June 15, 2005
His Eminence Dario
The purpose of this letter is to appeal a decision of my bishop, the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Ordinary of the Diocese of Arlington. He has banned paid and volunteer staff from working with children in the diocese unless they submit to mandatory fingerprinting and background checks by the secular authorities. The policy is part of a flawed approach by the bishops of the United States to deal with the sex abuse scandals. I currently teach fourth grade religion, i.e., to children aged nine to ten.
I requested an exemption from Bishop Loverde for myself and others in a May 26 letter (Attachment 1) because of our serious reservations. The head of the child protection office, Fr. Terry Specht, informed me in a letter dated June 6 (Attachment 2) that the bishop had denied our request. If we fail to submit to finger-printing and background checks by June 30 we will not be permitted to work with children in our parishes.
As a mother of five and grandmother of 13, I am concerned about the safety of our children and believe it is inextricably linked to the beliefs and values of those who work with them. The current policy fails to sufficiently address dangers which are both physical and moral. The physical danger associated with acceptance of homosexuals into the priesthood has been minimized, particularly with regard to young adults who are no longer minors. The moral dangers associated with dissent (especially dissent to Church teachings on sexual morality) have been completely overlooked.
Attachment 3 addresses in more detail the issues I brought up in my letter to Bishop Loverde. There are many catechists and other volunteers in the United States who are concerned with the direction the bishops are going on the sex abuse problem. I believe they would join us in requesting that the Congregation review the situation in the United States and encourage development of a more Catholic solution.
For myself, I ask only the opportunity to continue teaching youngsters the Deposit of Faith according to the mind of our Lord Jesus as transmitted through our Holy Father and the Magisterium of the church.
Below my signature I have attached the names of other lay Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington who wish to join me in requesting an exemption from the bishop’s mandatory fingerprinting policy.
Please be assured of our prayers for your work and for the continued good health of our Holy Father Benedict XVI in whom we rejoice.
Sincerely in Christ,