Letter to a Suffering Church

The sexual abuse scandal has gripped the Catholic Church for the past thirty years, and continues to wreak havoc even today. It's been a diabolical masterpiece, one that has compromised the work of the Church in every way and has left countless lives in ruins. Many Catholics are understandably asking, “Why should I stay? Why not abandon this sinking ship before it drags me or my children under?"

In this stirring manifesto, Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, explains why this is not the time to leave, but the time to stay and fight. Reading the current crisis through the lenses of Scripture and Church history, Bishop Barron shows that we have faced such egregious scandals before; that the spiritual treasures of the Church were preserved by holy men and women who recommitted themselves to fighting evil; and that there is a clear path forward for us today.

For Catholics questioning their faith, searching desperately for encouragement and hope, this book will offer reasons to stay and fight for the Body of Christ.

To request a copy of the book, contact the parish office at 605-996-7424.

Chapter 1

“The Devil’s Masterpiece”

Bishop Barron describes the current sexual abuse crisis as “a diabolical masterpiece,” arguing that this storm of wickedness has compromised the work of the Church in nearly every way.

Watch below as he discusses the landscape today in the wake of these scandals, including the hurt and alienation felt by so many Catholics.

Chapter 2

“Light from Scripture”

What does the Bible say about the sexual abuse crisis?

Bishop Barron notes how this terrible abuse crisis has been analyzed from numerous perspectives: psychological, interpersonal, criminal, cultural, etc.

These are each important, but the problem will not be adequately investigated until we see it in the light coming from the Word of God.

As it turns out, the Bible has a great deal to say about human sexuality and the myriad ways that sin twists and distorts it.

Chapter 3

"We Have Been Here Before"

Bishop Barron observes that while our present abuse crisis is unique in many ways, the current darkness must be seen in historical perspective.

The Church, from the very beginning and at every point in its development, has been marked to varying degrees by sin, scandal, stupidity, misbehavior, misfortune, and wickedness.

In this chapter, Bishop Barron recounts some of the misdeeds and outrageous sins of priests, bishops, and popes in Catholic history.

But he also shows how the Church still emerged on the other side, since there is nevertheless something good, even indestructibly good, about the Mystical Body of Christ.

Chapter 4

“Why Should We Stay?"

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 37% of Catholics are considering leaving the Church due to the sexual abuse crisis. Maybe you’re in that group.

So why should we stay? As Bishop Barron says, we stay because no matter how difficult things become, no matter how much wickedness and sin creeps into the Church, the treasure of the Church remains—not financial treasure, mind you, but the treasure of life in Christ, especially through the Eucharist.

Chapter 5

"The Way Forward"

According to Bishop Barron, we need three things. First, we need institutional reforms, building upon the changes put in place in 2002, which have reduced cases of sexual abuse down to a trickle.

Second, we need a deep and abiding spiritual reform, beginning with the priesthood but including lay men and women.

Third, we need movements of renewal and reform—new orders, new groups, and new works of the Spirit.

As Bishop Barron concludes, “I know many Catholics are sorely tempted just to give up on the Church, to join another religious group, or perhaps to become one of the religiously unaffiliated. But this is not the time to leave; it is the time to stay and fight.”

Counseling and spiritual guidance is available for victims of clergy sexual abuse and to members of victim’s immediate family. The Victims Assistance Coordinator (VAC) is available to answer questions about services available to help anyone who has been abused or victimized by someone representing the Catholic Church and to report suspected abuse or harassment committed by clergy or religious personnel. Please contact Twila Roman, Victims Assistance Coordinator for our Diocese, at (800) 700-7867 or vac@sfcatholic.org

You can learn more about our current Diocesan Safe Environment policies at http://www.sfcatholic.org/safe-environment/