A Statement From Msgr. Kozar on the Protection of Minors

New York

Beloved members of the CNEWA family,

I write to you with a profound sense of sorrow and pain. The revelations of 70 years of the abuse of children and minors by priests in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — and how these crimes were handled by the bishops — have troubled me greatly.

I am a son of Pennsylvania, and a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The exploitation of children, of minors, of those most vulnerable in our midst, happened in my diocesan church. These heinous acts were committed by men I knew; men I once respected, my brother priests.

I share your feelings of anger and betrayal, knowing we should have done more to protect the little ones. And I ask for your forgiveness. The entire body of Christ, the people of God — the church — cries in pain for those whose lives were permanently affected by our clergy and our bishops. And for their sake, and our own, we seek healing.

These revelations have traumatized our CNEWA family. We are entrusted with the great privilege of serving the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized. And we have been given the dignity of serving them through the loving hands of the men and women of the Eastern Catholic churches. Lifting up, honoring and protecting the dignity of every child of God is precious to us — this is how we proclaim the Good News of Jesus. This is how we live our faith.

But when the church’s own ministers denigrate that dignity, and then seek to protect themselves from justice, that betrayal leaves us shocked and sickened. For that betrayal erodes and undermines the credibility of all who seek to serve the poor, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and the outcast.

And so, the revelations of the Pennsylvania grand jury have compelled CNEWA to be ever more vigilant in our care and protection of every person who comes to the church looking for help in the difficult places where we serve. We will continue to work steadfastly to earn your trust and be worthy of your support, tightening up and improving our safeguards, and sharing these reforms with our partners in the field.

The crimes of the institutional church, here and abroad, cannot stifle the CNEWA spirit, a spirit spelled out in our mission statement: “to build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue — and inspire hope.”

Thank you, dear friends, for your faithful commitment and generous support. Please pray for our CNEWA family and for our church, as we humbly strive to bind the wounds of a broken world.

Msgr. John E. Kozar

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