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August 19, 2018

Dear Friends,

No one who has been following the findings of the Pennsylvania grand jury regarding clergy sexual abuse and official cover-ups—not to mention the revelations about the former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C.—can be anything but horrified. So disturbing were the findings and revelations that I considered devoting the homily to the subject this weekend. I thought better of it after reading the scriptures. Their message—which we need to hear—is not even remotely connected to the devastating story that grabbed the headlines this past week. So, instead of using the pulpit, I decided to write to you, hoping that I might bring you—if not understanding—at least some clarity and a word of comfort. Little did I realize how difficult that would be.

To my way of thinking, the entire issue of abuse on the part of clergy (including highly placed members of the hierarchy) and the callous cover-up that many bishops have been guilty of, defies understanding. We all understand human weakness and human sinfulness, of course. That is a given. But when the sins are committed by people whose very calling in life puts them in privileged positions of trust—and who, in betraying that trust, not only wound and scar their victims for a lifetime, causing them to lose faith in themselves, in God, in the church and everything it stands for— well then, any attempt at explanation fails.

And when these crimes are compounded by church leaders hiding the truth, favoring perpetrators over victims, and caring more for the Institution, its reputation and its assets, than for the helpless victims, then a heinous offense comes close to being unforgiveable.

But we know all this. We have been forced to deal with it for the past two decades and more, and we are weary of it—weary beyond words. And we are angry, too, and scandalized and, let’s be honest: we are also ashamed. I know I am. How could this happen in the church we love? And how can we still hold our heads high and continue to own our Catholic faith?

More than fifteen years ago at what one might have hoped was the nadir of this long nightmare, I remember how difficult I found it to appear in public wearing my clerical collar. The present moment of renewed revelations isn’t much different. But this is not about me and my feelings. I am sure many of you find yourselves at a loss for words as you interact with family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, many of whom are not Catholic and who are appalled and simply don’t get it. I wish I had words to reassure you, words you could use to reassure them. I do not. And I wish I could take away the sense of powerlessness that comes from the fact that the channels open to you for speaking out and effecting change in the Church are few. I cannot.

And I take no comfort in knowing that this is a societal problem that occurs most often in families—that the church has no corner on these crimes or their cover up. There is no comfort there. The church should be held to a higher standard. Nor is there any comfort to be found in the fact that these recent revelations come from across the country. Geography has nothing to do with this, although we can be grateful that our own Archdiocese, back in the mid-1980s, was one of the first in the country to understand the gravity of the situation and to take steps to address it.

Speaking for myself, the only comfort I can find in this situation is my belief that this is God’s church and that God can use this terrible tragedy not only to awaken the church to its sins, but also to force it to deal with the underlying causes of those sins. Nothing short of a thorough, searingly honest and completely transparent examination of conscience and admission of guilt will do. And no laws, canons, or traditions, no matter how sacrosanct, should escape critical examination and review. We must find out how this has been allowed to happen and we must face the truth and not hide from it, no matter the cost. And then we must repent and reform. I know this is the commitment of our Archbishop and it must be ours as well.

Dear friends in Christ, with every fiber of my being I believe that the church is the Body of Christ, and I know that God will see us through this nightmare. But that is no excuse for complacency. We have our work cut out for us. As we refuse to tolerate any further cover ups or dishonesty on the part of Church leaders, we must demand of ourselves the same faithfulness, honesty, integrity, and courage we demand of them. And as we do our best, with God’s grace, to survive this dark hour and to learn from it, we must pray without ceasing for this Church we love, this Church we are.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Michael G. Ryan
Pastor of St. James Cathedral

WELCOME, VISITORS! If you are a visitor to the Cathedral, we want you to know how welcome you are – whether you have come from another part of the country, from across the world, or simply from another parish here in the Archdiocese. For more information about the parish, to register, or to ask a question, visit our Sunday Help Desk at Coffee Hour. A Cathedral staff person will be on hand to assist you. Be sure to stop by the Cathedral Bookstore after Mass for a wide selection of Cathedral souvenirs as well as Catholic books and gifts.

FOR YOUR SAFETY. At each of the weekend Masses a Seattle police officer is present on the Cathedral campus.

ON THE COVER Wheat and Grapes. Stained glass window, St. James Cathedral Chapel. Charles Connick, artist.

YOUNG ADULT THIRD SUNDAY SOCIAL. Join other Catholics in their 20s and 30s tonight, Sunday, August 19, after the 5:30 Sunday Mass. We’ll be sharing faith and fellowship in the Archbishop Murphy Courtyard just outside the bookstore. Information, Curtis Leighton.

PILGRIMAGE AND MASS AT NW DETENTION CENTER SATURDAY, AUGUST 25. Join a short pilgrimage in solidarity with immigrants at the NW Detention Center. Carpool/Bus at 9am from St. Joseph to St. Leo's. Pilgrimage leaves from St. Leo's in Tacoma at 10:00am for the 11:00am Mass outside the detention center. To reserve a seat on the bus, call 206-324-2522 or rleet@stjosephparish.org. Information, Steve Wodzanowski.

THE ESOTERICS – LEONARD BERNSTEIN CENTENNIAL CONCERT. On Saturday, August 25 at 8:00pm, Seattle’s most innovative chorus returns to St. James Cathedral! To celebrate the life and work of the remarkable American composer Leonard Bernstein on what would have been his 100th birthday, The Esoterics, directed by Eric Banks, will be joined by Cathedral Organist Joseph Adam to present all of Bernstein’s sacred vocal and choral works in English, Latin, French, and Hebrew, including Chichester Psalms, Missa brevis, selections from his Mass and Kaddish, Hashkiveinu, Yigdal, and Psalm 148. Passes and information, www.theesoterics.org.

SENIOR ICE CREAM AND BINGO SUMMER SOCIAL. Enjoy the company of others on the Pastoral Outreach Center Patio while playing Bingo and enjoying delicious make-it yourself Sundaes! Come for the Ice Cream! Come for the Prizes! Come for the Fun! Thursday, August 30, 1–3pm. RSVP to the Parish Office, 206-622-3559.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR PILATES! Pilates exercises help increase strength, balance and flexibility. Certified Pilates Instructor and St. James Cathedral parishioner , Jenny Dailey will teach classes for all ages and fitness levels in the Pastoral Outreach Center on the following Saturdays from 11:00 to 11:45am: August 18, September 8, October 6, and December 15. Information, Nancy Granger, 206-382-4269.

LAUDATO SI’: A MASS CELEBRATING THE SEASON OF CREATION. On Saturday, September 22, at 10:30am, join with Christians worldwide to mark the Season of Creation, to celebrate the joy which the Earth shares with us. Father Ryan will preside. All are welcome.

HOUSING ADVOCACY COMMITTEE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. Mark your calendars to learn more about the current state of affordable housing and homelessness in King County. A panel discussion including staff from Catholic Housing Services and Muslim Housing Services will be moderated by Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. Thursday, September 27, 7:00pm in Cathedral Hall.

IS THERE A 3 YEAR-OLD IN YOUR FAMILY? We are exploring expanding our Children’s Faith Formation classes to include a class for 3 year-olds and their parents. Class would meet on most Sundays September through June from 11:00am to 11:45am. Interested? Information, Brenda Bellamy, 206-274-3108.

ARE YOU RAISING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?. The Faith Mentors program pairs your child one-onone with a teen mentor for ongoing faith formation or preparation for the sacraments. Information, Brenda Bellamy, 206-274-3108.

2018-2019 CHILDREN’S FAITH FORMATION REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. St. James Cathedral offers classes for children age 3 through High School, including a class for children with special needs, as well as sacramental preparation classes. Information, visit the Kid’s Page of the Cathedral website or contact Brenda Bellamy, 206-274-3108.

ST VINCENT DE PAUL THANKS YOU. A middle-aged restaurant waiter lost his job because of one bad review on a popular website. He was one of only two waiters who were overwhelmed when assigned to cover a party attended by 200 young professionals, a few of whom turned rowdy. One attendee later complained on the website about the service and said the waiter had a “bad attitude.” Despite the waiter’s otherwise excellent work history, his employer apologized and said he had to let the waiter go because the restaurant world is so competitive that they could not afford “a single bad review.” When we met the unemployed waiter, his income was only $182 in monthly foodstamps. With your support, we helped pay his rent and referred him to another charity for more help. Thank you! Information, Bob Clifford at 206-718-4158,

A WEEKLY TIP ON CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME. “One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. . . . Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 29-30)

Opportunities to Serve

MINISTRY OF PRESENCE IN THE CATHEDRAL. Each weekday in the Cathedral, a volunteer sits at a desk in the northeast corner of the Cathedral near the Mary Shrine, available to answer questions, accept prayer requests, and greet visitors who stop in between 1:00pm-4:00pm. It’s a quiet time to pray, read, and be present to those who come to the Cathedral, often people in need. We have immediate need for volunteers on weekdays, especially Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you’d some quiet time in the Cathedral, we’d love to have you be a part of this ministry. Information, Maria Laughlin, 206-382-4284.

THE CATHEDRAL KITCHEN NEEDS A FEW MORE VOLUNTEERS to help with cooking, preparing and serving our meals. We also need a few more substitute gleaners to help when our other gleaners are away. Gleaners go out in the morning, once a week, usually as partners, to four local supermarkets and collect food (fruits, vegetables, milk, deli items, etc.) These items may be used for our daily meals or passed on to St. Mary’s Food Bank. It’s a fun and rewarding outreach! Information, Teddi Callahan, 206-264-2091.

SING WITH CATHEDRAL CHOIR OR WOMEN’S SCHOLA. Have you been considering answering the call to serve in the music ministry at St. James? Now’s your chance! Music Director Joseph Adam will be holding auditions over the summer for membership in the Cathedral Choir (Thursday night rehearsals, sing at 10:00am Mass) and the Women of St. James Schola (meet at 4:00pm on Sundays to sing for 5:30pm Mass). For more information about the required commitment of these ensembles and to schedule an audition, contact Marjorie at musicoffice@stjames-cathedral.org or 206-382-4874.

SANDWICH MAKERS NEEDED. The St. Martin de Porres Shelter Outreach Ministry needs a few extra volunteers to make sandwiches for the Second Monday of each month. This is a great opportunity for those with busy work schedules or families with children! Information, Dylan Hogan, 206-382-4235.

PARISH REMEMBRANCE: Throughout the year, because we are the Cathedral Church, we remember in prayer at Mass and Vespers each of the parishes and missions of the Archdiocese of Seattle on a Sunday near their feast day. This week we pray for the parishes of St. Pius X in Mountlake Terrace, Queen of Heaven in Tacoma, and Queen of Angels in Port Angeles.


Return to St. James Cathedral Parish Website

804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303