On Faith, Morals and Miracles: My Two Letters to Pope Francis

Photo Credit: Benhur Arcayan, Malacañang Photo Bureau

My First Letter to Pope Francis:

                                                                                                                                                                February 25th, 2018

Re: Sexual Abuse and Rape of Children by Catholic Priests in the United States

Dear Holy Father,

    I am an American citizen with an Indian/Hindu background. On […], I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. On […], I sent you the very first copy of my just published book […], along with a message saying that you were my inspiration for my upcoming conversion to Catholicism. 

    At the time, I was also attending RCIA classes at a local Roman Catholic Church […]. The combination of the Catholic faith, […] and […] made it the perfect fit for me. I found the teachings and aspects of the Catholic faith to be profound and beautiful, and the Mass a joyful and uplifting experience. I went through the RCIA Rites of Welcome, Sending and Election, with plans of getting baptized next month at the Easter Vigil. However, I have decided not to get baptized into the Catholic Church, due to what I finally had to admit was the Church’s shocking hypocrisy in preaching good and practicing evil for the past half of a century when it came to the sexual abuse of children by priests, the repeated cover-up by bishops and cardinals, and the essential bribing of families to keep silent about the abuse of their children. I felt that I could not, in good conscience, be baptized into what you yourself admitted last year was a corrupt institution. For reference, I am enclosing my letter (via email) that I sent to the RCIA staff announcing my decision not to get baptized into the Catholic Church.

    Unless you manage to work some miracles with God’s help, I feel it is unlikely that I will ever get baptized into the Catholic Church, and I feel that more and more people will continue to leave it at such a rapid rate. You say that the Church is a “field hospital for the sick”. Yet, how can a Church that is itself so sick within with such evil and corruption claim or hope to heal sickness elsewhere? It will heal one affliction in society, only to infect it with another, as in the cases of some poor, homeless children in Catholic orphanages being sexually abused by nuns or priests who serve there. I am not sure if you are aware of the full nature and scope of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church. Some have said that this is your “blind spot”, despite all your talk of helping the poor, oppressed, vulnerable, and marginalized members of the world. Aren’t children among the most precious as well as the most vulnerable members of humanity, and the future of our world? In the United States alone, according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report, which is a study commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and subsequent collated USCCB data, during the period 1950 to 2016, the sexual abuse, including rape (some so violent that it left children bleeding or hospitalized) is prevalent in 95% of the dioceses, 60% of religious communities, with around 18,000 victims (some of whom were as young as only one year old) of over 6,000 Catholic priests. The 18,000 victims are what the USCCB considers “credible” victims; over 100,000 people have come forward with stories of being abused by Catholic clergy.

    Please, Holy Father, do something about this pervasive evil in your Church which violates and destroys the bodies and souls of so many innocent children and their families worldwide in the name of Christ. For shame! No amount of good that the Church does can ever compensate for this massive and heinous atrocity, unless every single priest, nun or other clergy who has abused a child even once is fired immediately, unless every single bishop, cardinal or other official found to be complicit in an ensuing cover-up is also fired immediately, and unless all the guilty clergy face the same legal consequences as the rest of society. I hear often that Catholicism is about “truth, goodness and beauty”, yet what the Catholic Church has engaged in for the past half of a century by way of this pedophilia scandal, cover-up and bribery is nothing but “false, evil and ugly”. Surely you see this, and surely your heart weeps, as, I’m sure, must God’s, to see what your Church has come to despite Christ’s tremendous love and sacrifice.

    I continue to pray for you, and hope that God will indeed work miracles through you. All things are possible with God, as the Bible says. I wish you the best, and hope that you live long enough to fulfill your destiny, and that your successors will work to make your Church better, not worse.

                                                                                                                                                Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                Surekha Dangoor



My Second Letter to Pope Francis:
                                                                                                                                                June 21st, 2018

Re: My conversion from Hinduism to Roman Catholicism

Most Holy Father,

    A few months ago, I wrote you a letter dated February 25th, 2018, where I spoke about how you had inspired me to convert to Catholicism, but how I had eventually decided not to convert given my concern about the pedophilia crisis and coverup worldwide in the Catholic Church. This was around the time that the sex abuse scandal in Chile’s Catholic Church erupted, when I also learnt about the details of the sex abuse crisis in the Church here in the United States. In that letter to you, I had pleaded with you to do something about this issue, and had written: “Unless you manage to work some miracles with God’s help, I feel it is unlikely that I will ever get baptized into the Catholic Church”. However, it is with great joy and amazement that I am writing to let you know that […] only three months after I sent you my letter, I got baptized and confirmed as a Roman Catholic […]. The reason is simple: God has indeed worked miracles through you.

    I ended my last letter saying that I continued to pray for you. And so everyday, I prayed to God to guide me on the right spiritual path wherever that would take me, and also prayed for you and for God to work His miracles through you. I had no idea what, if anything, would happen, and I wasn’t expecting any changes anytime soon. But miracles do happen, and all things are possible with God. I doubt that you ever received my letter in your hands, but since then, you have done the following:

    a) in early April, you publicly apologized for your grave errors of perception and judgement regarding the Chile sex abuse crisis,

    b) in late April, you met with Chile sex abuse victims to ask for their forgiveness in person,

    c) in early May, you held an emergency meeting with all of the Chile bishops,

    d) in mid-May, ALL of the Chile bishops announced their mass resignation immediately after meeting with you,

    e) at the end of May, you were the first pope ever to publicly condemn the culture of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

All of the above were major, dramatic, and unprecedented changes, bringing hope and healing with your words and actions, not only for both clergy and laity in the Catholic Church, but for billions of people living in a seemingly ever-darkening world who yearn for the inspiring light of someone with courage, integrity, humanity and humility, and with the power to make a difference.

    Thank you for all that you have done. I continue to pray for you daily, and I am confident that you will continue to address this and other critical issues in the Church. May you always be protected from harm, be guided by God’s wisdom, and be blessed with a long, happy life.

    I have the honour to profess myself with the most profound respect. Your Holiness' most obedient and humble servant,

                                                                                                                                                Surekha (Maria) Dangoor