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letter to bishop

August 18, 2018

Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix,
Most Reverend Eduardo A Nevaras, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix,

Greetings in Christ. Today I write to you out of deep concern regarding the horrors that were recently revealed by the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania. I am writing regarding two types of abuse, the abuse of children, and the abuse of the trust of the laity.

I would like to thank you for your recent statement reinforcing the work that has been done, and will be continued in support of victims of abuse. I appreciate that you have worked to put programs in place that will contribute to the safety of our children and families. Thank you for continuing this great work.

My concern right now is in regards to the purposeful and concerted effort that was made to cover up these abuses over the span of 70 years. I am worried that there is no plan to change the structure that allowed for this secretive behavior. I would request that guidance come from this diocese on a plan to open up the tables that have allowed for this secrecy to exist so that such abuses of power are less likely to happen in the future.

I cannot help but wonder if women were involved in higher levels of leadership in the church, this abuse may have ended more quickly. As you are aware, there are many examples in scripture of women holding prominent roles in the early Church. Out of the numerous examples, some of the most relevant are the qualifications and duties in Paul’s First Letter to Timothy for women in the diaconate, Priscilla and Aquila’s early work leading the persecuted Christians in Rome, and Mary’s prominent role in beginning Christ’s public ministry at Cana. In all of these cases, women are shown working together with men to gracefully lead the flock closer to Christ. I believe now is the time for a structural change. Our hearts are hurting and women have a unique calling to heal the broken in this world and restore the trust that is needed.

If I may humbly suggest, one early and helpful change would be inviting women into the Synod 2018 on Young People as voting auditors. Women are often the ones working directly with our young people and hear their stories in great depth and detail. Their voice could be of great value to our Church.

As somebody who works with young people every single day, some assurance from you would be helpful as I talk with them about this issue. For many, this abuse has the risk of shattering their faith. They are left wondering how they can stay in a church that is led by people who tell them to do one thing, then live their lives in quite the opposite way. Please help me restore their trust in our beautiful faith.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your guidance.

Respectfully yours in Christ,
Holly Forseth

 

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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