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Letter from Fr. Beck
Original Letter dated April 29, 2019
For those who were unable to join us at Mass this past weekend, we wish to let you know that Bishop Soto released, Tuesday, April 30, the list of credibly accused clergy who have served in our diocese for the past seventy years. On this page, you will find a copy of the Bishop’s letter which was read at all Masses last weekend. A video presentation is also attached. Finally, we are including copies of the homily notes used by Fr. Jesús and me.
Sunday, May 5, we are pleased to welcome to our parish, Sr. Eileen Enright, SM. She is a member of the diocesan Independent Review Board which assists the Bishop with the assessment and response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors. She will facilitate an open parish meeting at 1:00 PM in the View Room where we will listen to your concerns and questions.
Together let us fervently pray the prayer we began on Sunday:
Good and Gracious God, Hear the humble prayer of your people as we implore your mercy for the wrong that has been committed and the harm that has been done.
Bring healing to all who have suffered abuse and restore them to fullness of life.
Grant the spirit of repentance and penitence to all who have broken sacred trust and abused your beloved children. Reconcile us to one another and never allow us to be parted from you. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your son, who has freed us from sin and death, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. (Prayer adapted from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Fr. Larry Beck
video address from Bishop Soto
Letter from Bishop Soto
Homily Notes Fr. Larry Beck (4-28-2019 7:30, 11:00, 5:30)
Introduction to Bishop’s Letter: As you may recall, last October Bishop Soto announced he will release a public, transparent accounting of clergy who have served in our diocese who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. A firm headed by Dr. Kathleen McChesney, former executive assistant director of the FBI, has completed the review of more than 1500 personnel files of every bishop, priest and deacon who has served in our diocese in the last 70 years. The list has been completed and will be released to the public this week. In advance of the release, Bishop Soto has asked that the following letter from him be read at all Masses this weekend throughout our diocese. It also inserted in today’s bulletin and will be emailed to all registered parishioners on Monday.
Bishop’s Letter (read)
As with our bishop, I also wish to apologize for the sins and failures of the past that have cause such great pain and suffering. Since the release of the PA Grand Jury report last summer many of you have shared how this has affected you: anger, shame, betrayal, sadness, powerlessness and so much more.
I must confess to you my own feelings are much the same. This crisis which has caused such grave harm to so many innocent people has coincided with much of the 31 years of my priesthood. Never did I think on the day of my ordination that I would spend so many of my years ashamed to be a priest. Each new story, each announcement of even more victims reopens old wounds. Perhaps like you, I have often felt powerless knowing what I can do and what I should say. Perhaps like you, it has eroded my confidence and trust in the Bishops of our church.
Like Thomas; Like Jesus’ Wounds
I have too often felt like Thomas in today’s Gospel scene who is riddled with doubt and lack of faith even though the Risen Lord stands before him. I need to keep reminding myself the Risen Lord bears the marks of his suffering (the suffering of the victim-survivors of abuse and all the world’s injustice and evil), the marks where the nails and sword pierced his body, the wounds caused by my own sins and priests who have betrayed their sacred vows and bishops who have abused their authority.
But I also must remind myself that these wounds of the Son of God have been transformed into signs of his redeeming love for us and his church. I need to remind myself what the word of God promises, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” (Rom 5:20)
“Wasn’t this Fixed?” – Progress since the revelations last summer I have found myself saving many articles I ran across that spoke to me of what we are going through. One in particular spoke to me. It was entitled, “Didn’t We Fix This?”
Those of us who have been wounded by the betrayal of others know firsthand that contrition, confession, the “I’m sorrys” aren’t enough. Repentance, amendment, reparation are required. We need to do all in our power to right the wrongs. We need to do all in our power to mend what was broken.
Therefore it’s important we know that strong steps have been taken that are working. Since the 2002 adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People:
A. All clergy, as well as any person who works with minors, is required to have a background check, be fingerprinted and receive ongoing child-safe education.
B. Mandatory reporting to civil authorities is required.
C. Any person—including a bishop, priest or deacon—known to have abused a minor will never again minister in the Catholic Church in America. There are no exceptions.
D. Every diocese has at least one trained staff person whose job it is to assist those have been abused in the healing process and serve as their advocate.
E. Every diocese has one or more employees who are trained to ensure every element of the charter is strictly followed.
F. Every diocese has an expert Independent Review Board made up of highly-skilled lay people who access every new allegation that is made and report to the Bishop. Sr. Eileen Enright who serves on our diocesan Review Board will be with us here at Holy Trinity next Sunday at 1:00 in the View Room. You are invited to attend an open parish meeting where you can express your concerns and get questions answered. All are welcome.
G. But there is still much work that needs to be done including the oversight of Bishops and a thorough assessment of qualifications for those who are admitted to the seminary.
While we have made substantial progress there will not be a day in my life when we can say this chapter is closed and it’s time to move on, because that’s not the reality for the victim-survivors. Because of their courage we stand here today, ready to do the work needed to become a Church worthy of being the Body of Christ.
Divine Mercy Sunday and Easter
Today’s Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us not only of the image entrusted to St. Faustina that is displayed in our sanctuary, but also of our Lord’s message to us of his great mercy in our own day.
Divine mercy is the heart of the Gospel. It’s the expression of God’s love for those who are experiencing suffering, poverty, brokenness and sin. It’s the Risen Lord stepping out in compassion to bring us new life in him.
It’s the red and pale rays of the Divine Mercy image, the blood and water—Christ’s purification and new life—that flow from his pierced heart.
God is NOT outdone by evil not on Good Friday or now.
This was the heart of my message on Easter Sunday: That is, to profess “Christ is Risen,” is to profess that you, and I and we can also rise. That no matter the circumstances of our lives and our Lord’s Church right now, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, it is his Spirit that lives in us through Baptism.
Let us then pray and act together.
And let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, that through the passion of her Son Jesus, we may come to know
the healing and hope of his resurrection.
Homily Notes Fr. Jesús Hernandez (4-27-2019 5:30, 4-28-2019 9:00)
Since Bishop Soto made the announcement last October of the release of a list with the names of priests and deacons who have been credibly accused of abuse, I have prayed to God to give me the grace, the wisdom, the words to address this when the time of the release came. And to be honest, I don’t even know where to start.
Since I entered the seminary almost 11 years ago, I have heard bishops and priests addressing this horrific and shameful reality. But I never thought that one day I would have to do the same. And like you, I am tired of this; I am disgusted. I cannot conceive how one who had the duty to teach, guide, and sanctify the people of God, one called to lay down his own life to protect those entrusted to his pastoral care, committed such shameful and despicable crimes against the most innocent and vulnerable. And even worse, I cannot conceive of how bishops and others failed to do justice to the victims, by covering it up.
Last year, right after my ordination, the scandal of Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report came to light. And many family members and friends questioned me how could I possibly remain in the Catholic Church being a priest? How could I possibly wear in public my priestly attire after all this? Aren’t you afraid, they said, that someone will insult you or, in the worst case, attack you? And to be honest, I have been tempted to not wearing my clerical attire for both fear and shame, for anger and disgust.
Shame because the Church that I represent has failed you. We failed to protect you and failed to tell you the truth. And just like many of you, I have thought why should I stay after all this? Why should I face the consequences of something that I didn’t do? But I think about the victims, and there is so much to do for them. For this reason, I decided to stay. Also, I think about the future, and I decided to stay, for I don’t want the same to be repeated.
Last week, we commemorated Jesus’ passion and death. And like John and the pious women who decided to stay where Jesus is, at the foot of the cross, even if all what they saw was injustice, pain, and suffering, I decided to stay too. Stay where Jesus is, because he has the power to make things new, to purify what has been corrupted, to tear down the veil of temple, and reveal the truth.
I believe the crisis we experience right now is not so much of faith, as of trust. You, I, we have the right, we are entitled to distrust, to be tired, angry, disgusted, because we have been betrayed. And once again, just like you, I have many questions. Why now, and not before? Why it took so long? And the reality is that I don’t have the answers, which frustrates me even more.
What I know for sure, is that, in order to do justice to the victims, and really help them to heal their wounds; in order for the Church to be purified, we must confront our ugly past, bringing to light the horrendous sins of the past, for only then we can begin making atonement for them.
As Bishop Soto says, publishing this list, however, can renew and deepen the pain of abuse victims. And no less, will provoke the anger, disgust and grief of the whole community. If you feel revulsion and outrage when you read of what was done to innocent ones, you are right to feel those things. But this experience must also encourage us to continue working together to prevent this ever happening again.
The Diocese of Sacramento and Holy Trinity Parish observes strict safeguards to protect the young and the vulnerable. We work hard to ensure that our school ministry, and any other ministry is a safe place for God’s children (any person in ministry with minors undergoes a background check, is fingerprinted, and receives continuing safe environment training; any allegation is reported immediately to civil authorities; since 2002 we observed a policy of Zero Tolerance, which means that any priest or deacon credibly accused will be removed permanently for working in the Catholic Church in the US; every diocese has a department that assists or advocates for victims; and Review Boards with highly skilled members have been created to evaluate every case).
But it is also true that even when every safeguard that can be imagined is in place, even then our work is not finished. For this reason, on Sunday May 5th, we will have an Open Parish Meeting to provide an opportunity for parishioners to voice and address further questions and concerns. This will be held from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in the View Room.
There will not be a day when we can say this chapter is closed and it’s time to move on, because there is so much that we the Church have to do. And this is happening because of the courage of the victims who reached through their pain to tell their stories in hopes that no one would again suffer what they did. It is precisely because of their bravery that we stand here today, ready to do the work needed to become a Church worthy of being the Bride of Christ. Also, I encourage you that if you have experienced any kind of abuse, or if you know of someone or see anything that is not right, do not hesitate and make the report immediately to the competent authorities, this will help to prevent any future case of abuse and keep accountable all those who serve in the church.
Today, on this Divine Mercy Sunday, in the name of the Church, I ask forgiveness to almighty God and all the victims, for all the sins and failures that bishops, priests, and deacons have committed against them, the most innocent and vulnerable. And I renew my commitment before God and you his people, that I will do whatever it takes, even with my own life, to prevent this from happening again, and it is my commitment with Bishop Soto and all priests and deacons of the Diocese of Sacramento that all the victims receive the appropriate assistance and pastoral care from our part as they heal their wounds.
Let us pray and act together. Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, that through the passion of her Son Jesus, we may come to know the healing and hope of his resurrection.