My Dear Friends in Christ:
The stories of sexual abuse of children by some priests that have swept across our nation are tragic and remind us of the depth of sin that exists in the world. These manifestations of evil have had far-reaching effects on the victims, their families, the Church, and the priests who serve so faithfully and generously. My heartfelt sympathy goes out especially to anyone who has been personally touched by this terrible failure on the part of some priests and bishops to treasure and protect our children and youth.
The history of our own diocese reflects a determination to do everything in our power to prevent such exploitation of our children and youth – and to respond quickly to all allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct. I am resolved to carry this dertermination into the future and to ensure a safe environment for all of our people, and in particular the most vulnerable populations in our Church, so that we may successfully carry out the mission of Christ in the world.
Our Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy clearly states, “Sexual misconduct is contrary to Christian principles. It is always outside the scope of duties for Diocesan volunteers, for Diocesan workers, and for Religious. It is forbidden.”
There should be no misunderstanding here. As our Holy Father has said, “There is no place in ministry for anyone who would harm a child.” Our Diocesan policy is clear in relating our response, “The Diocese will report every allegation of sexual abuse of a person who is a minor to law enforcement.”
Jesus himself spoke about the dire consequences one would face for leading any little ones astray, saying that it would be better for that person “to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt. 18:6)
Allow me to close by encouraging you to read the complete text of our Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy as well as the Guidelines we have in place for those working with our children and youth, and by reiterating the four pledges that we as Bishops made in the Conclusion of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People:
- We pledge most solemnly to one another and to you, God’s people, that we will work to our utmost for the protection of children and youth.
- We pledge that we will devote to this goal the resources and personnel necessary to accomplish it.
- We pledge that we will do our best to ordain to the priesthood and put into positions of trust only those who share this commitment to protecting children and youth.
- We pledge that we will work toward healing and reconciliation for those sexually abused by clerics.
Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan
Bishop of Colorado Springs