bishop, the scandal personally suffered is profoundly deepened by the accusations, frequently expressed, that I, too, have been only interested in covering up the sins of priests, without concern for the victims who have suffered at their hands, and that I, too, have squandered the patrimony of the Church in doing so.
From a purely human point of view, it is a fact that today is not a good time to be a bishop. When you have given your entire life to the service of the...Read Feature