Statement from Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt - August 17, 2018

August 17, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This past week I was sickened to learn about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailing the sexual abuse of children by priests across Pennsylvania over the past 70 years. Particularly devastating was the finding that bishops and other church leaders had covered up these crimes instead of reporting them.

I am deeply ashamed that those in positions of authority have acted in this way. Sexual abuse is about the most extreme violation that anyone could inflict upon another person. For a priest or bishop to do so is unspeakable. In the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the one entrusted to ensure the safety of others, was himself the problem.

This evil needs to be cast out of our church. I am committed to act upon any report of sexual abuse and misconduct by a member of the clergy or Parish staff member that I receive as bishop of this diocese.

Every person is precious, unique, gifted and graced.  Each of us is a never-to-be-repeated wonder in all of God's creation. Safe-guarding the dignity of every person, especially young persons, must be the paramount duty of the church, starting with me as Bishop.

If you are suffering this great evil or if you learn that someone is a victim of sexual misconduct, please encourage them to bring it forward. I am saddened that because bishops were a part of this problem, people may be hesitant to trust me with this information. If you are unable to tell me, instead please contact Beth Heidt-Kozisek, our Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 1-800-652-2229 or emailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or another member of our Diocesan Review Board, or report it to the police. If you are willing to meet with me, I want to hear your story and help you in anyway that I can to bring justice and healing to your life.

Only Jesus can heal this wound in our lives and in our Church. Turn to him with all that this stirs up in you. Speak to him of your anger, your sadness and your pain. Be courageous in your prayer and in your pursuit of what is good and right, what is pure and holy.


With equal strength I want to thank all our faithful priests for their genuine pastoral care of souls.  Their dedication to the support and healing of victims and their families, and their years of dedicated service to all of you, is a source of hope and encouragement in this dark time.  Let us remember that our hope is in Christ.

Please pray for me, that I may help bring love and mercy, healing and compassion to all who are suffering from this great failure of leadership in our Church.

Most Reverend Joseph G. Hanefeldt, Bishop of Grand Island