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Harvard students hold Catholic Sex Week to explain Church teaching

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 14:27

Cambridge, Mass., Nov 15, 2018 / 12:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After Sex Week at Harvard University this year, the Catholic Student Association hosted a series of talks designed to offer insight on the Catholic understanding of sexuality.

Hosted Nov. 6-8, this was the first Catholic Sex Week the student organization had conducted. The events followed Harvard Sex Week on Oct. 28-Nov.4, which included discussions on polyamory, fetishes, and contraception.

Jack Clark, vice president of intellectual development for the Catholic Student Association, helped organize Catholic Sex Week, which he said was not a rebuttal to Harvard Sex Week but an opportunity for people to learn a different perspective on sexuality.

“After Harvard Sex Week, we kind of did a few events of our own just to get people talking, to present the Catholic view of sexuality,” Clark told CNA.

“I think the biggest goal was to educate ourselves and to a lesser extent the Harvard community on the reasoning and the belief behind the Catholic view on sex and sexuality.”

The event included three discussions – featuring as speakers Fr Patrick Fiorillo, the undergraduate chaplain; Steve and Helene Bowler, a Catholic married couple; and Dr. Janet Smith, the keynote speaker who also holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

At the talk on Tuesday, Fiorillo explained in detail some of the points in Humanae Vitae, the landmark encyclical reaffirming Church teaching against contraception, which marked its 50th anniversary earlier this year.

On Wednesday, married couple Steve and Helene Bowler shared their personal experience transitioning from a failure to live out the Church’s teaching on contraception to an eventual cooperation with it. Clark said the family is sympathetic to the difficulty of this teaching, but emphasized the spiritual growth it has produced.

Smith spoke on Thursday about the topic “Why sex is complicated.” The discussion approached a general understanding of the Catholic teaching on sexuality and how it differed from a do-what-you-want attitude, said Clark.

“Dr. Smith’s talk was really emphasizing the role of sex and how it can’t be separated from real emotional intimacy, from procreation, from the family, and obviously, from a Catholic perspective, we look at men and women as complimentary.”

The first two talks were held at the Catholic center and attracted about 30 people each. The third event was held on campus and welcomed 60 attendees. Jack was not sure if any non-Catholics attended the events, and said he did not yet know if the series would be repeated next year, but he said he sees the talks as a success.

“I don’t think there is a plan to set this up as an annual thing, but we certainly want to build on the moment that we created. I think people are talking about Catholic views on sexuality more than they have been… I am excited to see where that energy goes, whether it is reading groups or discussions or more talks.”
 

Bishop Malone criticized for $200,000 house renovation

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 09:31

Buffalo, N.Y., Nov 14, 2018 / 07:31 pm (CNA).- Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York has come under fire for reportedly spending an estimated $200,000 to renovate his new home - a former convent near St. Stanislaus Church.

Malone had announced in April that he would sell his bishop’s mansion to help pay for compensation for victims of sexual abuse in the diocese. He has since moved into his new residence with his priest assistant.

Internal diocesan documents and emails detailed the cost of the renovation, and were released in a Nov. 12 report from Charlie Specht of local news station WKBW. The estimated expenses include $22,000 for ramp access for handicapped visitors, $30,000 for landscaping, $7,200 to install WiFi, and $46,000 for a garage addition and a parking spot for staff.

Malone wrote in email released by WKBW that a visiting priest was “alarmed about my living in such a run down neighborhood” when Malone took him by the new residence.

“I wasn’t surprised by [the priest’s] reaction...no successor of mine would want to go there!” Malone wrote.

Publicly, however, Malone has told the press that he was looking forward to moving in, and said “it’s a good thing for me to be over there” in a neighborhood where “there are some encouraging signs.”

Last month, Siobhan O’Connor, former executive assistant to Malone, leaked internal diocesan documents to the local press. The documents purported to show that the diocese culled down a list of over 100 clergy accused of “criminal, abusive or inappropriate behavior” to a final, publicly released list of just 42 who were “removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry” due to allegations. This list was originally released in March.

The diocese has since added names of accused clergy to the list, bringing the total number acknowledged by the diocese to 78.  

O’Connor reportedly suggested to Malone in March that he could live in the rectory of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo, taking up residence in a newly-vacated suite and allaying some of the additional costs of renovating the convent.

Malone thanked O’Connor for the idea at the time but said he needed the additional space for his “rather ample personal theological library” and his piano, and said he preferred to live in a residence that was solely his own, and not a parish rectory, WKBW reported.

According to additional emails, Malone requested that the convent be used solely as his residence, despite the fact that the building had been used for parish meetings, choir practices, and gatherings since the 1970s.

“I prize privacy above most everything,” Malone reportedly wrote. “I cannot live in a building that is used or meetings, or for anything other than my residence.”

Kathy Spangler, spokesperson for the diocese, responded to the situation in a statement to local media.

She said the rectory at the cathedral was “simply not suitable for the gatherings [the] bishop hosts and was therefore not considered,” and that the convent was chosen in order to “accommodate the many gatherings and events that a bishop hosts during the year.”

She said much of the expensive work was being done to make the building handicapped accessible, as well as other non-cosmetic improvements such as repairing air conditioning and bringing electrical systems up to code.

Spangler also said Malone would not have made the move to the convent if he were concerned for his safety in that neighborhood, and that the bishop “does not want to be alone.”

CNA reached out to the Diocese of Buffalo for further comment but did not receive a reply by press time.

 

Cardinal DiNardo hopeful for Church in US

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 07:03

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Acknowledging that he was disappointed by the Vatican's decision to block a vote on sex abuse reform measures, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Wednesday he nonetheless sees a hopeful future for the Church in the United States.

In the closing statement of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly Nov. 14, the president of the conference focused on the upcoming meeting of bishops’ conference presidents in Rome, and hopes that the discussions there among representatives of the global Church will assist with the continued “eradication” of sexual abuse in the Church.

DiNardo offered praise for the various abuse victim testimony and abuse experts throughout the week, saying that they had given him direction and “such good counsel in these last few days.”

In the wake of the allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, DiNardo reiterated how over the summer, the bishops committed themselves to three goals: an investigation of the claims against McCarrick, developing an easier way to report abuse, and developing a means of holding bishops accountable.

“We are on course to accomplish these goals,” DiNardo told the crowd of bishops.

“That is the direction you and the survivors of abuse have given me.”

DiNardo then proceeded to outline some of the “action steps” the bishops hope to take in the coming future. These include the creation of a process for complaints that are reported to a third-party compliance hotline, the completion of a proposal for a lay commission, and the creation of a national network of diocesan review boards and lay experts that will oversee metropolitans.

These steps represented a combination of some of the proposals that came up over the course of the week’s general assembly.

DiNardo also said that the bishops will look to finalize protocol and standards, and will be creating new guidelines for the release of list of names of priests who have substantiated claims of abuse. He also called for a “fair and timely” investigation of McCarrick and a publication of the results.

The bishops will be “committed to take the strongest possible action at the earliest possible moment,” he said. He looks forward to the February meeting, as he believes that working with the global Church will serve to make the Church in the United States even stronger.

“We must thus as bishops recommit to holiness and mission of the Church,” he said. He said that he is “confident” that along with Pope Francis, the Church will move forward “decisively” after this February’s meeting.

And despite Monday’s initial frustration, DiNardo said that the past three days were “a sign of hope for me, not a disappointment.”

'What are people to make of our silence?' Bishops discuss McCarrick in Baltimore

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 06:38

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the United States resumed their open-floor discussion on the recent sexual abuse scandals facing the Church in America Wednesday morning. In addition to debating the best means of institutionally responding to the crisis, the specific case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was raised by several speakers.

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville told the conference Nov. 14 that the allegations against McCarrick, and the scandal of his rise and fall, were not just affecting long-time Catholics. Many people in the process of entering the Church found themselves having the example of McCarrick throw at them by friends and family as evidence that they were entering an institution in crisis.

Stika said McCarrick, and the letters of former nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, were serving as “ammunition” to discourage people from entering the Church, and that many Catholics felt that bishops were only responding to the sexual abuse crisis when they were “forced to” by the media.

Several bishops spoke in favor of the USCCB acting as a body to speak out about McCarrick.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth told the conference hall that “we end where we begin.”

“So much of the outrage we experience - and I think it's a rightful outrage - is prompted by the injustice that our people have experienced at the hands of predators, at the treatment of our seminarians and our priests who were entrusted to the care of former cardinal McCarrick, a trust that was not only violated, but was ignored by others who were responsible for paying attention.”

Olson observed that while Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the college of cardinals and sent him to a life of prayer and penance pending a canonical process, the USCCB had yet to respond as a body to the scandal caused by one of their own.

“He is an emeritus [bishop of a U.S. diocese] and as such he is supposed to be a welcome guest here. He is not welcome and we should say it,” Olson said. He also questioned if the bishops’ reliance on structural and procedural reform was overshadowing their need to act with moral authority.

“We have said the Holy See should let us get some new norms, get a process together. Do we use this process as means of avoiding our pastoral responsibilities?” Olson asked, suggesting that the conference needed to condemn not just McCarrick’s alleged behavior, but also Vigano’s call for the resignation of the pope, which he called an attack on the Petrine office.

Bishop Liam Cary of Baker also insisted that the conference needed to respond to the McCarrick scandal as a body, saying McCarrick had “grievously offended” not just his victims but all Catholics, priests, and bishops.

By abusing seminarians “successively, over decades” Cary said McCarrick had left a “shameful residue” on all the bishops, and that while other institutions had revoked honors previously bestowed on the former cardinal the USCCB had taken no action.

Cary cited the example of bodies, like the U.S. Senate, which could pass resolutions to censure its members as one way they could respond, but insisted that some kind of action was urgently needed.

“What are people to make of our silence?” he asked. “How do we lead our brother to the mercy of God if we leave unspoken the demands of his justice?”

Bishop Cary echoed Bishop Olson’s concern that McCarrick was still technically qualified as a welcome participant at the conference.

“If McCarrick were to come to this microphone would he be allowed to speak?” Cary asked, noting that there was no open microphone for his victims.

In addition to the specific problem of Archbishop McCarrick, the bishops also discussed how they could proceed more generally in the light of the Holy See’s intervention to prevent them from voting to adopt the proposed Standards for Episcopal Conduct or to create an independent special commission to investigate allegations against bishops.

Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange summed up the dilemma facing the conference.

“We cannot just sit back and do nothing,” he told the bishops. If a deliberative vote was not possible, he said, the bishops needed to at least take “some sort of consultative vote” to show that the American bishops were firmly resolved among themselves.

Bishop Robert Christian, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, expressed the frustrations of many bishops at the inability of the conference to act.

He pointed out that as several scandals broke over the summer “the leadership of this conference was blocked from either working in partnership with the Holy See or leaving it to us in the dioceses.”

Christian said that he was concerned by the Holy See’s intervention. He observed that it could take months for the Vatican to produce a final resolution after the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences in Rome. This could mean, he said, that the U.S. bishops could find it still “impossible” to act in March, or even June, of next year.

“It is all the more important to vote today as if we were voting on a policy,” he said, so that both the faithful and the Holy See could see the clear mind of the bishops.

Despite the support of many on the conference hall for the original proposal for an independent commission to receive and investigate allegations against bishops, a few bishops have suggested they would prefer to see a different system altogether.

Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah proposed that Rome should instead be asked to consider amending canon law to give metropolitan archbishops an expanded role and authority for dealing with allegations against bishops in their province. His proposal was echoed by Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock.

Hartmayer noted that it might be better for accusations against a bishop to be considered by “a jury of their peers” since, he said, “no one understands a bishop so much as another bishop.”

He also said that bishops owed each other the “courtesy” of listening “to one of our brothers who has misbehaved in some way.”

While the majority of the interventions from the floor were concerned with what direct action the conference could take, others were more reflective.

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond gave a long and clearly personal reflection on the pain experienced by priests and laity alike in his former diocese, Washington.

Knestout said that he looked upon the current scandals on a continuum of previous crises, stretching back 50 years to the promulgation of Humanae vitae, saying that the rejection by many clergy of that document, and the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life and sexuality, had caused “one long crisis of leadership and teaching” in the Church.

Despite the clear and forceful calls by several bishops for some clear statement on the case of Archbishop McCarrick, when the bishops resumed their seats after breaking for lunch they voted down a resolution to “encourage” the Holy See to release whatever documents it could on McCarrick.

As they debated the minutiae of the resolution’s wording, the bishops found they could not even agree on the inclusion of the word “soon.”

After the defeat of the proposal, one bishop remarked to CNA that “we cannot seem to speak clearly, even when we want to agree.”

US bishops divided on how to deal with sex abuse accusations

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 06:32

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Wednesday afternoon, the bishops of the United States resumed their discussions of the proposals for policies which were intended to be the centerpiece of their response to the recent sexual abuse scandals.

In an unexpected turn of events, discussion shifted from the proposed creation of an independent commission tasked with examining allegations against bishops to debate of an alternative proposal for a system based around metropolitan provinces and archbishops.

A decision by the Congregation for Bishops, issued shortly before the USCCB fall general assembly opened, prevented the bishops from taking a determinative vote on the measures. Many members called for the documents and policies to be debated and voted on in a symbolic way, so that the a clear sense of the bishops’ priorities could be expressed.

Bishops submitted amendments for discussion on three measures: a new set of Standards of Episcopal Conduct, the creation of an independent lay commission to handle accusations against bishops, and a policy for dealing with bishops who had either resigned or been removed from office following accusations of misconduct.

The session opened with a brief discussion of a proposed amendment to the Standards of Episcopal Conduct proposed by Bishop Steven Beigler of Cheyenne.

Beigler had suggested the inclusion of additional text in the introductory section of the Standards. His amendment addressed the problems of clericalism, the actions of some bishops to shield the institutional Church at the expense of victims and survivors of abuse. It also contained a brief reflection on the nature of a bishop’s office, and what it means to be a shepherd.

Presenting his amendment, which had been rejected by the conference’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, Beigler said that as a group the American bishops had “not acted as guardians of the least,” had shown “no tenderness in our hearts” for the cries of victims.

Beigler said the purpose of his amendment was to give a statement of the values which should underpin the standards of conduct.

Responding to him, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who chairs the Committee on Clergy, said that his text had been “considered very seriously,” and the decision not to accept it did not mean they disagreed with the values Beigler expressed.

Rather, Tobin said, the concern was that the “richness of the reflection could distract from the other content in the draft.” Speaking for himself, the cardinal said that he would be taking Beigler’s text home with him for continued reflection.

Turning to the proposal for an independent special commission to investigate allegations of misconduct against bishops, the conference spent as much time debating a two-page counter proposal, submitted by Cardinal Blase Cupich, as it did the commission.

Cardinal Cupich’s plan proposes that when an accusation against a bishop is made, it be reported to the local metropolitan archbishop and that the allegation be considered by the lay-led diocesan review board of the archdiocese. After receiving the recommendation of his own review board, the metropolitan archbishop would then forward the case to Rome, together with his own recommendation.

In the event that the accusation was made against the metropolitan archbishop, the senior suffragan bishop of the province would handle the allegation in his diocese.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron spoke on behalf of the USCCB Executive Committee, which was responsible for the plan for a special commission.

Acknowledging that, following the instruction of the Holy See, there was no scope to reach a final consensus on what system would be best, Cardinal Cupich’s proposal, along with other amendments to the plan for the independent commission, had been included together and would be given to the special “task force” formed of three past USCCB presidents, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Archbishop Wilton Gregory.

This task force will consider the relative merits of the two now-rival proposals, and offer a more detailed consideration when next the bishops meet, either in March or June 2019.

While no firm action on either proposal is possible before the conclusion of the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences called by Pope Francis, the bishops did have some preliminary exchanges about what they saw as the relative merits of the special commission versus Cardinal Cupich’s detailed alternative.

Those in favor of the new plan observed that it might better reflect existing Church structures and might more easily fit within existing canon law.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said that he could see the merits of the Cupich plan, but was concerned that, in the light of recent scandals, it could not be proposed “with any credibility.”

The entire purpose of the independent commission was, he said, to make a “strong statement” of independence and transparency. Soto even suggested that the plan for a special commission might be improved by removing all clerical or episcopal membership or involvement.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield also expressed “a couple of concerns” about the metropolitan model.

Paprocki noted that such a model appeared to lack the independence which was the driving force behind the proposal for an independent commission.

“I would remind everyone that Archbishop McCarrick was a metropolitan,” Paprocki said. He pointed out that seminarians allegedly abused by McCarrick felt that they could not come forward with a complaint against their own archbishop.

“Would they have trusted this process if it meant going to the senior suffragan bishop instead?” Paprocki asked.

He also noted that asking the senior suffragan bishop to offer an opinion for or against allegations against their metropolitan “raises questions” about the independence of the plan.

“I thought what we were trying to do here was to put in place a system to fix what was not working. The whole point of the special commission was that it is not part of any diocese or province,” Paprocki said.

Bishops Cozzens, an auxiliary of St. Paul-Minneapolis, suggested that some version of the metropolitan model could perhaps be implemented right away, with diocesan bishops simply announcing that any complaints against them could be sent to their metropolitan archbishop.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo brought the day’s proceedings to a close, saying that the bishops had arrived in Baltimore following the summer’s scandals with three goals: “to do what we could to get to the bottom of the Archbishop McCarrick situation; to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier; and, to develop a means of holding ourselves accountable that was genuinely independent, duly authorized, and had substantial lay involvement.”

DiNardo said that he considered the bishops “on course” with all three priorities, and that he looked forward to the February meeting in Rome, with expectations that it would make the U.S. bishops’ “local efforts more global.”

While many of the bishops remain frustrated at their own inability to leave Baltimore with even a common expression of intent, DiNardo said that although he had begun the session on Monday with disappointment, “I end the meeting with hope, first of all grounded in Christ.”

US bishops punt resolution encouraging Holy See to release McCarrick documents

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 05:16

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 03:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On the last day of their fall meeting, the U.S. bishops' conference voted down a resolution that would have “encouraged” the Holy See to release all documents on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

After about a half hour of debate, objections that the resolution was redundant and ambiguous won out, and it was voted down by a clicker vote of 83-137, with three abstaining.

The original text of the resolution, proposed by Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, read: "Be it resolved that the bishops of the USCCB encourage the Holy Father to release all the documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the misconduct of Archbishop McCormick."

“This is not going to solve everything,” Boyea said, but it was “one little task” that all of the bishops could do.

The resolution was brought before the bishops at their Nov. 12-14 meeting in Baltimore. The bishops have focused almost exclusively on possible solutions following several months of clerical sex abuse scandal in the Church in the United States.

In the debate of the proposal, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark pointed out that the Holy See had announced Oct. 6 that an investigation was being launched into its archives on Archbishop McCarrick.

In that statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis decided to combine the information from an ongoing McCarrick investigation in New York “with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick, in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”

Pope Francis is quoted in the communique saying: “We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.”

In light of the communique from the Holy See, Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen proposed an amendment that the resolution affirmed what the Holy See said they would already do with the wording: “To support the Holy See’s communique of Oct. 6, 2018.”

The bishops have previously supported the Holy See’s investigation with an Oct. 7 statement, made by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said that the bishops “welcomed” the Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s files.

Boyea did not approve of wording of Checchio’s amendment, because he was concerned that the Holy See would only release their findings, and not all related documentation.

“The issue here is to release stuff, the issue here is the transparency,” he said. “We don’t just want conclusions.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco supported Boyea, saying that “the key here is documentation” and that the Holy See’s communique did not clarify what documents if any would be released.

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon then proposed an alternative amendment that kept the original wording of the resolution, but to add “recognizing the investigation already underway by the Holy See.

“I think the issue is really the transparency that our people are demanding,” he said, in support of the wording on the release of the documents.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said he objected to the ambiguity of the meaning of “release”, and asked whether the proposed resolution would end up being more restrictive of the investigation that what the Holy See had originally intended.

“To release all documentation that can be released with canon and civil law? What does that mean?” he said.

“Is the Holy See’s investigation more expansive than what this statement allows for?” he added. There may be some conversations or documentation given in confidentiality that the Holy See would release, but that were restricted under canon or civil law, he noted.

Boyea responded that the resolution seemed to “rest on the word ‘encourage’...Ultimately it’s left to the decision of the Holy See,” he said.

“We’re making it clear that we want something done; they’re going to determine what it is, we’re not going to determine what it is.”

Proposing a brief amendment, Bishop Peter Christensen of Boise motioned to add the word “soon” in the resolution, “to make it a little more urgent.”

Boyea said he didn’t think the adding of the word would be “all that helpful,” but the amendment passed by a margin of five through a clicker vote.

After the amendment, Cordileone supported Cupich’s previous question, and asked for further clarification about what the resolution mean by “releasing” the documents. Boyea again responded that it would ultimately be up the Holy See.

“So we’re voting on asking the Holy See to do what they already said they’re going to do? The successor of Peter has said he’s going to be truthful about this, and it seems to me we need to take his word at it,” Cupich said.

Another amendment to the resolution was then passed without objection, which came from Bishop David Walkowiak of Grand Rapids, who proposed changing the wording from “misconduct” to “allegegations of misconduct against McCarrick.”

Walkowiak said he wanted to make sure due process and McCarrick’s right to a defense were respected: “The important thing is that they’re alleged, they’re not proven.”

Bishop Salvatore Matano of Rochester then voiced his support for Cupich’s objection to the resolution, saying it was redundant to ask the Holy See to do what they have already said they would do.

Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne said he also objected to the ambiguity of the wording of the resolution: “To whom would they be released? What does it mean to release them?”

“This is a statement of distrust” of the Holy See, he added.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth also objected to the ambiguity of the resolution and said it was merely a way for the bishops to “appear that we’re doing something when in fact, we’re not.”

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said he supported the motion. He said he thought it was respectful of the Holy Father, while also encouraging the Vatican “to move forward boldy in a way the Holy See has not been accustomed to in the past.”

Cardinal William Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he did not support the resolution because it would only further the divide between the USCCB and the Vatican. He seconded Cardinal Tobin’s suggestion that the bishops instead release a statement of support of the Vatican investigation.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, archbishop for Military Services in the U.S., voiced concern that it would take the Holy See a long time to conduct the investigation, since McCarrick was a priest and bishop for many years.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Las Cruces said he didn’t think the statement added to anything that the bishops have already done.

“If anyone is listening they hopefully realize that there is a sense of outrage and betrayal at the situation of McCarrick (among the bishops),” he said. “I don’t think that the statement adds anything to that...at this point I don't see any purpose to this proposal.”

The resolution was then put to a vote. After amendments, the final wording was: “Regarding the ongoing investigation of the Holy See into the case of Archbishop McCarrick, be it resolved that the bishops of the USCCB encourage the Holy See to release soon all documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the allegations of misconduct against Archbishop McCarrick.”

The resolution failed. The bishops then went on to discuss the proposed code of conduct for bishops during the second part of the afternoon session.

Sex abuse inquiry examines England's Birmingham archdiocese

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 04:46

Birmingham, England, Nov 14, 2018 / 02:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An independent government inquiry is investigating how the Archdiocese of Birmingham handled allegations of child sexual abuse made against four priests.

Father John Tolkien, who died in 2003, allegedly abused a boy during Saturday morning "reading lessons" at the priest’s home in 1970, and afterwards told the boy to keep the abuse a secret. Fr. Tolkien is the son of author and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition, investigators reported Nov. 12 that they had found evidence that Fr. Tolkien had privately admitted to forcing a group of boy scouts to strip naked while on a camp-out in the 1950s, and may even have been sent for treatment. Allegations were eventually brought to the police in 1994 but no charges were filed.

An anonymous complainant who spoke during a hearing accused Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who was Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 to 2009, of seeking to cover up abuse perpetrated in the 1970s.

"I think they [the church] just see them [victim] as a scourge, third class citizens who dare to come forward and challenge them," the victim of Fr. Tolkien’s alleged sexual abuse told the BBC.

While Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols reportedly paid out several settlements to Tolkien’s alleged victims.

Nichols apologized to victims of sexual abuse in an August letter. He also issued a joint apology with the current Birmingham archbishop, Bernard Longley, following the witness statements at this week’s hearing.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating a number of prominent institutions in the UK including the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and several councils that handle foster care agencies and children’s homes.

The inquiry released a report in August detailing “appalling sexual abuse,” dating back decades, at two of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, Ampleforth and Downside.

The hearings concerning the Archdiocese of Birmingham will continue until Nov. 16.

Why the US bishops strongly backed an anti-racism pastoral letter

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 04:11

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A pastoral letter against racism won a nearly unanimous vote at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ general assembly Wednesday.

The letter aims “to combat the scourge of racism in the hearts and minds of the faithful, in our own church communities and in the structures of society,” Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodeaux, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and its Subcommittee on African-American Affairs, told the bishops Nov. 14 at their fall assembly held in Baltimore.

Bishop Fabre said the letter encourages “honest self-reflection” by individuals and the Church and addresses racism “in a broad sense” as it affects various races and ethnicities, including Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and immigrant groups.

“It does convey, I hope in no unclear terms, the Church’s remorse for any role her members may have had, in the present or in the past, in the commission of racist acts and the spread of racist attitudes,” he said.

The letter, titled “Open wide our hearts: the enduring call to love – a pastoral letter against racism,” passed by a vote of 243 to 3, with one abstention, during the bishops’ assembly. Discussions took place immediately before the vote and in a Nov. 13 question period with Bishop Fabre.

“The statement condemns racism but also seeks to raise awareness of its impact on people and communities, and assists pastors, communities, individuals in confronting racism,” Fabre said Tuesday. The letter conveys the bishops’ “grave concern” about the rise of racist expressions in American society, in public discourse, and on social media, while discussing racism’s effect on institutions and public policy.

Fabre said in a Nov. 14 statement from the U.S. bishops’ conference that "The entire body of bishops felt the need to address the topic of racism, once again, after witnessing the deterioration of the public discourse, and episodes of violence and animosity with racial and xenophobic overtones, that have re-emerged in American society in the last few years."
 
He characterized the present time as among the “key moments in history” when the bishops come together to offer “a Christian response, full of hope, to the problems of our time.”

The letter follows several years of racial tensions in the U.S., sparked by incidents including police shootings of African American men that prompted major protests in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, among other parts of the country.

The Trump administration has engaged in strong rhetoric against undocumented immigrants and has issued stronger policies against undocumented immigrants at the border.

There is also an apparent resurgence in white nationalism and the rise of a new predominantly internet-based “alt-right” movement. In August 2017, white supremacists and neo-Nazis came from across the country to rally in Charlottesville, Va., ostensibly to unite a right-wing movement and to defend Confederate statues from critics who wanted them removed. A 20-year-old man drove a car into a group of rally counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

The bishops’ letter, Fabre said, aims to draw lessons from “the most painful examples, historic or contemporary,” of racism and highlights Catholic teaching on the human person as an image of God. The letter “calls individuals to conversion and action” and seeks to engage everyone. The letter is aimed both for those who have “held racist thoughts or committed racist acts” and “those who have felt the sting of racism.”

The U.S. bishops’ conference said the letter “asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God.”
 
“Because we all bear the image of God, racism is above all a moral and theological problem that manifests institutionally and systematically,” it continued. “Only a deep individual conversion of heart, which then multiplies, will compel change and reform in our institutions and society.”
 
The bishops stressed the moral imperative to “confront racism’s root causes and the injustice it produces.”
 
“The love of God binds us together,” the bishops continued. “The conversions needed to overcome racism require a deep encounter with the living God in the person of Christ who can heal all division.”

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond, in whose diocese Charlottesville is located, said the rally resulted in a “great deal of concern” from dioceses and parishes.

He also spoke of problems in cross-cultural understanding. During Holy Week, a Hispanic community organized a Good Friday display that included an image of Judas hanging himself from a tree. The use of a noose disturbed African Americans in the community, who disproportionately suffered from lynchings and mob killings up through the 20th century.

Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham spoke in support of the letter, citing Birmingham’s role as “ground zero of the civil rights movement.”

“We’ve come a long way in Birmingham from 50 years ago and we are still trying to achieve the goals of this document,” he said.

The letter acknowledges progress against “the evil of racism” since the bishops last addressed the topic, in a 1979 letter.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas said his experience as a priest serving an African American community made him a better priest. He voiced appreciation of the letter’s connection to the pro-life movement in rejecting “any attack on the dignity of the person,” including racism.

From Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix came gratitude for the letter’s focus on Native Americans and its recognition of “all they have suffered” and their contributions to the Church today. In the Phoenix diocese there are 11 missions to Native Americans, and 80 percent of Catholics under age 20 are Hispanic.

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu said that “gross expressions of racism” need to be addressed. He also wondered about smaller expressions of racism that may not even rise to the level of sin but still impede unity.

In one community, some African Americans tended to mistreat Hispanics, while in another an Asian community was “very hostile” to Hispanics in a way that was “a scandal,” he said. In another parish, despite leadership saying they wanted to include Hispanics, “they just didn’t get the fact that holding the parish council meeting during the Spanish Mass was a problem of not including Hispanics.”

Bishop Fabre said the letter is for “Catholics and all people of good will,” with practical suggestions for individuals, families, dioceses, and individuals, as well as Catholic organizations.

Bishop George Murry, S.J. of Youngstown had originally led the effort, but poor heath prevented him from continuing.

Fabre emphasized the intense, prolonged collaboration among many bishops to produce the text, which he called “a true expression of our collegiality.” The initiative has attracted interest from both Catholics and non-Catholics and will be a foundation for the U.S. bishops’ future work.

By a unanimous voice vote, the bishops also approved the continuation of the canonization cause of Sister Thea Bowman, overseen by the Diocese of Jackson.

She was born to a Methodist family in Yazoo City in 1937 and was the granddaughter of former slaves. She converted to Catholicism due to the witness of religious sisters and joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She became an advocate of racial integration and of African Americans in society and the Church, and founded the National Black Sisters Conference.

Angry, betrayed Catholics travel to Baltimore demanding answers, change

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 02:42

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 12:42 pm (CNA).- As one of the testimonies progressed at the Silence Stops Now rally near the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly, Anna Ahlbin, an expectant mother of six who had traveled from Fredericksburg, Va., turned to her young children and instructed them to cover their ears.

While she thought it was important to bring her family to a rally demanding change, reform, and accountability for the Church’s bishops, she still wanted to do as much as she could to prevent her children from hearing graphic details of abuse.

Ahlbin told CNA that she felt “a deep sense of betrayal and confusion” by the bishops, a stark departure from her past views on the episcopacy.

“I used to be the type of person who thought, you know, I looked for the nihil obstat and I knew it was fine, and I just trusted, immediately,” she said.

“And now it's, 'Who can I trust? Who's the good guys, who's the bad guys? Who's lying to me and who isn't?’”

Ahlbin and her children were part of a crowd of about 200 who gathered at the rally, which was sponsored by numerous organizations who are unhappy with the way the U.S. Bishops’ Conference has handled reports of sexual abuse. A variety of speakers provided testimony at the rally, including an alleged victim of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s abuse.

Demonstrators CNA spoke to traveled from all over the country to attend various protests, including one woman who said she and her husband were visiting Baltimore from California to express their disappointment with the bishops.

The Silence Stops Now rally was the biggest gathering by far, but it was not the only demonstration. Throughout the three days of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly, there have been pockets of protestors gathering, angry at the conference of bishops. While the groups they represent, the specific concerns, and the proposed solutions have varied, their feelings of anger, hurt, and confusion were consistent.

A group of Georgetown University students, all of whom are active in Catholic campus ministry, spoke to CNA about their concerns that the Church was not doing enough to stand with survivors of abuse and to punish the perpetrators. They also expressed disappointment at their own school refusing to rescind honorary degrees to McCarrick and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose resignation as Archbishop of Washington was recently accepted by the pope.

Grace Laria, a senior at Georgetown, told CNA that her group drove up from D.C. that morning “to show that Georgetown students really care about the Catholic Church and issues that confront it, particularly the sexual abuse crisis.”

Laria said that while there had been numerous events on campus regarding the abuse crisis, she wanted to travel to Baltimore to continue to demand some sort of action, even informal, that demonstrates the bishops “are willing to stand up for survivors and take action."

Her concerns were echoed by fellow Georgetown student Julie Bevilacqua, who said the crisis made her feel angry and hurt.

“I just really feel a sense of urgency for some kind of action and for us to see some change to show...that our Church is willing to stand up for survivors and to stand with them," Bevilacqua told CNA. She said that she hopes young people, women, and lay leaders like herself will be given a bigger platform in the Church in the future.

Although most of those demonstrating outside the assembly were critical of the bishops, the USCCB, and Church hierarchy as a whole, there was one notable exception to these feelings: Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States.

In August, Vigano released an explosive letter that claimed, among other things, that Pope Francis had stripped penalties imposed on Archbishop McCarrick by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. During the general assembly, many bishops publicly expressed displeasure at the Vatican’s perceived stalling of any investigation into the claims made in the letter.

At the Silence Stops Now rally, a mere mention of Vigano’s name drew wild applause, and at one point, those assembled chanted his name in a manner that was not unlike a political campaign rally. Conversely, the mention of just about any other bishop sparked a chorus of boos.

A six-foot-tall poster displayed outside the hotel on Wednesday was even less subtle: a picture of Vigano, captioned “Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, OUR HERO!! Thank you!”

That poster was positioned next to an image of Our Lady of Fatima, and another featuring a collage of American cardinals, accusing them of being complicit with Satan.

Connie McCalla, who traveled to Baltimore from Philadelphia, said that while she found the message at the Silence Stops Now rally to be a bit “mixed,” she was there to demand accountability among bishops.

A bishop needs to be transparent and remember “that they are to lead the Church and to protect the body of Christ," said McCalla. The bishops “need to be heard and not behind stone and glass," she said, pointing to the hotel where the assembly was being held.

Throughout the weekend, the majority of the demonstrators CNA spoke to had optimistic views on the future of the Church, despite the current controversies and difficulties.

Ahlbin told CNA that although she thinks the Church must “repent, submit to grace, and allow it to stop being about policy,” returning to a focus on God and the Holy Spirit, she’s “confident that the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph.”

Saskatchewan suit says indigenous women were forced into sterilization

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 01:04

Regina, Canada, Nov 14, 2018 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a class-action lawsuit in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, more than 60 indigenous women allege they were coerced into being sterilized. The incidents happened as recently as 2017.

In July 2017, a representative of the Saskatoon Health Region apologized for the forced sterilizations, saying, “I am truly sorry for the coercion for tubal ligation that you experienced while in our care.”

Alisa Lombard, a lawyer representing the indigenous women, told the CBC that “in the throes of labour ... they would be approached, harassed, coerced into signing these consent forms.” They would be told they could not leave, or see their child, until they had been sterilized.

An Ontario senator has called for a nationwide inquiry into force sterilization of indigenous peoples, as there have been reports of the practice from multiple provinces and territories.

Advocates have urged that forced sterilization be criminalized, and that Health Canada give guidance to doctors on sterilization procedures.

Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, said that “the issue of forced sterilization of vulnerable people, including Indigenous women, is a very serious violation of human rights.”

Florist case reopens before Washington Supreme Court

Kam, 15/11/2018 - 00:28

Olympia, Wash., Nov 14, 2018 / 10:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Attorneys representing florist Barronelle Stutzman filed their opening brief with the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday, as the court re-hears the case after its previous ruling was reversed.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a previous Washington state ruling against Stutzman, who in 2013 declined to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the Washington Supreme Court, instructing that the case be reconsidered in the light of Masterpiece Cakeshop.

In that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Christian cake baker Jack Phillips, who had declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown an impermissible hostility toward religion in their handling of the case.

Stutzman’s attorneys have argued that a similar hostility against religion was on display in the handling of Stuzman’s case by Washington’s attorney general.

“While the attorney general failed to prosecute a business that obscenely berated and discriminated against Christian customers, he has steadfastly—and on his own initiative—pursued unprecedented measures to punish Barronelle not just in her capacity as a business owner but also in her personal capacity,” said Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom, the group defending both Phillips and Stutzman.

“In its Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, the Supreme Court condemned that sort of one-sided, discriminatory application of the law against people of faith,” Waggoner said.

“Also, in the legal briefs that the attorney general has filed in Barronelle’s case, he has repeatedly and overtly demeaned her faith. He has compared her religious beliefs about marriage—which the Supreme Court said are ‘decent and honorable’—to racial discrimination,” Waggoner continued.

“This conflicts with the Supreme Court’s recognition in Masterpiece Cakeshop that it was ‘inappropriate’ for the government to draw parallels between those religious beliefs and ‘defenses of slavery’.”

The Washington case centers around 73-year-old Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington.

In 2013, Rob Ingersoll, a long-time friend and customer of Stutzman, asked her to arrange flowers for his same-sex wedding ceremony.

Stutzman knew that Ingersoll was gay, and had always been happy to create flower arrangements for birthdays and other special occasions.

However, because she believes marriage to be a sign of the relationship between Christ and his Church, she told Ingersoll that she could not make a flower arrangement for a same-sex wedding.

Ingersoll initially said that he understood and asked her to recommend another florist. Later, however, his partner posted a message on social media about Stutzman declining to take part in the wedding, and it went viral. Soon afterward, she was informed that she was being sued by the Washington State attorney general and the ACLU.

Stutzman, who is Southern Baptist, has said that she views weddings as more than just a job. She spends months or even years getting to know the bride and groom, to understand their vision and what they want to convey.

Because her wedding arrangements are such a deeply personal labor of love, she said that she felt that she could not in good conscience design flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

In February 2017, the Washington Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling against Stutzman. She then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.

While the actual damages being sought by the gay couple are only around $7 – the mileage cost of driving to another florist – Stutzman could be responsible for more than $1 million in legal fees to nearly a dozen ACLU lawyers opposing her in the case. Her home, business, savings, and personal assets are all at risk in the case.

Over the last five years, Stutzman said she has received an outpouring of support and messages of encouragement from nearly 60 countries, but also death threats that have required her to install a security system and change her route to work.

In a statement earlier this year, Stutzman said that she serves all customers, but cannot create products for events that conflict with her deeply-held religious beliefs.

She said the Washington attorney general “has always ignored that part of my case, choosing to vilify me and my faith instead of respecting my religious beliefs about marriage.”

“When the state trial court ruled against me at the attorney general’s request, I wrote the attorney general a letter urging him ‘to drop’ the personal claims that risk stripping away ‘my home, business, and other assets’,” she said.

“He didn’t do that. For him, this case has been about making an example of me—crushing me—all because he disapproves of what I believe about marriage.”

USCCB elects six new committee chairmen

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 23:42

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 09:42 am (CNA).- On Wednesday morning, the U.S. bishops voted on a slate of positions and committee chairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The votes were originally scheduled to be taken Thursday morning but moved up the schedule following a forecast for adverse weather.

On the ballot were candidates for the chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, as well as the chairmen-elect of five other committees: Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations; Divine Worship; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth; and Migration.

The chairman-elect serves for one year shadowing the current chairman before assuming the role for a three-year term of office.

The bishops elected Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland to serve as chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education. Barber has previously served as the Director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He will replace Bishop John Quinn. Quinn had been serving as interim-chair of the committee following the departure of Bishop George Murry, who resigned following a diagnosis of leukemia.  

Archbishop Paul Etienne was elected Chairman of the Committee on National Collections.

Bishop James Checcio of Metuchen was elected as the chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. He takes over from Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark.

The bishops elected Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford to serve as chairman-elect of the Committee on Divine Worship. Blair has served on several conference committees, including those on evangelization and doctrine

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City was elected to lead the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

There was a tie in the election to name a successor to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia as chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette each received 125-125 votes.

Archbishop Cordileone was declared the winner by virtue of being the bishop senior in consecration.

Washington, D.C. auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville-Rodriguez was elected to lead the Committee on Migration, currently chaired by Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin. The committee seeks to provide awareness of and responses to the plight of immigrants, human trafficking, and refugees.

The bishops also elected Bishop Gregory Parkes of St. Petersburg, Florida, as treasurer-elect for the USCCB. The office of treasurer manages the conference’s funds and sits as vice-chairman on the Committee on Priorities and Plans. Parkes will take office in November 2019. He worked in the banking industry for several years before entering the seminary and being ordained.

The American bishops also chose two new members for the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services: Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City. Bishop James Johnston was also elected to serve a second term.

Pope Francis: A Christian's life should point to truth

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 19:24

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2018 / 05:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians are called to not only refrain from telling falsehoods, but to conduct their entire lives – both words and actions – as a witness to the Truth that is Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

“Let us ask ourselves: what truth do the works of us Christians attest to, our words, our choices?” the pope said Nov. 14. “Everyone can ask themselves: am I a witness to the truth, or am I more or less a liar disguised as a true person?”

In his weekly catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the eighth commandment: “you shall not give false witness against thy neighbor.”

“The truth,” he said, “finds its full realization in the very person of Jesus, in his way of living and dying, the fruit of his relationship with the Father.” As children of God, people are given this same access to truth, sent through the Holy Spirit, “who is the Spirit of truth, who attests to our hearts that God is our Father.”

Francis explained that “in every one of his actions man affirms or denies this truth. From small everyday situations to the most demanding choices. But it is the same logic: that which parents and grandparents teach us when they tell us not to lie. The same logic.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said, the commandment against lying, “forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others.”

“Inauthentic communication” is a serious error because it prevents relationships and love, which require truth; and “where there is a lie there is no love, there can be no love,” he emphasized.

To tell the truth in one’s relationships means more than to just not tell a falsehood with one’s words, he continued, listing also “gestures, attitudes, silences, and absences,” as possible occasions of dishonesty.

“A person speaks with everything he is and what he does. We are always in communication. We all live by communicating and we are constantly poised between truth and falsehood,” he stated.

An element of telling the truth in relationships includes not gossiping, he said, departing from his prepared remarks to emphasize that to gossip is like dropping a bomb, which destroys the community and the reputation of others.

“Be careful!” he urged. “How much gossip destroys communion for inappropriateness or lack of delicacy!”

Just because one may have told the truth about another person, does not mean it was right to say it, or to reveal some personal or confidential information, Francis warned.

Christians are not exceptional people, but “we are children of the heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint,” therefore, Christians are able to live in the truth “not so much said with discourses,” he said, but as a “way of existing, a way of life, and it is seen in every single act.”

“Truth is a marvelous revelation of God, of his Father’s face, is his boundless love,” he said.

The question, “what is truth?” Francis noted, is what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus when he questioned him about his kingship before handing him over to the Jewish people to be crucified.

Jesus said: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Jesus gives this “testimony” by his passion and death, Pope Francis said. Through his manner of suffering and dying, “Jesus manifests the Father, his merciful and faithful love.”

“Not to say false testimony means to live as a child of God… letting the great truth emerge in every act: that God is Father and we can trust Him. I trust God: this is the great truth,” he concluded.

“From our trust in God, who is a Father and loves me, loves us, my truth is born; and to be truthful and not a liar.”

A look at blasphemy laws around the world

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 17:05

Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov 14, 2018 / 03:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While the world awaits the fate of Asia Bibi, who remains in hiding in Pakistan following the acquittal of her death sentence for blasphemy, religious freedom advocates are calling for an end to blasphemy laws across the globe.

“Blasphemy laws are a way for governments to deny their citizens – and particularly those of minority religions – the basic human rights to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression,” Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said in the statement in October.

However, Dorjee’s statement was not directed at Pakistan -- but Ireland.

Irish citizens voted to remove a provision criminalizing blasphemy from their Constitution on Oct. 26, although the law had not been enforced in recent years.

The Irish Bishops’ Conference said that the blasphemy reference, although “largely obsolete,” could raise concern because of how it could be used “to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world.”

More than one-third of the world’s countries maintain laws that criminalize blasphemy -- defined as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.” Punishments for blasphemy across the 68 countries range widely from fines to imprisonment and death.

In Sudan and Saudi Arabia, corporal punishment, such as whipping, has been used in blasphemy cases. Recently, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 public lashes, given in installments of 50 lashes every week, in addition to 10 years in prison separated from his wife and children, and a 10-year travel ban after his prison sentence.

Compulsory and correctional labor are the prescribed punishments in the blasphemy laws in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Iran has the world’s most severe blasphemy laws, followed closely by Pakistan, according to the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom. Both countries’ laws enforce the death penalty for an insult to the prophet Muhammad. In 2015 alone, Iran executed 20 people for “enmity against God.”

In addition to Iran and Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Qatar, and Egypt have among the world’s worst blasphemy laws, the USCIRF study found in 2017.

Although many of the world’s blasphemy laws are enforced in largely Muslim countries, they exist in every region of the world.

Some Western nations, such as Malta and Denmark, have repealed their national blasphemy laws in recent years, while other countries still enforce them.

In Spain, an actor was prosecuted in September for explicit comments insulting God and the Virgin Mary in Facebook posts that supported the procession of a giant model of female genitalia through the streets of Seville, mocking the Catholic tradition.

Spain’s penal code requires monetary fines for “publicly disparaging dogmas, beliefs, rites or ceremonies” of a religion, and include similar penalties for those who publicly disparage people without a religious faith.

Greek law maintains that “anyone who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church or any religion tolerable in Greece shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years.”

The Italian criminal code also includes provisions for “insulting the state religion,” however the government does not generally enforce the law against blasphemy.

In Thailand, the constitution calls for the state to “implement measures to prevent any forms of harm or threat against Buddhism” with potential punishment from two to seven years imprisonment.

In Pakistan, Catholic mother-of-five Asia Bibi was recently acquitted after spending eight years on death row. However, her life is still in danger, as the ruling is under government review as part of a deal to appease groups that were leading riots in the streets. And the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that at least 40 other people in Pakistan are either on death row or currently serving life sentences for blasphemy.

Nearly half of those facing the death penalty under Pakistan’s blasphemy law have been Christians in a country that is 97 percent Muslim.

“Bibi's case illustrates how blasphemy laws are used to persecute the weakest of the weak among Pakistan's religious minorities,” Religious Freedom Institute fellow Farahnaz Ispahani wrote earlier this year.

“As a poor Christian from a low caste, Bibi was among the most vulnerable and susceptible to discrimination. And the legal system -- which, in theory, should be designed to protect the innocent -- failed her in every way.”

 

Inmates building 250 confessionals for 2019 World Youth Day

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 14:30

Panama City, Panama, Nov 14, 2018 / 12:30 am (ACI Prensa).- Inmates from La Joya and Nueva Joya prisons have begun the construction of 250 confessionals to be used in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

The confessionals will be set up in Omar Recreation Park in Panama City, which will be called “Forgiveness Park” during the youth event. In total, 35 inmates are working from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, sanding, painting, and assembling the crosses and wooden confessionals.

Interior designer Lilibeth Bennet created different two models for the confessionals, both inspired by the WYD logo and using the same colors.

In an interview conducted by WYD organizers, the prisoners said that the project is not just “simple cabinetry work,” but allows them to contribute to a project aimed at young people who will be able to “take a different path” than they did.

“Even though we won't be able to be there (at World Youth Day) we still feel that we're doing something important, and I thank God for the opportunity he has given us as prisoners to contribute to a mission as important as World Youth Day,” explained Luis Dominguez, who is in charge of painting and supervising the sanding of the confessionals.

Jesús Ramos, another one of the inmates constructing the confessionals, said that even though he is an Evangelical, he is sure of the valuable contribution that World Youth Day is making to young people.

“I am grateful that they took me into account because I've learned how to use the tools here, to work based on respect and together toward the same goal…I feel included and happy to work for God,” he said.

The project coordinator for the prison system, Alma De León, explained that the work is being done with the support of an instructor from the National Institute for Professional Formation and Training for Human Development of Panama, and it is a way to demonstrate the capabilities of people in prison. 

Sharon Diaz, deputy director general secretary of the prison system, said that the inmates form “a single team, and they know the importance of working on a project as unique as this one, regardless of the faith they profess.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

Intense debate over handling of abuse scandal ensues at USCCB meeting

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 09:25

Baltimore, Md., Nov 13, 2018 / 07:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More than 20 bishops and cardinals offered passionate interventions during an open floor discussion on the sex abuse crisis at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon.

More bishops wanted to speak, but due to time constraints, their comments were reserved for the next morning.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), opened the discussions with the announcement that he had created a “deliberately small” task force, comprised of himself and the former presidents of the USCCB.

The task force, which includes DiNardo and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and Archbishop Wilton Gregory, will work closely with the committees of the conference to examine instances of abuse and mishandling of abuse cases, and their work will culminate in a report presented at the next bishops’ meeting in June, DiNardo said.

Afterwards DiNardo opened the floor to any comments on the task force or the issue of the sex abuse crisis at large.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who has been barred from public ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the mishandling and cover-up of abuse cases involving minors and priests there, opened up the comments from the bishops, urging them to seek a greater collegiality amongst themselves as “brother bishops.”

He said the bishops should look to the example of St. Charles Borromeo, who said “we are not bishops alone or separate, we belong to a college and have a responsibility to it.”

He also encouraged bishops to pray more together and to consider establishing houses of prayer for priests and bishops, similar to one found in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Finally, he urged the bishops to “not allow outside influences to interfere with or attempt to break bonds of ecclesial union” that they have with each other.

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico then gave a brief intervention, in which he suggested that bishops look to their priests to know how the faithful are reacting to the crisis and for any suggestions about possible solutions.

“It occurs to me that we might benefit from the wisdom of our brother priests, they are our closest collaborators, by tapping them in a more formal way,” he said.

Following Wester, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco then gave a long intervention in which he described what he has been hearing from Catholics in his area.

“We’ve heard how important it is to listen to our people, I’ve held listening sessions in my own Archdiocese” regarding the abuse scandal, he said.

From this listening, Cordileone said he has found that Catholics tend to fall in one of two camps regarding the abuse crisis: the first camp believes that the Church is not talking about the real problem, which is the prevalence homosexuality among the clergy and its correlation with abuse, he said.

The second camp believes that the real problem is an all-male hierarchy, “because women would never have allowed this to happen,” and therefore women must be invited in to all levels of the clergy.

Cordileone, who clarified that he was merely reporting what he found among his people, said that both conclusions are overly simplistic, but neither are without some merit.

“We do sometimes act as a good old boys club,” he said, with problems of “cronyism, favoritism, and cover-up.” He urged the bishops to find solutions to these “legitimate concerns” of Catholics in the second camp.

When considering the first camp, Cordileone cautioned against the “overly simplistic” conclusion that homosexuality causes sexual abuse. That “obviously cannot be true” he said, as some priests with homosexual tendencies faithfully serve the Church, while some heterosexually priests serve the Church poorly.

Still, the concern “has some validity,” he said, pointing to a recently-published study by Father D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and retired Catholic University of America sociology professor. Sullins’ analysis found a rising trend in abuse, and argued that the evidence strongly suggests links between sexual abuse of minors and two factors: a disproportionate number of homosexual clergy, and the manifestation of a “homosexual subculture” in seminaries.

“The worst thing we could do is discredit this study so we can ignore or deny this reality,” Cordileone said. “We have to lean into it...to ignore it would be fleeing from the truth.”

The archbishop recommended further studies into the correlation between homosexuality and sexual abuse, one that avoids “quick and easy answers” and would attempt to find the root causes of this correlation.

Cordileone’s was the first intervention met with applause from many bishops.

Another California bishop, Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, followed Cordileone’s comments by asking about the status of the Vatican investigation into the accusations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and whether the bishops might “bring any respectful pressure to bear” to the Holy See on furthering the investigation.

DiNardo responded, saying that he knew that the four dioceses in which McCarrick had served had opened investigations, but he did not know of the status of a Vatican investigation on the matter.

In his intervention, Bishop Michael Burns of Guam asked about “meaningful constraints” on bishops accused of abuse, such as his predecessor Bishop Anthony S. Apuron, who was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors by a Vatican tribunal, but who has asked for an appeal.

“It’s been grating on the people of God” to have no concrete knowledge of the status of Apuron’s constraints, he said.

In his comments, Bishop Robert Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, said he agreed with an earlier suggestion of Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, that the remedy for the abuse crisis and accusations against bishops may already be found in the bishop’s charters and laws.

“People say the Church is hung up on sex, this is evidence of that,” he said regarding the debate about the sex abuse crisis. “We are capable of malfeasance in many other areas as well,” he said, and urged the bishops to consider more broadly the ways bishops may have gone wrong.

“I promised celibacy during (ordinations),” he added, “and I have to say I’m a little chagrined to be asked to sign something that says I will be accountable to certain standards.”

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in his following intervention that he wished to see more fraternal correction among the bishops. He asked that bishops seek out the counsel of the bishops in their region if they are considering resigning, and also that bishops fraternally correct bishops in their region if they believe they should resign.

“I dream of a day when we as brothers are strong enough to say - we think you should resign, even if he’s not ready to hear that,” he said. “Those are difficult conversations to have, nobody wants to have them, but they can be very important.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, a “small rural area” with a minority Catholic population, gave a notably strong intervention, in which he asked the bishops to consider how McCarrick got to be in the positions that he was “if we really believed that what was going on was wrong?”

“It’s part of our deposit of faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral,” he said. “How did he get promoted if we are all of one mind that this is wrong? Do we believe the doctrine of the Church or not?”

Strickland said that while homosexual people are “children of God who deserve great care” and not personal condemnation, the Church should teach clearly that homosexual actions are sinful, and help people move from sin to virtue.

“There’s a priest that travels around saying that he doesn’t (believe this teaching), and he’s well promoted in various places,” Strickland said. “Can that be presented in our dioceses? That same-sex marriage is just fine and that the Church may one day grow to understand that? That’s not what we teach.”

Strickland’s intervention was also followed by applause from numerous bishops.

Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane said he had heard from many concerned, faithful Catholic parents who want to encourage vocations in their children, but are growing impatient with a lack of answers on the abuse crisis from Church leadership.

It is a concern the bishops should “take very seriously,” he said. “My feeling is judging from their conversations, they’re running out of patience.”

DiNardo then commented that he personally reads “thousands” of letters that the “people of God” have sent to the USCCB.

“If there’s one thing that nags at everyone, it’s the Archbishop McCarrick thing,” he said. “It seems to be ubiquitous. This is the one that I think has to be addressed, it’s just bad for our people.”

In the next intervention, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said he seconded an earlier suggestion from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, that metropolitan bishops be given greater authority over the bishops in their region and the ability to conduct their own reviews and investigations.

“We have an existing structure but it needs to be empowered,” he said. He also added that it should be clarified which accusations against bishops and clergy should be made public - those that are deemed credible, or those that have been further substantiated.

He added that the media “has been very negative” about the Church following the crisis and has perpetuated a “myth” that nothing has changed since the 2002 Dallas Charter, and that the bishops must do a better job speaking out about what has already changed.

Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Neb., said in his intervention that the process for handling misconduct on the part of bishops must be made clear, transparent and expedient.

“How bishops are held accountable when there has been misconduct is not clear, it’s a process that happens sometimes, but it’s not timely, it’s not transparent,” he said.

He said that he was “very disappointed” by instructions from the Vatican to not hold votes on proposed changes, but said he saw it as an opportunity to be very clear with the Holy See about needs to be done at the meetings in February.

Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, gave a brief intervention in which he said he also favored the suggestions of strengthening the role of metropolitan bishops, and that it would likely be well-received in Rome.

Bishop Murry of Youngstown, Ohio said in his intervention that while lay people are angry, they want to help the Church, and the bishops should accept their help.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Florida joked at the beginning of his comments that the bishops should be glad Donald Trump is president, otherwise the Church would be receiving even more attention and “bad press” than it already has.

He urged the bishops not to get “distracted” by the media, and not to give in to the “industry and addiction” of outrage. Most people are not hung up on the sex abuse crisis, he said.

“People are coming to Church, they're praying, they’re sending their kids to Catechism, the life of the Church is moving on. If you’re not reading the blogs, if you’re not watching cable TV, this is not front and center for most of our people,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot, we have to tell our story better and not get played in the outrage business and get back to what we’re supposed to be doing as pastors,” he said, to applause from some bishops.

Bishop George Thomas from Las Vegas followed Wenski, and said that he had heard from people who were “rightfully” angry and disappointed that the Vatican had put a hold on the votes of the bishop’s conference on any proposals regarding sex abuse.

“The perception is that justice delayed is justice denied,” he said. He said he still hoped the conference would hold an “advisory vote that reflects the gravity of the issue at hand, the urgency of the matter, the depth of the breach of trust…(in order to) remove a cancer and help heal this wound that is affecting so deeply the living body of Christ.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, where McCarrick had once served, provided an update on the two investigations ongoing in his diocese, which he said are moving along but can become complicated when they overlap.

He said the diocese is “committed” to sharing the findings with the Holy See. He added that if Catholic’s trust in the credibility of their bishops was so easily shattered by the sex abuse crisis, “what was there before? What was our credibility built on, that it could be so swept away?”

Cardinal William Levada, emeritus prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in his intervention that the McCarrick situation may have been prevented if there were stronger investigations conducted when transferring bishops to different dioceses.

Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri reiterated in his interventions the “necessity” of the laity, who could serve as a “tremendous resource” in responding to the abuse crisis.

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, said the abuse crisis has caused him to “take a real good hard look at myself and how I’m living my life as a bishop in the Church today,” spiritually and pastorally.

“Have we lost sight about what our mission is truly all about?” he said. “Our mission is to sanctify the world,” through shepherding and being close to the people.

“Reform begins with us individually,” he said.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California said in his intervention that he disagreed with all of the proposals to strengthen the role of the metropolitan bishops, an effort which he said would be perceived by lay Catholics as too little, too late.

“Maybe that moment has passed and we’ve missed our opportunity to do that,” he said. “In the current time, the transparency and independent review seems to be more on the minds of the faithful. We have to continue to pursue what has been proposed by the committee.”

All other interventions were reserved for the following morning. Following an announcement about expected ice and snow, the bishops broke for the evening. Thursday is the final day for the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which this year has focused almost exclusively on their response to the sex abuse crisis in the U.S. Church.

Alleged victim of Archbishop McCarrick speaks at rally outside USCCB meeting

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 07:34

Baltimore, Md., Nov 13, 2018 / 05:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- James Grein, the man who came forward this summer alleging he was abused for 18 years by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, appeared in public Tuesday for the first time and revealed his full name. Previously, the New York Times had identified him only as “James.”

Grein appeared at the Nov. 13 “Silence Stops Now” counter-rally organized by several groups critical of the bishops’ approach to addressing the sexual abuse crisis. The rally was held near the location of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

Grein was visibly nervous taking the stage, where he delivered a short speech about his experience coming forward with his story, and received an extended standing ovation when he finished.

In July Grein came forward with his story to the New York Times. He said McCarrick began abusing him when he was 11 years old. At that time, McCarrick was 39 years old, and a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.  

This abuse continued for the next 18 years, he said, during which McCarrick was consecrated a bishop and served in the local Churches of New York, Metuchen, and Newark. In November 2000, he was appointed Archbishop of Washington, where he served the remainder of his career until his 2006 retirement. In 2001, McCarrick was elevated to the College of Cardinals. About a week after Grein’s allegation was published, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals.

Grein credited the first survivor coming forward for giving him the strength to share his experience.

"That article would never have been written had it not been for a 16-year-old altar boy who accused McCarrick of abusing him," he said. After that survivor went public, and his claim was found to be credible, Grein said he felt as though “my time has come” and chose to share his story.

Previously, he felt there was “no place” for him to report his abuse, and that nobody would believe him even if he were to report it. Grein said he was motivated to go public Tuesday as a way to inspire other victims.

"I do this today so that others like me have the strength to come forward. Think about what you can do to help others. This movement must continue to gain strength,” he said.

“Our bishops must know that the jig is up.”

Grein said he believed that McCarrick’s punishment of a life of prayer and penance was a “necessary step” on the extended journey to “reform and reclaim the Church.” McCarrick is currently living in a monastery in Kansas until he is faces a canonical trial.

Despite his abuse, Grein said that he has continued to put his faith in Christ, and continues a regimen of prayer and fasting.

"Jesus' law is much higher than pontifical secrets,” he told the crowd.

“It’s not Francis' Church. It’s Jesus Christ's Church.”

USCCB discusses standards of conduct, independent commission

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 06:54

Baltimore, Md., Nov 13, 2018 / 04:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops have formally begun discussion of a new set of standards of conduct and a special commission to investigate accusations made against bishops.

The bishops, meeting in Baltimore for the fall general assembly of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, had hoped the two proposals would form the centerpiece of their response to the recent sexual abuse scandals.

After the Vatican intervened to prevent the measures being voted on, the bishops have chosen to proceed with discussion of the proposals even though they can no longer enact them.

Bishops have been invited to propose amendments to both documents for further discussion tomorrow but were given an initial opportunity to raise any questions or observations about the two draft documents.

Presenting the Standards of Accountability for Bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark told the conference Nov. 13 that a consensus among the conference members and the exercise of working through the provisions and amendments would be of definite assistance to the conference president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, when he travels to Rome in February to attend a meeting of the heads of world’s bishops’ conferences.

In what was perhaps an indication of the broad support for the Standards, no questions or observations were raised.

Many, including some familiar with the Vatican’s decision to prevent a vote by American bishops, have expressed surprise and confusion that the draft Standards were included in the Congregation for Bishops’ injunction against voting to adopt new measures since they appeared to contain no obvious conflicts with Church law or controversial provisions.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit presented the draft proposal for the creation of a special commission to examine accusations against bishops.

In his introduction, Vigneron said that the initial goal had been to present the conference with a substantial outline for the new entity, though leaving some of the details unresolved to allow for collaborative discussions during the Baltimore meeting. The original aim was to arrive at a final plan by June 2019. Now, he conceded, it was “much harder to predict” what final results would now be possible.

Despite clear, if unelaborated, concerns by the Holy See about the plan, Vigneron said the commission was “designed to avoid infringing upon the jurisdiction of local bishops or the Holy See” and was intended to be a resource of “expertise and independence” available to both.

Spelling out how the new body would function, he told the conference that complaints would be received by the commission through a third-party reporting mechanism, with civil law enforcement being immediately informed if they regarded the abuse of minors.

The commission would look into each complaint, having first informed the apostolic nuncio in Washington. Following each complaint, there would be an investigation producing a “substantial report” which would be given to the nuncio to “do with as he sees fit,” comparing it to the conclusions of a diocesan lay review board.

The nine-member commission would have six lay men and women and three clergy, including experts in law enforcement, civil and canon law, psychology and social work. It would also include a woman religious and a clerical abuse survivor as members. Further experts and consultants would be taken on as the case load demanded.

Vigneron said that the independent body would be registered as an independent not-for-profit organization with a board of directors and produce an annual report detailing how many cases it investigated each year. He also explained that, as part of its independence from the bishops’ conference, the commission would be funded through contributions by dioceses directly, with an expected annual cost projected of $500,000, plus expenses for individual investigations.

While being itself totally independent, Vigneron underscored that the authority of local bishop would be respected, saying the work of the commission would not “over-ride the will of the bishop but rely on his consent” to work in the diocese of each complaint.

During an extended question and answer session, a number of bishops raised questions about the proposals as they were presented.

Archbishop Sample raised the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, which he said appeared to show that the breakdown in the current system took place at the level of the nunciature, with allegations either not being forwarded to Rome, or not being acted upon when they arrived there.

Sample noted that “we can do whatever we want here but there needs to be a partnership with the Holy See” so that allegations were not “swept under the rug.”

Archbishop Wenski of Miami noted that the active support of the nuncio was crucial; otherwise the plan would be “an exercise in futility.”

Several bishops seemed to speak against creation of the commission all together.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas told the conference that “we already have a process” and that proposals were “adding something that doesn’t have a particular purpose.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago suggested that the plan was unnecessary and separated the process from “the life of the Church.” “We already have a system [to handle accusations against bishops] through metropolitans,” he told the bishops. He called the proposed commission a way of “outsourcing” problems instead of “taking responsibility for ourselves.”

Archbishop Vigneron responded to Cupich, saying that the commission was “a form of assistance” for bishops and “an act of communion, engaged in mutual communion to support one another.”

Vigneron told Cupich it would function “in harmony with each of us as bishops exercising governance.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia raised a similar point, noting that the existing structures organized around metropolitan archbishops could provide a more cost-effective option but would simply not be feasible without a strengthened canonical authority for metropolitan bishops.

Chaput said it was the conclusion of the executive committee that it might be easier to get Roman approval for a whole new structure than a change in canon law to make this possible.

Bishop Anthony DiMarzio of Brooklyn offered the last observation of the discussion, noting that the confidentialy or publicity of the process was a serious concern. He said that the lesson to be drawn from the treatment of many priests publicly accused of abuse but later found innocent was that a person’s good name often could not be recovered.

DiMarzio said that the proposed commission was bound to do everything possible to restore an innocent bishop’s good name, this would likely prove an impossible task.

The discussion of both proposals will continue tomorrow, by which time bishops will have submitted proposed amendments to the plans.

Jesuits in western U.S. to name members credibly accused of abuse

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 06:24

Portland, Ore., Nov 13, 2018 / 04:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More names of clergy and religious accused of sex abuse are set to come out this December from a western U.S. province of the Society of Jesus, which says the decision to name the credibly accused is an effort for transparency that supports victims.

The province includes the territory of the former Oregon Province, which declared bankruptcy due to abuse lawsuits in 2009.

“While the vast majority of these offenses occurred in the past, the People of God rightly demand and deserve transparency on the part of Church leadership,’ Father Scott Santarosa, S.J., provincial of the U.S.A. West Province of the Society of Jesus, said Nov. 9. “Such transparency is important to support victims in their healing and to rebuild trust in the Church.”

He said the province will release the names of Jesuits credibly accused of sex abuse since 1950. The list is presently being compiled and is planned for a Dec. 7 release. The province will also engage an external review to ensure the completeness of the list and to ensure that previous allegations were handled properly.

“If the review identifies additional names of Jesuits with credible allegations of abuse, we will release those names as well,” he said.

The Portland, Ore.-based province presently has 484 Jesuits, a spokesperson for the West Province told CNA. Its priests and brothers serve throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Its territory includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The province was created in a 2017 merger of the California and Oregon provinces.

“On behalf of the Society of Jesus, I apologize to victims and their families,” Santarosa continued. “There is no greater betrayal of pastoral care than the abuse of a minor by someone with a sacred duty to protect and care for the People of God.”

Santarosa said the Church in the U.S. has been “reeling” since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. That report named 300 priests from six dioceses who had been credibly accused of sex abuse of 1,000 children and underage teens going back decades.

Saying that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has since undergone “significant reform,” he added, “we are now called to deepen that reform by becoming more transparent.” He said the Jesuit province hopes that issuing the list of accused clergy and religious and calling for an independent review will offer victims and their families “a step forward in the healing process.”

“Since 2002, Jesuits have enforced stringent policies to ensure the safety of minors,” Santarosa said. He encouraged anyone who has felt victimized by a Jesuit to contact both the province’s victim advocacy coordinator and the appropriate law enforcement and child protection agencies.
“I ask you to pray for the victims of abuse and for our Church,” Santarosa concluded. “May we find in this moment the courage to move forward with integrity, transparency and accountability.”

Santarosa said his conversations with abuse survivors have been “moments of grace as I encounter people of courage and conviction, people who realize that although the Church has failed them, God never will.”

As of 2015, there were 2,325 members of the Society of Jesus in the U.S., a decline from 7,628 in 1970, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reported in its Fall 2015 newsletter.

In February 2009 the Oregon Province filed for bankruptcy soon after 200 claims of sex abuse of primarily Alaskan children were pending or threatened against the province. Before filing for bankruptcy, the province had settled more than 200 claims for about $84 million, the Seattle Times reported.

At the time, the province had 235 Jesuit priests and brothers across Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington state.

In 2011 the province agreed to pay $166.1 million to about 500 abuse victims, many of whom were Native Americans or Alaska Natives, as part of its bankruptcy settlement. About two dozen of the victims were physically abused, while about 480 suffered sex abuse.

About $48.1 million of the settlement came from the Jesuits themselves, with the rest coming from insurance companies. About $6 million of that settlement was set aside for victims who could come forward in the future.

Worldwide, the Society of Jesus has about 17,000 priests and brothers worldwide. It is the largest men’s religious order in the Church. Their numbers peaked in 1965 at 36,000.

 

Archbishop Cordileone says Mass for San Francisco's deceased homeless

Rab, 14/11/2018 - 05:11

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 13, 2018 / 03:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Eight days after the feast of All Saints, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said a Mass of the Dead for the homeless of the city, emphasizing the importance of remembering and praying for the deceased homeless.

“One of the greatest acts of charity we can perform is to pray for the eternal salvation of those who have gone before. That is what we are doing," said Martin Ford, social action coordinator of the Archdiocese of San Francisco's Office of Human Life and Dignity.

The Nov. 8 Mass was said at St. Patrick's parish in San Francisco. The collection taken during Mass was used to support the homeless ministry of Catholic Charities San Francisco.

According to the San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey 2017, there are more than 2,100 chronically homeless in this city. It is difficult to track the exact numbers of homeless deaths in the city, but the survey said mortality rates is four to nine times higher for those who are continuously homeless.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone connected the coming of winter and the passing of life. He spoke on the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, noting its theme on the briefness of life and the journey to eternal life.

“There is a sense of things coming to an end and a passing into silence – the silence of winter – which reminds me of the silence of death. It’s a reminder to us of the end of life and how fleeting our life is in this world,” he said.

“This is what St. Paul is speaking about in this passage from his second letter to the Corinthians when he is comparing the body to a tent… This is a disturbingly accurate description of those who die in the streets; most of them don’t even have a literal tent.”

He recalled the nomadic lifestyle of the Israelites following the exodus. He said that similarly, the people of God are on a journey, which should be lived with charity.

“As long as we are in this world we are a people along a pilgrimage – a movement towards a goal that is eternity, our only true home. And, therefore, we must always keep our vision fixed on that ultimate destination that God created us for,” he said.

“How do we do that? [St. Paul] says, ‘for we must always appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each one may receive recompense according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.’”

Archbishop Cordileone discussed Matthew 25's portrayal of the last judgement, saying, “This is where the corporal works of mercy come from, and it is certainly a reminder of our call to put these works of mercy into concrete action.”

The homeless also conduct works of mercy, he said, noting that if those with little may give charitably, then Christians who have more resources will be judged accordingly.

“We can think about how concrete acts of love and mercy are shown by our homeless brothers and sisters. They who have so much less than we have show mercy too. So we with so much more, how much more will we be held to a higher standard, when it comes to rendering an account to God for our lives in this world.”

He expressed hope that the Mass would assist the homeless “on their way to the eternal hope that is God’s kingdom of heaven” and would inspire the congregation to perform more acts of mercy.

“May this work of mercy please our Lord and may it inspire us to glorify God in our bodies through concrete acts of love and mercy, so that when it is our turn to make the passage of this life to the next and face our own final judgement, the great King of all the ages will give us a place with the sheep at his right hand.”

Halaman