A message from clergy sex abuse victims
to the Archdiocese of Portland, OR
We are adults who were sexually abused by priests when we were children. The impact on us and our family members has been severe. We are asking you to help to ensure that no more children are abused in the Catholic church.
We know these are trying times for everyone in this archdiocese. Please consider looking at this issue from the perspective of the victims. In the days ahead, we ask that you consider doing the following:
Be skeptical - For decades, bishops deceived us about how many priests abused kids and what was done with them. And for years, dozens of bishops have used threats of potential bankruptcy to try and force victims to keep the truth from emerging in court and accept unjust settlements. Given bishops' track record on this horrific scandal, any prudent person would be skeptical now when a bishop suddenly claims to be experiencing financial hardships.
Ask Archbishop Vlazny to open up the books - Before we even begin to think about not helping those who've been sexually assaulted by clergy and suffered immeasurably because of it, we should insist that church officials disclose information regarding allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Church leaders should fully disclose the truth about what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did with the information. Almost every one of us has been told that we were the first victim to come forward. Common sense tells us that is just not so.
Urge witnesses and victims to come forward - Whether intentional or not, publicity surrounding the bankruptcy filing can discourage people who suspected, witnessed or experienced sexual abuse from coming forward. Yet kids are safe only when victims and others break their silence and report these crimes to police.
Recognize that we are Catholic sons and daughters - Talk of bankruptcy portrays victims as enemies of the church. Please bear in mind that we were Catholic children from Catholic families who were raped and sexually assaulted by trusted priests. Our lives and our faith have been shattered. Our families and parish communities are still hurting. If we had kept silent most of our perpetrators would still be in ministry today. More children would have been abused. Victims should be thanked for coming forward and speaking the truth. By speaking out about the abuse we are providing a gift to the church. The truth must be acknowledged before genuine healing can take place.