The Letter that our Parish Cluster sent to Pope Francis:

Most Dear Pope Francis,
May God’s blessings continue to shower you and your Papacy, and grant you courage and wisdom in these difficult days.
We, the parishioners of St. Joseph Church, Amery, Wisconsin USA, and Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake, Wisconsin USA, have met to discuss our feelings and emotions regarding the Priests Abuse crisis. We expressed them on a deeply personal level and we want to share our thoughts with you.
We are quite cognizant of the reality of the difference between the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church. The former is perfect beyond description, while the latter is profoundly human. The former is held to by all the members of our number; but we are deeply concerned, and even angered by the latter. We believe that action must be taken by us, and this letter is the first step in that action.
Our feelings are strong and profound. Some of our number have had experiences of abuse many years ago. A few actually stood and described these experiences for the first time in their lives. More than a few tears were shed. We took notes on their remarks and here are the most commonly held reactions to the crisis.
Some of us believe that we should discontinue our support of the Church, but the majority find this unacceptable. We believe, in that case, that no one would be left to teach our precious Faith. Our strongest fear is that the hierarchy of the Church will take no effective action on the matter. They fear that the hierarchy will choose to ignore the protest and let it blow over. Please, please know that we are very serious in our determination to aid in effecting change at every level of the Church.
The records of the Church, both local and international, must be made public. We must be told of the extent of priests’ bishops’ and cardinals’ crimes of both the past and the present. While this will undoubtedly be unimaginably painful we believe it is absolutely necessary.
One of the most poignant responses came from a senior member of our Parish and Diocesan leadership councils: “I have prayed for 41 years that my wife would join the Catholic Church. It may never happen because, in part, the Catholic Church has failed us and continues to fail us. It is embarrassing to be a Catholic! My confidence in our Church hierarchy has been shaken to the core and sadly, I don’t think we have seen the end of it!”
If a clean exposure of ALL bad behavior is made the Church may be reduced to poverty, and, should that happen, so be it. Our wealth hasn’t done us much good in the past. While we are aware of the massive good the Church performs (Charity, Education, Healthcare), we believe others will step into the breech. Faith assures us of this.
Holiness, we respectfully submit some actions that may be taken. We humbly ask that you seriously consider these suggestions:
• As referred to above, involve local and international law enforcement in the prosecution of guilty parties at all levels of the Church, as well as the examination of all Church records;
• Involve the laity in the resolution of issues of which we are already aware, and all future violations of Church and other rules and laws. In doing so we believe that a panel of hand-picked lay persons who are known to be staunch supporters of the hierarchy, would do far more damage to us all.
• Move quickly to ordain women deacons; additionally, women must become regular, high-level contributors to all future endeavors of the Church.
Please be assured that our belief in the Faith of Jesus Christ remains unshaken. Again, we are confident that, “…the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” Our fear is for the Church that we have loved throughout our lives.
Dearest Pope Francis, we urge you to strike quickly to take advantage of this opportunity to save our Church from the horror of sinking into oblivion. We feel the current situation is far too serious and potentially dangerous to our spiritual health.
We are called to take up our cross. This is the cross of the Church!
With great love and admiration,

Parishioners of St. Joseph and Our Lady of the Lakes, Fr. Gene Murphy, Pastor