Letter About the Catholic Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in Christ.  We have all read with horror the recent report from the Grand Jury of Pennsylvania about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.  It involved three hundred priests, at least a thousand victims, and lasted over a generation.  The extent and the depth of depravity are astounding.  Our hearts go out to the victims. We hold in prayer our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church who now work for reform. Furthermore, we appreciate the words of Pope Francis, who has called for repentance and a change of a church culture which encouraged such behavior.   

All Christian traditions have things to repent of, and all Christians must come to terms with the brokenness of the Church.  I do want to state clearly our ‘zero tolerance’ policy for abusive behavior, and our assumption that, while abusers can indeed be forgiven by the grace of God, their days of serving as leaders must end. 

I do have one last comment, both practical and theological.  We need, because we are fallen creatures, a doctrine of law as well as grace. The former serves to restrain evil.  While reform of internal church culture matters, there is a place for the secular authorities as well.  We are rightly obliged to report any evidence of abuse to the police, and are liable should we fail to do so.  A necessary part of addressing this problem is criminal prosecution.  This is as true for the Roman Catholic Church as for us.