News & Media

For Immediate Release: August 21, 2018

Contact: Erin Williams at


WASHINGTON – Clergy and leaders with Faith in Action, the largest network of faith-based groups and congregations in the nation, today voiced support for sex abuse victims who were victimized by Catholic Church leaders. The organization, which operates in 21 states and three countries, urged the church to take seriously its responsibility to protect children even at the expense of religious denominations or powerful institutions. The Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action, issued the following statement:

“In every way imaginable, the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is an unmitigated disaster. Perpetrators of sexual abuse and sex abuse apologists have brought tremendous destruction to countless lives and we grieve for persons victimized by this egregious breach of trust. In the words of Bishop Oscar Romero, ‘there are many things that can only be seen through the eyes of those who have cried.’

“As an organization whose work is rooted in ensuring no one stands alone – not returning citizens, not persons fighting for immigrant justice, not those advocating for sentencing reform, for access to quality health care or an end to mass incarceration – our hearts break for all victims and we join them in demanding justice.

“We are clear that childhood sexual abuse is an endemic evil. Approximately 20 percent of girls (1 in 5) and 8 percent of boys (1 in 12.5) have been sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Pereda et al, 2009). Research also indicates that 95 percent of sexually abused children have been abused by someone they know and trust (NAPCAN 2009).

“Even as we grapple with horrific revelations of systemic abuse by Catholic clergy, Faith in Action staff and leaders were heartened by Pope Francis’ statement on the sex abuse scandal and the institutional failure it represents. We agree with Pope Francis’ assertion that the church collectively ‘showed no care for the little ones,’ but instead abandoned them.

“An organization committed to putting our faith into action, we understand that this scandal reverberates across the world. Many people are rightly wondering whether the church is still relevant, and whether church officials can be trusted. We too mourn, the ways that this kind of abuse of power undermines the capacity of everyday people to ‘keep the faith,’ feel safe and secure within their faith and pass their religious customs and teachings on to their children.

“To begin the long process of earning back trust, we support calls for reforms that will create greater transparency and accountability so that this kind of abuse of power will never happen again.”


Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information visit




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