Information for those concerned about the Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests Provided by the House of Grace Catholic Worker in Philadelphia

Hi, please see information below.  We are part of the Catholic Worker prayer  pilgrimage to Rome. Keep us, our witness, and the  Bishops’ conference in your prayers. Please distribute this email widely.

Peace, and Gratitude, Mary Beth and Johanna; House of Grace Catholic Worker; 1826 E Lehigh Ave; Phila PA 19125

Dear Friends,

We enthusiastically invite you to join us in prayer, solidarity and action for the survivors of sexual abuse and for healing of our beloved, suffering church.  The clergy sex abuse scandal and subsequent cover-ups have had a devastating effect on our church. We are called to respond. As many of you know, Pope Francis has called a meeting of the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world in Rome, February 21st-24th, 2019. This is an unprecedented meeting to focus on the protection of minors. It is the first time that presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide have been summoned for a meeting on a specific topic.

In mid-Advent a group of Catholic Worker women sent letters to their local US bishops asking for a conference that better represented all the People of God. Like many Catholics, we are deeply concerned by the paucity of women and lay people, especially abuse survivors at the upcoming global conference on clergy sex abuse. We have since sent a letter to Pope Francis (see attached.)

Continuing that witness we are inspired by Dorothy Day who traveled to Rome during the Second Vatican Council to fast and pray for the Church to recognize conscientious objection.  In that spirit a delegation of seven Catholic Worker women from the US will travel to Rome for the conference in February. We anticipate our time in Rome will include daily prayer, a daily public presence and participation in some of the events planned by survivors and their advocates. We also hope to address the need for church reform – an end to clericalism, equality for women in ministry, justice for survivors and church transparency.

There are solidarity actions being organized in the US. Encouraged by the example of Sr. Theresa Kane who, in 1979, respectfully challenged Pope John Paul II to open ” all ministries of the church to women” we invite you to show your support for the changes we are asking for on our Rome pilgrimage with a witness at your local parish.  On February 23, 2019, the night before the last day of the meeting in Rome about the protection of minors, wear a blue armband to the vigil mass at your parish to call for the inclusion of survivors, their families, lay people, especially women, and women theologians in this and all conversations about reform and healing (see below for more information about Banding Together as the People of God.)

Catholic Workers going to Rome are Mary Beth Appel, Maria Bergh, Johanna Berrigan, Alice McGary, Mary Ryder, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy and Kim Williams.

Thank you for your prayers and support!!

For more on Sr. Theresa Kane’s address see:


Banding Together as the People of God


On February 23, 2019, as the meeting in Rome about clergy sex abuse enters its last day, we invite you to wear a blue armband to the vigil mass at your parish to prayerfully call for the inclusion of:

– survivors of sexual abuse and their families,
– lay people, especially women,
– groups who work for survivor justice, and
– women theologians

in these meetings and all conversations about reform and healing.

Why blue armbands?
In January women from the Catholic Worker movement wrote to Pope Francis: 
... We are heartened by your recognition that clericalism in the Catholic Church is responsible for creating a culture where criminal abuse persisted and extraordinary efforts were made to keep crimes hidden. We implore you not to allow this clerical culture to continue. We applaud your convening the February conference in Rome, but we do not understand how a meeting dominated by male clergy, a structure that has facilitated this grievous problem, will move the Church towards healing and reform. A broader representation of the People of God at the February meeting would be an important first step toward that end. So, we appeal to you to change the format.
In the August 20th Letter to the People of God you wrote: “The only way we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.” If this is a “task regarding all of us as the People of God,” more lay people must be included in the discussion and discernment of how to renew the Church. While we recognize that lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors are contributing to the preparation for the February meeting, we respectfully request a broader representation of the People of God at the conference itself. We envision a meeting that includes survivors of abuse, parents of the children whose lives have been destroyed, lay groups for whom justice on this issue is their vocation and women theologians. We believe that including a diverse group of people, especially from countries where the sex abuse has had a devastating effect, is essential for restoring trust and will provide valuable guidance on how to bring reconciliation and true healing to the global Church. …


During the conference (February 21st – 24th) a group of Catholic Worker women will travel to Rome to be with and among those on the outside calling for true reconciliation, reform and healing.  How you can join the effort: 

1.  Wear a blue armband to the vigil mass (i.e. 5pm) at your parish on February 23, 2019.

2.  Post a photo of you wearing your armband on Instagram using #CatholicsBandingTogether

3.  Or email a photo of yourself wearing your armband to

4.  You can view all of the photos by visiting:




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