August 29, 2018
To: Clergy, Religious and Laity in the Diocese of Shreveport
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
As Metropolitan Archbishop of New Orleans, which comprises the entire state of Louisiana, I write to you as I am very aware that you are without a Diocesan Bishop and you deserve to hear from someone in authority who, like you, is outraged by what we have learned these past months.
We are still hurting from the recent accusations against a cardinal and the information in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, only to learn of the yet deeper accusations of the former nuncio to our country, Archbishop Vigano. Our feelings of anger and disappointment are appropriate. The very first step in moving forward is to seek forgiveness’. As your Metropolitan Archbishop, I sincerely and humbly apologize for any wrongdoing by church leaders.
As we move forward, we must always pray for the victims that they know God’s healing. For those of us in leadership we must pray and fast that God will forgive the priests and bishops involved in the abuse or who participated in the cover up. Furthermore, we must make sure we provide a path for the future, which will give even greater protection for our young church, vulnerable adults and seminarians.
We have made great strides in safe environment. Most of the cases we have heard about recently are 35-40 years ago. However, that does not take away the pain of the victims, which they may have suffered for decades. To those who suffered, I sincerely apologize and pray that you experience God’s healing. I am sorry for your pain.
How do we move forward in repentance and hope?
1. All are invited to join Prayer Vigil of Reparation and Petition, Friday, September 14, between the hours of 5:30p.m. and 8:00p.m. Your new Diocesan Administrator and Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Fr. Peter Mangum, will be joined by priests of the diocese for prayer, “The Church leadership asking for forgiveness and for the healing of victims.”
2. Encourage victims and all those who have been disillusioned by the Church to come forward. We want to apologize personally and accompany them in their healing journey. Call your Diocesan Administrator’s office: 318-868-4441.
3. Accept the specific plan of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) outlined by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the USCCB, who states that we MUST undertake a full and complete investigation of questions surrounding Archbishop Mccarrick so that this can never happen again and pledge to find a way in which abuse and misconduct of bishops can be reported swiftly, effectively and confidentially.
There is so much more to say but please know that as bishops we have a lot of work to do. We also understand and acknowledge that we have let you down. We accept this and ask for your forgiveness and for your openness to accept our sincere desire to rebuild trust. We know this will take time and an open heart on the part of many.
Sexual abuse is evil. Cover ups by anyone in the Church is evil as well. Jesus said, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners” (Luke 5:31-32). As church leaders, we have sinned and ask for God’s mercy. Please join me in this painful journey that leads us to Calvary and eventually to Resurrection.
I cannot end this letter without a word of thanks to the many faithful clergy in the Diocese of Shreveport. I am so sorry that they are tainted by the acts of abuse performed by others. I acknowledge and appreciate their good and faithful ministry.
We must learn and repent from our sins and failures. Please pray that all church leaders will be faithful to the promises we made at our ordination. Most of all, please join me in praying for the victims of abuse so that they may experience God’s healing. May God bless all of us during this difficult time.
With the assurance of my prayers, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans