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'Our diocese is committed to do whatever we can to promote healing'
To all people of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington,
The scandal of the sexual abuse of minors in the church has shocked and perhaps overwhelmed us at times. I know that in our own Diocese of Lexington, we have been touched by the shame of that scandal and moved by the pain of victims. In our local church, the scandal was made public nearly ten years ago.
As bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington and in union with the clergy and laity of the Church, I offer my apology to all victims of sexual abuse by clergy, religious or other church personnel. No words can ever make up for the pain and betrayal you have experienced. I express my sincerest apology for anything that the diocese did or did not do, said or did not say, that caused more pain and suffering to all victims of sexual misconduct. Where too little compassion was shown to victims of this horrendous crime, where bishops failed to take the proper action in relation to priest offenders, I offer my apology and I ask forgiveness. Our diocese is committed to do whatever we can do to promote healing and health for individuals and the community.
The Diocese of Lexington stands ready to assist any victims with spiritual and therapeutic healing. I encourage victims to come forward to receive the assistance they need and certainly deserve. If it would assist the process of healing, I would gladly meet with anyone who may have been harmed in some way by the sexual misconduct of one of our clergy, religious, or lay employees. Please know and accept that I include all victims in my daily prayers for their healing and restoration to wholeness and peace.
As Christians, as Roman Catholics, we are called by our Baptism to reflect the love of Christ to all others. This common vocation is a great privilege that bears an awesome responsibility. It demands that we act in a way that is in conformity with the attitude and actions of Christ, Himself. The Gospels clearly show that Jesus had an uncompromising respect and love for each individual.
In this edition of , there is a re-publication of our Diocesan Policies that deal with moral integrity in our ministry to children and young people and to all our diocesan family. This policy was first promulgated in 1994 and has undergone several modifications, the most recent being in response to the United States Bishops’ document, “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”. I hereby publish to each member of our diocese this policy which includes the manner of reporting of sexual misconduct; the applicable state laws; and the mandates of the Charter. Our policy pledges full disclosure and cooperation with the proper civil authorities. There will be no cover-up.
This policy is one important means by which the diocese demonstrates that we are taking seriously our obligation to maintain a safe environment for children and youth within the church. Since its original promulgation, all clerics, religious, lay employees or volunteers who interact regularly with children or youth were made aware of this policy and their obligation to comply with its regulations. Additionally, I am mandating that all people who work with children and youth in the diocese must participate in and complete the “Protecting God’s Children” program that will be implemented in the Fall of 2003. This program clearly identifies the signs to look for that might indicate that someone is abusing a child or signs that indicate a child is being abused. It also educates the participants regarding the steps to be taken to prevent such abuse from happening in the future. These measures will definitely strengthen our ability to protect children and youth from future harm.
One of the mandates of the Charter is the formation of a diocesan Review Board to assist me in reviewing allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in taking action regarding accused clerics. In the Fall of 2002 an edition of Cross+Roads reported that a Review Board had been appointed on an interim basis until a new bishop was installed. Recently I asked the original members of that Board to continue in their appointments for five years. Additionally, I am working to expand the membership of the Board by including individuals from across the diocese. Current members of this independent Board are drawn from a variety of fields, including child psychology, social work, law enforcement and medicine. The Board will also continue to review our diocesan policies and procedures relating to the sexual abuse of minors.
In closing, I thank you all for reading the enclosure and for your personal involvement in our parishes and organizations throughout our diocese. Let us move forward together to allow Christ’s grace to bring about healing within ourselves and in our church. I ask for your continued prayers for me, as your bishop, for the church and especially for all those affected by abuse of any kind. May God in His mercy bless us all.
Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer
Bishop of Lexington