Father Sicard and Father Cuddy share perspectives on a “wounded” church
Since its foundation, Providence College has been a place where countless individuals have grown in their faith and have become actively engaged in the life of the Church. Generations of Dominicans have ministered alongside faithful, talented, and generous lay people in order to provide, not just an education, but also a profound and intimate encounter with Christ and His Church.
But these are days of turmoil in the Church. Over the past several weeks, we have once again heard stories of irreparable harm inflicted on minors and vulnerable adults by priests who, over many years, callously betrayed a sacred trust. We have heard accounts of subsequent cover-ups by some of our nation’s bishops and religious superiors. We are experiencing a steady erosion of the Church’s credibility and moral authority, and seeing Catholics across the country turning away from their faith.
There is anger, pain, and a deep sense of betrayal among the faithful and the clergy alike. Here on campus, there are many whose anger leads them to question what it means to be associated with an institution that so proudly identifies itself as Catholic and Dominican during this time of darkness.
In his recent statement, Pope Francis invited us to contemplate the “extent and gravity of all that has happened…in a communal and comprehensive way” (Letter to the People of God, 20 August 2018).
What does this mean for Providence College? What are we supposed to do with the anger and pain that we feel? How can we work as a community to help reform and renew the Church? It would be naive to think that there are simple answers to these serious and complex questions, but we must, and we will, grapple with them. We must also stand in solidarity with, and care for, victims near and far. We must confront evil acts, no matter the consequences. How this is best accomplished remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: It demands no less than a recommitment of our whole community—Dominicans, faculty, staff, students, and alumni—to work together toward rebuilding a Church which, in many ways, has been deeply wounded.
Please know that the College is committed to helping to care for all of those who are affected by the scourge of sexual abuse. It is important that our community know that Providence College does not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form, and has detailed procedures in place to stop any such behavior, and to address incidents in a fair, compassionate, and appropriate manner. We encourage any member of our community who might be suffering to reach out to a trusted person on campus who will be able to provide you with, or refer you to, the proper support and resources.
Together, let us pray for courage, guidance, and God’s grace to address problems in the coming weeks and months that feel insurmountable. Then and only then can real reform and renewal happen.
Rev. Kenneth Sicard, O.P.
Rev. James Cuddy, O.P.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry