As the District Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, I want to assure you that we take the protection of our children, and of all those who are vulnerable, very seriously. The SSPX acknowledges that all those who have suffered from sexual abuse must be heard and helped; that all abusers should be held accountable before the civil authorities; that the abusers who are members of the clergy should also be held accountable before an ecclesiastical court, according to SSPX policy.
The stories of abuse within the Church are nothing short of disgusting. Innocent souls have lived through horribly painful situations that words can't fully express. Being exposed to abuse at a young age, they have gone through hell on earth as children and then suffer the rest of their lives from the depravity of adults whom they trusted. What they experience affects them in the deepest part of their souls, ravages their trust in man, extinguishes the love of the Church and of Christ, and gives rise to enmity against God. In this miscarriage of justice, a person in a position of trust commits a sin that endangers the salvation of those very souls he promised to care for. Nothing about abuse is acceptable or excusable.
False Freedom Begets Abuse
We all are sinners; original sin affects everybody. But what made these sins of abuse possible? Why is this sort of evil so prevalent in our time? Man's desire for freedom is at the root: the freedom to do whatever he pleases, freedom detached from the natural law and disconnected from God's commandments. This modern obsession for freedom dilutes morals and narrows the gap between virtue and sin. Sin has become accepted in our times and sometimes even glorified — especially sexual sin. Many see no wrong in this area at all. As a result, the doors have been thrown wide open for abuse!
Holiness Creates Trust
Unless we learn to hate sin again and fight against it — unless we reestablish a sense of purity and respect for our neighbor — unless we take seriously our own call to holiness, nothing will change.
We must improve protection policies and procedures, conduct background checks and screen personnel, and threaten offenders with severe punishments. But if this is all we do, such measures will do nothing but create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, and the abuse will continue. What we desperately need is true conversion, true penance, a return to the laws of God, and a change of hearts.
In our priories, chapels, and schools, we must establish an environment of sanctity. We must urge each other to avoid sin and practice virtue. We must challenge one another to grow in holiness every moment. This holy resolve must then spill over into the homes of our families, our country, and to the Church at large. Our determination has to be contagious! Only then will our places be safe and conducive to the blossoming of our children.
Help for Victims
As much as we want to prevent abuse from happening, we cannot neglect to help those who are already victims. We have been learning about the extent of this evil for years and have been in contact with survivors of abuse. We have listened to their grief and have a grasp of their suffering. It takes great courage for a person who has experienced abuse to develop trust again. Time and patience are needed before a survivor can open up. But we want to help!
If you have been abused and have suffered from the betrayal of a priest, or any other personnel of the Society of St. Pius X please let us know. We would like to help you find the proper remedy through counseling and/or spiritual care. Even though we cannot undo history, we desire that justice be done.
Since you have chosen this initial step to look at our site, we invite you to contact us at [email protected] or our toll-free number (833)-727-7779.
It is my wish and desire that I and my colleagues working with the US District's Abuse Prevention & Response can assist with your healing and reconciliation.
God bless you,
Fr. John Fullerton