Les Femmes 1216 Mill Road Woodstock, VA 22664
Dear Mrs. Alvaro:
I appreciated the opportunity to speak to you earlier this week about the diocese’s plan to implement the VIRTUS “safe environment” program. In view of the brevity of our conversation, I would like to make an appointment to discuss my concerns more fully, chief of which is that the diocese is embarking on a costly and bureaucratic response to the child sexual abuse scandal – one that ignores a main cause of the problem, homosexuality in the priesthood, and threatens the innocence of our children with explicit sexual information during the latency period. In March I called Kathleen McChesney, Executive Director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, who confirmed that the bishops’ Charter does not mandate classroom programs for children.
Yesterday I spoke to a DRE who attended the April 21 DRE Leaders’ meeting which you held to discuss the VIRTUS adult program. I confirmed the accuracy of his report with a second DRE who was also present. He told me the diocese is planning over 100 seminars every year on the adult program alone. That is a tremendous consumption of time and resources, not to mention money. Perhaps this would be justified if the nature of the problem is appropriately addressed and a proper solution found. However this seems far from certain at present.
According to A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States published by the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People the sex abuse scandal mostly involved the homosexual rape of young boys by clergy which was enabled and covered up by bishops. Four out of five of the victims were adolescent boys. It was NOT a pedophile scandal nor was it a problem of parents or other family members abusing children. It was primarily a homosexual abuse problem. And yet, the diocese’s response has been to redefine the crisis excluding a major cause, homosexuals in the priesthood, and targeting our children with sexually explicit “touching” programs.
I was astounded to find that the following exchange took place at the meeting. A DRE asked, "According to the John Jay study, 80% of the abuse that precipitated this crisis was by priests abusing boys. Since this training is supposed to alert DREs to warning signals that might indicate potential for abuse, wouldn't it be a good idea to include homosexuality as one of the signs of abuse, and to discuss it?"
According to the two DREs your answer was no, studies show homosexuality is not the problem and that, “In fact, children are safer with homosexuals than with heterosexuals."
I am dumbfounded by this! The National Board’s report states that “[A]ny evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than eighty percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.” Over 80%! (A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States p.8) In light of the board’s recognition of the homosexual nature of the abuse, can you please clarify your contention that homosexuality is not the problem. Have you read the Jay Report and the National Review Board’s report? Do you disagree with their evaluation?
If a problem is not accurately addressed it cannot be solved. The approach the diocese has taken to date does not inspire confidence. If the parent/adult program is based on faulty assumptions and bias what can we expect from the children’s program?
Which brings me to my second concern, the classroom program for children in the latency period.
I was surprised to hear you say in our phone conversation that the bishop has decided to implement the classroom program developed by VIRTUS since, as you confirmed, it is not yet available. How can a program be selected when the content is unknown and unreviewed? This sounds like a repeat of the Good Touch Bad Touch mistake. I must point out that the original classroom program VIRTUS selected (and promoted in their newsletter) was Talking About Touching (TAT). You are no doubt aware of the controversy over this graphic and controversial program. While I understand VIRTUS has reconsidered using TAT, why should parents have confidence in a group that showed such poor judgment in the first place?
In closing I would appreciate answers to the following questions in line with the Charter’s call for transparency.
1. In light of the homosexual nature of the child abuse scandals in the Church why is homosexuality being excluded from the adult program?
2. What criteria did you use in determining that homosexuality is not a problem and that, “In fact, children are safer with homosexuals than with heterosexuals."
3. Please cite sources supporting your statement that studies show homosexuality is not a problem with relation to child sexual abuse. To what studies were you referring?
4. What is the diocese’s plan for giving parents the opportunity to review VIRTUS’ classroom program for children? When can we expect that to be available? How will parents be informed?
5. Will the diocese assure parents that opting out of classroom programs that violate the latency period will not be used against them in court in the future if their children are molested by clergy or other diocesan employees?
Thank you for your expedient response to these questions. I speak for many parents who feel the safe environment classroom programs violate their parental rights and threaten the innocence of their children.
Please be assured of my prayers for you and for the bishop. I look forward to your response.
Sincerely in Christ,
Mary Ann Kreitzer