Pastoral letter from Archbishop Henry and
Bishop Cawcutt about the present sexual abuse scandals in the American
From the Heart
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Peace and Blessings in the Lord.
On occasions when Cardinal McCann was very happy about
some situation he expressed his joy in the wonderful expression
"Thank God for God'.
While the present scandal of child abuse by priests
which is currently rocking the Church doesn't give us any joy, but rather
much sadness and confusion, I believe that at this time too, we can do no
better than to echo the Cardinal's expression - "Thank God for
You have no doubt heard, seen and read much in the media
these last few weeks about this scandal. I have no doubt that it affects
you just as much as it affects me, as well as Bishop Cawcutt and all our
priests. We are all saddened by it and really there can be no excuse for
what has happened - and there is also no excuse for it to be hidden away.
There is and there can be no place in the Church for this kind of misbehaviour.
Much harm has been done - and the press has asked if the
Church is able to repair the damage. Perhaps it can, but perhaps it can't
- but certainly God can. God has done so many times in the past. He has
helped the Church in her almost 2000 years to survive many crises. Our
prayers then must flood heaven - that God will inspire the Church to do
what it so urgently has to do to repair the damage. And so, with the
Cardinal we too at this time of unhappiness and confusion can say
"Thank God for God". We are consoled that He is a God who is
Holy; who loves; who provides; who cares and a God who is compassionate,
merciful and forgiving.
Remember too that by far the majority of our priests are
good men - good priests who themselves are striving to be holy. Pray also
therefore for them and in this way you indeed can help them to be the holy
priests, which the Church and our society today need.
And finally let me remind you that we have the strictest
protocol or guidelines as to how the Church and I will react to any
accusation made against any priest, deacon, religious or church worker.
The first step is for the accuser to be in touch with our "contact
person" - who in Cape Town is Jayne Payne (the social worker at
Nazareth House). She will deal with the matter immediately and so I would
therefore beg anyone who has any allegation of the kind with which we are
dealing here to contact her at 461-1635.
With my prayerful good
wishes and blessing.
Yours sincerely in Christ,