The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Archbishop Pietro Sambi
April 20, 2010
Archbishop Pietro Sambi
LETTER SENT VIA E-MAIL TO: email@example.com
Dear Archbishop Sambi:
We urge you to forbid a controversial church official who clearly endorses law-breaking and irresponsible behavior from leading a mass in the Archdiocese of Washington this weekend.
You know all of the disturbing facts about Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a former Vatican official who is coming here in just a few days:
Giving him the honor of leading this mass is problematic in two ways. First, it rewards wrong-doing, and that in turn encourages future wrong-doing. Second, it rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of millions of hurting Catholics and thousands of hurting victims.
Actions, not words, really matter. And when actions and words are in conflict, people pay attention to our actions. When church employees watch a prelate get rewarded, who advocates always reckless and sometimes illegal behavior, they'll get a clear and disturbing message: "It's business-as-usual in the church. Endanger kids and you'll be honored."
You can talk about children's safety day in and day out, but when you associate with and honor a man who endangers children's safety, you are helping to maintain the same unhealthy church culture that has lead to hundreds of thousands of children getting raped, sodomized and assaulted.
It's important to remember that Castrillon-Hoyos isn't some low level church functionary. For years, he was the head of the powerful Congregation for the Clergy. In 2001, when he wrote that letter, he was essentially in charge of priests across the world. In 2005, he was named by many Vatican observers as a likely candidate to become the next Pope.
We urge you to again read, and carefully consider, his exact remarks: "I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Castrillón Hoyos wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of the Bayeux-Lisieux diocese. "You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."
Many church officials over the years have made intemperate, inaccurate or hurtful remarks about the clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis. Few, however, have overtly praised a colleague who clearly broke the law and endangered children.
Many have made off-handed comments that have been harmful. Few, however, have made such harmful written remarks, done with care and deliberation.
In one-on-one interviews or conversations many church leaders have said callous and damaging things. Few, however, have committed to writing and circulated such callous and damaging things throughout the church hierarchy.
This isn't the first time Castrillon Hoyos has generated controversy with his extreme views and irresponsible actions. Five years ago, we expressed concern that Castrillon-Hoyos was on many people's "short list" to be named Pope. At that time, we wrote:
"Castrillon-Hoyos has a misguided view of the roots of the abuse scandal.'Concerning the problem of sexual abuse and cases of pedophilia, I have only one answer'" Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos, told reporters. 'In today's culture of pansexualism and libertinism created in this world, several priests, being of this culture, have committed the most serious crime of sexual abuse.'"
He also 'intervened' in the case of a notorious predator priest, Fr. Robert Trupia of the Phoenix Archdiocese (originally from Los Angeles). According to the Boston Globe (3/8/2003), Trupia won an appeal to be reinstated as a priest, despite numerous abuse allegations, thanks to Castrillon Hoyos. The Cardinal sided with Trupia 'even through (a bishop) reported that Trupia had attempted to intimidate him into revoking his suspension and an order that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation by threatening to reveal what he knew about a high-ranking Phoenix bishop's sex life.'
Castrillon Hoyos was also a key Vatican official prodding the Vatican to withhold approval of the US bishops' sex abuse policy because it allegedly contradicted church law.
He was also a key figure in Vatican revisions to that eventually watered-down this already vague and weak new policy."
A year later, when Castrillon Hoyos was replaced, we again expressed our concerns about him when we wrote:
"The departure of a radically insensitive Vatican official, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, should be welcomed by Catholics everywhere. Of the many blame-shifting and excuse-making public comments made by church authorities on clergy sex abuse, Hoyos' remarks have been among the most harsh and off-the-mark"
He treated journalists with disdain and arrogance at a now-famous Vatican news conference: http://nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word0329.htm
He reportedly responded with little compassion to an Irish priest who had been molested as a child by a priest, and focused more on silencing a perceived church critic: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2005_07_12/2005_07_17_Deveney_ActOf.htm And he repeated many of the tired and callous misconceptions about the clergy sex abuse crisis and cover up, including that this is largely an American phenomenon."
You have the power, Archbishop, to make sure this irresponsible man doesn't enjoy a place of honor in the Archdiocese of Washington. Please act now to stop him from leading the mass and show, by your actions, that you value obeying the law and protecting children.
Mark V. Serrano
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests