Letter from the archbishop regarding report of abuse

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

May God bless you! I have written on many occasions over the last several months about the sexual abuse of children in the Church and how the Archdiocese is responding in a pastoral way.

As part of our response, the Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board requested a careful review by an independent investigator of our records involving sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests with a report of the findings. The investigator is Mr. Mark Miller, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, former First Assistant Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney, and former Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, and he presented his report to the Sexual Abuse Review Board today. This report includes a list of credibly accused diocesan priests. In addition to Mr. Miller’s report, we also are releasing a list of credibly accused religious order priests. Because the personnel records for these priests are maintained by the religious order, we had only limited information for review, and so religious order priests are not included in Mr. Miller’s report. Many religious orders have published a list or are in the process of doing so, and we provided the web page for each religious order involved.

Several weeks ago, Mr. Miller shared his initial findings with the Sexual Abuse Review Board. During that meeting, I confirmed with him that he had received unfettered and independent access to what he needed to complete his work.

As this report is made public, there are two important points I want to make:

1) The primary goal of releasing such a report is healing for victims. I have heard from survivors that releasing a list of credibly accused priests provides validation for the suffering that victim survivors have experienced and motivates others who have been hurt by a priest or other Church leader to come forward. With that in mind, I again urge anyone who has been abused by a representative of the Church, first, to call the police and, second, to contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Martine Siegel (victimassistance@archlou.org or 502/636-1044).

2) This release is the beginning of a process of transparency not the conclusion. We do not know what we do not know, but we realize that we will likely learn more as a result of taking this action. Therefore, I expect changes and updates to the lists contained in this report.

I would like to say a word directly to victims of sexual abuse within the Church and beyond. Since statistics reveal that one out of every four women and one out of every six men experience sexual abuse by the time that they are 18, I realize that many among our parishioners, colleagues, friends, and family have been sexually abused as children or adolescents. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you suffer and the lifelong effects that you must deal with because of the terrible evil that was committed against you. I am deeply sorry for the times when our own Church — by denial, by apathy, or by placing blame elsewhere — added to your pain and caused you to feel revictimized. Please know that we are in solidarity with you, and your wound is our wound.

No child should ever be subjected to abuse, particularly by someone who is responsible for nurturing a child’s faith. We can only be healthy as a Church and as a society if we honestly confront the sexual abuse of children and rebuild relationships one at a time. 

As we take this next step in our journey of repentance, transparency, and solidarity with victim/survivors, please join me in praying for continued healing for those who have been wounded by the evil of sexual abuse.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.

Archbishop of Louisville

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