Report aims to bring ‘light of truth,’ ‘healing of Jesus’ to the darkness of abuse

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

To help bring “the light of truth” and the “healing of Jesus Christ” to bear on the darkness of sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Louisville has published a four-page report in The Record this week.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz describes the “Report to the Catholic People” this way in an opening letter in the Report to the Catholic People.

He explains, “This pastoral report to you, the faithful of the Archdiocese, aims to bring the light of truth and the healing of Jesus Christ into the darkness of these sinful actions.” 

“The wounds of abuse, even if decades old, reveal the terrible damage and pain for victims harmed by the sin and crime of sexual abuse,” he writes. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their loves ones.”

The report goes on to describe the history of child abuse by clergy in the Archdiocese of Louisville and outlines how it has been handled in recent years, including how the archdiocese reports an accusation, its efforts to assist victim survivors and the steps taken to safeguard children today.

The report comes on the heels of revelations of abuse that emerged this summer in the northeastern United States. A Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August described 70 years of abuse by clergy in six of the state’s dioceses and negligence among some bishops. And Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, a cardinal until recently, has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment dating back decades.

Archbishop Kurtz said during an interview about the report on Oct. 11 that he joins in the grief of the victims. And he is concerned about the church here locally and beyond.

“I’m deeply concerned with the wider church and I look forward to taking part in the bishops’ meeting next month and to taking strong steps,” he said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will hold its fall general assembly in Baltimore in November, is expected to address the abuse crisis.

The Archdiocese of Louisville’s history related to abuse is described in the report by the chancellor, Dr. Brian B. Reynolds. He offers a detailed history of the archdiocese’s handling of child sexual abuse by clergy over the decades.

He also explains how the church has dealt with it differently in recent years, with an emphasis on assisting victim survivors and safeguarding children.

Reynolds begins his conclusion by writing, “Despite all of the efforts of the Church to address sexual abuse, it is clear that more needs to be done.”

He closes by listing three things the local church plans to do. 

The archbishop notes in his letter that regardless of the passage of time, “The wounds of abuse, even if decades old, reveal the terrible damage and pain for victims harmed by the sin and crime of sexual abuse. Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones.”

He concludes by promising to support survivors of abuse.

“I make a personal pledge to you, the faithful, to act decisively on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse and to ensure that any future abuse is confronted swiftly and justly,” he writes.

During the interview last week, the archbishop noted that the faithful place a sacred trust in bishops, priests and other leaders in the church. And every baptized person has a responsibility to live their faith fully, he said, adding, the sin of abuse forms a barrier.

“We need to remove any barriers,” he said. The church will find unity, he said, in truth and charity.

“We have to face the truth. We have to be honest in a way that allows us to continue to be the church of Jesus Christ,” he said.

The report, he added, “is a step toward grounding things in truth” and rebuilding trust.

In addition to the archbishop’s letter and Reynolds’ account, the report offers bullet-pointed information about what the archdiocese does when it receives a report of abuse. It explains the role of the victim assistance coordinator, who works with victim survivors.

It features a letter from the lay members of the Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board, information about how to report suspected abuse, a listing of Frequently Asked Questions and resources for parents and others related to child sexual abuse.

It also highlights the archdiocese’s initiatives to safeguard today’s children. These efforts include mandatory background checks and “safe environment” training for all priests, deacons and employees, as well as volunteers who work on a regular basis with children.

The report is also available on the archdiocese’s webpage www.archlou.org/restoringtrust.

A variety of resources and links in the report are also available at archlou.org and at usccb.org, the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Marnie McAllister
Written By
Marnie McAllister
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