August 7, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In recent weeks, many Catholics, including me, have been outraged and saddened by the accusations of abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Many of us are asking: How can this have happened?
On August 1, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo released a statement saying in part: “The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. …Both the abuses themselves and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people’s lives and represent grave moral failures of judgment on the part of church leaders.” I agree with Cardinal DiNardo’s assessment.
The bishops’ conference must address these serious issues, including developing structures of protection and accountability that will apply to our bishops and cardinals as well as our priests and deacons. We must redouble our efforts to break down any culture of secrecy and privilege, to act transparently and hold each other accountable. As a member of the conference, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this process.
I want to assure you that the Diocese of Juneau has robust safe environment policies and procedures in effect, and enforces them. Two weeks ago, the Diocesan Review Board began the review of all of our current safe environment policies to update them and as necessary, strengthen and improve them. As part of our compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, we are audited by an independent agency every year.
If you have experienced or witnessed abusive behavior by anyone in ministry in our diocese, I urge you to please contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Robbie Izzard, at 907-586-2227 extension 25. If you believe a crime has been committed - and sexual abuse of a minor is a serious crime - please report it immediately to law enforcement.
If you are a survivor of sexual or other abuse by anyone in ministry in this diocese, I sincerely apologize for the harm they inflicted on you. It was not your fault. I am more than willing to meet with you at any time.
As Catholics, let us continue to work together with all people of good will in the essential work of providing a safe environment for our children, our youth, and us all.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Andrew E. Bellisario, C.M.
Bishop of Juneau
Statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo Statement from Archbishop Paul D. Etienne