We, as people of faith, believe it is right and just and in the best interests of the entire Church community that the Seattle Archdiocese acknowledge and cooperate in the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
This laity led Commission will have full and complete access to all archdiocese files, memos and documents relating to the clergy abuse scandal. The TRC would be charged with reporting to the faithful historical facts which explain how and why the scandal took place. It will review the adequacy of reforms to ensure it does not happen again.
The composition, duration and protocols for the TRC will be decided by good faith collaboration between designated laity and the chancery. We envision the TRC as a representative, laity-led body separate from the formal structure of the Archdiocese.
Further, we understand and emphasize that the good works and faith traditions of our Church need to be preserved and protected.
We acknowledge that positive steps have been taken in this archdiocese, particularly the Safe Environment Program, to investigate and hold clergy and others accountable for acts of abuse. Yet, the overarching question of ‘how and why’ this scandal happened remains largely unanswered.
We begin with and are committed to the principle that renewal and reform must be led by lay Catholics. Our time, labor and financial support have helped maintain the present hierarchical structure. By not speaking out and neglecting to promote reform, we invite the risk of appearing to be complicit in its failure.
Our work is guided by four pillars of belief, consistent with our Mission Statement:
First, the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address the fundamental causes of the sexual abuse of children;
Second, the TRC shall be led by laity, consistent with the principles of Vatican II, with full access to church records;
Third, the TRC will lay the foundation for a permanent, shared authority for the laity in the life and governance of the Church;
Fourth, we believe that both clericalism and the restricted role of the laity, especially women, are among the most significant causes of the crisis facing the Church.
We believe an equally important component of our demand is that, following the issuance of a report by the TRC, the Archbishop promptly convene a TRC led Assemblies to discuss and make recommendations arising from the report. All laity and clergy would be invited to attend with a commitment from the archdiocese to act on the recommendations from the Assemblies. The details for the convening of the Assemblies would be agreed to in the same manner of good faith collaboration as the creation of the TRC. We make this demand as members of a faith based on truth and forgiveness. For our Church to thrive and grow, it is essential that the trust, now broken with many current and past members, be restored. We are absolutely persuaded and ask that you agree that this moral imperative is greater than clinging to the institutional, clerical prerogatives of the past.
Finally, we dedicate this effort to the many victims of abuse who have come forward, to those who continue to suffer in silence, and to the thousands of Catholics in this Archdiocese who love their Church and who yearn for a future where both laith and clergy work cooperatively.
Our purpose is to forge a Church that fulfills the promise of scripture in the context of its many good works and liturgical traditions.