Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Federation of Christian Ministries Statement in Response to Sexual Abuse Regarding the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Findings

Statement of the Executive Committee of the 
Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM) 
regarding the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Findings

The 900-page grand jury report has left us filled with horror, disgust, and sadness. FCM is not a Roman Catholic community, but our roots of 50 years ago were solidly in the Roman Catholic tradition. The Roman Catholic denomination is still the largest in the United States. The moral catastrophe it is enduring affects all of us who profess the name of Jesus. Believing that FCM also possesses a unique perspective because of our inclusive and ecumenical posture, we suggest several lines of action by which the Roman Catholic church might offer radical corrective measures to help heal its wounded state.

First, we join in the recommendation of others that the entire American cadre of archbishops, bishops and cardinals should tender their resignations to Pope Francis. This would indicate to all an acceptance of accountability and responsibility and a willingness to move ahead in an entirely new way. Pope Francis would then be able to accept the resignations of those with any hint of complicity in the coverups so that a clean slate may be presented to the faithful. This is a radical and common-sense action.

Second, since the Catholic hierarchy is a power structure made up only of men, we recommend the immediate deletion of Canon 1024 from the bylaws of the Catholic Church. This is the devastating rule preventing the ordination of women. Following on that deletion we ask Pope Francis to welcome immediately the members of the Roman Catholic Women Priests and the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests into full communion and positions of responsibilities in the Catholic Church. It is inconceivable that the coverups and abuses of power that denied justice to victims would have happened if women were in positions of responsibility in the hierarchy. FCM membership includes many women who have taken the prophetic action of ordination and have endured the pain of excommunication in following out their spirit-given ministry. We know these women, and they can be a leaven for the wounded Catholic Church. The Catholic hierarchy must change, and this is a clear change that would tell the world, “Yes, we are doing business in a new way.”

Third, the legacy of discrimination, condemnation, and marginalization of people of the LGBTQI communities must immediately and formally stop. These scurrilous teachings provide a rationale for blaming gay priests and bishops for these ruthless crimes simply because of their sexual orientation. This blame then deflects attention from the corrupt power structure that has enabled the horrors shown in the grand jury documents to continue over decades.  The hierarchs in power deflect blame to scapegoats and to the messengers of the truth when they should have offered leadership immediately to cure instead of acting to cover up. 

Finally, the requirement of celibacy for those in priesthood must be modified. Clearly a charism, a gift of God, cannot be legislated. Allow those called to a married priesthood to live that out. And allow those who have the charism of celibacy to live out that inner calling. Each year greater burdens are placed on the declining number of priests. The prayers over decades for more priests have been clearly answered in the negative. This must change and the change must be based on deep reformation.

We believe that nothing short of radical transformation will lead to a cure, a new paradigm of ministry by the Catholic Church, that gains acceptance by the people. We support this transformation and look forward to its accomplishment. Nothing less will suffice.

Tom Stricker, Chairperson 
Thomas Cusack, President
Heidi Tierney, Treasurer
Kathleen Bean, Secretary

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