I received the following letter from a friend, and found it very worthy of publication. This issue is personal for me, and I invite you to share this letter far and wide as an example of the type of response that is needed:
Sunday, March 25, 2018
To: Members of the Church
(To be read in sacrament meetings worldwide)
Dear Sisters and Brothers throughout the world:
It has come to our attention that a life-long Church leader named Joseph Layton Bishop, has confessed to immoral and inappropriate behavior with women who served under his direction in the Church over the years.
We do not yet have the full details of this man’s confession nor do we know the extent to which his actions have injured others, but because we are so concerned about those things he has already admitted, and because we take sexual abuse so seriously, we choose to share the information we have so that other victims, should there be any, will feel empowered to come forward.
In our continued effort to abolish all such abuses in the Lord’s Church, we invite all victims of church-related sexual abuse, regardless of age or gender, to contact Church Headquarters immediately at (801) 240-1000.
Let it be known that our only objective is to root out predators and their accomplices, find and identify victims, and expend every spiritual and earthly resource at our disposal to counsel, restore, nurture, and heal all those who have been injured.
To this end, we have decided to suspend all temple building projects worldwide until this matter has been fully resolved. It does no good to expend consecrated resources building temples when, at least in this instance, the very leader we believed we were inspired to call, has by his own admission, been defiling the sacred temples of the young women he was entrusted to protect. The sacred funds will be used to make reparations to whatever degree possible, recognizing fully that there is nothing we can do or say to restore that which has been lost.
On a related note, we now wish to address the obvious; we have a problem at the foundation of our Church. We, who have asked you to sustain us as prophets, seers, and revelators, have failed to righteously magnify those sacred titles and callings. This man passed numerous worthiness and temple recommend interviews; he was entrusted to be a mission president not once, but twice; he was allowed to be alone with vulnerable young women, all while having the heart and mind of a sexual predator. How this happened is a most haunting question, we, The First Presidency, must answer. At a minimum, since we cannot guarantee the safety of our youth, we can no longer allow them to be alone with Priesthood leaders, as we have heretofore permitted.
As imperfect men aspiring to be the Lord’s servants, we acknowledge that this unacceptable oversight demonstrates we were not inspired by God in calling this man, and have lacked discernment and revelation, as we have collectively interacted with him over the last 40 years or more. For this error, we are deeply sorry. We take full responsibility for our collective carelessness. We should have discovered this predator sooner, and we are ashamed that these women were placed in a position to be abused because they trusted their priesthood leaders, while ultimately serving the Lord under our care.
Any effort by anyone, especially by Church leaders, to downplay the seriousness of these charges is completely unacceptable. We refuse to focus on protecting ourselves or the Church when we have failed to protect these victims. Repentance requires that we act without hypocrisy and without guile in this matter, so that we may receive forgiveness, and the victims may receive healing from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We acknowledge we have lost your trust, and the only way to earn it back is by uncovering darkness and bringing truth to light. To you who are victims, we express our greatest sorrow and beg for your forgiveness. Please contact us. We promise to protect you this time, and to do everything in our power to assist in your healing.
Sincerely your servants,
The First Presidency