Newell: Archbishop Aymond talks to me & others who struggle with Catholic Church scandal

Newell Normand
November 05, 2018 - 10:39 am

The Archdiocese of New Orleans released a list of priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse made against them. Archbishop Gregory Aymond joined me to discuss the list and how the Church and the community can move forward.

Archbishop Aymond promised that the list would be released sooner rather than later, and it was released sooner.

“We wanted to do this as soon as possible, and we feel very strongly that the list we have published is accurate.  We feel a lot of work and deliberation went into that.”

The Catholic Church has struggled with dealing with the allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members.  A lot of these cases are very old, which makes it complicated.  Not that that makes it any less important or any less egregious.  This was the first step.  What happens next?

“There are three very important reasons [why we released the names].  First, it's a sad day in many ways, because I'm thinking of the victims and what they're going through.  For some of them, this will open another wound.  For other survivors and victims, this will be putting closure to something that they've wanted to put closure to for a long time.  

So there is some sadness to today,   But for me, it's also a time of hope, because we want to be totally transparent; and we are.  Through that transparency, we would like to say there's time for a future, there's time for another day.  We can't ignore the past, but we have to put it in perspective.”

Also, we want to pursue justice.  Jesus has told us that the truth will set us free.  So for those three reasons, we released the information.”

The Archbishop and the Archdiocese upheld their promise to release that information.  57 members of the clergy were on the list.  Archbishop Aymond pointed out that in the past two years, credible allegations of assault have been few, but that is still too much. 

“One accusation of sexual abuse is too many, and I will keep saying that because someone's life has been affected.  It's been changed.  Great pain has been experienced.”

One thing many of our listeners have brought up; and I, with 40 years of law enforcement, have said this time and again.  Law enforcement should be brought into the process immediately.  And Aymond agreed, saying “involving law enforcement from the very beginning is of utmost importance.”

I know Archbishop Aymond personally, and I know this is causing him pain.  You can see it looking at him; you can feel it sitting across from him.

“We need to continue to repent, and we need to continue to apologize to those have been hurt.  But we have to move forward with hope.  And I believe that the Lord is calling us to do that and will help us do that.”

I look critically at myself in the mirror all the time, and I struggle with this scandal.  We refer to priests as father, signifying their relationship as spiritual fathers to those in their care.  Part of me didn't want to believe this was going on.  Part of me didn't want to have to deal with it.  I was educated in archdiocesan schools almost my entire life.  But the situation in Pennsylvania and the report that came out really caused me to reflect.

My struggle to not believe was not there any longer.  There's no perfect world, of course.  We're all fallible, and we're all sinners.  But things had to be improved; the Catholic Church had to be better.  And, the more I read about some of the policies put in places, and work that has been done to protect the innocence of children in the care of priests and the Church, the more I’m encouraged.

Take a listen to my entire conversation with Archbishop Aymond below.

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