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 determination 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
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
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