To Priests of the Twin Cities (and elsewhere)

Updated: Sep 14, 2018

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To Parishes and Pastors of St. Paul and Minneapolis:

On Monday, September 10, young adults and other members of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sent an open letter to Archbishop Bernard Hebda. The letter provided some of our thoughts in response to the recent clerical abuse crises and included a list of eight recommendations. The final recommendation concerned our pastors:

“Finally, we offer a recommendation for all pastors, clergy, and Church leaders throughout this Archdiocese: Take personal responsibility for these crises and publicly accept the moral guilt associated with the sins of our clergy and Archdiocesan leaders. Clergy who have openly said before their parishes, ‘I am guilty,’ have promoted healing, transparency, and accountability by recognizing the roles that we all have played in contributing to these crises. However, some pastors have solely issued calls to prayer, diagnosed these crises as the problems of other persons, or insisted upon action and education on the part of the laity. Such pastors have been perceived as diverting responsibility and refusing to make these crises their own. The persistence of pastors who see themselves as exempt from responsibility continues the frustration and sorrow of the laity.
“Rather than telling the laity what to do and what to think about the abuses of the clergy and the leaders who have perpetuated and hidden these abuses, we recommend that each pastor be instructed to offer a forum for listening to the fear, frustration, and sorrow of his parish. This can be conducted through listening sessions, ‘town hall’ meetings, or facilitated discussions. In addition, we recommend that each pastor publicly acknowledge the corporate guilt of himself and his brothers and ask for the forgiveness of his parish. The present circumstances require no less, given his commitment to stand in persona Christi, who was crucified, died, and was buried on behalf of all sinners. Therefore we urge that each priest consider this crisis his own personal responsibility and reflect upon ways in which he is called to change through prayer, education, dialogue, and action. As the laity, we commit ourselves to this work, and we ask nothing less of our priests.”

While we encourage you to read the letter in full, today we would like to offer you an invitation to act upon this final recommendation, and to offer you our support. The Catholic young adult community of the Twin Cities has been pursuing a fourfold response to the present crises, focusing on prayer, education, dialogue, and action. While it is the responsibility of our clergy to accept their moral responsibility for these crises, we wish to offer our support in continued responses, especially concerning education and dialogue. Even while we have issued a call for increased listening by clergy, we would like to offer our support in facilitating a fruitful space for this listening.

As we’ve talked with more and more lay persons, we’ve observed the desire to have conversations about clerical abuse and related issues, especially at the parish level. The laity want to be acknowledged and heard, particularly by their pastors. But we also recognize that there is a lack of resources for facilitating these conversations. So we have worked to develop our own resources, and we would like to share with you materials from our very fruitful August 28 conversation with more than 100 young adults. We have made the video from that presentation available online, as well as a facilitated discussion “toolkit” that can be downloaded and adapted for use in parishes and ministries. You can find those resources here. We are also willing to schedule presentations and discussions facilitated by our group for parishes within the Twin Cities metro area, but feel free to organize your own presentations with our materials.

In addition, we are always looking for for feedback on the needs, perspectives, and experiences of the Catholic community when it comes to these issues. Please do feel free to reach out if there is any way we can assist as you continue to serve your parish community.

We closed our letter with the following reflections on the relationship between the clergy and the laity of this Archdiocese:

“Even as we call our Archdiocese to do more, we recognize that we are part of this Archdiocese, that this is also our Church. Your responsibilities are our responsibilities. Every Catholic has a responsibility to ensure that our Church is safe, compassionate, and committed to following Christ in word and deed. The Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici speaks of the complementarity of the members of the People of God, drawing together clergy, men and women religious, and the lay faithful all as “labourers in the vineyard.” It is in the spirit of the essential complementarity of the clergy and the laity that we come to you. And it is in this spirit that we feel called to challenge our Archdiocese to do more. And we invite you to also similarly call upon us to make changes, continue learning, and collaborate with Church leadership.”

YArespond was begun by a group of Catholic young adults based in the Twin Cities seeking informed and holistic ways to respond to the abuse crises in our Church. We focus on a fourfold response consisting of prayer, education, dialogue, and action. Currently, we are working on developing resources for parishes and ministries to host events and dialogues. Learn more: