‘A Call to Action’ for Reporting Abuse in Seminaries

by on November 11, 2020

In the wake of the recently delivered report concerning former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, we are all deeply saddened, angered, and frustrated. The pain which has been caused by his actions over many decades, and the subsequent failures to remove him from ministry have left a scar on the heart of the Church and have eroded the public’s trust in the safety of the seminary system.

I wish to stress, however, that today’s Catholic seminaries contain a number of protocols by which any student or staff member can safely report, with confidentiality, any concerns about abuse to the relevant authorities and/or formation staff.

The McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University recently released a “Call to Action” document calling for a series of clear benchmarks for reporting and combating sexual abuse at seminary campuses. I was privileged to join several other seminary rectors, bishops, and lay leaders to help draft the document. Most of these benchmarks have already been in place at Mundelein and many other U.S. seminaries for several years. But it is important that a standardized set of guidelines be implemented throughout the country.

No set of protocols–no matter how well forged–can remove the suffering detailed in the McCarrick report. But my desire is that such pain will not deter us from raising our hearts in prayer: for healing for the victims, for justice and conversion of heart for all who caused harm by their actions (or inactions), and for a renewed hope in the Church, led with humility by the Holy Spirit.