Catholic lay men ask Pope Francis for answers

Pope Francis arrives in St Peters Square for the general audience Sept 21 2016 Credit Daniel Ibez CNA Pope Francis. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

One week after thousands of Catholic laywomen signed a letter asking Pope Francis to respond to their questions about the Church's sexual abuse crisis, a group of Catholic laymen have penned their own letter to the pope and American bishops, calling for an investigation into the Church's role in preventing sexual abuse.

The letter is hosted on the website "Catholic Men United for Christ," but it is not sponsored by any group or organization. The signatories of the letter pledge to do some form of fasting on each Friday starting Sept. 7, and continuing through 2018.

Signatories include popular Catholic author Scott Hahn, radio host Al Kresta, along with other notable Catholic leaders.

"Holy Father, we come to you for answers. You personally have been faced with allegations. These allegations have been leveled by a high-ranking church official, Archbishop Viganò. Further, many bishops in the United States have publicly stated that they believe these allegations should be investigated. We implore you to address them," reads the letter.

"Moreover, regardless of the veracity of Archbishop Viganò's allegations, our concerns about corruption remain."

"Your Holiness, Your Eminences, and Your Excellencies: Amidst widespread global abuse, coverups, and hierarchical failure, what are you doing and what will you do to protect the people of God? We urge you to answer this simple question because the cost of the episcopal corruption is catastrophic."

The letter requests that an investigation into Church hierarchy be carried out by "faithful lay men and women."

The signatories "reiterate and support" last week's letter from Catholic lay women, signatory Mark DeYoung told CNA, "but even more so, we're looking at the bigger picture at what has happened in various countries [...] in just saying that there is certainly established fact there is a problem with abuse."

Failure to combat this corruption and abuse could result in the reduction or elimination of ministries due to a lack of priests, DeYoung told CNA.

DeYoung, a theology graduate student, said that fathers have expressed concern about potentially sending their sons to seminary, and have even said that they "will not have their kids involved in the liturgy as altar servers" out of fear of sexual abuse.

This could result in "potentially the death of vocations and young people being active in the Church," said DeYoung. He also said it was "heartbreaking" to read testimony from some of the Pennsylvania abuse victims who said that their abuse caused them to lose their religious faith entirely.

"We're really fighting for these people, (and) we're also saying that as Catholic men that we're going to take responsibility for our own lives as well," noting that not every Catholic man is faithful or properly follows Church teaching.

DeYoung told CNA that the letter came from the fact that many Catholic men are "angry, heartbroken, and really shocked at the state of the Church at the moment," in terms of the abuse of minors as well as "the clergy members who are disobeying their vows and living and against the call to chastity and purity."

In addition to the investigation into abuse and misconduct, DeYoung says that the signatories are also looking to the bishops for spiritual leadership during this chaotic time.

"We are men who love the Church, we love our bishops, we support our Holy Father, and we want to see the truth come out here," he said.

At press time, the letter had been signed by over 3,000 people.

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