Hopefully, I am not over-whelming you, but I wanted to send this last message with regard to anyone who may want to write or in other ways, be in contact with the Winona Diocesan bishop, John Quinn. (Diocese of Winona, Pastoral Center, 55 West Sanborn Street, Winona, MN 55987 firstname.lastname@example.org).
I went out on-line finding The Courier, the diocesan newspaper to see if the bishop has written anything concerning the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. Indeed, he has and like other bishops, he has expressed horror, shock, and has expressed his sorrow to those who have been hurt and asked for their forgiveness. He says that he has met with all the victims. He also states in this letter to the Winona people that the diocese has in place programs that will safeguard children in the future. I am not including the letter here as part of it is in very small print and I wasn’t able to enlarge it. But if you would like to check out The Courier on-line, simply type in those words and you can read more.
Given all that the bishop has written about, when I write him; I will suggest that in order for these first, good steps to ultimately be meaningful, long term; he must go further. I will remind him that the trust of the clergy has been badly damaged due to the sex abuse by priests and the cover-up of the crimes by bishops and as a result, it is very hard to believe and trust anything that is being said, even when it is being said by people (priests) that you previously did trust.
I will also suggest that the priests and the bishop must earnestly sit down and talk with each other, brain-storming about the best things they can do to gain the trust back. One of those things must certainly be to open up all the hidden documents and cease with the cover-up, and the lying.
Additionally, the priests and the bishop must look at what caused this climate/culture of evil, crime and mistrust to happen in the first place. Within that discussion they must look at clericalism and celibacy and the part that each has played in the continuation of these evils.
Involvement of qualified laity and women in positions of decision-making must happen if this Church is going to be able to speak to more than the few rather than the multitudes. In setting up new policies for reform, the laity must be involved! In addition, women as ordained members of the Church must happen as part of the needed reforms.
And finally, I again encourage each of you reading these materials to do that which is yours to do–listening to your hearts in prayer will let you know that! Letters can be very simple–just state the facts, let the person you are writing to know of your concern, your love for all that the Church founded in the memory of our brother Jesus means to you–think beyond the clergy and their failures and challenge the clergy person you are addressing to their best self and to do what is right.
If you write the bishop, let him know that you are looking for his leadership in a very public way. He said that he has talked to all of the victims–good to remind him that he has only met with those who have come forward. Many have walked away because of their unresolved pain, unfortunately, some have taken their lives.
It is my hope and prayer that what I have written here and your eventual letters can go far and wide and that our beloved Church can once again be something for all of the people. You may feel that this is beyond you and that you couldn’t address the bishop in this way, but just remember, that each of us as a baptized and confirmed Christian has the duty to speak what is true and good–trust that the Spirit will give you the words–as with the pope, be respectful (your respect is always for more than the person) and to the point.
Thank you all for the part that is yours to do–
Blessings on all,
P.S. Write letters or give calls to every priest you know, respectfully telling them of your concerns and expectations of them! The pope does not receive emails or read them!