Who do I write the letter to?

I want to report an abuse(s)/possible abuse(s) that happened in a parish I attend. Do I send the letter/email to the Vicar General or the Archbishop?

Probably the Archbishop, I’d imagine. Make sure you have evidence before you accuse though.

Before you write to anyone, did you approach the priest and see if it’s in fact an abuse? You don’t go to the Bishop before you’ve talked to the priest and/or pastor.

I’m an eyewitness.

I’d feel more comfortable just writing the letter.

Then write a letter to the priest first. The bishop will just forward it to him anyway.

If it’s a possible abuse, you have no business reporting it until you find out for sure if it IS an abuse.

By writing to the Bishop before you have addressed the priest and found out if it was an abuse or what he has to say you are out of the chain of command, Your comfort level isn’t the issue. The issue is respect for the priest by not going behind his back and following the proper protocol. Bishops are going to want proof and also want to know if you have addressed this with the priest first.

If someone is accusing you of something, would you appreciate someone going behind your back without hearing your side of the story first? Jesus said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you have the guts to write a letter behind the back of the priest, then you should have the guts to have a discussion with him first. Do the right thing instead of what makes you feel better–that is how adults handle things.

There may be situations where it would be inadvisable to sent a copy of a letter written to a Bishop to your priest. In most cases, however, it is a matter of courtesy to not complain behind someone’s back.

Jesus recommends in Matthew 18 that conflict resolution be one-on-one (ie you and the person who committed the liturgical abuse first), then if that doesn’t work with a couple witnesses, THEN if that doesn’t work to bring it to the Church (ie the Bishop). Perhaps you’ve already done this, but as others have already said, the best thing would be to address whomever is causing the concern personally.

In most US States, if you were in a responsible position (teacher, mentor, youth leader, etc.) the law would want you to report it to the police immediately. They will not immediately arrest anyone, they would assign an expert and investigate and your name will not come up.

Here is what the Arizona law is like, for an example:

You should also report it to the diocese. The Vicar General is probably fine.

Wait, where did this come from? I think we have all been thinking “liturgical” abuse.

Wouldn’t that apply to criminal acts? If the priest had committed a criminal act, then it would be appropriate to contact the powers that be. This does not sound like a crime.

Oh man, I feel silly now for assuming that liturgical abuse was meant - I swear, 99 times out of 100 that the word “abuse” is used on Catholic Answers it has to do with a priest messing up at the Mass.

If we’re talking about sexual abuse, then yes report it immediately.

If the abuse is a crime then dial 911.


This, frankly, highlights the problem of using such pregnant terms as “abuse” in a forum such as this.

The use of this terminology should be regulated.

I’ve thought that for a long time. Living near Boston, the word “abuse” means something very specific to me. Seeing the word applied to things like a stole worn outside the chasuble or the over-use of EM’s or a dozen other liturgical irregularities often reported here is flat-out inappropriate and misleading, even if such usage is technically correct. Words mean things.

Yes, I agree. When I hear the term ‘abuse’ I think the worst. I think molestation, even rape. I think harm to an innocent.

Sometimes here, people use the term ‘abuse’ and are talking about a priest forgetting to say a response in the Liturgy (or some such thing). And such upsetting comments!

Well, it certainly showed us what’s what in this thread.

Just to address my curiosity… is ‘liturgical abuse’ a common phrase? I had never heard it before coming to CAF.

My first thought was “what does the OP mean by abuse?”.

Indeed. Ate we talking abuse of an individual?
A vulnerable person?Liturgical abuse?
It males a difference.
If of a person, contact the Safe Environment office of your Diocese.They will investigate. If of a child, yes, call Children’s Services or 911.

Abuse is not reported via letter writing.Which category does your eyewitness account speak to/

Since you were a witness, write to the archbishop or make an appointment with him. If it’s abuse of a minor, call the police - not 911 - call their non-emergency number - and report it immediately. They will take a report and investigate.

If it’s an adult, it’s best to call for an appointment with the archbishop, but if you want to write a letter, so be it.

If it’s liturgical abuse, it’s best to confront the priest.

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