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Update: Families called to share joy, love, life with the world, pope says

08/25/2018 - 10:34pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

DUBLIN (CNS) — In a stadium of Catholic families from around the world, Pope Francis told the laypeople they are the vast majority of church members and that, without them, the church would be cold, a collection of statues.

“God wants every family to be a beacon of joy of his love to our world,” the pope said Aug. 25, celebrating the Festival of Families in Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium.

The Irish dance troupe Riverdance thrilled the crowd and brought a big smile to Pope Francis’ face. “The Priests,” a classical Irish trio of priests, performed, as did Nathan Carter, an Irish country singer, and tenor Andrea Bocelli.

Families from India, Canada, Iraq, Ireland and Burkina Faso stood on stage near the pope while pre-recorded video versions of their testimonies played.

The Canadian couple, Marissa and Aldo d’Andrea of Toronto, spoke about their 54 years of marriage, their four children and 13 grandchildren — and one on the way.

The Iraqi couple, Enass and Sarmaad Mekhael, are refugees living in Australia. Enass’ brother was Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, a 35-year-old Chaldean Catholic priest murdered in 2007 at a parish in Mosul, Iraq.

The families, who have faced joys and heartache and have held on to each other and to their faith, are models of how each Catholic family is called to give a witness in the world to the love of God, the pope said.

“That is what holiness is all about,” he said. “I like to speak of the saints next door, all those ordinary people who reflect God’s presence in the life and history of the world.”

Pope Francis insisted, “The vocation to love and to holiness is not something reserved for a privileged few,” but is a call that comes with baptism.

One key aspect of God’s love is God’s willingness to forgive, and that is an essential part of family life, too, the pope said.

Every family experiences tensions and arguments, the pope said, but “sometimes you are angry and tempted to sleep in another room — alone and apart — but just knock on the door and say: ‘Please, can I come in?’ All it takes is a look, a kiss, a sweet word and everything returns to normal.”

Pope Francis said the stories shared by the couples clearly show the strength and power that come from faith and from the grace of sacramental marriage.

“The love of Christ that renews all things is what makes possible marriage and a conjugal love marked by fidelity, indissolubility, unity and openness to life,” he said. “God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — created mankind in his image to share in his love, to be a family of families and to enjoy the peace that he alone can give.”

Many seats in the stadium remained empty. Years of revelations of the extent of decades of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by church officials and their long-delayed response to the problem have devastated Irish Catholics, sent church attendance plummeting and contributed strongly to the waning influence of the Irish hierarchy in public discourse.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis spent 90 minutes meeting privately with eight survivors of the abuse. One survivor, Father Patrick McCafferty, tweeted that it was “an excellent meeting in every respect.”

“I think all this with the abuse is taking its toll,” said Laura Egan of Dublin, who attended the Croke Park event. “I came to see the last pope in 1979. Pope Francis is a wonderful man. I do think he can bring the church through this abuse scandal, but it’s those in the Vatican who need to do something about it. That insider circle has a lot of power. I think Francis can make that happen.”

Paul Doherty, 53, a security guard from County Meath, told Catholic News Service, “the faith is still strong here, but this is a very different Ireland from the one Pope John Paul II visited. Hopefully this will strengthen the faith here.

Doherty, a eucharistic minister in his parish, added: “The church in Ireland needs new life, new thinking. We need to let the people speak — about divorce, marriage, abortion, same-sex marriage. The people of Ireland have a voice. And they’re using their voice.”

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Contributing to this story was Gina Christian.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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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

Pope meets survivors of abuse in Ireland

08/25/2018 - 8:12pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

DUBLIN (CNS) — Pope Francis spent 90 minutes meeting privately with eight survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy or in Catholic-run schools and institutions.

The meeting took place at the Vatican nunciature in Dublin Aug. 25, the first day of Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Ireland, the Vatican press office announced.

Afterward, two of the survivors published a statement describing the meeting. They said, “Pope Francis condemned corruption and cover-up within the church as ‘caca’ — literally filth as one sees in a toilet, his translator clarified.”

The Vatican named seven of the survivors who met with the pope and said the eighth asked to remain anonymous. Those named were: Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Father Patrick McCafferty, who was abused in a seminary; Father Joe McDonald; Damian O’Farrell; Paul Jude Redmond; Clodagh Malone; and Bernadette Fahy.

The sexual and physical abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clergy and religious occurred on an unprecedented scale in Ireland, leaving thousands of victims in its wake and toppling the authority and the social and political influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told reporters Aug. 22 that the number of children physically, sexually and emotionally abused by Catholic clergy and in church-run institutions in Ireland was “immense.” It included victims in church-run industrial schools, the Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and parishes.

Redmond and Malone, two of the survivors who met the pope, issued a statement afterward through their Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors. They were the ones who said the pope used the Italian word for excrement to describe the situation.

According to the statement, “Malone, who was born in St. Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin and adopted at 10 weeks old, asked the pope to clearly and publicly state that the natural mothers who lost their babies to adoption had done nothing wrong and (to) call for reconciliation and reunion for these families broken by the Catholic Church both in Ireland and around the world.”

Evidence suggests that the babies of many of the unwed mothers who gave birth to their children in the Catholic-run homes were placed in adoption without the consent of the mothers.

Redmond was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home, the statement said, and was adopted at 17 days. He asked Pope Francis to call on the religious orders that ran the homes “to accept their responsibilities for the horror that went on for generations in the homes.”

“The pope did apologize to all of us for what happened in the homes,” their statement said.

Redmond and Malone gave the pope a letter claiming some 100,000 single mothers were forcibly separated from their babies and usually were told “it was a mortal sin” to search for the children later.

“As a act of healing, Pope Francis, we ask that you make it clear to the now elderly and dying community of natural mothers and adoptees, that there is no sin in reunion and rather that it is a joyous event that should be encouraged and facilitated by the Catholic Church.”

Major revelations about sexual and physical abuse in Irish Catholic institutions and how church officials covered it up started to become public in the mid-1990s. A series of judicial reports detailed a pattern of cover-up and a tendency to put the avoidance of scandal and the reputation of the church ahead of the needs of those who were abused. Four Irish bishops resigned after being criticized for their handling of abuse allegations.

When the crisis was at its high point in 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the people of Ireland and addressed survivors directly: “You have suffered grievously, and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen.”

Pope Benedict ordered an apostolic visitation of Ireland’s four archdioceses, its seminaries and its religious orders.

Before the pope left Rome for Ireland, the Vatican had said the pope would meet with some survivors.

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that even in 2015 when Pope Francis chose Dublin as the site of the World Meeting of Families 2018, he knew that the history of abuse and the ongoing trauma it caused would be on the agenda.

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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

Pope acknowledges ‘repugnant crimes’ of abuse in Ireland

08/25/2018 - 1:16pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

DUBLIN (CNS) — Acknowledging the failures “of bishops, religious superiors, priests and others” in the Catholic Church to protect children from the “repugnant crimes” of physical and sexual abuse, Pope Francis began his two-day visit to Ireland.

Meeting with civil, cultural and religious leaders in Dublin Castle Aug. 25, the pope said he knew that the horrendous history of abuse and its cover-up in Ireland “has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.”

“I myself share those sentiments,” the pope said.

Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said his letter to the people of God Aug. 20 included “commitment, a greater commitment to eliminating this scourge from the church whatever the cost.”

With the welcoming ceremony held at the presidential residence rather than the airport, the mood as the pope descended the steps from his plane was subdued. Few people were on the road from the airport into the city. Close to Dublin Castle a group of teenagers held welcome signs, including one that said, “We love the pope. He gives us hope.”

Before heading to the castle, Pope Francis stopped at “Aras an Uachtarain,” the Irish president’s residence, where planted a tree, just as St. John Paul II had done in 1979. The late pope’s oak is now a mature, shade-providing tree. The Vatican press office said the pope and President Michael D. Higgins spent 15 minutes speaking privately.

Welcoming Pope Francis to Dublin Castle, Leo Varadkar, the 39-year-old prime minister or Taoiseach, acknowledged how much the Catholic Church had done over the centuries for the people of Ireland.

But he also spoke plainly of the way both the church and the Irish state failed its people, especially the most vulnerable.

“The failures of both church and state and wider society created a bitter and broken heritage for so many, leaving a legacy of pain and suffering,” Varadkar said. “It is a history of sorrow and shame.”

“In place of Christian charity, forgiveness and compassion, far too often there was judgment, severity and cruelty, in particular toward women and children and those on the margins,” he said, citing the Magdalene laundries, where women considered promiscuous were forced to work, illegal adoptions arranged for children of unwed mothers without their consent and the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

“Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors,” he said, before asking the pope to “use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the world.”

The “heart-breaking stories from Pennsylvania of brutal crimes” against children detailed in the grand jury report in mid-August and the cover-up the report described “is a story all too tragically familiar here in Ireland,” the prime minister said.

“There can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate that abuse,” he said. “We must now ensure that from words flow actions. Above all, Holy Father, I ask to you to listen to the victims.”

Pope Francis, speaking after the prime minister, acknowledged how thousands were mistreated by priests and religious. “It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast light on the failings of many, will serve to emphasize the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole.”

The main purpose of the pope’s trip Aug. 25-26 was to join celebrations of the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families. He told reporters traveling on the plane from Rome with him that he loves spending time with families. He also told them he was pleased “to return to Ireland after 38 years. I was there almost three months (in 1980) to practice my English.”

Addressing Irish leaders at Dublin Castle, the pope spoke in Italian.

Ireland has seen major changes since then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio studied English there. In 1995, voters approved a referendum to legalize divorce; the Good Friday agreements bringing peace to Ireland and Northern Ireland were signed in 1998; gay marriage was approved in a 2015 referendum; and in May, 66 percent of Irish voters approved a referendum to legalize divorce. The legislation is expected to be signed in the fall.

Still, Pope Francis said, Catholics have and will continue to enrich the country with the values of their faith.

“Even in Ireland’s darkest hours,” he said, the people “found in that faith a source of the courage and commitment needed to forge a future of freedom and dignity, justice and solidarity.”

As Ireland grows more diverse, the pope said, he hoped the country would “not be forgetful of the powerful strains of the Christian message that have sustained it in the past and can continue to do so in the future.”

Thanking Ireland for hosting the World Meeting of Families, the pope said the Catholic Church wants “to support families in their efforts to respond faithfully and joyfully to their God-given vocation in society.”

“One need not be a prophet to perceive the difficulties faced by our families in today’s rapidly evolving society,” Pope Francis said, “or to be troubled by the effects that the breakdown in marriage and family life will necessarily entail for the future of our communities at every level.”

“Families are the glue of society,” he said. “Their welfare cannot be taken for granted, but must be promoted and protected by every appropriate means.”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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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

In Ireland, Pope Francis decries failure of bishops in abuse scandal

08/25/2018 - 11:03am

By Hannah Brockhaus

Dublin, Ireland, Aug 25, 2018 / 05:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In Ireland on Saturday, Pope Francis said the anger of Catholics at bishops’ failure in response to the sexual abuse crisis is appropriate and that he shares those feelings.

“With regard to the most vulnerable, I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” he said to Irish authorities Aug. 25.

“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community.” He added: “I myself share those sentiments.”

In his first official speech of the apostolic voyage to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, the pope said he hopes the “failings of many” will underscore the importance of protecting children and vulnerable adults by all of society.

He referenced the words of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who in a letter to the Catholics of Ireland recognized the gravity of the situation of child sex abuse and demanded “truly evangelical, just and effective” measures in response to the betrayal of trust.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope added that Benedict’s involvement continues to push Church leaders to “remedy past mistakes and adopt stringent rules to ensure that they do not happen again.”

Francis said his recent letter to the Church affirmed a greater commitment “to eliminate this scourge in the Church; at any cost – moral and suffering.”

He said he is “very conscious” of the circumstances of the most vulnerable and emphasized the goodness of the child, which he said is “a precious gift of God, to be cherished, encouraged to develop his or her gifts, and guided to spiritual maturity and human flourishing.”

“All of us are aware of how urgent it is to provide our young people with wise guidance and sound values on their journey to maturity,” he stated.

In his speech, the pope also spoke out in defense of the “right to life” of the unborn, criticizing the materialistic “throwaway culture” which makes people indifferent to the poor and to the most defenseless.

He also pointed out that the “Christian message” has been a vital part of Ireland, shaping the thought and culture of the people. It is his prayer, he said, that as the country listens to the contemporary political and social discussion, it will not forget its Christian heritage.

Speaking about his reason for being in Dublin, the World Meeting of Families, he called it “a prophetic witness” to the rich heritage of ethical and spiritual values, which it is a duty to cherish and protect and that the Church wants to support people as they try to respond, “faithfully and joyfully to their God given vocation in society.”

There are many difficulties faced by families today – nevertheless, they are “are the glue of society,” he said, and should not be taken for granted.

The World Meeting of Families, he explained, “is not only an opportunity for families to reaffirm their commitment to loving fidelity, mutual assistance and reverence for God’s gift of life in all its forms, but also to testify to the unique role played by the family in the education of its members and the development of a sound and flourishing social fabric.”

Calling the entire world a type of family, he said bonds of common humanity should drive us to take care of the weakest among us, even though we are often left feeling powerless in the face of “persistent evils,” such as racism, ethnic hatred, violence, and contempt for human dignity.

Among these is also the refugee crisis, he said, calling it “perhaps the most disturbing” challenge to consciences. “How much we need to recover, in every instance of political and social life, the sense of being a true family of peoples!” he urged.

As survivors find voice, church leaders wrestle with how to address issue

08/24/2018 - 9:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Chaz Muth

PITTSBURGH (CNS) — Pennsylvania survivors of clergy sex abuse spent the week after the release of the grand jury report finding their voice as bishops and priests in the state wrestled with how to address the growing scandal.

Several of the survivors traveled around the state to speak publicly about their victimization at the hands of predator priests, many of whom said their “coming out” is liberating them from decades of shame.

Ed Rodgers of Bradford said he found the courage to re-emerge more than 20 years after he accused a priest of molesting him as a youth.

Though Rodgers, now 45, said he was publicly shamed by the Diocese of Erie, lay Catholics in his hometown and the state legal system in the late 1990s, he said a recent scathing grand jury report inspired him to break his silence.

A Pennsylvania grand jury report released Aug. 14 detailed more than 1,000 claims of sex abuse in six dioceses in the state going back 70 years and identified 301 priests and church workers who may have committed the crimes. The report also singled out some bishops for their improper handling of accused abusers.

Rodgers, who spoke with reporters in front of Bradford’s St. Bernard Catholic Church Aug. 21, had plenty of company from others in the state who say they were sexually abused by priests.

Many of them gathered with members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, in front of diocesan buildings throughout Pennsylvania beginning Aug. 20, telling their stories, demanding changes in the statute of limitation laws, and calling for accountability from bishops and the church.

Reaction by church officials was different from diocese to diocese.

The Aug. 20 SNAP news conference at the Diocese of Pittsburgh was tense, angry and confrontational, while the Aug. 21 event at the Diocese of Erie was congenial, with gratitude expressed by the survivors who organized it.

As news camera operators jockeyed for position on the crammed Pittsburgh sidewalk to hear the survivors’ testimonials, a priest who works for diocese came out of the building to listen to the speakers.

The priest’s presence angered a few survivors who called Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik a “coward” for not coming out himself.

While some of the survivors engaged in respectful dialogue with Msgr. Ron Lengwin, vicar for church relations for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, others began to shout, and the scene digressed into an anger-charged event laced with profanity.

By contrast, when the same group of survivors and SNAP organizers arrived at the Diocese of Erie the next day, they were greeted by Bishop Lawrence T. Persico, who invited them to move their news conference from the sidewalk along the street, which is a good distance from the front of the building, onto the diocesan headquarters property.

When the SNAP organizers said they were not allowed onto church property, Bishop Persico assured them it was within his power to grant them permission, at which time they appreciatively accepted the invitation.

Though the survivors still made demands and called for the church not to lobby against a change in the statute of limitations laws, the tone was in striking contrast to the event in Pittsburgh and organizers told members of the media they appreciated the bishop’s presence.

“I’m quite surprised,” said Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest regional leader. “I have done press events in many dioceses all over the country and he is the first bishop I have ever met.”

About an hour before the event began, Bishop Persico told Catholic News Service he wanted to go out and listen and his only hesitation was that he didn’t want his presence to overshadow what the survivors came there to say.

Ultimately, he opted to personally let the group know they were welcomed and that he was listening, which he said he thought was important for them and for the Catholic Church.

Though Bishop Persico acknowledged the institution was reeling from the blow of the grand jury report, he said it was self-inflicted wound and that it was a moral obligation of church leaders to not only do penance for these sins, they needed to begin the healing process by listening to all of those who are suffering.

Following the event, Bishop Persico had a private meeting with Pittsburgh resident Jim VanSickle, who has accused a former teacher at Bradford Central Christian High School, Father David Poulson, of molesting him in the late 1970s.

Father Poulson was charged last May with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors, stemming from an accusation from two boys.

Like most of the survivors who testified before the grand jury, VanSickle is prevented from filing charges or bringing a lawsuit, because his accusations are nearly four decades old.

Though he had told his parents and wife about an incident involving Poulson many years ago, he didn’t speak out publicly until the priest’s arrest earlier this year.

“Before I started to speak out, I told my wife (Trish VanSickle), ‘If I do this, I’m doing it all of the way,” he told CNS. “She understood that meant media coverage and relinquishing our privacy. She was supportive, like she always is, and encouraged me to do it.”

VanSickle has given countless national media interviews since the grand jury report was released and has become a very public advocate to change Pennsylvania law to allow survivors to file charges and bring civil suits against their assailants decades later.

“It took me decades to come to terms with what happened to me, and I’m being punished for that with the statute of limitations, meaning, I won’t get my day in court,” he said.

Though his public crusade has drawn both praise and criticism, Trish VanSickle said it’s been cleansing and therapeutic for her husband, who was prone to erratic mood swings and outbursts before he came to terms with what had happened to him.

Though people are often afraid to come forward about such abuse at the hands of predator priests, they usually find tremendous relief once they do, said Father Raymond Gramata, pastor at VanSickle’s boyhood parish, St. Bernard Catholic Church in Bradford.

The #MeToo movement, a social media campaign that has emboldened women to call out sexual abuse and harassment without being publicly shamed for it, has made the current climate easier for those abused by priests to come forward with less fear of repercussions, Bishop Persico said.

In the past it wasn’t unusual for accusers to be publicly shamed by parishioners who rallied behind their beloved priest, questioning their honesty and motives for coming forward, he said.

“We have to stop that kind of shaming,” Father Gramata said, “or else there can be no healing. The people who were harmed and damaged can’t heal if that happens and the church can’t heal either.

“We can’t continue to sweep this under the carpet,” he said. “We need to air this out and deal with it. Trust me, everyone needs to heal from this.”

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Follow Muth on Twitter: @chazmaniandevyl

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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

Prominent Irish abuse survivor backs Cardinal O’Malley

08/24/2018 - 6:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/John McElroy, courtesy World Meeting of Families

By Sarah Mac Donald

DUBLIN (CNS) — Marie Collins, a survivor of Irish clerical sex abuse, has given her backing to Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley as president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

At a news conference at the World Meeting of Families Aug. 24, Collins, a former member of the Vatican commission, said the cardinal had worked “very hard” to try to achieve safeguarding changes.

“The fact that the commission has not been able to achieve anything in the last four years is not down to Cardinal O’Malley. I don’t think it is fair to lay it at the door of the cardinal; it is down to the resistance within the Vatican,” she said.

Collins, 71, also said Cardinal O’Malley had helped put together the accountability tribunal proposals for church leaders, which were accepted by Pope Francis but ended up being shelved due to curial resistance.

In March 2017, Collins resigned in protest over the blocking of the commission’s work.

“All the other recommendations came from the commission when I was there, and Cardinal O’Malley was fully behind and part of putting them forward. So, there is no question of him being an impediment. The impediment came from within the Vatican Curia,” she said.

Collins was responding to the survivor group End Clergy Abuse, which called for Cardinal O’Malley to be dismissed from the pontifical commission over its failure to deliver more far-reaching change.

Gabriel Dy-Liacco, a psychotherapist and current member of the pontifical commission, also backed Collins’ view: “What we have been able to get through is because of Cardinal O’Malley largely.”

Both participated in the panel on safeguarding children Aug. 24. The session at the Royal Dublin Society was moderated by Baroness Sheila Hollins, a psychiatrist and former member of the Vatican’s safeguarding advisory body. Hollins replaced Cardinal O’Malley, who withdrew the previous week to concentrate on allegations of inappropriate behavior at St John’s Seminary in his archdiocese.

The fourth panelist was Barbara Thorp, former head of the Office for Pastoral Support and Child Protection for the Boston Archdiocese.

Collins outlined a series of measures she would like the church to implement to keep children safe.

She later told reporters that there is “denial” in the church over clerical abuse. “It is not imaginary, there are people who would prefer to believe that there are multitudes of false allegations, which we know that there aren’t.”

“They also go along with the myth that it is all down to homosexual priests and they like to think it is a media campaign against the church. They also like to think that survivors like myself, who have spoken out, are just enemies of the church who want to destroy the church. It is more comfortable to think that.”

During the news conference, Thorp appealed for greater transparency from church organizations. She urged Pope Francis to instruct dioceses and congregations to adopt a policy of reviewing their files and making the findings public with the names of anyone identified as having abused a child, along with their assignment history.

“We went through this process in the Archdiocese of Boston and it was very challenging, but it was critical for us to be utterly transparent. I think that is something that could move this forward,” she said.

Thorp also called for action to be taken to speed up canonical trials related to clerical abuse, describing the current pace as “beyond glacial.”

“It is enormously frustrating that there is no transparency about charges. We had the archbishop of Guam, who had very serious charges against him, but we never knew what the actual charges were, it was never made public.” She said years passed before he was found guilty, but what he was found guilty of was not communicated.

She added that the backlog of cases has caused suffering to survivors. “I would recommend that the Holy Father appoint a special prosecutor that would take on the cases and address them and that there would be far more transparency about the actual process.”

She suggested that if the Pennsylvania dioceses investigated by the attorney general had a policy of carrying out file reviews and publishing their findings, and had they not stood in the way of those pursuing claims, the terrible suffering that emerged in the recent grand jury report would have been addressed sooner and by the church.

Asked to respond to the growing chorus of church people claiming the abuse crisis was a problem of gay men in the priesthood, Collins rejected the claim as “a red herring.”

“I certainly don’t agree with it. We have heterosexual predators and we have homosexual predators. When it comes to child abuse I don’t believe homosexuality can be put down as the cause — it may suit some people to think that and they would like to think that, but I don’t think any studies have shown that this is the case.”

Dy-Liacco also rejected the link. “Sexual orientation is not the issue here and it is not a cause; many scientific studies have shown this already.”

The father of five said, “This is a sexual crime that arises out of a disordered use of power and affection and is expressed in this way through sexuality.” He said experts suggested that the significant proportion of cases involving ephebophilia, or the sexual abuse of adolescent males, by older males was “a crime of opportunity.”

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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

Film recalls Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to Ireland, plea for peace

08/24/2018 - 4:44pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Torchia Communications

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A new documentary, “John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace,” makes the case that the pope’s trip to Ireland in 1979 played a key role in ending the Troubles and bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.

“When John Paul II arrived in Ireland, he confronted a giant tree of hate and terrorism that had been growing for a very long time,” said Carl Anderson, the executive producer of the film and head of the Knights of Columbus. “At Drogheda, Ireland, he took an ax and cut at its roots. It would take some time for this poisonous tree to wither, but eventually it would.”

The pope made his trip from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 1979, and a third of the population came to see him.

The idea for the documentary came from Lord David Alton, who sits in the British House of Lords. He has an Irish mother, and he shared his conviction with Anderson and filmmaker David Naglieri that the pope’s visit helped bring about peace in Northern Ireland. As a result, they decided to make a documentary about the pope’s visit and its effects.

To make the film, Naglieri went to Ireland six times over an 18-month period and conducted about 40 interviews with political figures, leaders of social organizations, priests and others.

His aim was to “find these personal stories and extract the deeper meaning,” he told Catholic News Service.

Naglieri said the most interesting interview he conducted was with Shane O’Doherty, a former member of the Irish Republican Army, whose turn away from violence was inspired by the homily Pope John Paul gave at a Mass in Drogheda.

Shortly before, while still a teenager, O’Doherty had carried out a campaign of letter-bombing for a summer in London.

“He’s the sort of person with very strong convictions and a very strong personality,” Naglieri said.

While serving multiple life sentences in prison, O’Doherty heard the pope’s words and he began to understand the need for repentance and a turning away from violence.

“John Paul II preaching peace was the wind beneath his wings,” Naglieri said.

One thing that interested and impressed Nalglieri was the work done in the peace process by Redemptorist Father Alec Reid, an Irish priest whose role as facilitator role in the Northern Ireland peace process has been described as “absolutely critical” to its success. He died in 2013 at age 82.

After hearing Pope John Paul’s words, he reflected on how things might have changed, and was able to bring Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, and John Hume, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, for talks.

He was inspired to do so because Pope John Paul also spoke to politicians.

“John Paul II told politicians that they must remove the causes that lead to violence, and said that political dialogue is the way forward,” Nalglieri said.

The documentary, which is narrated by Jim Caviezel and for which the music was composed by Joe Kraemer, had its premiere Aug. 23 on WTTW in Chicago. It will be broadcast on public television stations across the United States.

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Editor’s Note: For the complete schedule of airings of “John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace,” visit The site has additional information about the film, as a well as a trailer and information on purchasing a DVD. The text of the pope’s homily at Drogheda can be found at

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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

In Minnesota, young people respond to abuse scandals with prayer

08/24/2018 - 10:27am

Virtue = Strength (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

St. Paul, Minn., Aug 22, 2018 / 04:56 pm (CNA).- More than 100 young adults in Saint Paul, Minnesota, gathered this week to pray for the healing of sexual abuse victims and for a purification of the Church in the face of recent scandals.

An estimated 120 people attended a prayer vigil outside the Cathedral of St. Paul on August 20, reported the Catholic Spirit, the diocesan paper for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Attendees from parishes throughout the Twin Cities prayed the Liturgy of the Hours and offered petitions for healing and cleansing. Four priests and local Archbishop Bernard Hebda also attended.

A group of Catholic young adults organized the event in wake of recent abuse scandals, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report that identified more than 1,000 abuse allegations and numerous reported instances of cover up from the last 70 years, as well as accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick released earlier this summer.

Through word-of-mouth and a Facebook invite, the organizers appealed for young adults to band together in prayer.

“It will be a simple evening on the steps of the Cathedral to pray for the Lord’s healing, mercy, justice to be made present in these dark times. It is also an opportunity for us, as young adults, to band together and not be swayed by the evil that is so clearly present,” the Facebook invite said.

Prayers of petition were offered for the healing of victims still alive, for the repose of the souls of victims who committed suicide, for a purification of the Church, and for holy vocations to the priesthood, the Catholic Spirit reported.

Father Paul Baker, parochial vicar of a church in Brooklyn Park, said he came to offer reparation for sins committed by clergy members and the lack of response by some leaders in the Church.

“It’s just completely tragic and awful, just to see what has gone on,” the priest told the Catholic Spirit.

“I really just think it would behoove all dioceses and religious orders just to completely come clean with what they have, so we can definitively put this behind us.”

Oficina del Arsobispo

08/24/2018 - 10:19am

El Martes de esta semana, un Gran Jurado de Pensilvania publicó un informe que detalla los nombres de 301 sacerdotes que abusaron sexualmente a más de 1,000 menores durante un período de 70 años en ese estado. Este informe, junto con las recientes revelaciones sobre el ex cardenal Theodore McCarrick, conmociona, entristece y enoja a los Católicos en todas partes, incluyéndome a mí. La profundidad de la depravación y el mal descritos en estos informes es deslumbrante. Ninguna palabra puede disminuir el nivel de repulsión que uno siente al leerlas.

Desde lo más profundo de mi corazón, lamento el terrible dolor y el sufrimiento experimentado por las víctimas de abuso durante toda su vida. Lamento la profunda vergüenza de los laicos Católicos por el comportamiento inexcusable de los miembros de ciertos cardenales, obispos y sacerdotes, el agotamiento emocional de tener que defender su fe ante amigos y compañeros de trabajo, y el desaliento de tener que revivir una profunda tragedia que todos esperábamos que haya quedado atrás. Lamento el estigma de que los sacerdotes buenos y santos que están comprometidos con su vocación y sus votos tienen que soportar donde sea que vayan. Lamento la confianza que ha sido violada.

La Arquidiócesis de Cincinnati está inequívocamente comprometida con la protección de todas las personas, niños y adultos involucrados con cualquiera de nuestros diversos ministerios. En este momento, no hay casos activos de abuso clerical de menores en ninguna parte de la Arquidiócesis de Cincinnati. Si sospecha de abuso por parte de cualquier agente de la Arquidiócesis, informe a las autoridades civiles correspondientes, así como al Coordinador del Ministerio a los Sobrevivientes de Abuso en la Arquidiócesis al 513-263-6623 o 1-800-686. -2724, ext. 6623. Si ve algo, por favor diga algo.

Desde 1993, la Arquidiócesis ha adoptado y promulgado el Decreto sobre Protección de Menores, que ahora también cubre a adultos vulnerables, que incluye:

• Completar las verificaciones de antecedentes de todos los clérigos, empleados y voluntarios;
• Capacitación permanente requerida para clérigos, empleados y voluntarios para reconocer las señales de abuso de niños y adultos vulnerables;
• Procedimientos para reportar sospechas de abuso;
• Informar de inmediato todas las denuncias de abuso a las autoridades civiles correspondientes;
• Una Junta de Revisión de Protección de Menores que se compone principalmente de laicos;
• Capacitación de niños en escuelas Católicas y programas de educación religiosa sobre señales de advertencia y respuestas apropiadas para su propia protección; y
• Auditoría independiente en el sitio de políticas y procedimientos por una empresa externa.

La Arquidiócesis de Cincinnati está comprometida a transparencia. Con ese fin, durante los últimos 15 años, hemos publicado los nombres y el estado de todos los sacerdotes acusados de abuso en el sitio web de la arquidiócesis. Esto se puede encontrar en

La Arquidiócesis también se compromete a garantizar que los hombres que serán ordenados para el sacerdocio sean adecuados para el ministerio en la Iglesia y digno de la confianza de los fieles Católicos. Cada solicitante al seminario se somete a una batería completa de pruebas psicológicas antes de la aceptación en el programa del seminario. Una vez aceptado, el candidato tiene, como mínimo, cuatro años de formación en los que se le enseña lo que necesita saber para ser sacerdote. Durante este tiempo, también se evalúa su disposición, comportamiento, autoconciencia, estabilidad y bondad de carácter. Cuando un hombre discierne que Dios lo puede llamar al sacerdocio, la Iglesia tiene el deber de discernir ese llamado también, para asegúrese de que sea verdaderamente llamado y del carácter correcto para servir fielmente y bien.

Muchos de ustedes talvez sienten que Jesús ha abandonado a la Iglesia. Esto no es verdad. Por el contrario, algunos miembros de la Iglesia han abandonado a Jesús y el llamado a ser discípulos. Jesús estableció su Iglesia en la tierra y prometió nunca dejarnos. Como sabemos por el Evangelio de Juan, “la luz brilla en las tinieblas, y las tinieblas no la han vencido” (Jn 1, 5).

Hoy, el Cardenal Daniel N. DiNardo, presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, anunció la fundación de un plan (incluido a continuación) para abordar de manera integral el tema del abuso y el fracaso en el liderazgo entre nuestros obispos. Este plan incluirá la participación activa tanto de los laicos como de la Santa Sede. Prometo mi dedicación personal a este esfuerzo y para mantenerlos informados de su progreso.

Por favor, únanse a mí para orar por la sanidad de todas las víctimas del grave pecado de abuso sexual. Que la Santísima Virgen María, patrona de la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos, continúe intercediendo por nosotros. Que el Espíritu Santo continúe guiándonos y protegiéndonos.

Reverendísimo Dennis M. Schnurr
Arzobispo de Cincinnati

El presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Estados Unidos anuncia un esfuerzo que involucrará a los laicos, expertos y el Vaticano, “Permítanme pedirles que nos mantengan firmes en todas estas resoluciones”, mientras la oferta de los Obispos de los Estados Unidos resuelve abordar la “Catástrofe Moral”

August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON— El Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo de Galveston-Houston, presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos (USCCB por su sigla en inglés), emitió el siguiente comunicado después de una serie de reuniones con miembros del Comité Ejecutivo de la USCCB y otros Obispos. El siguiente comunicado incluye tres objetivos y tres principios, así como pasos iniciales de un plan que involucrará laicos, expertos y el Vaticano. Un plan más detallado será presentado al cuerpo de Obispos en su reunión de la Asamblea General en Noviembre en Baltimore.

A continuación, el pronunciamiento del Cardinal DiNardo:

“Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Hace dos semanas, compartí con ustedes mi tristeza, enojo y vergüenza vinculadas con las recientes revelaciones del arzobispo Theodore McCarrick. Estos sentimientos se mantienen y se han profundizado a la luz del informe del Gran Jurado de Pennsylvania. Estamos frente a una crisis espiritual que requiere no solamente una conversión espiritual, sino cambios prácticos para evitar repetir los pecados y fallas del pasado que se han puesto en evidencia en este reciente informe. A principios de la semana, el Comité Ejecutivo de la USCCB se reunió nuevamente y estableció un esquema de estos cambios necesarios.

El Comité Ejecutivo ha establecido tres objetivos: (1) una investigación vinculada con las cuestiones relacionadas al arzobispo McCarrick; (2) la apertura de nuevos y confidenciales canales de información para reportar las quejas contra los Obispos; y (3) abogar por una más efectiva resolución de quejas futuras. Estos objetivos serán perseguidos de conformidad con tres criterios: independencia adecuada, autoridad suficiente y liderazgo significativo por los laicos.

Ya hemos iniciado el desarrollo de un plan concreto para alcanzar estos objetivos, basados en consultas con expertos, laicos y el clero, así como el Vaticano. Presentaremos este plan al cuerpo de Obispos en nuestra reunión de noviembre.  Además, viajaré a Roma para presentar estos objetivos y criterios ante la Santa Sede, e urgir pasos concretos y adicionales basados en ellos.

El principal objetivo en todo esto es crear protecciones más fuertes contra depredadores en la Iglesia y cualquiera que los encubra, protecciones que mantendrán a los obispos en los estándares más altos de transparencia y responsabilidad.

Permítanme desarrollar brevemente sobre los objetivos y criterios que hemos identificado.

El primer objetivo es una completa investigación de las cuestiones alrededor del arzobispo McCarrick. Estas respuestas son necesarias para prevenir la recurrencia y de esta manera proteger a los menores, seminaristas y otros quienes puedan ser vulnerables en el futuro. Consecuentemente, invitaremos al Vaticano a adelantar una “Visita Apostólica” para tratar estos asuntos, en concordancia con un grupo de predominantemente laicos identificados por su conocimiento por los miembros de la Junta Nacional de Revisión y empoderados para actuar.

El segundo objetivo es hacer más fácil el reporte de los abusos y conductas inapropiadas de los Obispos. Nuestro “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” del 2002 no deja claro que camino pueden tomar las victimas por si mismas para informar los abusos y otras conductas sexuales inapropiadas por parte de los obispos. Necesitamos actualizar este documento. Necesitamos también desarrollar y promover ampliamente mecanismos confiables de reporte de terceras partes. Estas herramientas ya existen en muchas diócesis y en el sector público y nosotros estamos ya examinando opciones específicas.

El tercer objetivo es abogar por mejores procedimientos para resolver las quejas contra los obispos. Por ejemplo, los procedimientos canónicos que se siguen para una queja serán estudiados con un énfasis sobre propuestas concretas para hacerlos más agiles, equitativos y transparentes y para especificar que restricciones pueden ser impuestas a los obispos en cada etapa de ese proceso.

Buscaremos estos objetivos de conformidad con tres criterios.

El primer criterio es independencia genuina. Cualquier mecanismo que considere una queja contra un obispo debe ser libre de parcialidad o de excesiva influencia por parte de un obispo. Nuestras estructuras deben impedir a los obispos de desalentar quejas en su contra, de obstruir su investigación o de sesgar su resolución.

El Segundo criterio se relaciona con la autoridad de la Iglesia. Toda vez que sólo el Papa tiene la autoridad para disciplinar o remover a los obispos, nos aseguraremos de que nuestras medidas respeten tanto esa autoridad como la protección de los vulnerables ante el abuso del poder eclesiástico.

Nuestro tercer criterio es el involucramiento sustantivo del laicismo. Los laicos brindan experiencia a la investigación, aplicación de la ley, psicología y otras disciplinas pertinentes, y su presencia fortalece nuestro compromiso ante el primer criterio de independencia.

Finalmente, lamento y pido humildemente su perdón por lo que mis hermanos obispos y yo hemos hecho o dejado de hacer. Cualesquiera sean los detalles que surjan en relación al arzobispo McCarrick o de los muchos abusos en Pennsylvania (o en cualquier otra parte), ya sabemos que una causa arraigada es la falla del liderazgo episcopal. El resultado fue que un número de amados niños de Dios fueron abandonados para enfrentar solos un abuso de poder. Esto es una catástrofe moral. Es también parte de esta catástrofe que muchos sacerdotes fieles quienes están buscando santidad y sirviendo con integridad estén manchados por esta falta.

Estamos firmemente resueltos, con la ayuda de la gracia de Dios, a que nunca se repita. No me hago ilusiones acerca del grado en el cual la confianza en los obispos haya sido dañada por estos pasados pecados y faltas. Hará falta trabajo para reconstruir esa confianza. Lo que he destacado aquí es solo el comienzo; otros pasos seguirán. Los mantendré informados de nuestro avance hacia el logro de estos objetivos.

Permítanme pedirles que se mantengan pendientes con todas estas resoluciones. Permítanme también pedirles que recen por nosotros, que tomará tiempo para reflexionar, arrepentirnos y recomprometernos con la santidad de la vida e imitar nuestras vidas cada vez más con Cristo, el Buen Pastor.

Prominent Catholics see larger role for laity in church’s abuse response

08/23/2018 - 4:41pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An independent lay-run board that would hold bishops accountable for their actions, a national day for Mass or prayers of reparation, and encouragement to parishioners to become more involved in their diocese are among steps suggested by prominent lay Catholics to right the U.S. church as it deals with a new clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Those contacted by Catholic News Service said that it was time for laypeople to boost their profile within the church and help begin to dismantle long-standing clericalism that has sought to preserve the reputation of offending clergy at the expense of the safety of children.

“Their credibility is gone and the trust of the faithful is gone,” Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, said of the U.S. bishops as they worked to develop steps to promote greater accountability on abuse.

The National Review Board, established by the bishops in 2002, oversees compliance by dioceses with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It has no role in oversight of bishops.

“The bishops have to put their trust in lay leadership and allow that lay leadership to develop the processes and oversight when these kinds of allegations occur, particularly holding bishops accountable,” Cesareo said.

In a presentation at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly in June in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cesareo cautioned the prelates against complacency in meeting the charter’s requirements. He said that auditors preparing the 2016-2017 annual report on the charter’s implementation nationwide discovered signs of complacency in some dioceses and eparchies.

“I’ve been addressing the body of bishops four, five times. I’ve driven the point that they can’t be complacent, and here we are again with another crisis,” Cesareo said.

“We went through the crisis in 2002 and had good policies and procedures in place, and allegations and current abuse have gone down,” he said. “But when we see the bishops don’t get it, that there’s still the notion of self-preservation at the expense of the victim … it just begs for lay leadership to come forward and to address this and help lead to healing.

“I really think that it’s a cultural change that has to take place. We can have all the committees, all the structures and all the policies, but there has got to be a cultural shift in the mindset of the bishops that they too are accountable, that they cannot be held to a different standard,” continued Cesareo, president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Cesareo was not alone in calling for a separate body to be established to handle accusations of abuse involving bishops. While details varied, the basic premise envisions that such a board would review abuse allegations or complaints of improper handling of an abuse claim by any bishop.

Just such a body has been sought since 2002, when the abuse scandal arose in the Archdiocese of Boston, by the church reform group Voice of the Faithful, said Donna Doucette, executive director.

“Having accountability from the bishops is absolutely the key. It is not possible for the bishops to police themselves. We as an organization believe that there must be an independent lay-led and dominated board,” Doucette told CNS.

“It’s heartening that finally after all these years, and we hope it’s more than just verbiage, that the very things that the bishops attacked us for saying, they’re saying it now,” she added.

The USCCB continued working on a series of measures Aug. 23, nine days after a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed more than 1,000 claims of alleged sex abuse in six dioceses in the state over 70 years and identified 301 priests and church workers who may have committed the crimes. The report also singled out some bishops for their improper handling of accused abusers.

Prior to Cesareo’s comments, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, called for laypeople to take a greater role in addressing the “moral catastrophe” of the latest abuse scandal.

He said Aug. 16 that the “substantial involvement of the laity” from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines will be essential to the process of developing a comprehensive plan that was expected to be presented at the bishops’ fall general assembly in November in Baltimore.

F. DeKarlos Blackmon, secretariat director of life, charity and justice in the Diocese of Austin, Texas, urged laypeople to “step up and speak up” to address the catastrophe described by Cardinal DiNardo.

He called on the bishops to heed the advice of laity in areas in which the bishops may not have expertise, particularly when investigating abuse claims.

“We as laity need to be able to walk with the leadership. Pope Benedict stated the church can never be without the dedicated laity. I think it’s really important that we keep that in mind. We have a place at the table,” said Blackmon, an adviser to the bishops’ Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

Teresa Tomeo, host of a syndicated radio talk show, said it is the laity’s job to convince the bishops that more oversight of their actions is good for the church.

She suggested that the new scandal will “wake up a sleeping giant” as laypeople “respectfully and lovingly” address the bishops about the issue of clergy sexual abuse and help set a new course for the church.

“We need to come together as a group and … work with the hierarchy to come up with the steps that need to be made,” Tomeo said. “We need to stay, pray and get organized and be willing to make a difference for the sake of the church.”

By working together, laypeople can “help church officials catch up with the laity” in addressing sexual abuse, said Elizabeth Scalia, who blogs at The Anchoress.

“If we want to remain a eucharistic church, we’re going to have to help shape the leaders. We have to help them bring about a churchwide metanoia,” she said.

Scalia urged Catholics “to become really, really noisy” and begin writing “firm but respectful” letters to their bishop about their concerns. She said a presence or vigil outside of bishops’ residences also may be fruitful.

“There’s no reason not to go get a little protest group outside the bishop’s residence and say, ‘Bishop, we’re going to stay here and pray our rosary until you come out and talk with us,'” Scalia told CNS.

As a cornerstone of Catholic life, prayer can begin to set the proper tone for action and repentance, Tomeo and Scalia said. Both called in addition for a nationwide day of Masses or holy hours for reparation.

“The priest or bishop can lay prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament to ask for forgiveness,” Scalia proposed, hoping for more than a one-time “theatrical performance.”

The blogger advocated for additional steps as well in calling on bishops to “put some actions behind their words” by, for example, selling their residence and using the proceeds for the benefit of abuse survivors.

“You can give me all those words, but until you put actions behind that, I can’t judge the reality of that. It needs to be an impressive action,” she added.

John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, recommended “a structure of accountability and responsibility and ways of collaboration” among the bishops and laity that advances the church’s mission.

“This is a time for mission, not just apology and reform,” he told CNS. “The only way forward is mission and laypeople have an essential role in carrying that mission forward.”

And while laypeople have an important role to play in response to the abuse crisis, Carr didn’t exempt them from contributing to the church’s troubles. He pointed particularly to attorneys, who advised bishops to refrain from commenting on abuse claims and decline meeting with victims, and therapists who “thought they could fix this (penchant for abusing young people) and gave terrible advice” to the bishops.

In addition, the church needs priests who set aside clericalism, he said.

“We absolutely need priesthood, but we don’t need clericalism. In that there are lots of great wonderful priests. Pope Francis has pointed out that clericalism is a disease that leaves people isolated and arrogant and loses why they became a priest,” Carr told CNS.

“The priesthood isn’t a club. It’s not a fraternity with its own silence and rules. It’s a vocation of service. In some places that got lost.”

Any steps that eventually will be undertaken will require broad collaboration among the laity and clergy and for each party to hold the other accountable, said Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education at Boston College.

“What can the laity do? Get involved,” Ospino said. “This (challenge) should galvanize our energy because we need to reclaim our church.

“Because we care for the community and care for these children, the vulnerable and families, we need to get involved. We need to be vocal about it. We need to find ways to help in our own church,” he said.

At the same time, Ospino cautioned about the potential rise in laicism, that only laypeople have the best answers to what is confronting the church. Such thinking is no better than clericalism, he said.

“We are all in the same boat and we need to hold each other accountable.”

Since the Second Vatican Council, the church has worked to include laypeople in key roles within the church including some levels of governance and Ospino called for “potential adjustments to canon law” to broaden the role of laity.

“I think that countless people are ready for this. The ball is on the clergy’s court.”

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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

Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School receives an “A” grade.

08/23/2018 - 11:00am

Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School received an “A” grade in’s recent rankings of best private schools.

CJ Principal John Marshall ’86 said of the rankings, “These numbers are affirming, as we look at the overall success of our students during their time at CJ and beyond. One of the areas I enjoy being recognized in is diversity as it speaks to our intentional efforts to have a diverse community at CJ.”

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

08/22/2018 - 9:17pm

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.”

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Editor’s Note: The full text of Carl Anderson’s statement can be found at

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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

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

08/22/2018 - 2:07pm

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.”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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

08/22/2018 - 2:00pm

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.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Today’s Video: Scott Hahn on the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

08/22/2018 - 10:35am

Today begins a 9-day Novena to the Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven and Earth

Novena to the Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven and Earth

I greet you, ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, refuge of sinners, and Queen of the Universe.

Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty, sweetness, and tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, and beg of you to obtain for me of your dear Son the favor I request in this novena: (mention your request).

Obtain for me also, Queen of Heaven and Earth, the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity, and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be my mother and protectress, to receive me into the number of your devoted children, and to guide me from your high throne of glory.

Do not reject my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me, and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death.

Accept this offering, sweet Queen of Heaven and Earth, and obtain for me from your dear Son, Jesus Christ, the favors I ask through your intercession in this novena. Obtain for me also a generous, constant love of God, perfect submission to His Holy Will, the true spirit of a Christian, and the grace of final perseverance.


Archbishops call for ‘penance, purification’ to rebuild, renew church

08/21/2018 - 9:54pm

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”

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Victims call for federal investigation of sex abuse in Catholic Church

08/21/2018 - 9:49pm

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.

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

08/21/2018 - 8:05pm

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


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.”

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Pennsylvania university revokes degrees given to past Scranton bishops

08/21/2018 - 7:50pm


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.

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Boston cardinal apologizes for process that kept letter from reaching him

08/21/2018 - 6:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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