“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” -John 1:5
10 November 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Vatican has released the “McCarrick Report.” The report is the result of a Vatican review of documents and witness accounts of the disgraced 40-year career of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was accused of serial sexual crimes related to minors and seminarians in 2018. For those not familiar with McCarrick, he abused young Seminarians, and even when these heinous acts became known, the restrictions imposed were kept private and not enforced. As a result, the full extent and details of McCarrick’s crimes and those who enabled him have not yet fully been brought to light, making way for accountability, justice, and healing.
I entered St. Mary’s Seminary at the end of August 2001 as a recent college graduate; I was understandably naïve and could never have predicted two events that would shape much of the following two decades. The first was the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the second was the 2002 sexual abuse scandal that was revealed by the Boston Globe that rightfully rocked our Church to its core. For myself, and I’m sure many other Catholics, I was furious and distraught to learn that the churches where we had gathered for comfort and connection after the unfathomable tragedy of 9/11 had hidden and enabled predators to violate the faithful.
As I reflect on the inconceivable suffering and loss due to COVID-19 and the atrocities detailed in the McCarrick report, I feel similar emotions to those I experienced in 2002: horror, distress, and sadness. How is it now, among the most vulnerable of times for our global and local Catholic communities, must we now face the bitter reality of the Vatican’s most recent abuse findings? I certainly won’t pretend to know the answer, but two thoughts come to mind that I share: truth and trust.
By staring down the ugliness contained in this report, together, we can not only come to terms with the uncomfortable reality of these facts but work to bring light to the darkness so never again will a Priest or Bishop hide in the shadows committing evil. Remember, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5). We are Christ’s light here on earth, in our communities, and at our Parish. I’m committed to maintaining a culture of “light” at OLPH and protecting any individual Christ places in our care!
Restoring trust is essential for many reasons. At the most basic level, people have a right to feel safe and secure in the places they worship and send their children to school. Trust is essential for our Parish family to fulfill the mission of supporting others to encounter and come into a personal relationship with Jesus, our Lord.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has done a considerable amount of work to protect children and youth, with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People studied and emulated by other faiths and organizations. Additionally, our Parish and school painstakingly follow all expected norms and policies of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, including the screening and training of clergy and staff, plus volunteers who work directly with or for our youth. These safeguards place a firm foundation in place to cultivate safety and trust, and for that, I’m grateful. Also, know that you can trust me as your priest and friend as I share this report today. I’m committed to open communication and transparency so that healthy boundaries are continually strengthened, and any concerns are quickly addressed and resolved. I must be held accountable, along with our Parish staff and leaders, for creating a culture that fosters growth in our faith and builds a strong community of disciples. Abuse, neglect, and boundary violations that potentially allow unhealthy access will not be tolerated.
I encourage anyone who has been abused or thinks a child has been a victim of abuse or neglect to report these findings directly to law enforcement. Information to make such a report is available at the local level at the Department of Social Services. In addition to the required notice to law enforcement, if a child has been abused or neglected by church personnel, please call the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-866-417-7469. Also, note a separate reporting mechanism has been established at www.reportbishopabuse.org to report bishops suspected of abuse or have interfered with an investigation into claims of abuse. Other misconduct by bishops, priests, or Church personnel may be reported through EthicsPoint as well.
In an interview in early 2002 at St. Mary’s Seminary, I was asked, “What impact has the abusing priests had on your vocation?” In a moment of grace, not really recognizing the wisdom of my answer until it was shared later, I replied, “They haven’t. These priests did not call me. These priests are not the reason I am in the seminary.” Honestly, at the time, I was thinking of seminarians and priests, of whom I knew personally, including Msgr. Lloyd Aiken, my home pastor from the time of my First Reconciliation and Communion until a short time ago, when he passed. He had invited me personally to consider the priesthood. The deeper truth and reality, and the “brilliance” I was given credit for, is Jesus himself who called me into this ministry of the priesthood. It is Jesus whom I am called to conform my life to. It is by Jesus’ grace that I am able to minister for you and among you. And it is He whom I thank and praise for my vocation.
I invite you to join me in prayer and fasting for reparations and for the Church’s restoration this Friday, November 13. A special prayer service will be offered at 7 pm, both in the church and via Live Stream. Additionally, we will extend our Friday Eucharistic Adoration hours from Friday 9 am through Saturday at 8 am. If you are able to offer an hour in prayer, please SIGN UP HERE. Let us gather and pray for those who have suffered from abuse and the families who love them. The path to their healing is long and arduous. Let us pray likewise for these abusers, living and deceased. While they can never be restored to ministry, I honestly pray that they may be restored in their relationship to Christ.
May our Lord Jesus Christ restore the trust that is needed among his faithful so that we may continue the work entrusted to us!
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett
Prayer & Extended Adoration
- Report to Law Enforcement
If you suspect a child has been a victim of abuse or neglect report findings directly to law enforcement.
Information to make such a report is available at the local level at the Department of Social Services.
- Report Church Personnel
In addition to the required notice to law enforcement, if a child has been abused or neglected by church personnel, please call the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-866-417-7469.
- Report a Bishop
A separate reporting mechanism has been established at www.reportbishopabuse.org to report bishops suspected of abuse or have interfered with an investigation into claims of abuse.