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U.S. bishops tell pope abuse scandal ‘lacerated’ the church

09/13/2018 - 3:07pm


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference said they shared with Pope Francis how the church in the United States has been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse.”

“He listened very deeply from the heart,” said a statement released after the meeting Sept. 13.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met the pope at the Vatican along with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

The USCCB statement described the encounter as “a lengthy, fruitful and good exchange,” but did not enter into details about what was discussed or whether any concrete measures were taken or promised.

“We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps,” the statement said.

Cardinal DiNardo originally announced that he was requesting a meeting with Pope Francis last Aug. 16. The request followed the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania dioceses and the announcement of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington. Two dioceses also had announced allegations of inappropriate contact between Archbishop McCarrick and seminarians, resulting in settlements totaling more than $100,000.

In his Aug. 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo said that the USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: “an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.”

The U.S. bishops specifically requested the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation into questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. Opening a new process for reporting complaints against bishops and the more effective resolution of such complaints also would require the support and involvement of the Vatican, since only the pope has the authority to discipline or remove bishops.

Following allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and that those sanctions had been ignored by Pope Francis, Cardinal DiNardo issued another statement Aug. 27 reiterating his call “for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long.”

Archbishop Vigano’s statement “brings particular focus and urgency to this examination,” the cardinal’s statement said. “The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.”

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Friday September 14: Day of prayer for the church and victims of abuse in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

09/13/2018 - 1:04pm



Friday, September 14, 2018

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will take place throughout the day
except during the celebration of Mass.

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral 325 West 8th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

7:00am Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
7:30am Confessions
10:00am Litany of the Most Precious Blood
11:30am Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
12:00pm Confessions
1:00pm Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries
3:00pm Scripture, Intercessions and Prayer
4:30pm Benediction
4:30pm – 5:00pm Confessions
5:15pm Mass: Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, celebrant

St. Joseph Church 411 East 2nd Street • Dayton, OH 45402

8:00am Morning Prayer with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
10:00am Litany of the Most Precious Blood
11:00am – 12:00pm Confessions
12:00pm Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
12:30pm – 1:30pm Confessions
1:00pm Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries
3:00pm Scripture, Intercessions and Prayer
4:30pm Benediction
5:15pm Mass: Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Fr. Christopher J. Worland, celebrant

St. Michael Church 33 Elm Street • Fort Loramie, OH 45845

8:25am Mass with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
10:00am Litany of the Most Precious Blood
11:00am – 1:00pm Confessions
1:00pm Scripture, Intercessions and Prayer
3:15pm Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries
4:30pm Benediction
5:15pm Mass: Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, celebrant

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement Following Meeting with Pope Francis

09/13/2018 - 11:24am

VATICAN CITY, September 13, 2018 — Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States — how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.

As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”

‘Elitist, clericalist’ church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

09/13/2018 - 10:03am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic Church is “elitist and clericalist,” Pope Francis told Jesuits in Ireland in August.

“There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal — think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States — has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,” the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin.

As is customary when the pope meets Jesuits during a foreign trip, a transcript of his remarks to the 63 Jesuits he met in Ireland was published by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica after the pope had approved the text; it was released Sept. 13.

Pope Francis met the Jesuits in Dublin immediately after meeting eight people who had survived abuse at the hands of priests or in schools, mother and baby homes or other institutions operated by the church or Catholic religious orders.

“I didn’t know that in Ireland there were also cases where unmarried women had their children taken away from them,” the pope told the Jesuits, referring to the practice at many homes for unwed mothers. “Hearing this particularly touched my heart,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the Jesuits for “special help: help the church in Ireland put an end to this. And what do I mean by put an end to it? I don’t mean simply turn the page, but seek out a cure, reparation, all that is necessary to heal the wounds and give life back to so many people.”

The root of the problem, he said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes foster “every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience.”

In confronting abuse and the church culture that allows it to fester, Pope Francis told the Jesuits, “Courage! Be courageous!”

“This is a special mission for you: clean this up, change consciences, do not be afraid to call things by their name,” he told the group.

One of the Jesuits asked the pope for concrete examples of what they should be doing.

“We have to denounce the cases we know about,” the pope responded. “And sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience as I said before. The abuse of power exists. Who among us does not know an authoritarian bishop? Forever in the church there have been authoritarian bishops and religious superiors. And authoritarianism is clericalism.”

Speaking and acting decisively and with authority — for example, in giving a priest an assignment — is not the same thing as authoritarianism, he said. “We need to defeat authoritarianism,” but rediscover the virtue of obedience when being sent in mission.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Friday Night Lights Archdiocese of Cincinnati Football

09/12/2018 - 11:16pm

Week 4 Schedule

Archbishop Alter Knights (3-1) 49
Roger Bacon Spartans (2-2) 14
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Bishop Fenwick Falcons (3-1) 21
Stephen T. Badin Rams (2-2) 9
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Carroll Patriots (4-0) 37
McNicholas Rockets (1-4) 28
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Catholic Central Irish (0-4) 0
West Liberty-Salem Tigers (2-1) 63
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Chaminade Julienne Eagles (4-0) 38
Purcell Marian Cavaliers (3-1) 0
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Elder Panthers (3-0)
St. Edward Eagles (Lakewood OH) (1-2)
Saturday, September 14th at 4:30 p.m.

La Salle Lancers  (3-1) 37
Scott County Cardinals (Georgetown KY) (4-1) 7
NEW TIME: Thursday, September 13th at 7:00 p.m.

Lehman Cavaliers (1-2)
Ridgemont Golden Gophers (1-2)
Saturday, September 15th at TBD

Moeller Fighting Crusaders (3-1) 39
Lafayette Generals (Lexington KY) (1-4) 0
Friday, September 14th at 7:30  p.m.

McNicholas Rockets (1-4) 28
Carroll Patriots (4-0) 37
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Purcell Marian Cavaliers (3-1) 0
Chaminade Julienne Eagles (4-0) 38
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Roger Bacon Spartans (2-2) 14
Archbishop Alter Knights (3-1) 49
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Saint Xavier Bombers  (2-2) 14
Cathedral Fighting Irish (Indianapolis) (2-3) 20
Friday, September 14th at 7:30  p.m. at the University of Indianapolis

Stephen T. Badin Rams (2-2) 9
Bishop Fenwick Falcons (3-1) 21
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Summit Country Day Silver Knights (2-2) 51
Clark Montessori Cougars (0-3) 0
Friday, September 14th at 7:00  p.m.

Week 3 Standings*

Elder Panthers (3-0) Ohio Ranking #9, National Ranking #131
Chaminade Julienne Eagles (4-0) Ohio Ranking #81 National Ranking #1,402
Carroll Patriots (4-0) Ohio Ranking #253, National Ranking #4,703
Purcell Marian Cavaliers (3-1) Ohio Ranking #323 National Ranking #5,875
Saint Xavier Bombers (2-2) Ohio Ranking #7 National Ranking #101
LaSalle Lancers (3-1) Ohio Ranking #12 National Ranking #163
Moeller Fighting Crusaders (3-1) Ohio Ranking #26 National Ranking #458
Archbishop Alter Knights (3-1) Ohio Ranking #49, National Ranking #870
Bishop Fenwick Falcons (3-1) Ohio Ranking #95, National Ranking #1,610
Stephen T. Badin Rams (2-2) Ohio Ranking #180 National Ranking #3,410
Roger Bacon Spartans (2-2) Ohio Ranking #199 National Ranking #3,558
Lehman Cavaliers (1-2) Ohio Ranking #358, National Ranking #7,540
McNicholas Rockets (1-3) Ohio Ranking #411 National Ranking #7,547
Summit Country Day Silver Knights (2-2) Ohio Ranking #479 National Ranking #8,527
Catholic Central Irish (0-4) Ohio Ranking #720, National Ranking #14,220

*Rankings by MaxPreps

Men from Elder pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary was led by Fr. Anthony Brausch, Rector of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Men from Elder pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary was led by Fr. Anthony Brausch, Rector of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)


Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

09/12/2018 - 7:40pm

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights are being violated by the construction and pending use of a natural gas pipeline on its land.

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ are rooting their legal argument in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying that their “deeply held religious convictions about the sacredness of Earth” would be violated once the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline becomes operational.

An attorney for the sisters in Columbia, Pennsylvania, contends that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit erred in allowing provisions of the Natural Gas Act that govern pipeline construction to supersede the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA.

“We think the 3rd Circuit turned it (RFRA) on its head to apply the Natural Gas Act to RFRA rather than RFRA control the Natural Gas Act,” attorney Dwight Yoder told Catholic News Service.

The Adorers announced their decision to petition the high court during a news conference Sept. 7 on their property adjacent to the already-constructed underground pipeline.

In July, a three-judge appeals court panel agreed with a lower court ruling that the congregation had not made their religious objections known during the federal administrative process that led to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of the 183-mile pipeline project.

Yoder said that forcing the Adorers to make such arguments during administrative hearings on the project would have placed an unnecessary burden on them under the law.

He said RFRA provides no provision for individuals to “proactively” inform a federal agency or federal employee to comply with the law. To do so “is absurd in our opinion,” he said.

Instead, he said, federal agencies are compelled under the law to ensure that RFRA’s protections are enforced foremost.

Sister Bernice Klostermann, a member of the congregation who has been involved in challenging the pipeline, told CNS that the order’s claims are important in a country in which religious freedom is a cherished value.

“The previous court cases just seemed like there was something not quite right,” she said. “As Americans, of course, we have a right to appeal. We want to do what we can to see if we can right this.”

The Adorers have long held that allowing construction through their land would run contrary to the congregation’s Land Ethic. Adopted in 2005, the document upholds the sacredness of creation, reverences the earth as a “sanctuary where all life is protected” and treasures the earth’s beauty and sustenance that must be protected for future generations.

Sister Klostermann said that the pipeline violates the congregation’s Land Ethic because leaks of natural gas undoubtedly will occur, polluting the land and air.

“We are really collaborators with God. It’s not like creation happened way, way long ago. Creation is a process. God created man and we are right here creating alongside of him. We are co-creators and stewards of the land,” she said.

Oklahoma-based Williams Partners, through its subsidiary Transco, has completed pipeline construction. Transco petitioned FERC Aug. 24 to allow it to become operational.

In an Aug. 31 letter to FERC, Yoder called on the agency to stop Transco from operating the pipeline until the Adorers have exhausted their legal appeals.

Yoder also reminded the agency that the 3rd Circuit panel “left open the possibility that the Adorers could pursue a claim for damages arising out of FERC’s and Transco’s violation of the Adorers’ rights under RFRA.”

In addition to announcing their Supreme Court petition, the Adorers said at the news conference that they planned to install a solar farm alongside the pipeline. They called the step an act of “resistance” that “would bear witness to clean, sustainable, earth-friendly energy sources.”

As part of their plan to stop the pipeline, the Adorers have collaborated with local activists, including the grass-roots Lancaster Against Pipelines. The organization built a symbolic chapel adjacent to the pipeline route where the sisters and local residents have prayed, reflected and discussed actions to block the massive project.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

09/12/2018 - 2:12pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said.

“True love is true freedom: It detaches from possession, rebuilds relationships, it knows how to welcome and value the neighbor, it transforms every struggle into a joyous gift and makes communion possible,” the pope said Sept. 12 during his weekly general audience.

Before addressing thousands of men, women and children, the pope made his way around St. Peter’s Square and greeted excited pilgrims lined up along the popemobile route.

While making his rounds, the pope abruptly ordered his driver to stop. He made his way to two disabled children and blessed them. The mother of one of the children, overcome with emotion, reverently kissed Pope Francis’ hand before he boarded the popemobile.  

Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on the Third Commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”

The commandment to rest on the Sabbath was linked to the memory of Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt, he said, because slaves “by definition cannot rest.”

“There are many types of slavery, both exterior and interior,” the pope said. “There are external constraints such as lives sequestered by violence and other types of injustice. There are also interior prisons that are, for example, psychological blocks, complexes, limitations and more.”

Recalling the lives of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van Thuan, both of whom “turned dark oppressions into places of light,” the pope said their example proved that people who are physically or mentally imprisoned “can remain free.”

Nevertheless, he also warned that slavery to one’s ego can tie men and women down “more than a prison, more than a panic attack and more than any sort of imposition.”

The pope explained that the “deadly sins,” such as greed, lust, gluttony and sloth can turn people into slaves of their own passions, while others such as anger ruin relationships and envy can sicken a person like a disease.

“Some writers say that envy turns the body and soul yellow, just like when a person who has hepatitis turns yellow,” he said. “The souls of envious people are yellow because they can never have the freshness of a healthy soul.”

Pope Francis said that through his death and resurrection, Christ overcame “the slavery of our heart with his love and salvation” and guides Christians toward true freedom where every person “can find rest in mercy and freedom in truth.”

“True love frees us even in prison, even if we are weak and limited,” Pope Francis said. “This is the freedom that we receive from our redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Wuerl to meet with Pope Francis to discuss resignation

09/12/2018 - 11:42am

Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2018 (CNA).- The Archbishop of Washington told priests Tuesday that he intends to meet with Pope Francis soon to discuss his resignation from office.

In a letter sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington Sept. 11, Cardinal Donald Wuerl wrote that a decision about his future role in the archdiocese is “an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward.

“I intend, in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented nearly three years ago, November 12, 2015.”

Wuerl presented his resignation to the pope in 2015 upon turning 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are requested to submit letters of resignation to the pope.

Calls for Pope Francis to accept Wuerl’s resignation have been frequent in recent months. In June, Wuerl’s predecessor in Washington, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, was publicly accused of serially sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s. As further accusations were made that McCarrick sexually coerced and assaulted seminarians for decades, questions were raised about whether Wuerl knew about McCarrick’s apparent sexual misconduct.

After the Aug. 14 release of a report from a grand jury in Pennsylvania, calls for Wuerl to be replaced intensified. That report suggested that Wuerl had been negligent in the supervision of priests accused of sexually abusing minors while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh, in one case permitting a priest accused of sexual abuse to transfer from ministry in one diocese to another, and signing off on the priest’s suitability for ministry.

An Aug. 25 letter from a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano, raised further questions about Wuerl’s knowledge of McCarrick’s misconduct, and a report that Wuerl permitted McCarrick to have seminarian assistants while under investigation for sexual abuse led to additional criticism.

Wuerl’s Sept. 11 letter noted that he had gathered with priests on Sept. 3, praying with them while trying to “discern the best course of action for me to pursue as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight.”

“At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership,” Wuerl added.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, Ed McFadden, told CNA that Wuerl’s letter is “evidence of a serious and constructive discernment process that Cardinal Wuerl went through, and his appreciation to the priests for their support and engagement in the discernment process, to help him work through it.”

“He understands the need for healing, and that he certainly wants to be a part of that and not bring damage or harm to the Church that he clearly loves,” McFadden said.

Wuerl plans to celebrate a Sept. 14 Mass for Healing in Washington. McFadden told CNA that Wuerl sent his letter before that Mass because the cardinal did not want his status to become a distraction to that event.

Wuerl, McFadden said, “wants the focus to be on the survivors and the start of the healing process” during that Mass.

The Archdiocese of Washington would not confirm when Wuerl will meet with Pope Francis.

Cardinal DiNardo and USCCB officials to meet with Pope Francis

09/12/2018 - 11:39am

Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2018 (CNA).- The director of the Vatican’s press office has confirmed that Pope Francis will meet with the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference Thursday, along with the conference’s vice-president, general secretary, and the president of the pope’s commission on child protection. The meeting is expected to address the clerical sexual abuse crisis that has roiled the Church in the U.S. for several months.

In a short statement released Sept. 11, Greg Burke, director of the Holy See’s press office, said that Francis would meet Sept. 13 with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB president, along with Archbishop Jose Gomez, conference vice-president, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, the general secretary of the conference. Also in attendance will be Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

DiNardo first called for a meeting with Francis in mid-August.

In an Aug. 16 statement, DiNardo said he would present to the Holy See a USCCB plan to address the “moral catastrophe” of sexual abuse. That plan calls for a Vatican investigation into “questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick,” new avenues for reporting misconduct, and new procedures to address complaints against bishops.

More than a week later, on Aug. 27, DiNardo reiterated that he was “eager for a meeting” with Francis.

“I am confident Pope Francis shares our desire for greater effectiveness and transparency in the matter of disciplining bishops,” DiNardo said at that time.

The meeting might also discuss the Vatican’s plans for a canonical process to judge allegations that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s. On Aug. 1, DiNardo wrote that “Archbishop McCarrick will rightly face the judgement of a canonical process at the Holy See regarding the allegations against him.” No such process has been announced by the Holy See

Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops’ leaders

09/12/2018 - 9:48am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops’ conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

The Vatican made the announcement Sept. 12 after the pope and members of his international Council of Cardinals wrapped up three days of meetings.

After hearing from his council, the pope “decided to convoke a meeting with the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the protection of minors,” the council said in a written communique.

The members present “extensively reflected together with the Holy Father on the matters of abuse” during their deliberations Sept. 10-12. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also updated those present with the commission’s ongoing efforts.

Three of the nine council members were absent for the meetings: Cardinal George Pell, 77, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 85, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October.

The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals O’Malley, 74; Pietro Parolin, 63, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 75, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias, 73, of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, 64, of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, 75, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

The papally appointed group of nine cardinal members, the so-called C9, has been tasked with helping advise the pope on the reform of the Vatican’s organization and church governance.

The council said in its communique that, concerning work on the reform of the Curia, it finished “rereading the texts already prepared (and) also called attention to the pastoral care of personnel who work there,” in the Roman Curia.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that a major part of the council’s work was making final changes to the draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Curia.

The document, provisionally titled “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Preach the Gospel”), is still set for further “stylistic editing” and canonical review, she said.

Pope Francis reviewed for his considerations the finalized draft at their last meeting in June. The draft document emphasizes four points: the Curia is at the service of the pope and the local churches throughout the world; the work of the Curia must have a pastoral character; the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State would oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world; and the proclamation of the Gospel and a missionary spirit must characterize the activity of the Curia.

Garcia Ovejero reiterated the council’s last written statement from Sept. 10 in which the members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on “the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members.”

The six again “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis for what has happened in the last few weeks,” she said.

In response to questions, she said there was no word yet on the expected release of the “possible and necessary clarifications” the council said were being formulated by the Holy See given the current debate on abuse in the church.

The council will meet again Dec. 10-12.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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

Anniversary of 9/11 marked with moments of silence, prayer, Masses

09/11/2018 - 9:52pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Brendan McDermid, Reuters


WASHINGTON (CNS) — Churchgoers around the United States once again marked the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with moments of silence, special prayer services and Masses.

In Brooklyn, New York, a Mass for fallen heroes was celebrated at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph Sept. 11.

The Mass followed a procession of firefighters from across the country who first gathered at ground zero in Lower Manhattan, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. They marched in single file across the Brooklyn Bridge carrying 23 ceremonial flags of the New York City Fire Department. Each flag represented one of 23 firefighters from Battalion 57 in Brooklyn killed in the line of duty at the trade center.

The journey from ground zero to Brooklyn served “to symbolically bring the brothers back home,” said organizers. The procession included a ceremonial flag for every New York City firefighter killed that day and an American flag “in remembrance of all who died that day.”

Led by fire trucks and motorcycles, the procession went past several firehouses on the way to the co-cathedral.

Official ceremonies took place at the sites in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania where four hijacked planes crashed 17 years ago, claiming the lives of 2,996 people (including the 19 hijackers).

Two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York, bringing down the twin towers and killing office workers and other staff in the buildings, emergency first responders and people fleeing in the streets.

Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Virginia, just outside Washington, and a fourth airliner went down in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

President Donald Trump spoke at anniversary ceremonies at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville. Vice President Mike Pence addressed a crowd at the Pentagon.

Attending a meeting of the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee Sept. 11 in Washington, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he and his brother bishops remembered all those who perished and their families at a Mass at the U.S. bishops’ conference headquarters.

A week earlier, he said in a statement, he had celebrated Mass at historic St. Peter’s Church in downtown New York. The “venerable church,” he noted, had “served as a sanctuary, first-aid station, hospice, relief center and even a mortuary” on 9/11 and for many days afterward.

It was there that the body of Father Mychal Judge, the fire department chaplain, among the first to die in the attack, “was reverently placed upon the altar.” The Franciscan priest died ministering to victims in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

During Mass at St. Peter’s, Cardinal Dolan said, the congregation “prayerfully remembered with sorrow, reverence and love those who had perished that unforgettable day, and their families who still grieve, along with those who have since lost their lives due to illnesses contracted during the rescue and recovery efforts that followed.”

The attacks have claimed the lives of a number of people who helped clear the wreckage afterward, as cancer and other conditions caused by toxic smoke have begun to emerge.

Cardinal Dolan recalled that nine years ago he was in New York for his first 9/11 anniversary observance, some months after he was installed as archbishop of New York. He was at St. Peter’s then too.

“Never will I forget the wise comment of the pastor at the time, Father Kevin Madigan,” Cardinal Dolan said. The priest told him: “9/11 was Good Friday again here in New York; but the story we need to remember is actually 9/12, a real Easter, as this community rose in rescue, relief, support, rallying and rebuilding.”

In 2015, during his pastoral trip to the United States, Pope Francis visited the site of the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan. He said the grief remained “palpable.”

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Archbishop Ganswein says abuse crisis is church’s 9/11

09/11/2018 - 5:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) — The concern of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI and the promises made by the majority of church leaders were not able to stop the evil of clerical sexual abuse, which has been the 9/11 of the Catholic Church, the retired pope’s personal secretary said.

Even if the “catastrophe” of abuse does not fall on one particular date, but rather extends over “so many days and years” and has claimed “countless victims,” Archbishop Georg Ganswein said, today, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, “the Catholic Church is looking — full of dismay — at its own 9/11.”

Speaking during a book presentation in Rome Sept. 11, Archbishop Ganswein, who is also prefect of the papal household, said, “I don’t mean to compare the victims or the number of abuses concerning the Catholic Church with the 2,996 innocent people in all who lost their lives Sept. 11.”

“No one, so far, has attacked the church of Christ with airlines full of passengers. St. Peter’s Basilica is still standing” as are other symbolic churches in the Western world, he said, according to news reports.

“And yet, the news coming from America that recently informed us about how many souls have been irreparably and mortally wounded by priests of the Catholic Church, gives us a message (that is) even more terrible than if there had been news that all the churches in Pennsylvania had suddenly collapsed together with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,” he said.

Having mentioned the basilica, the archbishop said he was reminded “as if it were yesterday” of when he accompanied Pope Benedict there April 16, 2008. The pope, who also visited New York and Baltimore on that trip, gave a lengthy speech to the nation’s bishops at the shrine.

In the portion of his talk dedicated to the sexual abuse of minors, Pope Benedict “tried poignantly to shake the bishops assembled from all over the United States,” the archbishop said.

Quoting from the pope’s text, the archbishop recalled how the pope spoke about “the deep shame” caused by the sexual abuse of minors by priests and “the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior.”

But that talk, Archbishop Ganswein said, was “evidently in vain, as we see today. The cry of the Holy Father did not succeed in holding back the evil nor did the formal assurances and the verbal commitments by a great part of the hierarchy.”

Archbishop Ganswein has worked with the retired pope since 1996, first serving on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later becoming then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s personal secretary in 2003.

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Satan is attacking bishops; they must fight with prayer, pope says

09/11/2018 - 2:29pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Bishops must remember, particularly when under attack, that their role is to pray, be humble in knowing God chose them and remain close to the people, Pope Francis said in his morning homily.

In fact, a bishop “does not seek refuge from the powerful, the elite, no. It will be the elite who criticize the bishop,” while the people show love toward their bishop and confirm him in his vocation, the pope said Sept. 11.

In these times, Pope Francis said, it seems like the devil, “the great accuser, has been let loose and he’s got it in for the bishops. True, there are, we are all sinners, we bishops.”

The great accuser “seeks to reveal sins, which people can see, in order to scandalize the people” of God, he said in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading according to St. Luke (6:12-19), which recounts how Jesus went to the mountain to pray before choosing his 12 apostles — the church’s first bishops. But the homily also recognized that bishops named over the past year were in Rome for a series of courses on their ministry.

It was a good moment, he said, to reflect on what Jesus did in that Gospel account — pray, elect others and minister to the multitude — and what it teaches today’s bishops.

Jesus’ praying for his apostles means Jesus is always praying for his bishops, which is a “great consolation for a bishop during terrible moments,” he said.

Bishops are also to be men of prayer — praying for themselves and the people of God, he added.

Since the apostles were chosen by Jesus — not the disciples themselves — “the faithful bishop knows that he did not choose,” the pope said. “The bishop who loves Jesus is not a climber who moves up with his vocation as if it were a job.”

Instead, a bishop opens a humble dialogue with the Lord saying, “You chose me, and I am not much, I am a sinner.” Knowing that God did the choosing and watches over his elect, gives a person strength, he said.

And finally, he said, the fact that Jesus goes down from the mountain to teach and heal the people shows that a bishop is “a man who is not afraid to come down to level ground and be close to the people.”

The great accuser, the pope said, “roams the world seeking how to blame. The strength of the bishop against the great accuser is prayer — his own and Jesus’, the humility to feel chosen and staying close to the people of God without heading toward an aristocratic life.”

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Have your prayer intentions heard at pilgrimage sights in Eastern Europe.

09/11/2018 - 1:22pm

Attention prayer warriors! The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be leading fellow pilgrims to holy sites in Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic September 18-30, 2018. Sites include the shrine to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, the Divine Mercy Shrine where St. Faustina lived and died, and sites, shrines, and churches important in the life of St. John Paul II. We would like to bring your prayer intentions with us to all of these holy places. Please e-mail your intentions to Sean Ater at

9-11: We remember

09/11/2018 - 12:35pm
 Carlos Restrepo via ShutterstockGround zero cross. Credit: Carlos Restrepo via Shutterstock

By Adelaide Mena New York City, N.Y., Sep 11, 2018: On the clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan heard an explosion overhead.

He grabbed oils for anointing, ran out the door of St. Peter’s parish in New York City, and wandered towards the center of the commotion – the World Trade Center only a block away.

Fifty blocks uptown, Fr. Christopher Keenan, OFM watched with the world as the smoke rising from the twin towers darkened the television screen. Looking to help, he went to St. Vincent’s Hospital downtown to tend to those wounded in the attack – but the victims never came.

All the while, he wondered what had happened to a brother friar assigned as chaplain to the firefighters of New York City: Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, named by some the “Saint of 9/11.”

Seventeen years ago on this day, hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. In a field in southern Pennsylvania, passengers retook control of the cockpit and crashed the plane before it could reach its intended target, presumed to be in Washington, D.C.

The consequences of the attacks have rippled throughout the United States as the attacks spurred a new global war on terror and irreversibly changed the country’s outlook on terror, security, and international engagement.

For Fr. Madigan, Fr. Keenan and Fr. Judge, the day changed their own lives and ministries, as a pastor lost nearly his entire congregation, and a friar put himself in harm’s way to take on a new position – an assignment he only received because another friar gave the ultimate sacrifice as the Twin Towers came down.

“This experience has seared our soul and our spirit and our life, and it has so seared our spirit and our life that it has penetrated our DNA,” Fr. Keenan told CNA.

“It has changed our lives and we will never be the same,” he said.

It was like losing a village

On Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan had been assigned to St. Peter’s Church in the financial district of Lower Manhattan. The parish is the oldest Catholic church in New York State, “half a block literally from the corner of the World Trade Center,” Fr. Madigan explained to CNA.

“Prior to 9/11 it was a parish that basically serviced the people who came to the neighborhood who came to Mass or Confession, devotions and things like that.” The parish had a full and well-attended schedule of liturgies and prayers, with multiple Masses said during the morning and lunch hour. September 11th changed that.

“Immediately after 9/11, that community was no longer there, because it was like losing a village of 40,000 people next door.”

Fr. Madigan was leaving the sanctuary that morning, heading back to the rectory when overhead he heard the first plane hit the towers. Immediately he made his way towards the commotion, looking to minister to anyone who had been hurt by what had happened.

“I took the oils for anointing anyone who was dying – I didn’t know what was going on there,” he said. However, most of those fleeing the building did not need anointing, Fr. Madigan recalled. “Most people either got out alive or were dead. There weren’t that many people who were in that in-between area.”

Then, there was another explosion from the other tower, and an object – the wheel of an airplane, in fact – went whizzing by Fr. Madigan’s head.

“After the second plane hit I went back to the office and made sure all the staff got out of there fast,” evacuating staff who were unaware of the chaos outside.

Fr. Madigan was back on the street when firefighters began to wonder if the towers might fall.

Thinking it ridiculous, Fr. Madigan kept an eye on a nearby subway entrance, which linked to an underground passage north of the towers. Then, a massive cloud of dust swept towards Fr. Madigan and another priest as the towers did collapse; they ducked into the subway station, emerging amidst the thick smoke and dust several blocks away.

After the towers came down, Fr. Madigan made his way first to the hospital for an emergency health screening, then back to check on St. Peter’s. While he was away from his parish, firefighters and other first responders made use of the sanctuary, temporarily laying to rest over 30 bodies recovered from the wreckage.

The death of Father Mychal

In September of 2001, Fr. Christopher Keenan had been assigned to work with a community ministry program near the parish of St. Francis in midtown Manhattan. At St. Francis, he lived in community along with several other Franciscan Friars, including an old friend he had known for years – Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain for the Fire Department of New York City. Through Fr. Judge, the Friars became especially close with some of their neighbors at a firehouse across the street, who let the friars park their car at the firehouse.

Although the plane flew overhead, Fr. Keenan told CNA that “like everyone else, we found out while watching TV.” As the friars and brothers watched the events unfold on the television, they saw the second plane hit the South Tower; Fr. Keenan decided to go to St. Vincent’s Hospital – one of the closest medical facilities to the Word Trade Center. At the time, he thought there would be injured people who would need to be anointed or would like someone to hear their confession.

However, once he got to St. Vincent’s he found a long line of doctors, nurses and other responders who had come to help: together they “were all waiting for these people to get out who never came.” Victims were either largely able to walk away on their own, or they never made it to the hospital at all.

Instead, Fr. Keenan told CNA, “my responsibility was after people were treated to contact their family members to come and get them.”

As patients began to go home, Fr. Keenan continued to wonder about his brother friar, Fr. Judge, asking firefighters if they knew what had happened to the chaplain. Fr. Keenan left the hospital in the early evening to go hear confessions, but stopped at the firehouse across the street to ask the firemen if they knew where Fr. Judge was: “they told me his body was in the back of the firehouse.”

The mere fact that his body was intact and present at the firehouse that day was in itself a small miracle, Fr. Keenan said. “Mychal’s body that was brought out was one of the only bodies that was intact, recognizable and viewable,” he said. Among those that died in the Twin Towers, he continued, “everyone was vaporized, pulverized and cremated” by the heat of the fire in the towers and the violence of the towers’ collapse. “He was one of the only ones able to be brought out and to be brought home.”

That morning, Fr. Judge had gone along with Battalion 1 to answer a call in a neighborhood close to the Trade Center. Also with the battalion were two French filmmakers filming a documentary on the fire unit. When the towers were hit, the Battalion was one of the first to arrive on the scene. In the film released by the brothers, Fr. Keenan said, “you can see his face and you can tell he knows what’s happening and his lips are moving and you can tell he’s praying his rosary.”

The group entered the lobby of the North Tower and stood in the Mezzanine as the South Tower collapsed – spraying glass, debris and dust throughout the building.

“All the debris roared through the glass mezzanine like a roaring train and his body happened to be blown into the escalators,” Fr. Keenan relayed the experience eyewitnesses told him. In the impact, Fr. Judge hit his head on a piece of debris, killing him almost instantly.

“All of a sudden they feel something at their feet and it was Mychal, but he was gone.“

Members of the fire department, police department and other first responders carried Fr. Judge’s body out of the wreckage, putting his body down first to run as the second tower collapsed, then again to temporarily rest it at St. Peter’s Church. Members of the fire department brought it back to the firehouse where Fr. Keenan saw his friend and prayed over his body.

Fr. Mychal Judge was later listed as Victim 0001 – the first death certificate processed on 9/11.

Despite the sudden and unexpected nature of the attacks, Fr. Keenan told CNA that in the weeks before his friend’s death, Fr. Judge had a sense his death was near.

“He just had a sense that the Lord Jesus was coming.” On several occasions, Fr. Keenan said, Fr. Judge had told him, “You know, Chrissy, the Lord will be coming for me,” and made other references to his death.

“He had a sense that the Lord was coming for him.”

The grueling aftermath

“There was no playbook for how you deal with something in the wake of something like that,” Fr. Madigan said of the aftermath of 9/11. Personally, Fr. Madigan told CNA, he was well-prepared spiritually and mentally for the senseless nature of the attacks.

“I understand that innocent people get killed tragically all the time,” he said, noting that while the scale was larger and hit so close to home, “life goes on.” For many others that he ministered to, however, “it did shake their foundations, their trust and belief in God.”

While the attacks changed the focus of his ministry as a parish priest at the time, they also posed logistical challenges for ministry and aid: St. Peter’s usual congregation of people who worked in and around the World Trade Center vanished nearly overnight. Instead, the whole area was cordoned off for rescue workers and recovery activities as the city began the long task of sorting and removing the debris and rubble.

In addition, a small chapel named St. Joseph’s Chapel, which was cared for and administered by St. Peter’s, was used by FEMA workers as a base for recovery activities during the weeks after the attack. During that time, the sanctuary was damaged and several structures of the chapel, including the pulpit, chairs and interior, were rendered unusable. According to Fr. Madigan, FEMA denies that it ever used the space.

Still, the priests at St. Peter’s saw it as their duty to minister to those that were there – whoever they were.

“The parish, the church building itself was open that whole time,” he said, saying that anyone who had clearance to be within the Ground Zero area was welcome at the church. In the weeks after the attacks, the parish acted as sanctuary, as recovery workers who were discovering body parts and other personal effects “would come in there just to sort of try to get away from that space.”

“Myself and one of the other priests would be out there each day just to be able to talk to anyone who wants to talk about what’s going on,” he added. “We’d celebrate Mass in a building nearby.”

Today, Fr. Madigan has been reassigned to another parish in uptown Manhattan, and St. Peter’s now has found a new congregation as new residents have moved into the neighborhoods surrounding the former World Trade Center site.

Only two months after the attack, Fr. Keenan took on the role of his old friend, Fr. Judge: he was installed as chaplain for the 14,000 first responders of the the FDNY.

Immediately, Fr. Keenan joined the firefighters in their task of looking for the remains – even the most minute fragments – of the more than 2,600 people killed at the World Trade Center. “The rest of the recovery process then was for nine months trying to find the remains.”

For the firefighters in particular, there was a drive to find the remains of the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center and help bring closure to the family members. “You always bring your brother home, you never leave them on the battlefield,” Fr. Keenan said.

The resulting amount of work, as well as the “intense” tradition among firefighters to attend all funerals for members killed in the line of duty meant that the job became all-consuming, with all one’s spare time spent at the World Trade Center site. Sometimes, Fr. Keenan said, he would attend as many as four, five, or six funerals or memorials a day – and many families held a second funeral if body parts were recovered from the site.

“Here are the guys, overtime, going to all the funerals, working spare time on the site looking for recovery, and taking care of the families,” he said. “I was 24/7, 365 for 26 months.”

In addition, Fr. Keenan and the rest of the FDNY worked inside “this incredible toxic brew” of smoke, chemicals and fires that burned among the ruins at Ground Zero for months.

“I would be celebrating Mass at 10:00 on a Sunday morning down there,” he recalled, “and just 30 feet from where I’m celebrating Mass at the cross, the cranes are lifting up the steel.”

While both buildings had contained more than 200 floors of offices, there was “not a trace of a computer, telephones, files, nothing. Everything was totally decimated.” Instead, all that was left was steel, dirt and the chemicals feeding the fires that smouldered underground in the footprint of the towers.

“The cranes are lifting up the steel and the air is feeding the fires underneath, and out of that is coming these incredible colors of yellow, black and green smoke, and we all worked in the recovery process.” The experience working the recovery at the World Trade Center site is one that Fr. Keenan considers a “gift” and an “honor.”

“It was an incredible experience really,” he said.

Fr. Keenan recounted a conversation the firefighters had with him a few days after he was commissioned. After pledging to “offer my life to protect the people and property of New York City,” the other firefighters told their new chaplain “we know you’re ours, don’t you forget that every one of us is yours,” promising to stand by their new shepherd. “I’m the most loved and cared for person in the world and who has it better than me?”

While the formal recovery process has ended and a new tower, One World Trade Center, stands just yards from the original site of Ground Zero, the experience – and the chemicals rescue workers came in contact with for months – still affect the firefighters.

In 2016 alone, “we put 17 new names on the wall,” said Fr. Keenan, “who died this past year from of the effects of 9/11.” He explained that in the years following the attack, thousands of rescuers and first responders – including Fr. Keenan himself – have developed different cancers and illnesses linked to their exposure at the World Trade Center site. In fact, at the time of the interview in 2016, Fr. Keenan had just returned from a screening for the more than 20 toxic chemicals the responders were exposed to. He warned that the “different cancers and the lung problems that are emerging are just the tip of the iceberg,” and worried that as time progressed, other cancers and illnesses linked to the attack recovery would emerge.

The first responders are also dealing with the psychological fallout of the attacks among themselves, Fr. Keenan said, though many are dealing with it in their own way, and with one another.

Looking back, Fr. Keenan told CNA he still finds it difficult to express the experience to others or to make sense of what it was like when he would go down into “the pit” to work alongside the firefighters and other first responders. “The only image I had as time went on and I asked ‘how do I make sense of this as a man of faith?’ is that it was like I was descending into hell and I was seeing the face of God on the people that were there.”

The same image had come to his mind to make sense of taking care of patients with AIDS in the 1990s, he said, even though nothing can fully make sense of events like these.

“I was like a midwife to people in their birthing process from life to death to new life,” he recalled. “All I can do is be present there, they have to do the work, I can be present there, I can pray with them.”

“That’s how in faith I kind of sort of comprehended it.”

This article was originally published on CNA Sept. 11, 2016.

Council of Cardinals expresses ‘full solidarity’ with pope

09/10/2018 - 6:45pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals expressed “full solidarity” with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio.

Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the council participated in the meeting Sept. 10.

The six “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is formulating possible and necessary clarifications,” according to a statement released after the first day of what was expected to be a three-day meeting.

The September session of the council was the first since news broke in late June about an investigation finding credible sexual abuse allegations against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, since the release in mid-August of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on how six dioceses handled abuse allegations and since the publication in late August of a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, alleging that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual misconduct yet allowed him to continue in active ministry.

Pope Francis formed the Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, shortly after his election in 2013 to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia and on church governance generally.

The statement Sept. 10 said that council members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on “the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members.”

The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

The three who were absent were: 85-year-old Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October; and 77-year-old Australian Cardinal George Pell, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges.

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Fear leads to silence amid suffering of sick, needy, pope says

09/10/2018 - 2:38pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Favio Frustaci, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Fear often causes people to remain silent in the face of other’s suffering and marginalize the sick and those most in need, Pope Francis said.

Instead of being viewed as “an occasion to manifest care and solidarity,” the sick and the suffering are often seen as problem, the pope said Sept. 9 during his Sunday Angelus address.

After praying the Angelus prayer with an estimated 15,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the pope led them in applauding the beatification of Blessed Alphonse Marie Eppinger, a 19th-century nun who founded the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer.

“Let us give thanks to God for this courageous and wise woman who, while suffering in silence and prayer, gave witness to God’s love, especially to those who were sick in body and spirit,” the pope said.

In his main address, Pope Francis reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Mark, which recalled Jesus’ healing of a deaf man who had a speech impediment.

According to the Gospel, Jesus healed the man as he placed his “finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue” as he looked up to heaven and said, “Ephphatha” (“Be opened”).

Pope Francis explained that the Gospel story emphasizes a “two-fold healing” that not only involves restoring the “physical health of the body” but also the “healing of fear” that “drives us to marginalize the sick, to marginalize the suffering, the disabled.”

“There are many ways of marginalizing, also with pseudo-compassion or by removing the problem; one remains deaf and dumb in the face of the suffering of people marked by illness, anguish and difficulties,” he said.

Jesus’ command that the man’s ears and tongue “be opened” is also a calling for Christians to be open to “our suffering brothers and sisters in need of help” and to reject selfishness and the closure of one’s heart, the pope said.

The heart, he added, is what Jesus came to “liberate, to make us capable of living fully our relationship with God and with others.”

Jesus became human so that human beings, “rendered interiorly deaf and dumb by sin, can listen to the voice of God, the voice of love that speaks to the heart and thus learn to speak, in turn, the language of love, translating it into gestures of generosity and self-giving,” Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Clear response to abuse crisis is urgently needed, cardinal says

09/10/2018 - 2:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Responding quickly and appropriately to the problem of abuse must be a priority for the Catholic Church, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“Recent events in the church have us all focused on the urgent need for a clear response on the part of the church for the sexual abuse of minors” and vulnerable adults, he told Vatican News Sept. 9.

“Bringing the voice of survivors to leadership of the church is crucial if people are going to have an understanding of how important it is for the church to respond quickly and correctly anytime a situation of abuse may arise,” he said.

The cardinal, who is the archbishop of Boston, spoke at the end of the papal commission’s plenary assembly in Rome Sept. 7-9. Afterward, Cardinal O’Malley remained in Rome for the meeting Sept. 10-12 of Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals.

Cardinal O’Malley told Vatican News that in cases of abuse “if the church is unable to respond wholeheartedly and make this a priority, all of our other activities of evangelization, works of mercy, education are all going to suffer. This must be the priority that we concentrate on right now.”

The pontifical commission, he explained, is an advisory body set up to make recommendations to the pope and to develop and offer guidelines, best practices and formation to church leaders throughout the world, including bishops’ conferences, religious orders and offices in the Roman Curia.

The commission is not an investigative body and does not deal with past abuses or current allegations, but its expert-members try, through education, leadership training and advocacy, to “change the future so that it will not be a repeat of the sad history” the church has experienced, he said.

“There are other dicasteries of the Holy See that have the responsibility for dealing with the cases and dealing with individual circumstances of abuse or negligence on the part of authority, and our commission cannot be held accountable for their activities,” he said.

Most allegations of clerical sexual abuse are handled through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Commission members, however, have spoken with officials at various Vatican offices, including the doctrinal congregation. For those meetings, Cardinal O’Malley said he always brings a survivor with him “to talk to them about the church’s mission of safeguarding, and I think those (moments) have been very successful.”

Safeguarding training for bishops, priests and religious around the world is meant to help them become “aware of the seriousness” of abuse and negligence, “to be equipped to be able to respond” and to be able “to put the safeguarding of children and the pastoral care of victims as their priority,” said the cardinal.

A critical part of building awareness, he said, has been making the voice of survivors be heard directly by leadership. Every year when new bishops attend a course in Rome, the commission also addresses the group.

Cardinal O’Malley said he usually invites former commission member, Marie Collins — a survivor of Irish clerical sex abuse — to speak to the new bishops “so that they can hear directly from someone who has experienced this horror in their own life, to explain to the them the consequences and repercussions for the individual, their family and the whole community.”

Even though Collins was unable to attend this year, she made “a wonderful video” that the cardinal shared with the approximately 200 bishops appointed in the past year, he said.

Year after year, the cardinal said, “so many bishops have come up to me and told me that Marie Collins’ testimony was the most important conference that they had heard during their entire week of conferences for the new bishops.” That is why, he said, it is so crucial for the voices of survivors to be heard by leaders if they are ever to understand the importance of responding quickly and appropriately.

The cardinal also mentioned a number of new initiatives and resources the commission has been working on, such as special auditing instruments for bishops’ conferences to measure the implementation and compliance of safeguarding policies as well as the idea of setting up “survivor advisory panels” in different countries to advise local bishops and the papal commission.

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Letter confirms Vatican officials knew of McCarrick allegations in 2000

09/07/2018 - 7:47pm

By Robert Duncan and Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A top official from the Vatican Secretariat of State acknowledged allegations made by a New York priest in 2000 concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, according to a letter obtained by Catholic News Service.

Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church Yorkville in New York City, told CNS Sept. 7 that he received the letter dated Oct. 11, 2006, from then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, asking for information regarding a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary and was being vetted for a post at a Vatican office. He made the letter available to CNS.

Then-Archbishop Sandri wrote to Father Ramsey, “I ask with particular reference to the serious matters involving some of the students of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which in November 2000 you were good enough to bring confidentially to the attention of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo.”

Father Ramsey had been on the faculty of the seminary from 1986 to 1996 and had sent a letter in 2000 to Archbishop Montalvo informing him of complaints he heard from seminarians studying at the seminary, located in South Orange, New Jersey.

In the letter, Father Ramsey told CNS, “I complained about McCarrick’s relationships with seminarians and the whole business with sleeping with seminarians and all of that; the whole business that everyone knows about,” Father Ramsey said.

Father Ramsey said he assumed the reason the letter from then-Archbishop Sandri, who is now a cardinal and prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, only mentioned “serious matters involving ” seminarians and not McCarrick’s behavior was because accusations against the former cardinal were “too sensitive.”

“My letter November 22, 2000, was about McCarrick and it wasn’t accusing seminarians of anything; it was accusing McCarrick.”

While Father Ramsey has said he never received a formal response to the letter he sent in 2000, he told CNS he was certain the letter had been received because of the note he got from then-Archbishop Sandri in 2006 acknowledging the allegations he had raised in 2000.

The 2006 letter not only confirms past remarks made by Father Ramsey, but also elements of a document written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016.

In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of sexual abuse, as well as abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop McCarrick.

Archbishop Vigano stated that the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 — when he was an official at the Secretariat of State — of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick “shared his bed with seminarians.” Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegation from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005 and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011.

In late June, Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry “in obedience” to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.

Since then, several former seminarians have claimed that the cardinal would invite groups of them to a beach house and insist individual members of the group share a bed with him.


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Glenmary council releases letter concerning abuse

09/07/2018 - 3:19pm

Dear mission parishioners, supporters, and friends:

By now you have likely seen headlines concerning abuse in the church, mismanagement by bishops, and even accusations against the Holy Father. At Glenmary we are also following these stories with keen interests, and heavy hearts.

No child should ever suffer abuse, but when a credible allegation of abuse is made, the only acceptable response is swift, focused on justice, and sensitive to the accuser. Glenmary is committed to that response should one of our missioners be accused of abuse.

There are no present cases of abuse under investigation against any Glenmarian, but you should know that our history is not spotless. In our 80 years we have failed at times in keeping abusers out of our ranks, and for that we are forever sorry. We are committed to never repeating the sins of the past.

To make this commitment concrete, Glenmary has the following procedures in place to protect children.

Should Glenmary receive an allegation of abuse against a missioner, the president of Glenmary would immediately notify relevant civil authorities, and fully cooperate with their investigation. The accused missioner would be instructed to return to Glenmary’s Cincinnati headquarters immediately and would be removed from ministry while the allegation’s credibility was investigated.

Glenmary would hire an independent firm to investigate as well, though this may be suspended during criminal proceedings to better facilitate cooperation with civil authorities. An independent review board which consists, in part, of survivors of clergy sexual abuse, would help guide Glenmary through this process.

If allegations were to be substantiated, even if they were past the legal statute of limitations, the missioner would not be permitted to engage in public ministry any longer and would be placed under a safety plan designed to prevent future abuse.

Glenmary will never allow a credibly accused missioner to continue in public ministry.

Should abuse occur at the hands of a priest or brother, Glenmary offers continued independent counseling services to the victims. We recognize that abuse of any kind causes lifelong trauma, pain and damage for the abused and their families. Glenmary offers compassion, prayers and support to all survivors of abuse. These steps and others are part of Glenmary’s accreditation by Praesidium, a national youth protection organization.

Any financial obligations related to potential cases of abuse come from Glenmary’s self-generated income, and not from donor funds.

We write this to assure you, as best we can in troubled times, that the priests and brothers caring for your communities in the name of Glenmary are good, holy and mentally healthy men. Should we ever be given evidence to the contrary, we will act swiftly and decisively.

Anyone who believes he or she has been abused by a member of Glenmary Home Missioners is encouraged to contact both Glenmary President Father Chet Artysiewicz at 513-881-7448 and appropriate authorities. Glenmary promises full cooperation with the civil authorities in the reporting and investigation of such allegations.

Please keep Glenmarians, and the church at large, in your prayers and be assured of our prayers for you.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 513-881-7448.

Glenmary Executive Council
Father Chet Artysiewicz, president
Father Neil Pezzulo, first vice president
Brother Larry Johnson, second vice president

Editor’s Note: The full press release can be seen HERE