Updated: Feb 24
We are united in the belief that reconciliation and healing rely upon full disclosure of the whole truth. As a fundamental premise, we assert that revealing the full truth about ecclesiastical abuse of the innocent is an inalienable right of victims and survivors.
This precept is consistent with both international law and the founding principles of the many precedent truth and reconciliation processes created in response to the suffering of the innocent at the hands of the powerful. We look for no greater justification of the right to truth than the words of Jesus at John 18: 37 “For this I was born, for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
We consider Jesus’ declaration as a fundamental human-rights issue. We believe the right to truth precedes and is co-equal with the right of remedy, redress and reconciliation. As the laity within the Body of Christ, we believe the church hierarchy needs to acknowledge this fundamental principle.
The structure of a truth-seeking process is described in detail in the records and documentary evidence from precedent Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC). This is authoritatively summarized by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ictj.org).
"For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light."(Luke 8: 17)
For purposes of this mandate, we identify the seminal elements of a legitimate truth process as follows:
Full disclosure by the archdiocese to an empowered body of laity of all documents relating to child and adult victims of clerical abuse; and Recognition of the authority of the laity to design and oversee a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Archdiocese of Western Washington
The overarching objectives of this commission shall be a truth process that is
• Victim centered;
• Accomplishes restorative justice for all who have been the victims of clerical abuse;
• investigates and reveals
Patterns of suffering, as well as
Instances of ecclesiastical denial,
Avoidance of scandal and
Obstruction which have contributed to this church crisis.
Conducting all this work will serve the purpose of identifying needed reforms leading to reconciliation and healing.
The requirement that this truth process be led and governed by the laity is self-evident. The most important criterion for any truth process or commission is legitimacy. Given the current crisis, the church hierarchy has forfeited any right to conduct a TRC process.
For generations, the church hierarchy failed to meet the highest objectives of truth and reconciliation to “address impunity, break the cycle of violence, provide a forum for both the victims of human rights violations to tell their story and to get a clear picture of the past in order to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation” [cf. ictj.org/objectives].
It is patently clear the Church hierarchy declined to meet these fundamental Christian obligations. Therefore, an ecclesiastically governed truth process would be met with distrust and disbelief. No model of justice places the offender as judge over the victim.
Of necessity, then, a legitimate truth process must be overseen by the laity. Only the laity can establish credibility with victims and survivors as partners and peers in the Body of Christ. Sadly, this includes too many of our innocent and abused brothers and sisters.