Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Next weekend, is our Discipleship of Time and Talent commitment weekend, in which we renew our annual promise to give thanks to God for His many blessings, by giving back to Him some of the talents He has given us. Discipleship is how we respond to God’s love and generosity and what He’s done for us. The Lord has done a lot for us. Our response needs to be charity, compassion, and service for others. Our time, our talents, and our gifts are not for us. God gives these to us for the service of the Church.
Sadly and painfully, some have used their talents to benefit themselves, hurting others, and hurting rather than serving the Church. I am talking about the shameful sex abuse scandal we have been hearing about in recent months. This crisis is completely opposite of what the Church is about. The Church is called to evangelize bringing Christ to others, and evangelization says: “Trust me, I’m announcing to you eternal life, I’m bringing you to heaven.” How can we evangelize our world with this type of behavior? We cannot allow conducts that are not according to the Gospel, and we need to get better at not covering up any kind of evil behavior. As painful as this time is, the Church needs to be cleansed, whatever is not transparent needs to be, and we need to realize “business as usual” is not enough.
We are blessed here at the Archdiocese of Denver. In 1991, Cardinal Francis J. Stafford, then Archbishop of Denver, instituted a mandatory reporting policy. He additionally created a third-party conduct response team made up of professionals, including lay people, to advise the archbishop and be available to meet with victims and offer help and support. This was something revolutionary at the time.
Since then, his successors, Archbishop Chaput and now Archbishop Aquila have continued and strengthened those efforts to prevent this shameful behavior. Since 2002, 70,000 adults have been trained to recognize and report abuse and neglect in our Archdiocese. Every year, 20,000–25,000 children are trained to keep themselves safe—1,200 of those only at our parish. Currently, more than 14,000 workers and volunteers are active mandatory reporters. Since 2002, more than 175 facilitators train an average of 4,375 adults every year. We have a zero-tolerance policy in place, a third-party review committee which evaluates and audits all our protocols, and Archbishop Aquila is fully committed to keeping people accountable and to healing and purifying our Church.
This commitment requires our cooperation. This is not the time to give up. It’s a time to be holy, to be strong, more than ever. It’s time for more works of holiness to purify the Church. It’s time for more beauty, a time to be more intent on giving witness to Christ. It’s a time to sacrifice and to make an impact in people’s lives. In our actions, we’re deciding if we’re Catholic or not. We do no favor to the victims by quitting or by attacking each other. Nor by keeping our talents to and only thinking about ourselves. We do the victims good by being more welcoming, more loving, more charitable.
As we get ready to make our discipleship promises, I encourage you to pray about what gifts and talents the Lord has given you and how you can use them to serve the Church, which needs you at this time. God has chosen and called us to be holy, offering our life to Him. We need to be converted to Him, and faithful to his Gospel. That is how the Church will overcome this crisis of faith and of love and truly be the beautiful and holy Bride of Christ (cr. Ep 5:27).
Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba,