Yesterday evening, this letter was emailed to all clergy, religious, chancery staff, parish ministers and members of all Archdiocesan boards and committees.  This morning, I share the same with you.  At the bottom of this post you will find a copy of the official decree establishing this independent commission and defining the scope of their work.

A statement to the press will be released at 10:00am this morning.

† October 23, 2018

Re: Formation of Independent Commission

To the People of the Archdiocese,

For the past few months I have prayerfully discerned the best way to respond to the shattering events of this past summer: The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, Allegations against former Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Vigano’s Letter and the daily news reports of law enforcement and prosecutors demanding Priest personnel files for review.

I remain concerned for those abused by anyone representing the Catholic Church, and the impact of this abuse on their lives. For all Catholics, these reports have shattered trust, confidence and respect for church leadership. In addition I am deeply troubled by reports that some Bishops have not responded appropriately to these allegations of abuse.

These events have weighed heavily on me as I know they have on all of the people of the Archdiocese. Over the past few months, I have consulted with various lay professionals with legal and judiciary expertise as well as lay staff of the Archdiocese to design the best way to provide accountability and transparency for all of the people of the Archdiocese and the local communities.

Therefore, I have executed a decree establishing an independent commission of three extraordinary people of upstanding reputation and credentials to review all priest and religious personnel files as well as all reported allegations of lay employees and volunteers.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who have worked with me to define the scope of this review. I am especially grateful to the commission members who have accepted this task to review, evaluate and report on how the Archdiocese can be transparent, accountable and improve its governance. The work of this commission will help to ensure confidence in the safety and care of the most vulnerable.

I ask you to remember in prayer those who have been victimized by anyone representing the Catholic Church. Your care of God’s people and our Church is recognized and I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers. I ask you to keep me and my brother bishops in prayer as we meet to address these issues and follow the Holy Spirit where it leads.

In The Heart of Christ,

† Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL
Archbishop of Anchorage