Working Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment

Listening to Women: A Letter from Bishop Lee 

October 10, 2018

In the last several weeks, I have watched and listened as women from all walks of life, both in and out of the church, have demonstrated courage and conviction by sharing their stories of being sexually abused and harassed by men. These women, many of them inspired by the brave and quiet dignity of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, have left me with a profound sense of the brokenness of our current politics and culture in which the damage done by men who abuse women is compounded by dismissal, derision, and sometimes even with mockery.

Through this difficult time, I have been especially grateful for the leaders of our diocese, both clergy and lay, who have listened to women’s stories and offered compassion, pastoral support, and the assurance that here in the Episcopal Church, we believe women and are committed to ending abuse and harassment in all its forms.

If you are struggling with memories or experiences of abuse or harassment and would find pastoral support helpful, please know that our diocese is home to clergy and lay leaders who will listen without judgment, who will believe you, and who will grieve with you. Please call Anna Stefaniak, associate for human resources, at 312-751-4202, and we will be sure you receive the support and care you need.

For some, the church is a safe and healing place. But I am painfully aware that other women, men and children are survivors of abuse at the hands of the church and its leaders. If you need to make a confidential report about abuse or harassment that has happened within the church, please email Dr. Melissa Perrin, the intake officer for disciplinary matters, or call her at 847-864-8874.

If, like me, these recent events have made you even more mindful of the need to listen to women, I commend to you these recent sermons by several priests of our diocese who have reflected on the news of the day in light of the Gospel. For, although political events may divide us, we are united by our commitment to follow Jesus, who stood against injustice and discrimination, who showed mercy to sinners, and who counted on a woman—Mary Magdalene—to spread the good news that he had risen. Especially in the midst of these divisive times, let us strive to do likewise.


The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago