[Episcopal News Service]
In his Good Friday sermon, Bishop William Persell of Chicago addressed the 'shock and extreme distress' in the Roman Catholic Church over the scandal of clergy sexual misconduct, warning that no church is 'immune.' He said that 'we would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries.'
As president of the interfaith Council of Religious Leaders of Chicago, Persell said that he has suggested an extended meeting 'at which we will share our understandings and procedures with one another in the hope of helping all faith communities to improve on making our congregations safer, more nurturing places for all of God's children.'
'The temptation is great to jump quickly from the cross to the triumph of the Resurrection,' he added. 'Unfortunately with this crisis we will be at the cross with all its pain, betrayal and brokenness for a long time to come. And on Easter Monday our Good Friday world will still be there with a weakened, discredited church seeking to bear witness to Christ in a world of so much violence and despair.'
Persell said that 'today Christ's body is in agony on the cross, this time over the failures of some clergy and over the failure of the church to protect its most vulnerable members. The illusion of a totally Christ-like, holy institution has been forever shattered, and what has happened in some churches affects all Christian churches. The process of making necessary changes, moving forward, and carrying on the life and mission of the church will be more difficult because of what has occurred,' he said, but there are many who 'will help the church to become a healthier, holier, more faithful, more truthful body of Christ.'