Dear Friends of the Diocese of Washington,
Across the nation, we find ourselves in a moment of reckoning on the issue of sexual misconduct and abuse. When children are involved, the abuse is all the more devastating. And when the abuse impacts your own community, it forces you to ask some soul-searching questions.
What happened? How could we have prevented it? What do we need to do to make sure it never happens again?
Earlier today, the four institutions on the Cathedral Close – Washington National Cathedral, Beauvoir, National Cathedral School, and St. Albans – announced the expansion of an independent investigation started last month by St. Albans into past instances of sexual misconduct between adults and children. As the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington and President and Chair of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, I have worked alongside the Cathedral Close leadership in recent days. I fully endorse their decision to participate in this expanded investigation, and am proud of our leaders for taking an honest look at the past.
The Dean of the Cathedral and the three heads of school have made clear that this decision was not prompted by reports of any current misconduct involving adults and children at any of our schools or the Cathedral. And I am confident in the safe and secure environment we are providing to students and other children who visit the Cathedral Close. This process will only serve to raise our high standards.
Though this was not our plan, this investigation feels especially appropriate in the season of Lent, when God calls us to conduct an honest accounting of our lives. Lent is a time for the hard work of making restitution for our failings. We do this work in confidence of God’s healing mercies and the grace to amend our lives.
Reckoning with our past and making amends to anyone who was harmed is not an easy path to take, and I give thanks for the leaders of Cathedral Close institutions who are showing us how to face a difficult issue with bravery, determination, and honesty. Through this process, they are modeling how each of us can shed a critical light on uncomfortable truths. May our efforts help to heal the wounds of those who have suffered abuse.
I echo the call made by the Cathedral and the schools to share any relevant information with the independent team leading the investigation. If you or anyone you know has information about past adult-child sexual misconduct on the Cathedral Close, please contact the lead investigator, Mary Beth Hogan, at [email protected] or (212) 909-6996. As experts in this field, Ms. Hogan and her team will make every effort to protect your privacy and maintain confidentiality of information shared.
“Create in me a clean heart,” we prayed on Ash Wednesday, “and renew a right spirit within me.” I ask you to join me in prayer for the Cathedral, Beauvoir, NCS and St. Albans, and for each of us to invite Christ’s light to shine in the darkened corners of our lives and of our world.