June 1, 2020
Archbishop Paul Etienne Archdiocese of Seattle
710 9th Avenue Seattle, WA 98104
Dear Archbishop Etienne:
We are taking this opportunity to update you regarding Heal Our Church (HOC) plans. On July 10, 2020, HOC will convene a virtual meeting of our supporters and interested faithful to discuss and approve a plan to implement the objectives of HOC. We genuinely hope you will join this meeting and listen to the concerns of the laity. On June 12 we will announce the date of this meeting publicly to the press and on our website.
Please find enclosed a Joint Statement that we ask you to prayerfully consider signing as an indication of your support for the goals of HOC for which you have earlier indicated general endorsement. We are sending this to you due to our inability to meet in person as you earlier requested and note that it has been two weeks since we responded to your canceling of the May 13 meeting and unwillingness to meet through video conferencing.
We hope you will appreciate that we come to this point only after a great deal of discernment as well as love and respect for our Church. Yet the facts of our efforts to meet with you are not disputable. On January 20, 2020, you received a letter from us asking for a meeting. You responded with two dates, May 13 and May 20 (essentially a four month delay). We confirmed the May 13 date. We understand that, on both a personal and societal level, COVID-19 has since intervened and is a consuming part of our lives. Yet, these last few months have caused many to recognize their faith as even more integral to their lives. HOC wants you to work with us to ensure that all Catholics will feel welcomed back to a faith which includes open discussion of matters of concern to laity and clergy alike, leading to truth and reconciliation.
We are reluctant to believe that the delays, now approaching 5 months and the non-response to our May 18 letter, indicate you have no serious interest in meeting with us. It is very important that you respond by June 12 to our request for your signature of support on the Joint Statement and your willingness or not to attend the virtual meeting on July 10. Further, as we have indicated, we are willing to meet with you in person, under proper social distancing guidelines, at any convenient time.
In any event, we will announce, as noted above, on June 12 to the press and on our website a virtual meeting of our supporters on July 10, 2020. We remain optimistic that you will be
present for this upcoming virtual meeting. It is important to us that you recognize that, for HOC and our supporters, further delay is simply unacceptable.
Thank you for your leadership of our faith in the Seattle Archdiocese. Sincerely,
Colleen Kinerk Terrence Carroll On behalf of HOC steering committee
Enclosure: Joint Statement
Joint Statement of Purpose of Heal Our Church and Archbishop of Seattle
Heal Our Church (HOC) and the Archbishop of Seattle are desirous of bringing healing
to survivors and to the People of God suffering from decades of priestly abuse of children and adults in the Archdiocese of Seattle. Both are desirous of the need for full disclosure of historical cases of abuse and acknowledge the past failures by Church authorities of both supervision and response to valid claims of abuse. All agree the causes of these failures cannot be understood or prevented in the future without full disclosure and understanding of the horrible impact on the children and other victims by examining the ‘how and why’ this happened . This Statement sets out the broad terms of our agreement, to be exercised in a good faith and timely fashion in order to seek lasting healing and to prevent forever a repeat of this dreadful period of our Church history.
2. Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
HOC and the Archbishop will work together to name a lay led and independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to oversee the full and complete review of files and any records wherever located relating to incidents of priestly abuse and responses by church officials. The TRC will undertake its mission as an independent, victim-truth centered body focused on reconciliation and healing. The TRC will designate a Charter Commission to identify and obtain access to all relevant records and together with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will prepare a full report identifying abusers (whether alive or deceased), examining the causes of this priestly abuse, disclosing the failures in response by Church authorities, reviewing current oversight and reporting of credible claims of abuse, and most importantly lending voice to survivors both in the report and in a series of public forums throughout the Archdiocese of Seattle.
A second, and equally important task for the TRC will be to listen and give voice to the concerns of the laity regarding long standing issues important to them and the role of the laity within the Church. Included within the report regarding clergy sexual abuse, the TRC will report on concerns of the laity and recommendations therefrom. The full report will be published to the People of God and the public directly by the TRC.
The privacy of survivors will be presumed and protected in all aspects of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC Charter Commission will conduct its work and advise the TRC of appropriate forums for survivors to be heard which protect desires for confidentiality, while assuring the opportunity to confront their abusers wherever possible.
Heal Our Church will work in good faith and hand in hand with the Archbishop of Seattle to carry out this process of healing. HOC will share equally with the Archbishop any costs necessary to complete the work of the TRC, including for example, costs and expenses for a professional reporter, conducting investigations where necessary, publication of TRC activities, events, hearings, forums and reports and any other reasonable expenses. HOC will endeavor to include the views of the Archbishop on the work of the TRC and provide the Archbishop the opportunity to participate in its work, including public events. The Archbishop will work in good faith with the TRC and will personally assure the TRC and its Charter Commission has full, complete and unfettered access to all records. HOC and the Archbishop will work to identify appropriate timelines for each of the tasks identified here.
Survivors have waited decades in some cases for an opportunity to be heard
and to learn the full truth of the abuse and its coverup. HOC and the Archbishop mutually pledge to promptly move forward with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission appointments and the appointment by the TRC of the Charter Commission and its review of Church files. HOC and the Archbishop will endeavor to complete the steps identified in this Statement within 12 - 18 months.
Signed this __31___ Day of ____May____, 2020