December 17, 2018
Dear parishioners of St. Raphael,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that earlier today the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus released a list of names of Jesuits with a credible allegation of abuse of minors or a reasonable possibility that an alleged offense occurred. The list includes allegations dating to 1950. A visiting Jesuit who was briefly assigned at St. Raphael in 2005-2006 – Fr. Jaime Guzmán of the Chilean Province of the Society of Jesus – was named in the report as being “publicly named by another Province for an allegation of abuse against a minor.”
It breaks my heart that the pain of this scandal continues to affect many in our parish and our Church – in the US and globally. I sincerely apologize for the harm that the Church has caused victims, their families, and all of you, and for any role we’ve had in causing that pain.
Upon further investigation, we’ve learned the following about the allegations against Fr. Guzmán: The alleged abuse occurred while Fr. Guzmán served at the San Ignacio El Bosque School in Chile between 1984 and 1994. Allegations were made against him in 2010 and 2011 and were found to be credible in 2012. Fr. Guzmán was immediately removed from public ministry, placed in a monitored residence in Chile, and prohibited from contact with minors. After further investigation by the Chilean Province, a criminal administrative process was opened against him in Chile in October 2018. We also learned that the case was not made public at the express request of one of the victims. We respect that request and the right of all of the victims to heal privately. If any additional confirmed facts become available about this case, we will share it with our community as soon as we become aware of them.
The well-being of our St. Raphael community, and especially our children, is so important to me. Protecting children at our parish is a priority that I, and everyone on our staff and in ministry here, take seriously. I want to reassure you that St. Raphael has strictly followed all Diocesan guidelines regarding the safety of children since their implementation in 2002. More specific details about the steps we take to keep children safe are available on our website.
While Fr. Guzmán’s alleged abuse occurred outside of the Diocese of Raleigh and no allegations were made prior to his service at our parish, this does not make this news any less devastating – especially for those who knew and ministered beside Fr. Guzmán. If you or anyone you know has experienced abuse, can contact the parish Safe Environment Chair Mickey McGoldrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-865-5705 and she will help you contact the proper authorities and victim’s assistance. Or, you can contact John Pendergrass, Director of the Diocese of Raleigh Office of Child and Youth Protection at 1-866-535-7233 or email@example.com. John works directly with trained counselors, law enforcement, and the NC Conference of District Attorneys. You may also contact Mickey or John if you or someone you know have been traumatized, or re-traumatized, by this news and are looking for guidance and support.
You have my unwavering commitment that we will continue to be transparent and do everything we can to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in our parish community. In the past, I’ve referred to this scandal as a sickness in our church, and still believe that’s true. But we can’t allow the darkness to overcome us. Jesus is bringing his light through openness and action for good in our parish and Church. Our need for Jesus’ healing is even greater than before – let’s come to him as he draws close to us in this Advent and Christmas. We’re promised, through Jesus, the ultimate victory.
Please join me in praying for healing within the Church and, most of all, for the healing of anyone who has been wounded by abuse and, in many cases, who has lived in darkness and pain for too long.
Jesus, you saw our great need and you came to us. We need you now. Come to us, and help us open our hearts to you, more than ever. Overcome all evil with your goodness, Lord. Bring your healing power to all victims of abuse, and show us how we can be part of the healing and the reform needed in your Church. Shine your light, Lord. We trust in you.
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.