We’re sorry.

We’re sorry that you should even have to hear about abuse or cover-up in the church. We’re especially sorry for any and all victims who were abused or ignored by priests, bishops, ministers in the church, family members, coaches or anyone. If you haven’t ever heard “I’m sorry this happened to you, — at least you can hear it from us.  We’re sorry.

We know many of you are hurt, angry, crushed, disappointed, ashamed, discouraged. Maybe you are struggling with your faith or even thinking of leaving the church. You are allowed to feel any of these things. The church, or leaders in the church rather, failed you. St. John Paul II warned us, “It is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak.” These men used their authority to pillage, abuse, and stain instead of serve and lay down their lives. This abominable crime, this conspiracy against life, produced a culture of death and yet it still does not define who the church is or what the priesthood is.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Alexander Sample were also broken over this “institutional…and profound spiritual failure for the church.” They want no more secrecy, no more hiding, to bring everything out into the light.

This scandal stems from grave sin. It is an ugly stain on the church, but we’re not afraid for the church, because this is not who the church is. This is not the church we have known, and hopefully many of you have experienced as well. We’re grateful to be a Catholic. The church has helped us come to know Jesus and to follow him, and we are forever grateful for that hope of heaven. And whereas we are deeply ashamed and confused by the actions of priests and bishops, I, Father Libra, am happy to be a priest. Because the priesthood is about loving as Christ loved the church — it means to lay down your life for others, it means even to be crucified to truly love souls. Loving like Christ loves is what inspires me.

And so we pray that the Lord will cut and cleave for our church. This will hurt, but if it means all will be exposed and God will cut the cancer away, then the body can be whole again. All this coming to light is an act of the Lord’s mercy. All will come to the light and justice will be done. It will assuredly be a painful process, but the sin will be outed. We are not afraid for the church, we are sorry for the victims, of every kind.  Cut and cleave Lord, cut and cleave. Free your church from sin.

Even if other people won’t, we hope you will follow Jesus with devotion like Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Don’t let someone else’s failure determine how you follow Jesus. Jesus is our Savior. He knows how to deal with evil and sin and he knows how to heal deep wounds and deadly infections. He knows the way to heaven and what we need to make the journey. Decide today whom you will serve. Don’t remain silent when evil is being done. Stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist.

Cato is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Portland. Fr. Libra, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, is director of pro-life activities in the archdiocese.