Open Letter to Archbishop Martin of Dublin on behalf of global survivors of clergy sexual abuse

Dr. Denise Buchanan – – Jamaican survivor, ECA Board member
Peter Isely – – United States survivor, ECA Founding member and spokesperson
Fernando Brierley – – Chilean survivor, ECA Founding member

August 10, 2018

Dear Archbishop Martin,

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin

Ending Clergy Abuse ( is appealing to you on behalf of clergy sexual abuse survivors from around the globe.

We are an organization that speaks on behalf of survivors from different parts of the world where the Catholic Church can be found.

Clergy abuse survivors form together a global community of sorrow and solidarity, memory and witness. They speak in all the languages of the earth; they are of every skin color; they are of all ages. They are male and female; they are of different sexual orientations; they are from places of both privilege and poverty. What they share is that each of them has been taken as children by the church to a place of sexual affliction. Most of them are still silent and we seek to be their voice. is grateful that you are insisting that Pope Francis must address the issue of clergy sexual abuse while he is in your country. There are three things you can ask the Pope to do before he arrives in Ireland to demonstrate he will not tolerate anything or anyone connected to his trip that dismisses, silences, or undermines the Irish survivors’ experience of suffering and their ongoing struggle for justice.

We urge you, Archbishop, to ask the Pope to:

  1. Order that three cardinals facing serious questions and public outcry about protecting brother bishops who have committed sexual abuse be removed from their prominent speaking roles at the WMOF. They should be investigated instead. The three are Cardinal Óscar Maradiaga of Honduras and Cardinals Kevin Farrell and Donald Wuerl of the United States (see below).
  2. Acknowledge and meet publicly with survivor leaders of Ireland during his visit.
  3. Announce that the next WMOF will be dedicated to the impact and prevention of sexual violence, particularly clergy sexual violence, on families.

First, any bishop who covers up for another bishop should not be trusted to safeguard Catholic families, much less preach to the world about the sacred and intrinsic dignity and meaning of family life. We are deeply troubled that three cardinals who may have protected abusive brother bishops (see below) are playing significant roles at the World Meeting of Families. The three cardinals are Cardinal Óscar Maradiaga of Honduras and Cardinals Kevin Farrell and Donald Wuerl of the United States. Maradiaga is conducting a major workshop at WMOF. Farrell is a main celebrant and homilist. Wuerl is a keynote speaker. We are astonished given the Pope’s recent vow to change the church’s culture of abuse and cover-up, that these cardinals have not already voluntarily stepped down from their prominent roles at the WMOF.

Second, private meetings with anonymous survivors are always welcome if conducted properly but they are no substitute for a public dialogue with survivor leaders on how to address the crisis both in Ireland and worldwide.

Third, sexual violence is an epidemic in the modern world. The church cannot claim to address it unless it addresses the sexual violence that has been and is being perpetrated within its own global structural mechanisms. Such honest and difficult conversations are perfectly placed in the next WMOF.

The suffering of Irish survivors has moved the world and will again, when the Pope visits your country. These three actions by Francis before his arrival, urged on by you, will honor their historic and valiant efforts and grant them a measure of the respect and gratitude they deserve.


Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA)

ECA Founding Members

Barbara Blaine (deceased) – United States
Lieve Halsberghe – Belgium
Evelyn Korkmaz – Canada
Catalina Venegas – Chile
Fernando Brierley – Chile
José Andrés Murillo – Chile
Juan Carlos Claret Pool – Chile
Benjamin Kitobo – Congo
Sara Oviedo – Ecuador
Alexandre Hezez – France
François Devaux – France
Nadia Debbache – France
Matthias Katsch – Germany
Francesco Zanardi – Italy
Simone Padovani – Italy
Denise Buchanan – Jamaica
Adalberto Méndez – Mexico
Alberto Athie – Mexico
Marek Lisińki – Poland
Miguel Hurtado – Spain
Jacques Nuoffer – Switzerland
Jean-Marie Fürbringer – Switzerland
Peter Saunders – United Kingdom
George Mead – United States
Peter Isely – United States
Timothy Law – United States

In July, Cardinal Maradiaga’s close associate and auxiliary bishop in Honduras, Bishop Juan Jose Pineda, was removed because of sexually abusing seminarians. According to reports, Pineda’s behavior was long standing and well known by church officials, including Maradiaga. Maradiaga is also facing allegations of financial misconduct.

In the U.S., former cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick recently was removed from ministry and the College of Cardinals. He has been accused of sexually abusing at least two minors and sexually harassing and abusing seminarians and young priests. The revelations have led to calls by prominent Catholics for an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of seminarians, including McCarrick’s alleged crimes and the network of church officials who covered up his wrongdoing.

As associates of McCarrick, Cardinals Farrell and Wuerl are facing valid questions about what they knew of McCarrick’s misconduct. Although McCarrick’s alleged assaults of children were made public only recently, his predatory behavior toward seminarians was an open secret in the American Catholic church; it was publicly discussed and documented online for years. In 2005 and 2007, New Jersey dioceses paid two settlements to his adult victims. [See this useful timeline.] Farrell and Wuerl both deny having known of McCarrick’s wrongdoing, but their assertions are being challenged by Catholic commentators and experts (see articles 1, 2 and 3).

Kevin Farrell was McCarrick’s vicar general in the Washington DC archdiocese, and reportedly his protégé. According to a columnist for the National Review, a conservative U.S.-based publication, “Farrell shared an apartment with McCarrick for six years, years in which settlements were being paid out in New Jersey for McCarrick’s misdeeds.” Farrell says it is not true that he and McCarrick lived together.

Cardinal Wuerl succeeded McCarrick as archbishop of Washington D.C. in 2006, around the time New Jersey dioceses were settling with McCarrick’s victims. On a separate but equally serious matter: As bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, when thousands of U.S. victims were reporting their abuse to dioceses, Wuerl never made public a list of offenders, unlike more than 30 other U.S. bishops and religious superiors. A grand jury report that will be released next week is expected to name around 90 accused Pittsburgh priests, many of whom surely were reported to Wuerl.

Related articles about McCarrick and his network:

The Truth About Cardinal McCarrick: The Catholic Church needs an inquest into what the pederast cardinal’s colleagues knew, and when, by Ross Douthat, New York Times, July 25, 2018

Past review board members: Independent inquiry into seminarian abuse needed, by Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter, August 7, 2018

Cardinal McCarrick: Everybody Knew, by Rod Dreher, the American Conservative (blog), June 20, 2018

McCarrick, the Bishops and Unanswered Questions, by J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency via the National Catholic Register, July 24, 2018

Cardinal McCarrick’s Network, by Rod Dreher, the American Conservative, July 20, 2018

Catholic Bishops Beg for a Clear Policy against Evil, by Michael Brendan Dougherty,National Review, July 26, 2018

Interviewing Cardinal Wuerl on McCarrick: Can’t WTOP and others do better? by Julia Duin, Get Religion blog, July 30, 2018

Editorial: America’s bishops shouldn’t be investigating one of their own, New York Post, August 9, 2018

Revelations of US cardinal sex abuse will force pope’s hand, by Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 21, 2018

Timeline on Archbishop McCarrick’s life, ministry, abuse claims made against him, by Catholic News Service via Catholic Register, August 9, 2018

Related articles about Maradiaga:

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Honduran Bishop Accused of Sexual Abuse, National Catholic Register, by Edward Pentin, July 20, 2018

Habla la viuda estafada: “Maradiaga sabe todo lo que hace el obispo Pineda” [The condemned widow speaks: “Maradiaga knows everything that Bishop Pineda does”], Criterio, June 12, 2018

Former Seminarians Allege Grave Sexual Misconduct by Honduran Bishop Pineda, National Catholic Register, March 4, 2018

Cardinal Maradiaga accused of financial mismanagement, Catholic News Agency December 17, 2017