Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal issues eleventh pastoral letter during pandemic crisis.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:1.

The facts brought to light by the Capriolo Report, in the wake of the recent crimes committed against minors by a diocesan priest, understandably plunge us into darkness but also present us with a path that leads to transformation. I stand united with you in your pain and with both the People of God and wider society in this Archdiocese in their deep concern.

One year ago, I asked the Honourable Pepita G. Capriolo, a retired judge, to retrace the events that had allowed an abuser to slip through the cracks in our diocesan structure and to provide us with her recommendations.

Having read the report, it is now my task neither to blame nor to excuse but to pursue a path of transformation at the individual, community and institutional level, so that crimes of sexual abuse against minors and the vulnerable do not occur again.

These efforts alone are not enough. This is a battle between Light and the powers of darkness, between grace and sin, which takes place in our souls and whose repercussions affect how we live, what we do and what we fail to do. But it is, above all, a battle in which we are not alone: “To you is born this day…a Saviour” Luke 2:11.

We are called, as the People of God, to proclaim to everyone the birth of Jesus, “The Saviour” of the world, but we ourselves are also in need of salvation. The Church is holy, but she is comprised of sinners.

We can only pursue personal and Church renewal through our connection and consistent reconnection to Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, He is the Light of the world, and “The Light shines in the darkness” John 1:5. Without Him, we can do nothing.

Pope Francis, in his Letter to the People of God on sexual abuse (August 20, 2018), asks that we unite ourselves with those who suffer, conscious of the pain of the victims, their families and their communities. He warns repeatedly against sexual abuse, abuses of power and of conscience. He issues a call to repent and do penance, to pray and to fast, to undertake prevention and make reparation.

In writing this letter, I am very mindful of all those who sounded the alarm; these alerts did not receive the necessary crosschecks and investigation. To all of you I wish to express how sorry I am for this deficient response. The priestly and diaconal ministry is a call to serve all the faithful, but all of us must remain faithful in Christ.

Let us join Pope Francis in praying: “May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled (the vulnerable).” We need a Saviour, and we have a Saviour.

Let us enter the Advent Season with our eyes firmly focused on Christmas. May the birth of Jesus soothe the pain of the victims, of their families and of the Church.

During the weeks and months to come, we will be proposing measures and reaching out to others in the process of renewing our hearts and our lives.

May the Archangel Michael do battle, and the truth be made manifest!

May Mary protect us from the temptation of evil!

May God bless you and fill your hearts with a new thirst for the love of God and with renewed hope!

+Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal