May 2, 2023
Archbishop Paul Etienne
Archdiocese of Seattle
Seattle, WA 98104
Re: Status Quo is No Longer An Option
We are following up on your recent letter in the Northwest Catholic Magazine as well as posters in the parishes where you have indicated that it is critical to the future of our Church to be more open and inclusive toward marginalized groups in our society. You clearly state that the status quo is not acceptable and encourage dialogue and prayer. As you know, Heal Our Church for several years has been requesting dialogue with you on these matters including the important priority of an independent analysis of the files relating to the clergy sexual abuse scandal through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which answers the ‘how and why’ of this ongoing scandal.
As you may have heard, HOC recently hosted a well-attended community forum at St. Joseph’s parish where there was unequivocal and passionate support for the issues of inclusion you mention in your Northwest Catholic letter. We are grateful for your support of the concerns raised both at the forum and the diocesan synodal process. We note, too, that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops released the results of a national synod which dovetail with the results of the Seattle Archdiocese synod and our forum. Details of the forum and a report therefrom can be easily found on the HOC website (healourchurch.org). Our request is a simple one – we ask that you acknowledge and engage this ‘sensus fidei’ of the people of the Church.
In that regard, as our pastoral leader, we are seeking specific clarity from you relating to the vital issues of importance to the laity:
-Do you support opening the deaconate to women?
-Do you agree that priests and religious should have the option of marriage?
-Do you support a theological pathway leading to the ordination of women as priests?
-Do you favor any restrictions for women in the leadership of the Church?
-Do you agree that all minority groups, including LGBTQ, should be welcomed as members of the Church?
-Do you agree that, prior to the appointment of a bishop or a pastor, the laity should be requested to provide meaningful input?
-Do you agree that, prior to the closure of a parish, the option of lay ministry to continue the work of the parish should be a priority – if such an option is shown to be a credible alternative?
-Do you agree that complete truth and transparency surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal is critical to understanding the ‘how and why’ of the scandal?
All of us are aware of the various crises facing our Church. We ask that you now, as our leader, show continuing respect for the role of the laity, come forward and both answer the questions posed above (for which vast numbers of lay people in this archdiocese and beyond have serious concerns) as well as show us a specific path to reach the inclusiveness you describe in your letter - beyond prayer and reflection. These questions are addressed to you in the hope of opening a dialogue leading to truth and reconciliation.
Please respond by May 19, 2023,
Heal Our Church firstname.lastname@example.org
With Respect, for the Good of our Church and on behalf of Heal Our Church.
HOC Steering Committee