Mandated Letter to Parents from the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education At the direction of the Archdiocesan Office of Education, the following letter is being sent to all parents who have children currently enrolled in any Parish School or in any Parish PREP program. Dear Parents and Guardians, In his pastoral letter dated December 8, 2011 Archbishop Charles J. Chaput outlined the 2012 calendar year by saying that “We have a grave and continuing obligation to help victims of clergy sex abuse to heal; to create Church environments that protect our young people and to cooperate appropriately with civil authorities in pursuing justice for both the victims of sexual abuse and those accused.” As you may know, some of the criminal cases that arose out of the sexual abuse of minors by priests are currently underway. These cases have been accompanied by increased media attention. We anticipate that the media may also increase their coverage when the Archbishop begins to announce his final decisions on the cases of priests who were placed on administrative leave in the aftermath of the 2011 Grand Jury Report. We are sending this letter in an effort to reinforce our partnership to preserve the protective environment that we foster here for our children as we all attempt to navigate under the harsh and unavoidable media coverage. As we move forward in faith, it is important to tell you that no one at our parishes or our school can provide you with any information on the pending criminal trials or the final resolution of the cases of the priests placed on administrative leave. This is presenting a significant challenge as we deal with the increased media scrutiny. Not having answers to questions regarding these matters does not diminish our commitment to you and your children—doing what is in the children’s best interest. We also want to reiterate that we will not be discussing these matters with your children while they are in school or PREP classes. We will not initiate any discussion regarding these matters but will attempt to answer children’s questions as honestly and simply as possible. We will encourage the children to talk with you, the parent or guardian. In this partnership, you can count on us to continue to strive to be models of love and compassion toward all people and encourage your children to do the same during this challenging time. We will also continue to implement safe environment educational programs, which you are familiar with, for all children. Please remember that you have some control over what your children see and hear in the media, and not all information that adults have has to be shared with children. We ask also that you please respect the rights of other parents and guardians by not discussing these matters with any children but your own. Each family should decide how to engage their children in responding to this very public discussion on sexual abuse, by determining what is appropriate based on their parenting style and the age and maturity level of the children. One of the keys to preventing sexual abuse is the relationship you have with your child, so if you are comfortable doing so, please encourage your children to talk with you about sexual abuse. Many issues will be raised during this intense media coverage and it can be an opportunity to further teach your child about sexual abuse. How well we handle these challenging times will show our children how much we care for them. If our children see and hear a consistent response of faith, maturity and compassion guided by our Catholic identity they can learn a great lesson. It is not easy to admit failures and ask for forgiveness, but we cannot grow morally and spiritually unless we do it. Let us pray for God’s guidance and strength. Let us pray for the grace to work together to restore peace and harmony in our lives. Let us pray for each other. All things are possible through Christ.