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Updated: 21 min 56 sec ago

Boston cardinal apologizes for process that kept letter from reaching him

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 2:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

BOSTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said Aug. 20 that he takes full responsibility for office procedures that resulted in him never being notified about a June 2015 letter sent to his attention regarding "sexual abuse/harassment/intimidation" allegations concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

It was sent to the Boston Archdiocese's Pastoral Center and addressed to Cardinal O'Malley as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The letter writer was Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City.

In it, he described conversations with the rector of a seminary in New Jersey about trips Archbishop McCarrick, then head of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, would take with seminarians to a beach house. Father Ramsey also asked that if the matter did not fall under his purview, it be forwarded it to the "proper agency in the Vatican."

Cardinal O'Malley said his "first knowledge" of Father Ramsey's letter occurred when media reports of the letter were published this July.

Now knowing what the letter detailed about the archbishop, the cardinal said it is "so difficult" to understand how, when doubts were raised years ago about his "faithfulness to his promise of celibacy" as priest, Archbishop McCarrick's name was ever considered for a bishop's appointment.

"I apologize to Father Ramsey for not having responded to him in an appropriate way and appreciate the effort that he undertook in seeking to bring his concerns about Archbishop McCarrick's behavior to my attention," he said. "I also apologize to anyone whose concerns were reflected in Father Ramsey's letter."

Cardinal O'Malley explained that his priest-secretary, Father Robert Kickham, received the 2015 letter on his behalf, "as he does much of the correspondence that comes to my office at the Pastoral Center."

"Father Kickham's response to Father Ramsey noted that individual cases such as he proposed for review fell outside the mandate of the commission," the cardinal said. "Consequently, he did not bring the letter to my attention.

"In retrospect it is now clear to Father Kickham and to me that I should have seen that letter precisely because it made assertions about the behavior of an archbishop in the church," he continued. "I take responsibility for the procedures followed in my office and I also am prepared to modify those procedures in light of this experience."

Cardinal O'Malley said that allegations regarding Archbishop McCarrick's "sexual crimes" were "unknown to me until the recent media reports."

"I understand not everyone will accept this answer given the way the church has eroded the trust of our people," he said. "My hope is that we can repair the trust and faith of all Catholics and the wider community by virtue of our actions and accountability in how we respond to this crisis."

He added, "What makes all this so difficult to understand is that it has been my experience that when a priest is being vetted to be named a bishop, any doubt or question concerning his faithfulness to his promise of celibacy would result in removing his name from consideration to be named bishop."

In early August Father Ramsey provided a copy of his letter to Catholic News Service. In it he said it took him "years to write and send" the letter. But it was the second time he had attempted to tell church officials in writing.

During the time period he mentions in the letter, 1986 to 1996, he says he was teaching at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He writes of the accounts he'd heard of Archbishop McCarrick's repeated trips to a New Jersey beach house where, after too many seminarians were invited for too few beds, "the extra seminarian was then told that he could share the archbishop's bed."

"Some of these stories were not presented to me as mere rumors but were told (to) me by persons directly involved," he wrote.

In his statement Cardinal O'Malley said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "is anxious to understand how Theodore McCarrick could have been named bishop, archbishop and cardinal. We must be certain that this never happens again. That is why the bishops' conference is requesting an investigation by the Holy See with the participation of lay people.

He quoted Pope Francis' statement released Aug. 20: "Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sins helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Two priests ruled unsuitable for ministry in Philadelphia Archdiocese

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 12:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia

By Matthew Gambino

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Two priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been found unsuitable for ministry, the archdiocese announced Aug. 19 following Masses at the parishes where Father Andrew D. McCormick and Msgr. Gregory J. Parlante most recently served.

The ministry for both priests has been restricted during the course of the church investigation and their respective legal proceedings.

For Father McCormick, 62, that course has been long and winding. Arrested and charged in July 2012 for allegedly sexually abusing a minor, he faced criminal trials in 2014 and 2015. Both ended indecisively in mistrials, and prosecutors later dropped all charges against him.

The civil lawsuit that followed concluded in an out-of-court settlement in early 2018, the details of which were not made available by the archdiocese.

The archdiocesan statement said the charges against Father McCormick stemmed from a report of alleged abuse first made directly to law enforcement and of which the archdiocese had no prior knowledge.

He had been placed on leave from ministry as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Swedesburg in 2011 on an unrelated allegation of misconduct.

As per archdiocesan policy, the church's internal investigation of the 2012 allegation began only after criminal and civil legal actions against Father McCormick were concluded.

The Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board found the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor to be substantiated. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput accepted the board's recommendation and informed Father McCormick.

The statement said the priest "will either be laicized or enter into a supervised life of prayer and penance," but did not indicate what the next step will be for Father McCormick, or when it will occur.

Laicization is the church's legal, or canonical, process that relieves a priest or deacon from the clerical state, sometimes referred to as "defrocking," rendering him a layperson.

The Prayer and Penance Program houses and supervises priests who voluntarily accept residence after admitting to sexual abuse of a minor. Currently it includes at least 12 priests, all of whom have accepted permanent restriction on their priestly ministry.

It has been located on the campus of Villa St. Joseph, the archdiocesan priests' retirement home in Darby since 2005.

That was the year of the first Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse, followed by a second report in 2011. The Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse released Aug. 14 did not include Philadelphia or the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which a grand jury investigated in 2016. The new report involved an investigation into claims of clergy sex abuse over a 70-year period in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Erie, Allentown, Scranton and Harrisburg.

In the case of Msgr. Parlante, 61, it was not sexual misconduct but drugs that introduced him to the criminal justice system.

He resigned as pastor of St. Cornelius Parish in Chadds Ford in early spring 2017 and has been on leave from ministry since then.

By May of that year, a suspicious package found in his office by rectory staff was confirmed by Pennsylvania State Police to contain illegal methamphetamine, a highly addictive and destructive drug.

By January 2018 Msgr. Parlante was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of drug possession and one felony charge of theft. Police had determined that he allegedly stole approximately $5,500 from St. Cornelius' church collections and used it to buy drugs through the mail.

He entered into a Delaware County program for first-time offenders in which he was ordered to perform 64 hours of community service, pay back the $5,500 to St. Cornelius Parish and complete one year of probation.

Only after the conclusion of the sentencing did the archdiocese's investigation into Msgr. Parlante's suitability for ministry begin.

The archdiocesan review board determined that because of Msgr. Parlante's violation of the archdiocesan policy on Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, he is not suitable for priestly ministry.

According to the archdiocesan statement, the board was established in 2002 and functions as a confidential advisory body to the archbishop. Its 12 men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, possess extensive professional experience in investigation, prosecution, child abuse prevention, victim services and the treatment of sexual offenders.

The future status of Msgr. Parlante is undetermined at this time while his public ministry remains restricted.

While he would not enter Prayer and Penance because his case does not concern child sexual abuse, he could seek laicization, though it would not be required of him by the archdiocese at this time, according to church officials.

A Delaware County official has recently cited the sale and use of methamphetamine as a growing scourge in the community. "Meth is becoming the new heroin," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood in an article in the Delaware County Daily Times.

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Gambino, director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Archbishop Sample 'shaken to core,' calls for lay-run abuse investigation

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 12:27pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Ed Langlois

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample issued a letter Aug. 20 to western Oregon Catholics in which he expresses shock, anger and discouragement over revelations of clergy sex abuse in other parts of the country.

"I have been shaken to the core of my soul over them," Archbishop Sample wrote in the five-page letter, which includes a call for renewed care of victims, reinvigorated prayer life among priests and an outside lay-run investigative body. Archbishop Sample also said that bishops should be held to the same standards as priests.

A grand jury investigation about decades of sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses followed revelations about crimes and misdeeds alleged against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington.

Abuse scandals, including cover-ups by bishops, also have shocked and saddened Catholics in Chile, Ireland and Australia in the past year.

"These horrific revelations are particularly painful in light of what victims in our own archdiocese have suffered and the impact that sexual abuse has had on the church here in western Oregon," the archbishop wrote in the five-page letter. "I am sorry beyond words for the harm that has been done."

The archbishop urged Catholics to read a letter from Pope Francis, which was issued the same day. The pope called what has happened part of the "culture of death."

"These most-recent accusations and details expose -- yet again -- certain systematic and profound failures of episcopal leadership in our church," Archbishop Sample wrote. "These failures are both institutional and spiritual in nature, and date back many decades."

Archbishop Sample said that Archbishop McCarrick was entrusted with pastoral responsibility and care but instead acted "in a heinously sinful and criminal manner."

"It is also an institutional failure that someone like this could rise to such a high level unimpeded and without being challenged or held accountable," Archbishop Sample wrote. He also was critical of the cover-ups the Pennsylvania report said were carried out by church leaders.

"All of these allegations should have been brought to light much sooner; and then dealt with swiftly, justly and transparently," the archbishop wrote.

He called clerical sex abuse a spiritual failure in that men called to be good shepherds instead act "in such a gravely sinful, evil manner."

The archbishop wrote that when clergy and religious lose their personal relationship with God, careerism, clericalism and "ways of life at odds with the Gospel" often result.

Those who committed the sinful and illegal acts, or covered them up, are culpable, and at the same time their deeds are the work of Satan, the archbishop wrote.

"In the history of the church, whenever there was a moral or spiritual crisis, God has raised up saints who became agents of reform. This is a time for saints," the archbishop wrote.

Saying he will get more serious about prayer, penance and sacrifice, he called for a "profound spiritual renewal" among clergy. He urged priests every day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, spend an hour with the Blessed Sacrament and pray the rosary.

"We who are clergy must reject all tendencies toward a worldliness and secularity that is inconsistent with our vocation," he wrote.

He also asked the lay faithful to pray, acknowledging that they are not responsible for the scandal.

The archbishop offered a plan of action that begins with caring for and supporting victims of abuse.

"Whatever we do as a church to address these atrocities, we must keep in mind those who have been seriously harmed," Archbishop Sample wrote. "They have suffered greatly at the hands of those they should have been able to count on for spiritual care and support and in whom they should have experienced the love of the Good Shepherd."

He urged that bishops be held to the same standards as priests in matters of improper behavior or abuse, with amendments to the charter that guides policy.

He also called for an outside investigation process with the "substantial involvement" of lay experts. "A body investigating itself does not inspire confidence in the objectivity of the outcome," he wrote. Those who knew about abuse and did little or nothing should be held accountable, Archbishop Sample said, adding that all reports of misbehavior or abuse should be properly investigated.

The archbishop called the Archdiocese of Portland's child protection policies, forged after a scandal more than a decade ago, "solid and extensive."

The archbishop urged anyone who has been abused by a church worker to come forward to the archdiocese's Office of Victim Assistance. "We want to help you," he wrote.

"In dealing with all of this some are quite understandably tempted to give up on the church," the archbishop concluded. "Yet our faith is finally in God, not in individuals who fail to live up to their calling in Christ."

A Mass of healing for victims of sexual abuse is scheduled for St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Aug. 26.

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Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican confirms pope will meet abuse survivors in Ireland

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 9:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet survivors of sexual abuse during his trip to Ireland Aug. 25-26, but it will be up to the survivors to decide whether any information about the meeting will be released, said the director of the Vatican press office.

Greg Burke, press director, told reporters Aug. 21 that from the moment the Vatican decided the World Meeting of Families 2018 would be in Dublin, it was clear that the pope would have to acknowledge the crimes committed against thousands of Irish Catholics by priests in parishes and by priests, religious brothers and nuns in schools, orphanages and other institutions.

The date, time and location of the meeting and the list of survivors invited will not be released until after the meeting, and then only with the permission of the survivors taking part, Burke said.

Pope Francis wants the trip to focus on families, Burke said, which is why he is not going to Northern Ireland on the same visit. Even the moments dictated by protocol -- for example, meetings with government officials -- will focus on the family, he said.

Asked whether the pope and the Vatican were concerned that with renewed media attention on clerical sexual abuse the theme would overshadow the pope's focus on the family, Burke responded, "Any trip to Ireland was not only going to be about the family."

"The pope is well rested and ready and wants to talk about the family," Burke said.

However, in discussing the individual events on the pope's schedule in Ireland, the spokesman also mentioned that Aug. 25 Pope Francis would begin his visit to Dublin's co-cathedral by praying silently before a candle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel that burns for the abuse survivors.

Without providing details, Burke also said the pope would talk about abuse in at least one of his speeches during the trip.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Abuse victims say they felt hurt by ordinary Catholics' lack of compassion

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:13pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sexual assault victims say they were hurt not only by individual priests, but by church officials and ordinary Catholics who treated them with intolerance and indifference.

Four survivors of sexual assaults by priests shared their stories with Catholic News Service. They are: Jim VanSickle and Mike McDonnell of Pennsylvania, Michael Norris of Houston and Judy Larson of Utah.

Many of them have not been to a Catholic church in years. They say the atmosphere of their former parishes created breeding grounds for abuse due to the hardhearted attitudes of diocesan officials, staff and ordinary churchgoers.

"Being raised Catholic, I remember -- you don't speak out against your own church," said VanSickle. "Nobody's going to listen to you."

Most of them belonged to extremely traditional parishes and were attacked as vulnerable children. Their view of Catholicism changed when fellow believers showed them no compassion and acted to protect selfish interests.

"I've known others that came forward. They were ridiculed and ostracized -- even by their own family members," said VanSickle, 55. He stood next to Attorney General Josh Shapiro when grand jury findings were released to the public Aug. 14. He had suffered silently for 37 years after being sexually abused by a priest at age 16.

"We lived in a neighborhood where most of the people in the subdivision were Catholic. Everything in our lives revolved around the church," said Larson, who is now retired and in her 70s. "To be in that kind of environment and try to say something horrible happened to you, by a person everybody thinks is a god on earth, you're all alone."

The abuses these survivors suffered at the hands of priests were not crimes of passion, they said, but cold exploitations of control. Most victims were not aware that their attackers were serial abusers. Each felt alone when he or she was victimized.

"I think it's opportunistic," said VanSickle. "I feel like I was targeted."

"It's a lifelong impact. I deal with it every single day," said Norris, a chemical engineer. He said he was abused by a priest in Louisville, Kentucky, at age 10. After many years of struggle, he revealed the truth to his devout parents at a point when he "couldn't take it anymore."

When he acted to report the abuse, he and his family members were mistreated by fellow Catholics in the archdiocese.

"They discredited me," he said. "Probably the biggest disappointment in my life was how the church responded to my accusations. Maybe I was naive, but I expected them to believe my story and take action. When they didn't do what I saw as morally right, I became more disillusioned with their teachings."

Survivors also faced a stigma caused by sexual assault. The victims were molested at an age when they did not know about sex. Confused, they realized what happened when they grew up. Feeling disgust, anger and shame, they feared hostile reactions from their traditional communities.

"When I was growing up, we were told, 'It would be better for you to die than lose your virtue.' This was told to me in fourth grade," said Larson. "I didn't know what 'lose your virtue' meant."

She was raped by a priest one year later at age 10. After realizing the truth as an adult, she did not tell her parents. She knew they would not listen, since it was taboo to speak ill of a priest or nun in their presence.

Some Catholics viewed sex as scandalous and treated victims as if they were contaminated.

"People say, 'You're a bad person,' or 'You must have wanted it,'" said VanSickle. "It's amazing that they attack their own people. They attack their own faithful."

The survivors are disillusioned with the way church officials handle abuse cases. This disillusionment has affected their personal beliefs.

Norris is no longer Christian. "I personally can't set foot in another church because of what's happened and the way I was treated," he said.

Larson hasn't been inside a church in over 50 years. "For a lot of us, going to church is a triggering experience. It's re-traumatizing to victims," she said.

VanSickle said he has strong belief in Jesus and has become a Christian. His family members are Catholic. He welcomes interactions with Catholics and wishes to be reconciled with the church, but wants the institution to change first.

"To be away from the Eucharist in my life is a hard thing to deal with because of my belief as a Catholic," he said. "But I can't reconcile myself with the church until I see change."

They feel sorry for Catholics who are struggling with their beliefs in light of the recent grand jury report. Norris and VanSickle say they do not wish for Catholics to lose their faith.

Despite the pain caused by recent revelations, they hope change will result.

"It reopens a wound from the past for me as a survivor. But I'm also extremely happy that this information is coming to light," said McDonnell, a specialist at a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Philadelphia, regarding the recent grand jury report. "It is vindication and validation for many survivors and victims."

He believes the church needs to stop withholding information about abuse and be honest with the public. "It will invite people back to the Catholic Church once they see that the church is not just publicly making a statement that 'we're sorry,'" he said.

As the church hierarchy considers change, Catholics can make simple changes in their homes and parishes. According to Larson, the average age for a clergy sexual abuse victim to come forward is 42. As child victims grow into adults, they begin to realize what happened to them -- and fall silent due to religious and social pressures. Ordinary Catholics can solve this problem, she said, by treating others around them with openheartedness instead of moral superiority.

"Be compassionate," said Larson, sharing her advice to families coping with revelations of abuse. "Believe your family member. They're in pain. And they've held this terrible secret for many, many years because of their fear of your reaction when they tell you."

One of the hardest things McDonnell experienced in his life was the shattering effect of the abuse on his parents. They did not find out about it until they were much older. One of the last things his father expressed on his deathbed was sorrow for what happened.

VanSickle said a family's first responsibility is to love and believe a child who speaks out about sexual abuse by clergy.

"They need to wrap their arms around that kid and make them feel safe. That never happened for me," he said. "You need to hug and protect your child first. Deal with the church after."

McDonnell said victims recover with support from others, including fellow survivors.

"Part of the healing process is coming forward. I'm only as sick as my secrets," he added. "Talk to somebody."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

'We didn't have food,' say Venezuelan families at Colombian shelter

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 11:55am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Barbara Fraser

By Barbara J. Fraser

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- Asiangelis Guevara sat at the dining room table at a shelter for migrants, sipping hot chocolate, holding her year-old son and encouraging him to eat a piece of bread.

He gripped the food, but just stared back at her while her two daughters, ages 3 and 5, sat at a child-size table nearby, devouring their snacks and giggling at a visitor.

Tiny, curly haired Ruben Dario is the reason Guevara, 21, and her husband, Ruben Dario Cazar, 28, left their home in Venezuela, with three children and only the bags they could carry, in hopes of starting over in Colombia.

"The situation was terrible," Cazar said. "The children were malnourished. We didn't have food."

That was a common refrain among the steady stream of Venezuelans who arrived at a shelter run by Scalabrinian sisters July 23, the same day as Cazar and his family.

Most had been traveling for several days on foot, in trucks and by bus, sometimes sleeping under bridges. At the Bogota bus terminal, the migrant ministry staffs a small office that offers assistance and sometimes referrals to the shelter, where people can stay for a few days while they look for housing or make arrangements to continue traveling to another city or country.

All are fleeing a situation that is growing increasingly desperate, said Scalabrinian Sister Teresinha Monteiro, who welcomes new arrivals at the shelter with basics such as towels and soap.

She recalled one woman who was especially grateful for a toothbrush and toothpaste.

"She'd gone four months without brushing her teeth," Sister Monteiro said.

Venezuela's spiraling economic and political crisis has left shelves bare in stores, including supermarkets and pharmacies. Sister Monteiro has heard stories about fistfights over food scraps in garbage piles in Venezuelan cities.

With the International Monetary Fund predicting the inflation rate will top 1 million percent this year, the monthly minimum wage will not buy enough flour for a batch of arepas, the corn bread that is a Venezuelan staple.

"You can't get food or medicines," says 14-year-old Eliezer Rojas, who had arrived with his mother after crossing the border on foot and spending three nights in the bus terminal. "People use natural remedies, because there's no medicine."

The Scalabrinian sisters started their bus-station ministry in 1989 and opened the shelter in 1995. In those years, they mainly served Colombians displaced by the decades-long war involving government forces, guerrilla groups and paramilitaries.

That flow tapered off in recent years, as the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest guerrilla force, moved toward peace accords signed in November 2016.

Migration from Venezuela has increased as the crisis worsened, but the sisters noticed a surge in mid-2017, Sister Monteiro said. And while most Venezuelan migrants in the past were men or single women who left the country alone to seek work and send money home, now many of the new arrivals are senior citizens or entire families with children.

One 74-year-old woman arrived with two adult daughters, hoping eventually to join another daughter living in Spain.

For the newcomers, leaving their homes and most of their possessions and starting all over again is not the only strain.

"Many are malnourished when they arrive," Sister Monteiro said, and some have medical problems that have gone untreated for lack of medicine in their home country.

That can be especially dangerous for children and for older adults who have chronic illnesses that require ongoing treatment, she said. Some infectious diseases are also following migration routes.

Venezuelan migrants have been diagnosed with measles in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, as well as in Brazil, according to the Pan-American Health Organization.

For Venezuelans with health problems, getting care in Colombia is not easy. Migrants often are afraid to seek help, for fear of being deported, Sister Monteiro said. Those who go to the hospital may spend hours in a waiting room or be turned away unless the shelter staff steps in.

That's one example of the discrimination the migrants encounter, Sister Monteiro said. Others range from comments in the street to anti-Venezuelan messages circulating on the internet in various Latin American countries, with accusations ranging from criminal behavior to illegal voting.

Employment is a flash point. Without work visas, migrants end up working in what economists call the "informal sector" of the economy. Those jobs range from selling candy on street corners to off-the-books restaurant jobs, where they receive no benefits and are likely to be willing to work for less than their Colombian peers, which can depress wages for everyone.

Some women end up trapped in prostitution. A taxi driver once told Sister Monteiro that two young women asked him for a ride to an area where they said they were to start work in a restaurant. Because of the neighborhood, however, he feared that they were being lured into prostitution.

Despite the hazards and hardships of leaving home with only the belongings that will fit into a gym bag, not knowing if they will ever return, migrants in the shelter said they encountered bright spots along the way.

Luis Eduardo Vasquez Vallenilla turned 21 the day before he arrived at the shelter. Vasquez, who said he had been a law student in Venezuela, was on a Bogota street with three other young migrants when a woman struck up a conversation with them.

Upon learning it was his birthday, she treated the four to cake and coffee.

Staying at the shelter can also be life-changing for migrants, Sister Monteiro said. She often prays in the first-floor chapel with people who are facing difficulties.

One man sought her out to ask, "Who is that 'Senor' you were talking to in the chapel?'" she said. "Senor," which means "mister" in Spanish, is also the word for "Lord," but the man had never heard of God.

He began religious instruction and will soon be baptized -- an unexpected but welcome fruit of the migrant ministry.

Besides the shelter and the bus station outreach, the migrant ministry includes a workshop where people learn skills that they can parlay into work. Asked what kind of assistance the staff needs most, Sister Monteiro responded without hesitation.

"Help us with prayer," she said, "so we have the energy and strength to go on."


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Pope: Abuse victims' outcry more powerful than efforts to silence them

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 8:22am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "No effort must be spared" to prevent future cases of clerical sexual abuse and "to prevent the possibility of their being covered up," Pope Francis said in a letter addressed "to the people of God."

"I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons," the pope wrote in the letter dated and released Aug. 20.

The letter was published less than a week after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on decades of clerical sexual abuse and coverups in six dioceses. The report spoke of credible allegations against 301 priests in cases involving more than 1,000 children.

"The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced," Pope Francis said. "But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence them."

"The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain," he said, "and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults."

In his letter, Pope Francis insisted all Catholics must be involved in the effort to accompany victims, to strengthen safeguarding measures and to end a culture where abuse is covered up.

While the letter called all Catholics to prayer and fasting, it does not change any current policies or offer specific new norms.

It did, however, insist that "clericalism" has been a key part of the problem and said the involvement of the laity will be crucial to addressing the crime and scandal.

Change, he said, will require "the active participation of all the members of God's people."

"Many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred," he said, are groups where there has been an effort to "reduce the people of God to small elites."

"Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to a split in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today," Pope Francis said. "To say 'no' to abuse is to say an emphatic 'no' to all forms of clericalism."

In his letter, Pope Francis acknowledged the church's failure.

"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives," he wrote.

"We showed no care for the little ones," Pope Francis said. "We abandoned them."

"Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient," he said. "Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated."

Recognizing the safeguarding policies that have been adopted in various parts of the world as well as pledges of "zero tolerance" for abusive clerics, Pope Francis also acknowledged that "we have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future."

As members of the church, he said, all Catholics should "beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others."

Pope Francis also asked Catholics to pray and to fast so that they would be able to hear "the hushed pain" of abuse survivors.

He called for "a fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combating all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience."

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Indiana bishop announces he'll release list of accused abusers in diocese

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:52pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- At an Aug. 17 news conference, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said that in response to the release of the grand jury report on abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses over a 70- year period, he will collect and release a list of the names of priests in the diocese he currently heads who committed similar offenses.

Bishop Rhoades called the details of the grand jury "equally appalling and heartbreaking." He expressed sympathy and support to the victims and their families, adding, "The church failed you. For that, I apologize."

Emphasizing that during his tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend he has released the name of every priest removed from ministry as a result of a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

He said he has learned, as a result of the grand jury, that it also important to victims to see the names of their abusers made public "for all to see. For everyone to know the pain caused by these priests."

"It is my hope," he said, "that by releasing these names, the innocent victims of these horrific and heartbreaking crimes can finally begin the process of healing."

The list will be compiled beginning immediately. In closing, Bishop Rhoades reiterated the diocese's efforts to regain the trust of the those it serves, and indicated a renewed vigilance regarding its efforts to protect young people.

The grand jury report on the six Pennsylvania dioceses included Harrisburg where he was bishop from 2004 to 2009.

He said in an earlier statement that the report "mentions two incidents during my time as bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg."

"In both of those situations," he added, "I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement, and took other action as appropriate, since each of the accused priests had already been removed from public ministry due to previous allegations."

 

 

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Cardinal says 'sorrow, disgust, rage' are 'righteous' reactions to abuse

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

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CHICAGO (CNS) -- "Sorrow, disgust, outrage -- these are righteous feelings" for all to have in reaction to the latest abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said in an Aug. 17 statement.

These are "the stirrings of the conscience of a people scandalized by the terrible reality that too many of the men who promised to protect their children, and strengthen their faith, have been responsible for wounding both," he said.

His comments came in reaction to the Pennsylvania attorney general's Aug. 14 release of a grand jury report detailing seven decades of child sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Some weeks before that were the allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick that he abused a minor more than 47 years ago and was sexually inappropriate with seminarians.

"Anger, shock, grief, shame," said Cardinal Cupich, who was chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People 2008 to 2011 when he was bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota. "What other words can we summon to describe the experience of learning about the devastating revelations of sexual abuse -- and the failures of bishops to safeguard the children entrusted to their care."

He described the grand jury report as a "catalog of horrors" that came on "the heels of news accounts of deeply disturbing sexual abuse and harassment allegations" against McCarrick.

"And yet whatever words we may use to describe the anguish of reading about these heinous acts, they can never capture the reality of suffering endured by victims of sexual abuse, suffering compounded by the woeful responses of bishops who failed to protect the people they were ordained to serve."

He quoted a written Vatican statement issued Aug. 16 by Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement: "The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur."

"I know that many of you are asking: How could this be happening again?" Cardinal Cupich continued. "Didn't the U.S. bishops address this crisis sixteen years ago when they met in Dallas? What are they doing now, and why should we trust that this time they will do the right thing? These are precisely the questions that ought to be asked."

As a former chair of the child protection committee, "I have asked them myself."

He credited the "admirable work" of many in the news media who played "an essential role in bringing this crisis into the light."

"Now, we have been made to face these scandals first and foremost by the courage of victim-survivors -- the men and women who found the strength, even when doing so meant suffering again unimaginable pain, to come forward and seek justice from an institution that grievously failed them," the cardinal said.

He reviewed the statement made Aug. 16 by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal DiNardo announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the "moral catastrophe" of the scandal He said the "substantial involvement of the laity" from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines will be essential to this process.

The goals are: A "full investigation" into "the questions surrounding" Archbishop McCarrick; the opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. Three criteria, he said, will be followed: proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity."

Cardinal Cupich said he and his brother bishops "must resolve to face our failures and hold each other accountable."

"We must resolve to be clear-eyed about what we have done, what we have failed to do and what remains to be done," the cardinal said. "We must resolve to live in the light of humility, of repentance, of honesty -- the light of Christ. As your bishop, I pledge to continue holding firm to that resolve. And I ask for you to pray for all victims of abuse."

In Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput addressed the release of the grand jury report in his week column posted Aug. 17.

He said it had been "an ugly week: first for the survivors of sex abuse; second, for Catholics across the state; third, for the wider public. For many, rage is the emotion of choice. The latest grand jury report is a bitterly painful text.

"But rage risks wounding the innocent along with the guilty, and it rarely accomplishes anything good," he said.

He recalled the anger Philadelphians felt toward the archdiocese after the 2005 and 2011 grand jury reports, calling it "well placed and justified."

"We've worked hard to remember the lessons of that time. Seven years later, we are keenly aware of the evil that sexual abuse victims have suffered. We understand our obligation, and we're sincerely committed, to help survivors heal," Archbishop Chaput said.

"We've worked hard to ensure the safety of children and families in church-related environments. In that task, the guidance and counsel of laypeople -- including former law enforcement officials and professionals in assisting abuse survivors -- have been especially valuable."

He added: "We know that rebuilding the trust of our people and the morale of our good priests can only be accomplished with a record of doing the right thing over time. The roughly 100,000 laypeople and clergy we've trained in recent years to recognize and report the signs of sexual abuse are part of that effort.

Archbishop Chaput said that as a member of the U.S. bishops' Executive Committee, "I support Cardinal DiNardo's leadership on these difficult issues," and he included in his column the full text of the cardinal's Aug. 16 letter.

In the Midwest, Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, echoed the same strong sentiments as Cardinal Cupich and Archbishop Chaput.

"Overwhelmed. Disheartened. Ashamed. And at a loss as to an adequate response," he said in an Aug. 13 statement. "Those are some of my reactions to recent accounts of ' sexual abuse of children, young people, and vulnerable adults, perpetrated by the likes of team doctors, coaches, and clergy, here in the USA and elsewhere ... the failure of people in charge, especially bishops, to hear accusers, to act on allegations, and to remove those who are predators from access to potential victims."

He also said he felt the need "to state that the vast majority is good and faithful, and does so much to help us on the way to heaven. Thanks be to God. Moreover, I feel the need to state that there is nothing inherent in an all-male clergy, or mandatory celibacy, or diocesan priests living alone that is the cause of this problem."

He said he looked forward to the bishops full discussion on the abuse crisis at their November meeting and he urged laypeople "to be a partner in this effort" prevent abuse and create safe environments.

He also listed other actions including prayer for conversion ' penance to make amends for past sins. Affirmation of church teaching "about the human person, sexuality, marriage and family" and being "vigilant."

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Editor's Note: The full of these statements can be found online: Cardinal Cupich, https://bit.ly/2wgtxMe; Archbishop Chaput, https://bit.ly/2MpqkF2; and Bishop Jackels, https://bit.ly/2Bj0PQq.

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Priests' group says it's 'sad, angry, frustrated' by abuse scandals

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:00pm

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests said its members are "sad ... angry ... frustrated" over continued reports involving fellow priests and a lack of accountability by bishops.

"At every level, our church is in pain," the 1,200-member organization said Aug. 17.

The organization cited concerns over a Pennsylvania grand jury report that recounts seven decades of child sex abuse claims throughout six Catholic dioceses in the state, the recent resignation of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals over allegations he is an abuser, an investigation into alleged improper activities at a Boston seminary, and clergy abuse in Australia and Chile.

Father Bob Bonnot, chairman of the association's leadership team, told Catholic News Service that repeated revelations about improper clergy behavior are "something that has flared up more frequently than any of us wish to remember."

"We suffer with the Catholic people. While all of us priests and the Catholic people are not suffering nearly as much as the families and the individuals who have been abused, we need to let them know we're suffering too," said the retired priest of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.

"People need recognition and encouragement that they're not alone in their feelings," Father Bonnot added.

The organization's statement also serves to support the vast majority of Catholic clergy who have not been accused of wrongdoing and "to raise the voice of hope and joy, a pastoral voice to those within the church and society," he said.

The association offered a series of recommendations to Catholic leaders as they formulate their response to resolve the challenges posed by the recent revelations. First on the list was a call to "those responsible for the scandals" who "must publicly apologize and ask forgiveness for what they have done and what they have failed to do."

The AUSCP statement also repeated the organization's call for reform of the seminary formation process "to make it effective and adequate for our times."

In March, the priests' organization called for revisions in the way seminarians are prepared for ministry so that the U.S. Catholic Church can better address challenges that include declining membership and falling seminary enrollment. It urged that priests get closer to the people they serve and better understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as envisioned by Pope Francis.

Priestly formation must include faithfulness to the outcome of the Second Vatican Council, a call to a life of service to God and God's people, and "authentic human psychosexual development" of seminarians, the association said. In addition, it called for women to be involved in the "formation and decisive discernment of candidates for priesthood and integrated at every level, from top to bottom, in the power structure of the church."

The association's stance earlier was detailed in a March 29 letter and eight-page document addressed to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The committee, is reviewing the Program for Priestly Formation, the fifth and most recent edition of which was published in 2006. Committee members are expecting to submit revisions for a new edition of the guide at the November 2019 USCCB fall general assembly.

The new statement also offered prayers that all members of the church, including clergy and laypeople be given "the strength to root out the pride and ambition of clericalism and its scandalous behavior."

Finally, the association offered support to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, for his efforts to investigate the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, establish a new channel for reporting complaints against bishops and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.

While the AUSCP represents a minority of priests, Father Bonnot said the organization felt it was important to respond to the rash of new related to clergy abuse by offering a "constructive and collaborative contribution to the issues we all face."

"If we don't speak, there is nothing for them to hear," he told CNS.

"We want to be party to continue the effort to abolish this kind of behavior and the kind of attitude that leads to that behavior."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @Dennis Sadowski

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Pennsylvania prelate says bishops who hid abuse should resign

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 4:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an Aug. 16 interview with Eternal Word Television Network, Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico said the only way to regain the trust of the laity after decades-long claims of sexual abuse by priests and others at six Pennsylvania dioceses is by deeds and one of those deeds may mean getting rid of bishops who hid abusers.

During a report on EWTN's evening show, reporter Jason Calvi asks him: "Should bishops who knew about or covered up abuse resign?"

"I think they should," Bishop Persico answered. "I think we need complete transparency if we're going to get the trust of the people back. We have to be able to demonstrate it."

Bishop Persico was the only bishop who met in person with members of a grand jury investigating decades-long claims of abuse at six Pennsylvania dioceses. In an explosive report, the grand jury said it identified more than 1,000 who said they were victimized as children by priests and other church workers in the state.  

"I've been saying, we can talk about transparency and truth, but much is going to depend upon our deeds, how do we carry that transparency out and how do we act moving forward?" he said during the TV interview. "That's going to be key to all of this and we have to show that we mean what we're saying."

Bishop Persico's Diocese of Erie, as well as the dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh and Greensburg were named in the report released Aug. 14 after an investigation of almost two years.

A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but whether there may be enough evidence or probable cause to support a criminal charge. Almost all of the cases in the report were too old for charges to be filed and many of the 301 priests named are dead or no longer in ministry. But Catholic laity have been insisting on some form for accountability for those who may have known of and hidden the abuse.

"We need this transparency and we also need action, so that if there were other bishops or leaders that were negligent, then they need to be removed because the more we cover up, the less credibility we have," Bishop Persico said.

He said it was important to note that the report documented 70 years of abuse, most of it from 1970s into the 1990s. Following the sex abuse crisis in 2000 in the U.S., the country's bishops in 2002 approved procedures and protocols for addressing allegations of abuse.

"There's less (abuse)" since then, Bishop Persico said, "but we still have to be on guard."

In an interview with CNN's "New Day" news show Aug. 17, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, answered questions about how it was possible that given the procedures and protocols set in 2002, abuse seems to continue. 

As allegations of sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick came light this summer, the procedures have come under fire because they contained no provisions for holding bishops accountable, leading many to ask whether they were enough because the church continues to deal with similar situations.

"I think all the bishops are asking that question and part of it is, there isn't a great explanation," said Bishop Doherty on the news show. "We're still looking at the facts here. I could speak for bishops of my era and I know we came in without knowing much about this and having a great trust in our church and people that we work with, and so this is devastating."

But because this has come out in the public, "a light has been shined on part of the culture that allowed this to happen and there is a great resolve not to let it happen again," he said.

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Citizenship question for 2020 census prompts strong criticism, lawsuits

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 2:46pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. Commerce Department decision that a question about citizenship status be included on the 2020 census has its fair share of critics and has prompted lawsuits.

The critics say such questions might make people less likely to participate in the census, especially members of immigrant communities.

"The faith community has powerfully spoken up against the unjust, dangerous addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Everyone counts, and faith leaders are organizing to make sure our government recognizes this," said Sara Benitez, the organizing director of Faith in Public Life.

The Census Bureau set about adding this question in response to a letter from the Department of Justice. The DOJ said it wants to ask everyone living in the United States whether they are citizens to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Congress delegated to the U.S. Commerce secretary the authority to determine questions to be asked on the decennial census. Regarding the citizenship question, the Trump administration considers the proposal as reinstating the citizenship question, not adding, what was on the census for decades

"The department (DOJ) needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected ... the decennial census questionnaire is the most appropriate vehicle for collecting that data," the DOJ letter says.

Having the citizenship data is important because "multiple federal courts of appeals have held that, where citizenship rates are at issue in a vote-dilution case, citizen voting-age population is the proper metric for determining whether a racial group could constitute a majority in a single-member district," according to the letter.

The letter admits that the DOJ can get some of this information from the American Community Survey, which is sent to about 300,000 households each month and collects far more information than the census, but the DOJ believes that this survey's data is not precise enough. In addition, the DOJ wants the data from the Census used in redistricting to be the same data used in enforcing the Voting Rights Act with regard to those districts.

Other critics of the proposal include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which said in an open letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that "adding a new citizenship question to the 2020 census would destroy any chance for an accurate count, discard years of careful research and increase costs significantly."

In addition, many states, cities, towns, and other organizations are bringing lawsuits against the Trump administration in an attempt to keep the citizenship question from the census.

The lawsuit brought by Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, says that "the state of California, in particular, stands to lose if the citizenship question is included on the 2020 census. ... Under-counting the sizeable number of Californian noncitizens and their citizen relatives will imperil the state's fair share of congressional seats and Electoral College electors and will cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade."

During a public comment period, which closed recently, the Census Bureau received more than 39,000 comments about the citizenship question.

A U.S. Census Bureau memo noted that Center for Survey Measurement research has "noticed a recent increase in respondents spontaneously expressing concerns about confidentiality" and that Spanish-speaking focus groups "brought up immigration raids, fear of government, and fear of deportation."

Arabic- and Chinese-speaking focus groups expressed similar fears. Members of all groups recommended that the Census Bureau make it clear that none of the data it collected would be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. census is established in Article I Section 2 of the Constitution, which reads in part:

"The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."

Over time, the census has added more questions. The first census, conducted in 1790, asked for only the name of the head of each household, the number of free white males above and below 16, the number of free white women, the number of other free persons and the number of slaves.

The most recent census, conducted in 2010, asked four questions about the household and six about each individual person part of the household. It was, however, shorter than the long form of censuses from 1940 through 2000.

The long-form census, which was sent to one in six households, has been replaced by the American Community Survey.

A question about citizenship is not new on the census, although it has not been asked since 1950.

The 1820 and 1830 censuses asked about the number of foreigners not naturalized in each household, and the 1870 census and all censuses from 1890 to 1950 asked about each person's naturalization status.

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Bishops around U.S. respond with 'sorrow' to abuse report, vow to act

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 5:53pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters video

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a tweet, a U.S. bishop said he had spent the night reading a grand jury report detailing seven decades of child sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses and "it was like reading a horror book."

Unfortunately, it was not a fictional account, wrote Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville early Aug. 15, a day after the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General published the mammoth document of more than 1,300 pages detailing accounts of the rape of children, secrecy by church officials and some law enforcement failures over 70 years.

"It is real and lives were destroyed and faith shattered," Bishop Stika tweeted.

He joined at least a dozen or so prelates outside of Pennsylvania who, via Twitter, TV or in person, at Masses for the feast of the Assumption, took time to express the same sorrow and pain that lay Catholics have been feeling and expressing. But many bishops also spoke about the added layer of what to do about the pain of a shattered trust between shepherds and their angry and pain-stricken flock that many say they now must fix.

"This is extraordinarily painful, it is humiliating, it is nauseating," said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan during an interview with local CBS station WLNY in New York City. "This is a kick in the gut. I really worry about a loss of credibility, a loss of trust. There's no use denying it. We can't sugarcoat this. This is disastrous."

Painfully aware of the anger Catholics are voicing after the revelations out of Pennsylvania, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said Aug. 16 that something must be done right away.

"The clock is ticking for all of us in church leadership, Catholics have lost patience with us and civil society has lost confidence in us," said Cardinal O'Malley in a statement. "But I am not without hope and do not succumb to despondent acceptance that our failures cannot be corrected."

Transformation has to take place in the way the church prepares priests, "the way we exercise pastoral leadership and the way we cooperate with civil authorities; all these have to be consistently better than has been the case," he said, adding that "we remain shamed by these egregious failures to protect children and those who are vulnerable and affirm our commitment that these failures will never be repeated."

At the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, began a Mass on the feast of the Assumption Aug. 15 by making a brief reference to the developments.

"Mary, our patroness, has guided the church in America through many difficult moments," he said. "Today, yet another moment of trial is upon us, a very serious crisis which has brought many of our people to the point of despair and anger and even the loss of faith."

He said he offered the Mass asking for Mary's intercession, so "that the bishops of our nation might accomplish a renewal of trust in the church and its leaders across the land."

"And no less I ask Mary's son, the Good Shepherd, for the graces of healing, reconciliation and justice for all the people of God among us, above all for those who have been abused and their families," he said.

The report by a Pennsylvania grand jury of 23 people said the investigation of almost two years identified more than 1,000 people who say they were abused by some 301 priests, many whom are now dead.

However, some living priests named in the report are disputing some of the information and claims in the document and challenged to have their names blacked out, or redacted. They will be heard by the courts in September. The grand jury said it was likely that more victims as well as perpetrators were not identified in the months-long investigation.

Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns told The Dallas Morning News he felt "sick" reading the accounts, "knowing that this occurred at the hands of men that you knew and even worked side by side with adds to a dimension of disbelief."

Bishop Burns grew up in Pittsburgh and knew some of those named in the report, The Dallas Morning News article said.

Recalling one of the priests named in the report, Bishop Burns told the newspaper that the priest "was domineering, he was extremely bossy, he did not possess a shepherd's heart, from my perspective," adding that "now I have come to recognize that he not only had a different view of priesthood, he just had a double life.

But like others, he never suspected the horrors that were taking place.

Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron said in an Aug. 13 statement, before the report became public, that it was disheartening, "for us once again to come face-to-face with moral failures in the priesthood, especially among us bishops."

"These sins are marks of shame upon the church," he said.

Though there may be the temptation to despair and think that change is not possible, "reform can only happen when hope lives," he said.

"We must move forward with the conviction that God will not abandon his church. He wants her purified, cleansed of these sins and brought to new life," he said.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez urged prayers during the feast of the Assumption for abuse victims.

"We are aware that this is a sad and confusing time for the church in this country," he said in his homily. "In recent days and weeks, we have heard new revelations about sin and abuse in the church. This is a time now for prayer and repentance and a time for examining our conscience, especially for those of us who are bishops and priests."

Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, said in an Aug. 14 statement that it's time to hold accountable "morally and legally" those who allowed the abuse in Pennsylvania to occur, as well as those who hid alleged abuses by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick.

"Pledges of penitential prayer and actions on the part of church leadership are meaningless unless first preceded by contrition, confession, firm purpose of amendment and concrete actions of conversion," he said.

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Vatican wants accountability for abusers, those who protected them

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 5:34pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, a Vatican spokesman called the abuses described in the report as being "criminal and morally reprehensible."

"Victims should know that the pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent," said Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement Aug. 16.

"Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur," he wrote.

"The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors," Burke wrote and, as such, "the Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm."

"The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements," he added.

The statement, sent in Italian with unofficial English and Spanish translations, came after the Pennsylvania attorney general held a news conference Aug. 14 announcing a 900-page report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by 301 priests, who harmed more than 1,000 victims.

In response the report, Burke said, "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow."

"The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society," the spokesman said.

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Kentucky school example of embracing the different, loving one's neighbor

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 5:14pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Tyler Orsburn

HENDERSON, Ky. (CNS) -- When it comes to sizable Hispanic populations, Henderson isn't Los Angeles or New York City.

Nestled in the western part of the Bluegrass State, the Ohio River faithfully meanders by smooth fields of corn, soybean and patches of woods. Its most famous resident is naturalist and artist John James Audubon.

"Coming to Henderson, that's where I learned I was Latino!" Abraham Brown, director of Latino ministry for Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, jokingly said about moving from the Lone Star State. "Because down there in Texas everybody looked just like me, spoke just like me. So, coming here was a challenge at the beginning."

Brown moved to Henderson 15 years ago to work for a denim company. But when it closed, the Catholic parish, which is part of the Diocese of Owensboro, asked him to help with the growing Latino community.

Now he works with Latinos from 13 countries, and has seen the Spanish Mass turnout increase from 20 to 30 per week to 100 to 150, he said.

"We do have a very proactive approach for integration," Brown told Catholic News Service. "Not just assimilating but actually sharing of their own values and culture (through dance, food and worship) with our community."

Father Anthony Shonis, associate pastor at Holy Name of Jesus, credits the late Owensboro Bishop John J. McRaith for helping this assimilation.

"Toward the end of the 1980s, you might start seeing Hispanics at the Dairy Queen or Walmart," the bilingual pastor told CNS while sitting in the rectory dining room. "Bishop McRaith (during that time) sought funding and wrote grants so that all priests where Spanish was spoken had an 'ayudante.'"

An "ayudante" is a bilingual helper who is respected in both the Hispanic and Anglo community that helps migrants meet both their parish and well-being needs. "They're a bridge builder," Father Shonis said. "This person is worth their weight in gold."

Brown, Father Shonis' "bridge builder" says the Latino population in western Kentucky, southern Indiana and southern Illinois has doubled in the past five years. "A lot of people say that, 'Oh, it's just because there are a lot of job opportunities.' But job opportunities without a welcoming spirit, it (integration) doesn't work."

One place where it has worked is the school. Situated near a barbershop and about a block-and-a-half from the steeple, the downtown school has native Spanish speakers in every grade.

And Susana Solorza is the ladle that stirs the vernacular melting pot. The El Paso, Texas, native said she's the only K-8 Spanish teacher in the district, and if her seventh and eighth grade students earn B-averages for both years, they'll rake in a "Spanish I" high school credit.

"What I'm trying to do is shake the stereotypes Caucasians have of Latinos by speaking to them in English and letting them hear me speak Spanish to other students," she said describing part of her teaching technique. "By being their teacher, letting them get to know me through music, (food) and talk about my family (which helps break the stereotypes)."

For her Hispanic students, she shows them there's a teacher like them and brings some normalcy to what is different about them. "I think having a teacher to fill that cultural gap, the linguistic gap, is very important because our families are here, and they want to be involved, and they try to be involved, and they want to see their students succeed," Solorza told CNS.

"Probably something that the Hispanic community has added most to our school is the diversity and knowing that just because someone is different doesn't mean they're weird," Scottie Koonce, principal at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School said describing how students sometimes view life. "And probably the thing Hispanics have added to our community is that they've taught the kids that Catholicism isn't local, it's global."

Koonce went on to describe how the students love acknowledging the Latino celebrations of the Day of the Dead and Las Posadas. "I feel like our kids are starting to understand each other better, and that's really where it starts -- because if the kids start understanding each other better and respect each other it carries over to the adults."

"Pope Francis has said, 'You have to take risks and go across barriers,'" Father Shonis said describing wide city streets and railroad tracks. "This effort of going to the other side can never end. And this is the foundation of Catholic schools, to bring minorities into the mainstream."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Maryland parish helps sister parishes in Nicaragua amid increasing unrest

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 4:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy St. John Vianney Parish

By Kelly Sankowski

PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (CNS) -- For many parishioners of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick, the violence happening in Nicaragua is more than just headlines flashing across the screen.

"The parish here is impacted by it a lot," said Father Dan Carson, the parish's pastor. "People (are) constantly asking about it."

For 10 years, the parish has been working with sister parishes in San Juan de Limay and more recently in Esteli to build homes for the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua. The parishioners of St. John Vianney raise money to build simple brick and mud houses, which cost about $2,600 each, and then send the funds to their sister parish.

Since there is so much unemployment in Nicaragua, Don Mueller, the parishioner who leads the project, said the group does not go down to build the houses themselves, but instead pays a foreman and two workers to do the building, assisted by the volunteer labor of the people receiving the house.

Each house is 20-by-20 feet, which is roughly the size of a master bedroom in the United States, and has no electricity, indoor plumbing or running water. Nevertheless, Father Carson and Mueller both recalled how the people receiving the house say it is like a mansion to them, since they have often been living in three sided shelters made out of things like sticks and plastic bags.

Since St. John Vianney began this work in 2008, they have built about 450 houses.

"People who have nothing really treasure their faith, family and friends," said Father Carson told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington. "They have a joy that we don't in our country because we have so much stuff. They just appreciate the little things."

Mueller takes about two trips per year down to Nicaragua, along with a group of eight to 12 other parishioners, to visit with the families whose homes have been built and to pray with the committee that helps select the families who are receiving homes.

"Our only rule is it has to be the poorest of the poor, without regard to race, religion politics or anything like that," said Mueller. "The committee looks at everybody and decides who is the poorest of the poor."

Their last trip was in January, and it was Father Carson's first time there, since he had been newly appointed to the parish. While they were there, he blessed the newly constructed homes.

Mueller recalled the faithful dedication of the people who they have met in Nicaragua, who often live in remote areas. One man in particular whom they had met hiked three and a half hours with his guitar in order to get to the church to sing at Mass on Sunday.

The group from St. John Vianney had intended to take another trip this summer, but could not go because of safety concerns. The housing program continues to operate, even though the parishioners from St. John Vianney are unable to go visit the parishes and families.

In recent months, unrest in the country has increased, with police and paramilitaries killing people who are peacefully protesting the regime of the country's president, Daniel Ortega. Many of the protesters are young students.

Since the protests began April 12, the death toll has reached 448, according to human rights groups in the country. Ortega has labeled Catholic clergy as enemies and those supporting them as terrorists.

Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteli, whom the St. John Vianney group always visits when they go to Nicaragua, has been attacked and shot at on multiple occasions. As far as they know, the parishioners of their two sister parishes are still OK.

"Bishop Mata has become a friend over the years," said Mueller. "He has been attacked and shot at and threatened by the government and that really hurts. I consider him a friend, he has been to the states, he has been to our parish, he has been to my house."

To help their friends from afar, donors from St. John Vianney Parish sent $20,000 to Bishop Mata to be used at his discretion for emergency purposes, which they sent in small installments so as not to raise suspicion.

Just a day after the money arrived, Ortega ordered the public hospital not to treat injured protesters, so Bishop Mata treated them at the medical school he had opened, with medicine bought with the money that St. John Vianney had sent.

"He called it a miracle that the money had just arrived the day before," said Mueller.

Now, the Nicaraguan government has declared any doctor who treats injured protesters a terrorist.

St. John Vianney raised $464 for the housing project with a recent fundraiser at the parish picnic. Also, in solidarity with those facing violence, the parish is praying the prayer of St. Michael as the bishop and priests in Nicaragua say the same prayer.

Father Carson remarked that the circumstances are particularly sad for such a poor country, where it is tough "to see the people that have nothing there hurt even more."

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Sankowski is on the staff of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Cardinal DiNardo announces plan to address 'moral catastrophe' of abuse

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 12:23pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Aug. 16 announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the "moral catastrophe" of the new abuse scandal hitting the U.S. church.

The plan "will involve the laity, lay experts, the clergy and the Vatican," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said. This plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.

Cardinal DiNardo laid out three goals just established by the bishops' Executive Committee in a series of meetings held early the week of Aug. 13. They are:

-- An investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington. With a credible allegation against him that he abused a minor nearly 47 years ago and accusations of sexual misconduct with seminarians, many are asking how he could have risen up the ranks of the church, as an auxiliary bishop, bishop, archbishop and finally cardinal.

-- An opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops.

-- Advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.

"These goals will be pursued according to three criteria:  proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity," Cardinal DiNardo said.

"Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick," the cardinal said. "Those sentiments continue and are deepened in view of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

"We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report," he added.

MORE TO COME

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Network of homes provides love, hope, help for pregnant women in need

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 4:23pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Chris Bell was working in Times Square in the late 1970s, he was shocked to repeatedly see young mothers entering crisis shelters with their children, and he decided that he had to do something.

With the help of Father Benedict Groeschel, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and his spiritual director at the time, Bell founded Good Counsel, a network of pro-life maternity homes.

Currently, Good Counsel operates six homes -- four in New York state, one in New Jersey and one in Alabama -- and works with other homes all over the country. It also is looking to both grow and expand its network.

"Good Counsel is one of the founding members of the National Maternity Housing Coalition," Bell told Catholic News Service. "Most of the homes are small and limited in what they can do, but we can help find a place for any pregnant woman in the country."

Bell said that any pregnant women can enter the maternity homes for free, and the homes will help provide them with opportunities to go back to school and find jobs.

Good Counsel will even assist pregnant women with drug addictions or mental illnesses and help find suitable places for them.

They also can help plan adoptions. Bell said that many women don't realize that they can choose the couple who would adopt their child and fear that the child will be placed in the foster care system.

Bell said that many women who are told that their child will have genetic defects can benefit from maternity homes.

"I don't know why the only response so many medical people have is to tell the mother to get rid of it if it looks like the child will have genetic defects," he said. "Especially in the United States, where we're rich and have the technology to help them."

He told the story of a woman whose doctor told her that her unborn son had a defect in every cell in his body, and the doctor recommended she abort.

She then called Good Counsel, saying "I just want to be a good mother." Good Counsel took her in, found a different medical facility for her, and prayed with her because she wanted to pray.

When the boy was born, the fears of the doctor were unfounded. He had a hole in his heart, which required two surgeries, but by the time the mother left the home her son looked like any other one-year-old.

Bell also told another story of a mother who already had a 3-year-old when she came to Good Counsel.

When she told the father that she was pregnant, he kicked her in the stomach and she left him.

Within her first few months, she had obtained a home health certificate, and, after having the baby and staying with him for a few months, she found a job.

"When I think about where she was when she came to us and where she was when she left, it was a total turnaround," Bell said.

Bell said he thought that media coverage was one reason for a lack of awareness about maternity homes.

"I think the media has a strong bias against anything anti-abortion," he said.

Despite that, he intends on continuing his work.

"The question I ask: Isn't there enough love in the world for another baby? Where there's love, there's life, and where there's life, there's hope. We can change things by looking at one life at a time and one family at a time."

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Editor's Note: Information about the Good Counsel network of homes can be found by going to goodcounselhomes.org or by calling (800) 723-8331.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Commentary: a crisis regarding the responsibility of church authorities

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 1:23pm

By Greg Erlandson

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Catholic News Service posted a short video of the Pennsylvania attorney general's Aug. 14 news conference announcing a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses, its editors had to add a warning about the graphic language viewers would hear.

The actual 900-page report chronicling 70 years of child sexual abuse by 301 priests is much, much worse. There are images of rape, perversion and blasphemy that will be hard to excise from a reader's imagination, vile and disgusting acts that have shattered the lives and faith of the more than 1,000 victims and their families.

Harder still is to understand how some leaders could have known about these acts of profound betrayal and not have been enraged into action to excise permanently such evil from our church.

And this goes to the dark heart of this crisis: That men of the cloth would sin so grievously against the most defenseless in their flocks, and that men of the cloth would fail to respond appropriately.

The clergy sexual abuse crisis has been, and remains today, ultimately a crisis regarding the responsibility of church authorities. The profound distrust of institutions -- law, science, education, government -- that permeates our society permeates our church as well. This distrust strikes at the heart of a hierarchical structure -- that those who bear the most responsibility and most power have at times failed us. "Put not your trust in princes," sang the psalmist. Indeed, many Catholics no longer do.

And yet we must not paint all bishops and priests today with the same brush that has tarred some. Many more bishops have met with victims, cried with them, and responded to their needs than in years past. Many more priests speak out forthrightly from their pulpits, addressing the scandals and encouraging those who have been hurt to come forward.

In the wake of the recent revelations involving Pennsylvania, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick and other allegations that have come to light involving seminaries, there are four take-aways from this horrible new chapter in the life of our church.

First, the bishops today, as descendants of the apostles and descendants of those who previously occupied the positions they hold now, must convincingly demonstrate a spirit of repentance and recommitment. Their people, and society at large, are not looking for more generic apologies and corporate-sounding assessments of current performance. They must act boldly and concretely if their apologies are to be taken seriously.

Their recommitment must involve greater accountability and greater transparency. To do this, they must have the support of the Vatican. This won't be easy. There are many bureaucratic and institutional forces that do not want the sins of the fathers to be exposed and that are blind to the great peril our church is already in.

Second, many are calling for a greater role for the laity in investigations and in future decision-making. It is a tremendously positive development that lay boards have become involved in assessing abuse allegations. Past scandals documented in Pennsylvania so often involved only clergy in investigative and decision-making roles. The church needs lay men and women to be actively involved in the purification and renewal of the church.

There also should be a renewed appreciation for the role of the church's own media in informing and forming Catholics. At least 39 bishops have spoken out about the initial scandal involving Archbishop McCarrick, yet some dioceses no longer have effective communication tools to make sure that their people are hearing the voices of their bishops. Worse still would be if diocesan publications are tempted to avoid publishing news of these scandals, even though their secular counterparts are putting it on the front page. This destroys the credibility of Catholic media and further undermines the leadership of the bishop.

Third, we must acknowledge how much has changed since the scandals that rocked the U.S. church in 2002. The church now is far different from even 16 years ago. Extensive procedures for training young people, for background checks and for reporting violations have been put into place. Victims are much more likely to be treated with sympathy and their reports taken seriously. Since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was implemented in 2002, it is estimated that the church has spent $4.4 billion on these procedures as well as on payouts to victims and their attorneys. No other social institution even comes close to this level of commitment.

Which brings us to the fourth point. Solving the problem of sexual abuse and accountability in the church will not solve the problems of sexual abuse and accountability in society. There are an estimated 60,000 cases of child abuse in the United States each year. Multiplied over a span of 70 years, this number would be horrifying.

Abuse in the larger society is no excuse for the 301 priests (about 5 percent all priests who served in those dioceses over a period of 70 years) who are guilty of abusing at least 1,000 victims. Yet if any good is to come out of this long tragedy, it may be that the church -- humiliated and scorned as it now is -- may be able at some point to contribute to a much greater healing that needs to take place in our country and our world.

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Erlandson is director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Catholics express despair, disbelief, anger at new abuse revelations

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After the first allegations of abuse against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick were publicized in mid-June, employees at the U.S. bishops' conference headquarters in Washington were bracing for calls from Catholics confused, outraged or anything in between regarding the emerging scandal.

The big surprise: More Catholics were calling in -- and kept calling -- to ask how they could be foster parents to immigrant children who had been separated from their parents by the U.S. government at the U.S.-Mexico border.

That didn't last long, though.

The foster-parent calls receded and the abuse-related phone calls picked up in volume and intensity, according to Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat for the Protection of Children and Young People at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Deacon Nojadera said he doesn't know exactly why people call his office. He suggested it may be that callers expect that the office can issue reprimands to any suspected cleric: "What are you going to do about it?"

But that's not the case, he told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 13 interview. Priests accused of abuse are subject to the discipline of their diocesan bishop or religious superior; if found guilty of misconduct, priests may be laicized by the Vatican. Accused bishops, though, are subject first to the Vatican.

Parents who call sound worried, the deacon added: "How do I know my child's going to be safe if he's in formation or if he's in seminary?"

The three most notable cases this summer involve Archbishop McCarrick, who is facing a credible allegation of abusing a minor and is believed to have harassed and abused seminarians even after they were ordained to the priesthood; the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, where a vocations director who died in 2008 has recently been accused of harassment; and the Archdiocese of Boston, where Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley ordered an investigation of the archdiocesan seminary after abuse reports surfaced in early August.

"Our first job is to listen, to be empathetic," Deacon Nojadera said. Some of the callers, he acknowledged, are angry. "Well, I'm angry, too," he told CNS. Without prayer, he added, "I can't do what I'm doing,"

Both the National Review Board and the bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People are scheduled to meet in September. Deacon Nojadera said his office hopes to be able to give each body guidance on strengthening the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," approved by the bishops in 2002.

"In 2002, we were responding to a very specific situation: the abuse of children by priests," Deacon Nojadera said. "I still hold it's a very good document. It's better than nothing. It has its strengths, it has its weaknesses." He added, "We need to have a very serous discussion on what we can do to improve what's mandated by the charter."

The charter, amended in 2011 and again earlier this year. did not take into account the possibility that bishops could be abusers, or that abuse victims could be adults, much less seminarians and priests whose path to -- and following -- ordination could be stymied by bishop-abusers.

The increased call volume experienced by Deacon Nojadera and his staff has not been experienced in two dioceses contacted by CNS.

"We've all spent time processing among staff and clergy, because this is another level of concern and another level of distress for all Catholics," said Beth Heidt Kozisek, victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, in a phone interview with CNS. "But we really haven't had an increase in the number of calls from parishioners or general members of the community."

The allegations against Archbishop McCarrick, a former cardinal, weren't published in either the Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska's largest newspaper, or the local daily, The Grand Island Independent, Kozisek said. "I found it online but I didn't see any comments online," she added. "Is that a sign of our rural culture -- nobody's reading the news? They're busy farming and other activities?"

"Baton Rouge has not experienced an increase in allegations or calls in the last month due to the Cardinal McCarrick story," said an email to CNS from Amy Cordon, victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"My colleagues and I do not see our ministry to victims of clergy abuse as a job. We are ministers," Cordon said of herself and her fellow victim assistance coordinators. "And our boss, Jesus Christ, never disappoints.

"This is why you are not seeing a mass exodus of victim assistance coordinators when these stories continue to break 10-plus years after the charter was written," she added. "Most of us work under truly holy men of God and are very fortunate to have good bishops who care for those who have been harmed. I can certainly say that is the case in Baton Rouge."

Deacon Nojadera recalled the instance of one caller, who had worked with the resigned cardinal, first weeping with anguish over the phone and then voicing anger over the situation. "First, I have to listen," he said.

But the moment, he said, may signify the need for "a spiritual cleansing in the church."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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