Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Next week I will be in Baltimore from Sunday, November 11th until Thursday, November 15th for the General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Annually, the bishops meet in November to conduct the business of the Catholic Conference.
This year, pretty much most of the agenda of the General Assembly, will be dedicated to the leadership failure of some bishops in handling the sexual abuse crisis that has impacted our Church for too long. The first day of the meeting, Monday, November 12th the bishops will spend in prayer.
While it is true that since 2002 the Church has made great strides in combating the horror of sexual abuse of minors, we can do better, particularly the way bishops handle this crime. New decisions have to be made to rectify this painful situation in our Church. Both perpetrators and concealers of sexual abuse must be justly punished and dealt with.
I ask that you pray for me and for my brother bishops that the Holy Spirit guide us during the General Assembly as we deal with the effects caused by this current crisis. Pray that we be holy shepherds who protect and lead our sheep from all harm. Pray that we courageously respond to the clear call from our people for authentic and transparent leadership in this area. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all the bishops. I would be most grateful for your prayers.
The bishops have been invited to join in acts of penance, reparation and prayer. The USCCB Administrative Committee has written: “This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient.”
I will be dedicating myself to more intensified prayer and sacrifices to express my personal sorrow for what some sick and sinful priests and bishops have caused to their victims and to the Church. In your charity, prayers are needed for the healing of all the victims who carry in themselves an intense and forever pain. The victims of clerical abuse must be supported by the Church.
We cannot forget our good and faithful priests who are suffering as a result of this crisis. They have been scarred by the actions of their sinful brothers and the inactions of some bishops. May our priests know the love and support of God’s people and may they pastor God’s people with priestly fervor and holiness. This crisis weighs heavily on their priestly souls, minds and hearts.
Please be assured of my prayers for you. I know many of you are bewildered and upset by this ongoing crisis. So am I. I assure you that I am committed to action and accountability to rectify this terrible situation.
With gratitude for the example of your deep faith and for your loving support of our Church, and begging your prayers, I am,
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D.
Bishop of Camden