A recently released 2002 memo from David Spotanski, a layman serving as Diocese of Belleville, Ill., vice chancellor, to then-USCCB president and Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, now Atlanta’s archbishop, has garnered much attention in the Catholic blogosphere. 

The memo, which addresses how the Church handled the abuse crisis, helped shape the changes later put in place to protect children. Here are excerpts of the memo, which first appeared on the St. Louis Beacon website April 27: 

“You should know by now that our children are more important to Sharon and me than anything in the world. Let me repeat that in bold italics: Our children are more important to Sharon and me than anything in the world. With all due respect, though you probably come as close to understanding the significance of that statement as any bishop in the Church, you don’t. You can’t. No priest, no religious, no layperson who is not a parent can truly appreciate the incredible weight of that single sentence any more than I could before Erin was born. Three children later, I’m not sure I fully grasp it yet, and I know I can’t adequately articulate it for you in a simple memorandum. Similarly, I could never hope to fully comprehend how your pastoral ministry is the most important thing in the world to you. ... I may work in your chancery, but I am, above all else, Sharon’s husband and Erin, Jonathan and James’ dad. 

“As such, just as you are deeply wounded and even angered when I make a comment you believe is not supportive of a Church position or one of her pillars, so too am I wounded and angered when the Church we both love ... chooses to disregard the well-being of her children — my children — to protect her own icons and image.” 

Visit www.stlbeacon.org/spotanskiletter.pdf to read the entire memo.