COLORADO SPRINGS. As the U.S. bishops prepare to gather in Baltimore for their fall general assembly Nov. 12-14, one of their top priorities will be adopting new policies aimed at preventing clerical sexual abuse. Following is a recap of the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ response to the scandal, starting from the time that allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick first surfaced in June until now. This summary does not include efforts that individual parishes may have made to respond to the crisis:
On July 31, Father Kyle Ingels, director of campus ministry, wrote a blog post titled “Trust Betrayed” (http://www.diocs.org/Herald/Father-Kyle-Ingels-Blog/ArticleID/716/Trust-Betrayed) in which he described his feelings of shock and sadness upon learning of the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick. Father Ingels was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington by then-Cardinal McCarrick in 2005, and he had considered the archbishop a personal friend.
“In the past days, all those good memories have been washed away,” Father Ingels wrote. “As a priest, I am saddened and embarrassed. While it’s true that sexual abuse occurs in every denomination — in schools, in families, in the workplace, and in every walk of life — if the Catholic Church wants to stand as a moral beacon to her people and the world, the Church must do better.”
Bishop Michael Sheridan addressed the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick in his column in the Aug. 17 issue of the Herald.
“When the news broke about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s abuse of both minors and adults decades ago, I found it very difficult to believe — as did many of my brother bishops. Those horrendous revelations were accompanied by the equally appalling accusations of cover-ups on the part of some bishops who knew of the archbishop’s crimes. I cannot begin to describe my own revulsion, shame and profound sadness,” Bishop Sheridan wrote. “My own prayers during these weeks have been for the victims of Archbishop McCarrick and of any priest or bishop who has abused. I can only image the harm that has been done to their victims.”
On Sept. 13, Bishop Sheridan conducted a Facebook Live session in which he answered questions submitted by parishioners from around the diocese. During the roughly half-hour session, which can be viewed on the homepage of the diocesan website, www.diocs.org, Bishop Sheridan addressed a range of topics, including what can be done to prevent sex abuse by clergy in the future and the relationship between homosexuality and clerical abuse. To date, the video has had more than 1,700 views. The Facebook Live discussion was followed by a Mass of Reparation on Sept. 24 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Deacon Patrick Jones, a retired deacon who oversees the diocesan traumatic brain injury ministry, announced that he and his family will observe a year of prayer and penance beginning Nov. 25, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
“Though we may not have individually committed them, we each bear responsibility for the sins that occur in the body of Christ,” he wrote in a declaration issued Sept. 26.
“Our family will begin a year and a day of reconciliation, penance, prayer, study and formation . . . We will prayerfully engage in daily acts of corporal discipline, as God calls us, reflective of our humbling donning spiritual sackcloth and ashes,” he said.