Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Words are never enough, but sometimes, words are all we have, or, at least sometimes we must begin with words. The first words I wish to speak tonight are to victims and their families. I am sorry - profoundly sorry for the terrible pain you have experienced because of sexual abuse." On June 30, 2004, at Saint Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington, I began my homily at the Mass to Pray for Victims of Sexual Abuse with the above words. It is very important to me personally that all who come to this web site know the depth of my sorrow at what has transpired in our Church. I am especially sorry that someone you trusted has betrayed you and caused such pain and anguish by their actions. I apologize for your pain and the deep hurt which you experienced at the hands of someone you trusted. I particularly want to express my sorrow to those who have been abused by priests, deacons, religious men and women, volunteers and lay employees of the Church. You had a right to expect much more of us, as the Body of Christ, and we betrayed you. I ask for your forgiveness.
Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II has said, "There is no place in our church for those who abuse children". As your Bishop, I want you to know of my commitment to maintain a safe environment for children and to implement the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Arlington Diocese. It is equally important that we reach out to victims and their families. To assist victims in their journey toward reconciliation and healing, I have appointed Mrs. Patricia Mudd, ACSW, as Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese. Pat is a 31-year employee of Catholic Charities of our Diocese. Along with her experience, she brings a real commitment to reach out to victims and their families. We have established a private and confidential phone for the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 703-841-2530. I would encourage any victims or their families who wish to report an incident of abuse by clergy, religious men and women, or lay employees and volunteers of the church, to call Pat at the listed number.
In the coming months, I have asked my staff to plan a number of Masses to Pray for Victims of Sexual Abuse throughout the diocese. I would encourage each of you to take the time to attend one or more of these Masses and pray for our victims and their families. As members of the Body of Christ, we must respond with deeper compassion to the hurt and pain our victims have suffered. Please join me as I ask for their forgiveness and pledge to pray daily for their healing.
To our victims and their families, I wish to extend an invitation to meet with you if you would find my spiritual assistance helpful. I would also offer you the opportunity to meet with Father Thomas Ferguson, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia or with our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Pat Mudd. Please know of our love and concern for you.
With a fervent prayer for your forgiveness, I remain,
Most. Rev. Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington