Archbishop Sample 'shaken to core,' calls for lay-run abuse investigation

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., pictured in a 2017 photo, issued a letter Aug. 20 on clergy sex abuse. He called for a lay-led investigation into the church abuse scandal and for more prayer among clergy. (CNS photo/Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel)

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample issued a letter Aug. 20 to western Oregon Catholics in which he expresses shock, anger and discouragement over revelations of clergy sex abuse in other parts of the country.

"I have been shaken to the core of my soul over them," Archbishop Sample wrote in the five-page letter, which includes a call for renewed care of victims, reinvigorated prayer life among priests and an outside lay-run investigative body. Archbishop Sample also said that bishops should be held to the same standards as priests.

A grand jury investigation about decades of sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses followed revelations about crimes and misdeeds alleged against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington.

Abuse scandals, including cover-ups by bishops, also have shocked and saddened Catholics in Chile, Ireland and Australia in the past year.

"These horrific revelations are particularly painful in light of what victims in our own archdiocese have suffered and the impact that sexual abuse has had on the church here in western Oregon," the archbishop wrote in the five-page letter. "I am sorry beyond words for the harm that has been done."

The archbishop urged Catholics to read a letter from Pope Francis, which was issued the same day. The pope called what has happened part of the "culture of death."

"These most-recent accusations and details expose -- yet again -- certain systematic and profound failures of episcopal leadership in our church," Archbishop Sample wrote. "These failures are both institutional and spiritual in nature, and date back many decades."

Archbishop Sample said that Archbishop McCarrick was entrusted with pastoral responsibility and care but instead acted "in a heinously sinful and criminal manner."

"It is also an institutional failure that someone like this could rise to such a high level unimpeded and without being challenged or held accountable," Archbishop Sample wrote. He also was critical of the cover-ups the Pennsylvania report said were carried out by church leaders.

"All of these allegations should have been brought to light much sooner; and then dealt with swiftly, justly and transparently," the archbishop wrote.

He called clerical sex abuse a spiritual failure in that men called to be good shepherds instead act "in such a gravely sinful, evil manner."

The archbishop wrote that when clergy and religious lose their personal relationship with God, careerism, clericalism and "ways of life at odds with the Gospel" often result.

Those who committed the sinful and illegal acts, or covered them up, are culpable, and at the same time their deeds are the work of Satan, the archbishop wrote.

"In the history of the church, whenever there was a moral or spiritual crisis, God has raised up saints who became agents of reform. This is a time for saints," the archbishop wrote.

Saying he will get more serious about prayer, penance and sacrifice, he called for a "profound spiritual renewal" among clergy. He urged priests every day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, spend an hour with the Blessed Sacrament and pray the rosary.

"We who are clergy must reject all tendencies toward a worldliness and secularity that is inconsistent with our vocation," he wrote.

He also asked the lay faithful to pray, acknowledging that they are not responsible for the scandal.

The archbishop offered a plan of action that begins with caring for and supporting victims of abuse.

"Whatever we do as a church to address these atrocities, we must keep in mind those who have been seriously harmed," Archbishop Sample wrote. "They have suffered greatly at the hands of those they should have been able to count on for spiritual care and support and in whom they should have experienced the love of the Good Shepherd."

He urged that bishops be held to the same standards as priests in matters of improper behavior or abuse, with amendments to the charter that guides policy.

He also called for an outside investigation process with the "substantial involvement" of lay experts. "A body investigating itself does not inspire confidence in the objectivity of the outcome," he wrote. Those who knew about abuse and did little or nothing should be held accountable, Archbishop Sample said, adding that all reports of misbehavior or abuse should be properly investigated.

The archbishop called the Archdiocese of Portland's child protection policies, forged after a scandal more than a decade ago, "solid and extensive."

The archbishop urged anyone who has been abused by a church worker to come forward to the archdiocese's Office of Victim Assistance. "We want to help you," he wrote.

"In dealing with all of this some are quite understandably tempted to give up on the church," the archbishop concluded. "Yet our faith is finally in God, not in individuals who fail to live up to their calling in Christ."

A Mass of healing for victims of sexual abuse is scheduled for St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Aug. 26.

- - -

Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

Nation
Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

World
Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Nation
Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

World
Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

World
God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

World
Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

World
Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Nation
Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

Nation
N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Nation
Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Nation
Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Nation
Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

Nation
#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Nation
Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Nation
Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...