Monday, October 23, 2006

From NY: "The Second Volley"


Dated October 20, the archdiocesan priests of New York received a strongly-worded letter today from Cardinal Edward Egan in further response to the events of the last two weeks.

In his first direct message to his priests since the circulation of the anonymous letter which called for a vote of "no confidence" against him, Egan laid blame for the document's "core" at the feet of "stories that are being told by priests who have been found guilty of sexually abusing minors." Saying that the unsigned document was "so shamelessly exploited by the media" and that the matter needs to be addressed "head on," Egan announced a stringent new procedure to clarify the record when a priest who is guilty of abuse is found "to be speaking untruthfully about the matter" so that "the road of savaging the Archdiocese and the Archbishop with falsehoods" can be averted.

The cardinal also announced that he will be amending his typical schedule for the first three months of the new year so that he may visit with the priests of each of the archdiocese's 19 vicariates at their monthly meetings.

Below is the fulltext of the letter.

* * *
October 20, 2006

Dear Father:

The recent anonymous letter criticizing my pastoral service to the Archdiocese has done immense harm largely because it has been so shamelessly exploited by the media. At the core of the letter and the declaration in support of it by Monsignor Howard Calkins are stories that are being told by priests who have been found guilty of sexually abusing minors after thorough treatment of their cases according to well-established Archdiocesan procedures.

Many claim that they have been the victim of unjust treatment, deception and lack of understanding. Unfortunately, no one challenges what they have to say. And the reason is clear: the Archdiocese has always been careful to respect their privacy.

* * *

This situation cannot be allowed to continue, as the recent episode of the anonymous letter, the declarations of Monsignor Calkins, and other negative statements to the media have amply proved. Thus it is that I believe we need to address this matter head on. We cannot be left open to all manner of lies, leading to all manner of scandal and damage to the Archdiocese and the Archbishop from people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

When a priest who has been found guilty of sexually abusing a minor and appropriate action has been taken in his regard, if he is reported to be speaking untruthfully about the matter, he will be called in to see me and invited to write a letter correcting his statements and offering his apology. His letter will then be made public.

If he refuses to write the letter, he will be asked to appear before a panel of six priests -- three members of the Presbyteral Council and three Vicars -- to make his case. Thereafter, officials of the Archdiocese will make our case. The panel will study the matter and issue a report to the Presbyteral Council.

Confident that all cases of the sexual abuse of minors by priests that have been treated during my tenure have been handled properly, I have no doubt what the conclusion of the panel will be. The conclusion, however, will be theirs.

The faithful will then be informed of what has happened and the road to savaging the Archdiocese and its Archbishop with falsehoods about cases regarding the sexual abuse of minors will be definitively closed.

* * *

All of this I would invite you to discuss at your Vicariate meetings in November so that the matter can be added to the agenda of the Presbyteral Council at its December meeting. In January, February, and March, I will reduce my usual load of liturgies, meetings, conferences, dinners, and such so as to visit all nineteen of the Vicariates at their regular meetings. On these occasions, I will go over the process outlined above and, if time allows, I will repeat the substance of what was said at the special meeting of the Presbyteral Council on October 16th, in my residence.

With prayerful best wishes, may I remain

Very truly yours in Christ,


Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York