Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll
Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll

Clergy sex abuse is an evil that must be “named, investigated, and brought to light,” wrote the leader of Mount Angel Abbey.

In a Sept. 5 letter emailed to supporters of the abbey and its seminary, Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll wrote that innocent victims suffered when clergy abused them and then again when bishops failed to act.

“This is a season for penitent reflection as we seek to understand the nature of the problem as profoundly as possible,” wrote Abbot Jeremy, acknowledged as a spiritual leader in the region.

Those who remain in the church can contribute to its healing, he wrote.

“It takes courage to persist in our faith at this time,” Abbot Jeremy added, referring to disturbing sex abuse scandals that have emerged in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

At a late August Mass that opened the school year at the hilltop seminary, Abbot Jeremy compared the church now to the disciples after the crucifixion — hunkered down and looking for courage. That is when Jesus came to them, showed his wounds and wished them peace, the abbot told seminary students, some of whom have faced challenging questions from friends and even family during the scandals.  

“Christ’s peace is not a peace of passivity. It is a peace that calls us to serve Him, His Church, and our brothers and sisters,” Abbot Jeremy wrote. “Let us remember Christ’s promise to us in the coming weeks, months, and years, as we seek the truth.”

In the past several decades, several Mount Angel monks were named in lawsuits for abuse that happened decades ago. Some graduates of the seminary also have been accused of abuse.  

The abbot told supporters that monks and seminarians now go through “rigorous human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation” and are held accountable along the way.

“Their readiness is thoroughly evaluated before they are ordained or make their profession of vows,” Abbot Jeremy wrote.

Inviting people to come to the abbey for prayer, the abbot called on everyone in the Catholic Church to take part in the solution, including by supporting good seminary practices and programs.

“The people of God need and deserve to be guided by mature and holy shepherds,” wrote Abbot Jeremy.