Saying that “the current crisis of sexual abuse by clergy, the cover-up by leaders in the church and the lack of fidelity of some have caused great harm,” Bishop Edward J. Burns and priests in the Diocese of Dallas have petitioned Pope Francis by letter to hold an Extraordinary Synod, a meeting of the Church called for a special and urgent purpose, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application.
The letter, penned by the bishop and unanimously approved and signed by priests serving on consultative boards representing priests throughout the diocese, was delivered to the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. today to be directed to Pope Francis as soon as possible.
The letter also notes the past clergy abuse scandals in the Diocese of Dallas and “a recent revelation of one of our own who has harmed his parish terribly and has fled” in reference to allegations against Rev. Edmundo Paredes at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Dallas.
The letter asks that topics include “the care for the safeguard of children and the vulnerable, outreach to victims, the identity and lifestyle of clergy, the importance of healthy human formation within the presbyterate/religious community, etc.” The letter goes on to state that the synod topics “should address abuse of power, clericalism, accountability and the understanding of transparency in the Church.”
Today Bishop Burns added, “We are working diligently at the local level to deal with these issues, but increasing accountability at all levels of the Church is of utmost importance.”
Bishop Burns went on to say he is very grateful to the priests of the Diocese of Dallas. “They are good, faithful and committed men facing the pain and suffering caused by one of our own. Recognizing the current issues in the church surrounding safe environment, the pain of victims, and the lack of credibility in the church, I proposed a draft of a letter to Pope Francis and gathered their important input. The priests unanimously said we need to send this now!”
The priests, who signed the letter, including Monsignor Henry Petter, believe a real solution must be found to the heinous issue of clergy abuse of minors, “When we have this kind of infection in the Church, we have to make sure that the wound is laid open to bring about real healing. A synod must include the people in the pews of the universal church and it must look at the structures that have allowed this to happen. We owe our allegiance to the people of God.”
VIDEO: Press Conference on Letter to Pope Francis