An Open Letter to Pope Francis

Your Holiness,

I entered the Catholic Church in the year 2000 as an Evangelical convert through Anglicanism, and I come from a family line of Protestants that stretches back 500 years to the days of Martin Luther and Henry VIII. Words cannot describe the joy I felt on the Easter Vigil of 2000, upon being received into the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Because of my knowledge of Church history and apologetics, which eventually led to my conversion, as well as my experience as a young-adult pastor while an Evangelical, many people suggested I should study for the diaconate. For a short while, I took their suggestion seriously, and contemplated the possibility of ordination. I can tell you now that I’ve decided, some time ago, that I shall never be ordained. Whatever calling I might have had for ministry I have since abandoned, which I’m sure will come as a great relief to some, but much to their chagrin I have instead taken to the Internet as a lay catechist and apologist.

I am a survivor. The homosexual-abuse and paedophilia scandal of 2002 brought great doubt to my Catholic faith. While I am not a physical victim of this abuse, thank God, I am a spiritual victim. My faith in the Church as a fresh convert was challenged beyond measure. I have outlined this in other places on my blog, here and here. I even contemplated leaving the Church over this. By the grace of God, and by answered prayer, our Lord placed the right people in my life at the right time, who strengthened my faith in a time of great distress. One of them was your predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, whose pontifical acts of Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum Coetibus continue to allow me to remain a Catholic in good conscience. Without these acts, I might be attending the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) right now, or else I might have become a member of Eastern Orthodoxy. I am one of the lucky ones, as they say, because God has been favourable to me in a way I do not deserve. Others, far more holy than I, have fallen away from the Church because of these scandals. Church leaders lament the harm done to the victims of homosexual-abuse and paedophilia, as well they should, but they often neglect to consider the much larger catastrophe of souls who are lost. First, we speak of the souls of the victims of sexual abuse as those suffering the greatest harm, but next we speak of the larger number of souls who leave the Catholic Church because they have completely lost faith in her. The fortunate ones no longer believe she is the Church established by Christ. Because if they no longer believe she is Christ’s Church they will at least turn to another — perhaps Orthodoxy or some Protestant sect. God help those who leave the Catholic Church still believing that she really is the Church established by Christ, for they lose faith not only in her, but also in Him, turning to atheism, agnosticism or some form of neopaganism. Yes, I personally know many who fit into all these categories. Their number likely surpasses those who have left the Church for some other Christian community. Here in America, the phrase is so common: “I used to be Catholic but…” Your Holiness, I believe I know just as many ex-Catholics as I do Catholics.

Holy Father, I do not presume to have the knowledge or experience necessary to advise the Vicar of Christ about anything. Blogging is simply what I do to cope with the world around me. It is how I process and grow, letting my readers share in the journey. So I will share with you now what I think ought to be done about the homosexual-abuse and paedophilia crisis in the Church today. Please take it for whatever it’s worth to you.

  1. Those responsible for covering up sexual-abuse of any type should be immediately removed from ministry. These are the people most culpable for the loss of the most souls in the Catholic Church. Their incompetence, indeed their treachery, is a direct assault against Christ and his Kingdom. Trust in the Church hierarchy will never be restored until such men are removed from ministry entirely.
  2. Homosexual men should be removed from all public ministry as well, especially if they have any contact with seminarians, parish and diocesan staff. The reason for this should be obvious by now.
  3. National bishops conferences should be reformed, and in some cases dissolved, especially those that are institutionally corrupt.
  4. In the wake of the massive priest shortage, that will obviously follow the dismissal of homosexual clerics, the Western Church should reach out to the viri probati as a temporary fill-in measure, until enough celibate heterosexual men can be ordained.
  5. Seminaries should be thoroughly investigated, to ensure there is no homosexual infiltration. Such investigations should be ongoing, random and unannounced. The seminaries are the incubators of future Church leadership. How could a mother leave her newborn baby’s incubator unattended? Yet, that is exactly what has been done for too long.
  6. Issue an encyclical letter, identifying the root cause of the crisis as homosexuality in the priesthood, and remind the faithful about Catholic sexual morality. With pastoral concern, the faithful should be reminded that homosexual activity is a sin, as well as all sex outside of lawful marriage between a man and a woman.
  7. Declare ex cathedra what Saint John Paul II already stated was infallible teaching — that women cannot be ordained to the clerical state.
  8. Issue an apostolic declaration explaining that acceptance or promotion of homosexual acts is a formal heresy.
  9. Issue an apostolic declaration explaining that acceptance or promotion of gender theory is a formal heresy, and in some cases, child abuse.
  10. Initiate, for the sake of historical record, a full investigation into the source of this problem, to include (if appropriate) any possible communist infiltration into the Church during the Cold War, and how this might have played a role in the crisis we are experiencing today.

Holy Father, I speak not on behalf of Catholic converts, but rather from them as one of their number. I speak not on behalf of Americans, but rather from them as one of their number. I speak not on behalf of those who have been spiritually abused, but rather from them as one of their number. As I said above, I am one of the lucky ones. I did not deserve God’s extraordinary help to preserve my Catholic faith, but I am the recipient of his unmerited favour. I humbly submit this open letter for your consideration.

I am sincerely yours in Jesus Christ Our Lord,

Shane Schaetzel
Catechist, Apologist, Columnist, Author and Blogger
Ozark Mountains, Missouri, USA