You are here

Feed aggregator

Anderson calls for 'full accounting of misdeeds' that have led to scandal

Top Stories - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 5:17pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After years of Catholics having to confess their sins to the clergy, it is now time for priests and bishops "to come clean about what they have done and what they have failed to do," the CEO of the Knights of Columbus said in a letter to his brother Knights and the organization's chaplains.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson's letter, dated Aug. 21, came in response to the recent release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse claims in six dioceses and reports of a cover-up by some church leaders and the allegations of past abuse and other sexual misconduct made against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

"Repentance should include a full accounting of the misdeeds by those who have committed them. Archbishop McCarrick and others at fault owe us a full account of their actions, motivations and cover-ups," he said.

The abuse crisis represents "a crisis of commitment to the Gospel," Anderson said. He called for repentance, reform and a rebuilding of the church and said the Knights of Columbus -- laymen, priests and chaplains -- "will have an important role to play in rebuilding the church" and recommit themselves to doing that.

"Many feel deeply betrayed by those whom they long held in high regard," Anderson wrote. "Such concerns are shared not just in the United States, but in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.

"These sins of commission and omission have sent the church we love, the church we serve and the church that Jesus Christ established into convulsions," he said. "Sadly, the disgrace not only is borne by the perpetrators, it hurts us all, as does the silence of shepherds who have ignored the cries of their flocks."

He praised the "many wonderful and faithful laborers" in the Lord's vineyard among the priests and bishops, but "it is clear that in addition to devastating criminal acts, we have seen many other moral failings by clergy that represent a crisis of commitment to the Gospel."

Anderson said that victims' needs too often "have been subordinated to a distorted sense of mercy toward the perpetrators or an instinct for clerical self-preservation."

"The sexual acts -- both criminal and non-criminal -- highlight the need to recover a respect for and a renewed commitment to the priestly promises of celibacy," he added.

He noted that the Knights of Columbus have supported the pastoral and charitable work of bishops and priests since the fraternal organization was founded by Father Michael McGivney. The Connecticut priest, who is a sainthood candidate and has been declared "venerable," started the Knights in 1882.

"We understand that the priest should lead the parish and the bishop should be the center of unity in a diocese," Anderson continued. "But we -- like all Catholics -- are painfully aware of the wreckage that ensues when elements of this leadership are abdicated by evil actions whether directly perpetrated or covered up."

Anderson outlines actions that should be taken on repentance, reform and rebuilding.

Repentance and a full accounting of misdeeds "will help increase the recognition that clerical sexual abuse is a global problem that must be addressed at the highest levels of the Catholic Church," he said.

"Moreover, priests and bishops who refuse to live according to their promises of celibacy should be removed from public ministry, not out of retribution, but for the protection of the faithful and to prevent future variations of the scandal we now suffer," he said.

As for reform, he said a lot of good ideas have already been proposed, including a lay-led independent investigation, complete transparency by the hierarchy and the expansion of the "zero tolerance" policy to include bishops.

But in addition, Anderson called for establishing "an independent ethics hotline for reporting of criminal and other conduct at odds with Catholic teaching on the clerical state of life; and there must be protections against retaliation."

"Such reforms will be difficult for a church largely unused to them, and we must support our bishops and our priests in embracing these reforms in order to rebuild," Anderson said

He said the Knights can help rebuild the church "in several ways."

"Above all else, Knights -- and our chaplains -- must embrace love of God and love of neighbor," Anderson said. "This is Christ's great commandment and the founding mission of our order. It is also exactly the opposite of the rejection of God and exploitation of neighbor that our church has witnessed in these scandals."

On a national level, he said, the Knights plan to have a novena of Masses in reparation " for the sins that have so grievously wounded the body of Christ" and urged local churches to offer such a Mass as soon as could be done. At the parish and family level, the Knights have a Building the Domestic Church program. "Imbuing families with faith and strengthening parish life are critical to rebuilding the church based on Gospel principles," Anderson said.

He also said the Knights plan to sponsor a national tour of the relic of the heart of the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney. The tour will be organized with the cooperation of his shrine in Ars, France.

He asked all Knights "to stand steadfast" in their faith.

"We will assist priests, bishops and our fellow Catholics in helping the church chart a course for the future that puts Christ at the center, so that truly we may say, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,'" Anderson said, "This is the moment in which Knights -- including in a special way our priest members -- can be part of a great renewal for good in our church."

- - -

Editor's Note: The full text of Carl Anderson's statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2NflhTC.

- - -

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.

Clericalism: The culture that enables abuse and insists on hiding it

Top Stories - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:07am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis blamed "clericalism" in the Catholic Church for creating a culture where criminal abuse was widespread and extraordinary efforts were made to keep the crimes hidden.

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has targeted clericalism as an illness in the church, an ailment that pretends "the church" means "priests and bishops," that ignores or minimizes the God-given grace and talents of laypeople and that emphasizes the authority of clerics over their obligation of service.

"To say 'no' to abuse is to say an emphatic 'no' to all forms of clericalism," the pope wrote in a letter Aug. 20 to all Catholics.

Clericalism, he said, involves trying "to replace or silence or ignore or reduce the people of God to small elites," generally the clerics.

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame and author of an Aug. 17 New York Times op-ed piece on the abuse scandal, told Catholic News Service, "I was blown away" by the pope's focus on clericalism as the problem, "because that's what I felt."

What was different with the Pennsylvania grand jury report, she said, was not just the overwhelming scale and magnitude of abuse, "but that it really indicted the culture -- the culture of clericalism -- that allowed this abuse to continue and allowed it to be hidden."

"It's not just 'a few bad apples,' as we used to say, but it's this entire culture that makes it possible," Cummings said.

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of theology at Manhattan College, told CNS: "There is no doubt that clericalism is at the root of the abuse crisis. Clericalism is isolating and insular -- it cuts off the 'oxygen' of genuine solidarity and sharing-of-life with laypeople by creating a separate class, even a separate caste, within the church."

When people create "small elites" as Pope Francis called them, she said, "the temptation is to preserve 'us' and 'our vision/lives/privilege' at the expense of 'them' -- the laity, 'those who don't understand,' 'those who aren't burdened the way we are.'"

For more than two decades, Russell Shaw, an author and writer, has been warning of the disaster clericalism poses for the church. His book, "To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity," was published in 1993.

Writing Aug. 6 for Angelus News, the news site of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Shaw looked particularly at accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct leveled against now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

"Clericalism doesn't totally account for what happened," he wrote in Angelus. "But it is an important part of the explanation, and it's essential that we understand how that was so," particularly in explaining how the archbishop was able to rise so high in the church's hierarchy.

Giving any kind of integrity to a church investigation of the scandal will require the participation of laypeople, Shaw wrote, because "it would be a serious mistake to investigate the damage done by clericalism in a clericalist manner."

Australia's Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issued its report last December after five years of hearings and investigations, and it concluded that "clericalism is at the center of a tightly interconnected cluster of contributing factors" to abuse within the Catholic Church.

"Clericalism is linked to a sense of entitlement, superiority and exclusion, and abuse of power," the report said.

In addition, it said, "clericalism caused some bishops and religious superiors to identify with perpetrators of child sexual abuse rather than victims and their families."

The bishops of Australia plan to release a formal response to the report at the end of August. But in the meantime, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, conference president, told CNS that while the report is "essentially a secular eye upon church," it "seems to me fairly accurate to claim that 'clericalism is at the center of a tightly interconnected cluster of contributing factors.'"

"In seeking to combat clericalism," he said, "we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Clearly, it requires a radical revision of how we recruit and prepare candidates for ordination. Much has changed in our seminaries, but one has to wonder whether seminaries are the place or way to train men for the priesthood now.

"There will also have to be a change in the culture associated with the Catholic priesthood, which of course is more easily said than done," he continued in an email response to questions. "Part of that change will involve proper professional supervision for the sake of greater accountability, but also a greater sharing of responsibility with laypeople -- which in turn requires a reconsideration of our structures of decision-making."

"It will also involve a serious and practical consideration of the diagnosis of clericalism offered by Pope Francis over the years of his pontificate -- a diagnosis which is both disruptive and consoling, just like the Holy Spirit," Archbishop Coleridge wrote. "To accept and act upon that diagnosis won't in any way diminish the priesthood -- as some fear -- but will show what the priesthood can be in the very different circumstances we now face."

The Royal Commission report also tried to tackle some Catholic theology, claiming, "The theological notion that the priest undergoes an 'ontological change' at ordination, so that he is different to ordinary human beings and permanently a priest, is a dangerous component of the culture of clericalism. The notion that the priest is a sacred person contributed to exaggerated levels of unregulated power and trust which perpetrators of child sexual abuse were able to exploit."

Archbishop Coleridge said his acceptance of the idea of clericalism as a contributing factor to the abuse crisis obviously does not mean he accepts the Royal Commission's understanding of the theology of holy orders.

The phrase "ontological change" is what the church uses to describe what happens in ordination, he said; it affirms that "God actually does something in ordination, something which reaches into the depths of a man's being" and that "once a man is ordained, his relationships with other people and with God are radically and permanently changed."

So, while teaching that ordination brings a permanent change can contribute to clericalism, it does not have to, the archbishop said.

Imperatori-Lee also mentioned the teaching when commenting to CNS on how clericalism can infect the laity as well as priests and bishops.

"The laity, told repeatedly that the priest is special and uniquely holy -- 'ontological change,' 'indelible mark' -- is not inclined to believe the clergy capable of sin," she said, "and then when these allegations arise, and are corroborated, the breakdown in trust is irreparable."

"There are ways in which clericalism hurts everyone," she said: "The laity is victimized and infantilized; the clergy is isolated and expected to be superhuman."

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also welcomed the pope's aim at clericalism.

Tweeting Aug. 20, she said, "The condemnation of clericalism in the letter is good to see, as it plays a big part in the ignoring of the laity, survivors and experts. It gives rise to the ease with which church leaders can feel comfortable protecting fellow clerics despite their crimes against children."

- - -

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

- - -

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.

Pope: God's name is revealed through authentic faith, not hypocrisy

Top Stories - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 10:00am

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The power of God's name is manifested in the lives of people who live their faith in an authentic way, while it is taken in vain by those who live in hypocrisy, Pope Francis said.

By adhering to the commandment to not take the name of the Lord in vain, Christians can show the beauty of baptism and the Eucharist, as well as "the sublime union there is between our body and the body of Christ; he in us and us in him," the pope said Aug. 22 during his weekly general audience.

"If there were more Christians who would take upon themselves the name of God without falsehood, practicing the first request of the Our Father -- 'hallowed be thy name' -- the proclamation of the church would be heard more and become more credible," he said.

Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope turned to the Second Commandment, which he said is correctly interpreted as "an invitation to not offend the name of God and use it inappropriately."

Recalling its Hebrew and Greek translations, Pope Francis said the Second Commandment means not taking upon one's self the name of God "in a way that is devoid of content" and shrouded in hypocrisy, formalities and lies.

The commandment, he said, is a reminder for Christians of their baptism and the call "to live out our daily actions in a real and heartfelt communion with God, that is, in his love."

However, Christians may also succumb to the temptation of "taking upon themselves the name of God in a hypocritical way" and "living a false relationship with God."

A sincere relationship with God, the pope explained, is seen not only in the lives of the saints, but also in the lives of the "saints next door," especially "parents who give their children the example of a coherent, simple, honest and generous life."

The Second Commandment, he said, "is precisely the invitation to a relationship with God without hypocrisy, to a relationship in which we entrust him with all that we are."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

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.

Archbishops call for 'penance, purification' to rebuild, renew church

Top Stories - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 5:54pm

By

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said penance and purification is needed to rebuild the U.S. Catholic Church and respond to the abuse crisis.

He stressed the importance of strong procedures and protocols for addressing abuse claims, helping the victims and creating safe environments for all children and young people.

"Programs, protocols, and best practices are essential. But they are not enough," he said in an Aug. 17 letter to the people of the archdiocese.

"We need to hold people accountable and we need to atone for these sins as a church," he said.

He called it "a sad and confusing time for all of us" with the abuse allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, followed by the Pennsylvania grand jury report on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning 70 years in six Catholic dioceses in that state.

"I am praying for you and your families and for our young people; and for our bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and religious," he said. "I am praying most intensely for the victim-survivors of these crimes, and am trying to offer what small penance I can for everyone who has suffered abuse by pastors of the church."

Archbishop Gomez also addressed what he sees as "the deeper crisis today in the church," a spiritual and moral crisis.

"I believe we need to respond to this crisis with a new call to penance and purification and a new dedication to leading holy lives," he said.

"Renewal of the church is first of all a duty for bishops and priests," Archbishop Gomez said. "We need humble penance for what has been done by our brothers. We need to live with simplicity and integrity and be models of conversion and holiness.

"Now more than ever, I pray that every bishop and every priest will rediscover his love for Jesus Christ and burn with new desire to bring holiness and salvation to our people."

He said priests, like all Christians, "are all called to holiness and to grow in our relationship with Jesus and to glorify God by our lives. But the priest above all is consecrated to serve 'in the person of Christ.' That is why the evil at the heart of these scandals is so terrible."

"A sacred trust has been broken by men whom Jesus entrusted to be his representatives on earth," he continued. "These priests have betrayed Christ and done violence to his children. The cruelty they have done casts a shadow on the priesthood and the vast majority of priests who are good and faithful servants of the Gospel."

Archbishop Gomez said he understands the anger and frustration that people have against the church "and her leaders right now." He said he feels "a deep sadness" and is "horrified that such crimes could be committed against innocent children of God.

He noted that as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is on the Executive Committee, which has issued two statements so far. Among other initiatives, the committee has outlined a plan to have "substantial involvement of the laity" from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines in investigating abuse and responding to it. Another component is "addressing the culture of clericalism that contributed to these abuses and failures in leadership," he explained.

He also emphasized the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has an effective system in place for reporting and investigating suspected abuse by priests and for removing offenders from ministry, conducting background checks and creating safe environments. He encouraged anyone who is a victim or knows a victim to contact the archdiocese.

"What has happened is the responsibility of bishops and priests. That is clear," Archbishop Gomez said. "But the way forward will mean laypeople and clergy working together. ' We need to begin again right now, starting with those of us who are bishops and priests.

"All of us in the church need to commit ourselves again to the basic practices of our Christian life: personal prayer, the Eucharist and confession, the works of mercy, growing in the virtues," he said and he urged Catholics to not "lose hope in the church."

"In this moment, our Lord is counting on us. So please do not give in to discouragement," the archbishop said. "Put your hope in God's promise: Where sin increases, his grace will increase even more."

In a letter to Catholics of his archdiocese, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone also emphasized that the archdiocese has strong policies and protocols for addressing abuse and creating but that he would review them with archdiocesan officials.

But beyond that, he, like Archbishop Gomez, said that "what is called for at this time is penance in reparation for sins against faith and morals."

"This is how we keep the righteous indignation that so many of us feel at this time from becoming an anger that divides the body of Christ," he said.

He said the reports of episcopal negligence and malfeasance in the face of clerical sexual abuse, coupled with some reports of bishops themselves guilty of sexual predation, have "reopened old wounds" for Catholics and the larger society.

He also decried the "spirit of raw ambition on the part of some, who will stop at nothing to advance their careers and climb the ecclesial corporate ladder over investing themselves in serving the people of God. Such behavior on the part of church leaders is despicable, reprehensible, and absolutely unbecoming of a man of God."

Archbishop Cordileone said he will designate a day "when together we will make an act of reparation, and how that will be conducted."

In the meantime, he asked all Catholics in the archdiocese, including the priests, "to engage in prayer, penance and adoration as an act of reparation for sins against chastity and the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament, in accordance Our Lady's wishes."

The archbishop invited all to join him in:

-- Praying the rosary daily. (He urged families to pray the rosary together at least once a week.)

-- Practicing Friday penance by abstaining from eating meat and one other additional act of fasting (e.g., another form of food or drink, or skipping a meal).

-- Spending one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week.

"While I pledge to attend to policies and their observance, we all must be engaged at this time on the spiritual level," Archbishop Cordileone said. "Without prayer, penance and adoration in reparation for the horrendous sins rampant in our church for very many years now, any efforts of the temporal order will be meaningless."

He also asked Catholics "to stay close to your parish priest."

"Our priests make great sacrifices to serve their people with generosity and compassion. They are there for you, attentive to providing you pastoral care," he said. "I am grateful to them for their labors in the Lord's vineyard, and pray that the divine assistance may be with them as they minister to you during this time of crisis"

- - -

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.

Victims call for federal investigation of sex abuse in Catholic Church

Top Stories - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 5:49pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Some victims of clergy sex abuse and their supporters are calling on federal and state entities to investigate sex abuse within the Catholic Church and root out abusers and anyone who has protected them.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, and Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic group that provides support to victims of clergy sex abuse, held childhood photos of sex abuse victims at a news conference Aug. 21 outside the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

They said they have contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about investigating sex abuse of children by clerics in the Catholic Church and called on attorneys general in every state to open probes similar to the one carried out by a grand jury in Pennsylvania.

The investigation by the Pennsylvania grand jury, made public in a report released Aug. 14, detailed more than 1,000 claims of alleged sex abuse in six dioceses in the state over 70 years and identified 301 priests who may have committed the crimes. It took almost two years to compile. The dioceses of Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie were named in the report.

The majority of the cases, however, could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations, which allows a limited period of time to pursue legal action, had come and gone.

One of the those present at the news conference, Judy Lorenz, whose husband, David, was sexually abused by a priest in Kentucky in the 1970s, also called on Catholics in the pews to take action, by supporting anyone who has been victimized by a member of the clergy, and by joining any public protest against Catholic clergy who may have covered up possible crimes, to stop tithing or donating to the church until those responsible step down.

"I want them to do something," she said. "Stop sitting in the pews."

In a statement, Lorenz called on Catholics to attend an action Aug. 26 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, the seat of Washington's archbishop, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl. He has come under fire after the publication of the report. He was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006, and the report criticized his handling of abuse cases during his tenure there.

"If they're upset," she said, referring to Catholics, "show up."

Becky Ianni, director of the Washington, Virginia chapter of SNAP, who also was present at the news conference, said she was "not shocked" by the secrecy and failure to report and prosecute the crimes against minors detailed by the Pennsylvania grand jury. 

Ianni told Catholic News Service she was abused by a priest who befriended her family and molested her at age 8. It took her 40 years to be able to talk about it, she said. When she approached her diocese about her abuse, nothing was done, she said.

She said she felt abandoned, began struggling with life and eventually left her Catholic faith. But she now helps other victims and tries to advocate on their behalf to prevent what happened to her, she said.

"As I read the report, I was just so sad thinking of every one of those children who could have been protected," she said.

She said she worried about the victims who are not included in the report, those who did not or could not come forward.

"I want them to know that we believe them, and we support them," she said, encouraging anyone who is suffering to seek help and support from groups such as SNAP.

Lorenz and Ianni said that even though they don't attend the Catholic Church anymore, they have family members who are still part of the faith and they want the best for church members. But neither one seemed encouraged by the statement Pope Francis made Aug. 20.

In a letter addressed "to the people of God," the pope said that "no effort must be spared" to prevent future cases of clerical sexual abuse and "to prevent the possibility of their being covered up."

They have heard "words" from past popes before, Lorenz and Ianni said, but the church needs actions, specifically, that all dioceses in the U.S. post names of accused clerics on church websites, as well as where they are now, and support state laws that extend or get rid of statutes of limitations for victims of child sex abuse, they said

The same day as SNAP's Washington news conference, members of the organization held a news conference in front of the headquarters of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico invited the group onto the diocese's St. Mark Catholic Center property and attended the news conference.

- - -

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.

CUA head sees laity as key to renewal in scandal-marred church

Top Stories - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 4:05pm

IMAGE: CNS Photo/ courtesy of The Catholic University of America

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an Aug. 18 letter to students and staff at The Catholic University of America, its president, John Garvey, said the laity must have a role in rebuilding the church in the wake of a new clergy sex abuse scandal that has also trained its aim on bishops for their failure to act in stopping the abuse.

"The laity must step forward with prayer, energy, and resolve. We need the laity's perspective, expertise, judgment, and prayer -- and the pressure that comes from having been burned more than once," Garvey said in his letter.

"I want to emphasize to all of you -- students, parents, alumni -- the responsibility the laity have, now more than ever, to serve the church," he added.

"This is not a problem the bishops can solve on their own. Though most of them are good and holy men, the actions detailed in the grand jury report have damaged the reputations of all. They will need our help and our insistence on accountability and high standards."

Garvey's letter came four days after the issuance of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that named more than 300 priests as having abused children between 1947 and 2017. The number of victims in the report totaled more than 1,000, and, "according to Pennsylvania's attorney general, more survivors continue to contact his office," Garvey said.

"I have to admit that I am at a loss to understand how such unspeakable evil has been allowed to fester at the heart of the church. It appears clear that some bishops shuffled priests around and devoted their energies to managing the church's image, rather than caring first for the safety of their flocks," he added.

Garvey withheld judgment on Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, the university's chancellor, who served 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh (1988-2006), one of the dioceses examined in the report. The cardinal has had to defend himself from criticism of how he addressed abuse cases during his tenure there.

"The grand jury report includes a number of cases where he refused to return priests to parishes after they were accused of abuse," Garvey said. "But the thrust of the report against Pennsylvania's bishops is that abuse occurred over many years, and was in many instances facilitated, ignored or covered up -- a gross breach of trust with every innocent victim and with the faithful."

Lay Catholics, Garvey suggested, "could take as a model St. Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the church who famously wrote to Pope Gregory XI, demanding that he 'intervene to eliminate the stink of the ministers of the holy church; pull out the stinking flowers and plant scented plants, virtuous men who fear God.'"

Students can have their own role, Garvey said. "The church is experiencing a moment of real crisis," he told them. "I encourage you to prepare yourselves to take on key roles in rebuilding Christ's church. Pray fervently for survivors. And pray for religious vocations; encourage men and women to consider such vocations as part of the church's renewal, joining the many virtuous clergy who continue to serve. And decide how you can best serve."

Garvey said, "About 800 years ago, in a dusty church on the edge of Assisi, St. Francis heard the command to 'rebuild my church, which is in ruins.' I don't know that the church is in ruins, but the present situation feels more like it than anything I have experienced.

"The question in the hearts of all the faithful, including our priests and bishops, is what to do now," he continued. "Let there be no misunderstanding. There need to be stronger reporting protocols and firmer discipline. But procedures will not substitute for repentance and spiritual renewal."

- - -

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.

Pennsylvania university revokes degrees given to past Scranton bishops

Top Stories - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 3:50pm

By

SCRANTON, Pa. (CNS) -- The Jesuit-run University of Scranton announced Aug. 20 it was rescinding honorary degrees given to three former bishops of the Diocese of Scranton, and removing their names from buildings.

Jesuit Father Scott Pilarz, the university president, said the school is doing so because "these bishops covered up the crimes and misdeeds of men who were under their jurisdiction and placed children in harm's way."

Also, the Scranton Diocese said Aug. 17 it had begun a formal "assessment" into how one of those bishops, retired Bishop James C. Timlin, handled allegations of clergy sexual abuse during his tenure.

In a letter to the university community, Father Pilarz said the school's actions were taken in light of the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing clerical sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including the Scranton Diocese.

Father Pilarz said he met early Aug. 20 with a group of administrators, faculty, alumni and student leaders to recommend a course of action to the university board of trustees, which unanimously approved those recommendations later that day in a special session.

Replacement names already have been chosen for those buildings where bishops' names will be scrubbed.

"The name on Timlin House will be removed and Mulberry Plaza, the complex in which the building is located, will be renamed Romero Plaza in honor of the late Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, who will be canonized by Pope Francis on Oct. 14," Father Pilarz said.

McCormick Hall, named for the late Scranton Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, will be renamed MacKillop Hall in honor of St. Mary MacKillop, an Australian nun who became Australia's first saint in 2010. She founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart and publicly exposed the sexual abuse of children by a priest.

Hannan Hall, named for another deceased Scranton bishop, Jerome N. Hannan, will be renamed Giblin-Kelly Hall in honor of Brendan Giblin, a University of Scranton senior who was killed in 2006 while on spring break in Panama City, and William Kelly Jr., a 1993 alumnus who was killed in the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001.

Bishop Hannan was Scranton's bishop from 1954 until his death in 1965. He was succeeded by Bishop McCormick, who served as bishop from 1966 to 1983; he died in 1996.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report went back to 1947 and found more than 1,000 abuse allegations lodged against more than 300 priests in the dioceses of Scranton, Harrisburg, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg and Pittsburgh.

"These actions are important, but the gravity of the information we now know demands even more of us," Father Pilarz said. The university's campus ministry, counseling center and employee assistance program will be available for students or staff "living with the lifelong scars of sexual abuse," he added, and the school is devoting resources to collaborate with Catholics in the diocese for "discussions and reflection in the long but hopeful process to rebuild trust and find peace."

Recommendations from the Scranton Diocese's Independent Review Board on Bishop Timlin's handling of abuse allegations are expected by Aug. 31, according to the diocesan statement. "Simultaneously, Bishop (Joseph C.) Bambera (of Scranton) has referred the matter to the Holy See, which has authority over Bishop Timlin's canonical status. This is consistent with how the diocese handles all similar allegations," it added.

"As in all cases, while these matters are under review, Bishop Timlin is not authorized to represent the Diocese of Scranton in any public events, liturgical or otherwise."

Bishop Timlin, who turned 91 Aug. 5, served as Scranton's bishop from 1984 to 2003. He lives in a home for retired priests run by the diocese.

- - -

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.

Boston cardinal apologizes for process that kept letter from reaching him

Top Stories - 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."

- - -

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

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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

- - -

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

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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

- - -

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

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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

Top Stories - 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."

- - -

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

Top Stories - 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."


- - -

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

Top Stories - 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."

- - -

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.

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

Top Stories - 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."

 

 

- - -

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

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

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

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."

- - -

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.

- - -

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.

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

Top Stories - 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."

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @Dennis Sadowski

- - -

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.

Pennsylvania prelate says bishops who hid abuse should resign

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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.

Citizenship question for 2020 census prompts strong criticism, lawsuits

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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.

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

Top Stories - 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.

- - -

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.

Pages

The Catholic Voice

The Archdiocese of Omaha • Catholic Voice
402-558-6611 • Fax 402 558-6614 •
E-mail Us

Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved.
This information may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed without written permission.

Comment Here