The role of the laity is crucial to the Church’s efforts to combat clerical sex abuse, Archbishop of Allen Vigneron said Thursday morning.
Speaking at The Catholic University of America on April 25, the Detroit archbishop explained that in his own ministry he had seen how lay collaboration is essential in Church governance, and has a natural place with the Church’s hierarchy.
“In order to act well, I recognize that I am in need of what I might call ‘co-agents’–others who help me by thinking and acting along with me,” said Vigneron.
These “co-agents” take the form of both members of the clergy and laity, he explained, and could even include non-Catholics.
Vigneron was speaking at an event titled “The Way Forward: Principles for Effective Lay Action,” part of a series organized by The Catholic Project, Catholic University’s progam dedicated to helping shape the Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.
The archbishop identified three particular areas in which co-agents were crucial to his own ministry, including the review board and finance council, and the archdiocesan synod which was convened in 2016.
Recalling that when he arrived in Detroit in 2013 the archdiocese faced a financial crisis, Vigneron said it was his lay advisors who were crucial in rescuing the situation.
“Without the wise advice of the [finance] council, I would not have been able to endorse the course that enabled us to avoid financial disaster,” said Vigneron, adding that the experience gave him confidence that lay co-agents had an equally important role to play in solving the present sexual abuse crisis.
Vigneron also identified “victim-survivors” of clerical abuse as indispensable guide to helping him understand the trauma of abuse.
Meeting abuse survivors had, he said, “provided a unique and painful perspective of the enormity of the sins perpetrated against these innocents.”
“I hear incredible anger and disappointment, especially from those victim-survivors who have been driven away from the sacraments for the rest of their lives,” he said, while expressing gratitude and admiration for the many who had told him they remained committed to the Church.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.