My Dear Saint John Family,
Let me be abundantly clear: ! We are dealing with a betrayal of trust that is both “criminal and morally reprehensible” (Vatican Statement 8/16/18). There is no place within the priesthood for those who harm children or prey on the innocent and vulnerable. There is no place for a shepherd of the Church who has failed to act on credible accusations. We stand with those who have been tragically affected by abuse. Only the Light of truth, transparency and accountability will begin the delicate task of piecing together those lives that have been shattered. We fully commit ourselves to the rebuilding of the Church to ensure that this plague will no longer ravage the Body of Christ.
We are brokenhearted to read letters from parents who are “angry, scared and sickened” by what is happening in our Church, and who are now questioning whether their children are safe here at St. John. I give you my word, they are safe:
- Since 2002, our parish and school have required that everyone in ministry complete VIRTUS training, which mandates a criminal history screening along with personal references. Additionally, all clergy are required to submit a letter of good standing prior to serving.
- Everyone continues to be required to follow the Code of Conduct of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and no one will be permitted to be alone with a minor (including visiting clergy).
- New security cameras have been installed in our school and parish center.
- A new key card system has been installed at all main entrances of the school, enhancing our ability to monitor and control access to the building.
- A new electronic visitor management system has been installed in the school that will require government-issued identification from every visitor (without exception), will run immediate background checks, and print photo badges.
We are absolutely committed to the safety and well-being of our children, and we must also recognize the need for prayer, fasting and reparation. We must seek Divine assistance in rebuilding the Church. We humbly ask that you and your families join us in combatting this evil:
- Beginning this weekend, the Saint Michael prayer will be prayed at all weekend and daily Masses.
- Prayers for the healing of all those who are suffering will be added to our general intercessions.
- On Friday, September 7th and Saturday September 8th, we will bring our Eucharistic Lord in procession to every building of our campus and every classroom of our school to ask His blessing upon all our children, faculty, staff, catechists, youth ministers and volunteers.
- We will celebrate a 40-hour devotion for purification and healing, beginning with the 6:00pm Mass on Sunday, September 16th and continuing until Tuesday, September 18th at 7:00pm, when a special Mass will be offered for those suffering from the clergy sex abuse scandal and for the healing of our Church.
Please know that in these initial steps, we are imploring you to pray with us. Father Gerard, Father Andrew and I love each of you and we strive to serve you in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Do not hesitate to come to us at any time. Let me reiterate . . . we stand with you.
With Love and Humility,
Rev. Mark S. Bialek, Pastor