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Dolan: Church loves, welcomes pregnant women, is 'honored' to serve them

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chris Sheridan, Catholic New York

By Beth Griffin

NEW YORK (CNS) -- In a robust demonstration that actions speak louder than words, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Feb. 18 introduced representatives of six church-related organizations that help pregnant women in need.

Standing in the modest living room of a convent that Sisters of Life share with expectant and new mothers and their children, the cardinal reaffirmed the commitment first made in 1984 by his predecessor, Cardinal John J. O'Connor.

"Any pregnant woman can come to the Archdiocese of New York, to its parishes and facilities, and we will do all in our power to assist you, so that you never feel that you have no alternative except an abortion," Cardinal Dolan said. "It does not matter what your marital status, your religion, or your immigration status might be. None of that matters, folks."

Cardinal Dolan acknowledged that the timing of his reaffirmation of the church's outreach coincided with the attention given to the Reproductive Health Act of 2019, which effectively removed restrictions on abortion in New York, and the current "almost pro-abortion atmosphere out there."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law Jan. 22, the anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

"Every once in a while we need to trumpet and put a spotlight on the good work that we do," the cardinal said. "Most of us bristle when the church is criticized for speaking all the time but not offering action. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Cardinal Dolan said he was worried that poor women especially were getting the impression that abortion is their only choice. "This is a very teachable time for us to stand up and say, 'We're here. We love you. We welcome you. There is an alternative here and we'd be honored to serve you.'"

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of the Sisters of Life, said her group has provided assistance to more than 9,000 women since the religious community was established in 1991, and they have shared their convents with pregnant women since 1996.

"We are standing in radical solidarity with women during an unexpected or difficult pregnancy. The sisters and the woman together find a pathway through fear, a pathway defined by realistic and ongoing emotional and practical support that she may respond with courage and dignity to one of life's most difficult moments," she said.

Mother Agnes Mary said the Sisters of Life serve 600 to 1,000 women each year. She said their message to vulnerable pregnant women is: "Know you are not alone. We believe in you. This pregnancy does not mean your life and your dreams are over. We stand ready to help you realize the deepest desires of your heart."

She said approximately 85 percent of the women who contact the Sisters of Life for counsel "will choose to bring life to their child. We provide critical and strategic support that is timely and important to her life," she said.

While her impossibly cute toddler captured all the attention in the room, an Ethiopian professional runner named Brhane described meeting the Sisters of Life in New York. It was when she was pregnant, alone, far from home and feeling pressure to abort her baby, she said.

"They helped me to find a home for me and my baby. They were with me the whole way and are still with me. They helped me with my immigration, to find a job, to find baby-sitting. They helped me with everything."

Brhane named the little girl Sena Love, which translates, "I love my history."

The Sisters of Life helped Brhane to run the New York Marathon and she is training to run professionally again, she said. "I love my daughter. She changed my life. I am so happy. Thank you God."

Dr. Anne Nolte, director of the Gianna Center for Women's Health and Fertility, said her medical practice provides primary care and reproductive health care to women and teenagers that aligns with church teachings. The center offers service to patients of all backgrounds and has "a particular commitment to helping women whose babies have an adverse diagnosis in the womb," Nolte said.

Chris Bell is a co-founder with the late Father Benedict Groeschel, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, of five Good Counsel residences in New York and New Jersey for homeless single pregnant women and their children. He said his group provides "concrete help and real hope" to women in crisis.

Since 1985, Good Counsel has served more than 7,800 mothers and children with more than 755,000 nights of shelter as well as material aid, counseling, parenting and education programs.

The Good Counsel homes have a 100 percent occupancy rate, and women are invited to stay for up to a year to reap the maximum benefits of the program, Bell said.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, described a network of 90 affiliated agencies that provide dignified, compassionate care to people in all stages of life. "Our door is open," he said.

Among the agencies is the Catholic Guardian Society. Dolores Ortiz, assistant executive director, said each year more than 300 "at-risk pregnant and parenting women" receive support, case management services, parenting resources and referrals from Catholic Guardian Society.

Teresa Georgeo, a director of Archcare, the continuing care program of the Archdiocese of New York, said her group's maternal child health program provides prenatal care for women with high-risk pregnancies, and helps new mothers and infants.

The speakers said their services are free or low-cost and available to all women regardless of race, religion, background or ability to pay.

Cardinal Dolan acknowledged the hurt, frustration and anger people in the archdiocese might feel at the new abortion law. "We should not respond with bitterness and divisiveness, but put our faith and trust in the Lord and reach out with love to troubled moms and their babies," he said.

He said it would be a good time for people on both sides of the abortion debate to come together to discuss providing "life-giving alternatives to the horror of abortion."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Philippine bishop: Duterte's drug war is 'illegal, immoral and anti-poor'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey

By Paul Jeffrey

KALOOKAN, Philippines (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop in the Philippines said his government's controversial war on drugs is really a war against the country's poor.

"There is no war against illegal drugs, because the supply is not being stopped. If they are really after illegal drugs, they would go after the big people, the manufacturers, the smugglers, the suppliers. But instead, they go after the victims of these people. So, I have come to the conclusion that this war on illegal drugs is illegal, immoral and anti-poor," said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan.

The Philippines has suffered for years from widespread drug abuse, principally shabu, a cheaply produced form of methamphetamine. President Rodrigo Duterte ran for office promising a crackdown on drug use, and since he took office in 2016, rights groups say more than 20,000 people have been killed in extrajudicial killings, mostly carried out by the country's police.

Church leaders have grown increasingly critical of the violence. The country's Catholic bishops conference acknowledged in a Jan. 28 pastoral message that they had been slow in responding as a "culture of violence has gradually prevailed in our land."

The bishops spoke "of mostly poor people being brutally murdered on mere suspicion of being small-time drug users and peddlers, while the big-time smugglers and drug lords went scot-free." While they said they had "no intention of interfering in the conduct of state affairs," they said they had "a solemn duty to defend our flock, especially when they are attacked by wolves."

Duterte has repeatedly slammed the church in response to its criticism, and Bishop David, who also serves as vice president of the bishops' conference, has become the principal target of Duterte's angry outbursts at the church.

In November speech in Davao, Duterte said: "I'm telling you, David. I am puzzled as to why you always go out at night. I suspect, son of a bitch, you are into illegal drugs." At other times, he has accused the bishop of stealing church funds.

Bishop David has not turned the other cheek, instead responding quickly in social media posts: "I think it should be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country," he recently posted on Facebook.

"I think he picks on me because I'm quick in responding to his sound bites," Bishop David told Catholic News Service.

"I have discovered social media. I don't even have to talk to the media, they can follow the sound bites online. So, when he said that addicts are not human, I posted that I beg to disagree. I said no civilized society in this world would agree with him that addicts should be treated as nonhumans. And when he calls them nonhumans, does that mean we can do nothing about them except exterminate them? That's immoral. His statement had to be questioned. The problem is people don't question it, and when he repeats it over and over, it becomes gospel truth."

President Duterte has often referred to drug users as "the living dead" as he justifies his policies.

"I think he has been watching too many zombie movies," said Bishop David. "It is a kind of 'othering,' labeling them so that when they are found dead on the streets, people will be happy and respond, 'Good, that's one criminal less.'"

Bishop David said he is becoming increasingly desperate as he hears cries for help from the urban poor communities in his diocese. He has complained publicly about mass arrests of people without warrants and has criticized police detention without charges of young children who he said are kept in cages for weeks as their parents attempt to have them freed.

"Sometimes I have a feeling that we are back in the Nazi days, when people are somehow aware of what's going on, but they play deaf and dumb because they also like what's happening, because they are persuaded by the sound bites that this is the best way to get rid of criminality. You can get rid of criminality through criminal means? If that's true, then you have created a criminal government," he said.

While his diocese has responded to the crisis by working with some local governments to set up an effective community-based drug rehabilitation program, Bishop David said the war on drugs has pushed the church even further, forcing it closer to the side of poor communities that bear the brunt of arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

"The war on drugs got me closer to the poor. Maybe that's the blessing of it. It's so easy for bishops and priests to just go through the motions of doing our jobs, jobs that are institutionalized and defined for us. Our parishes are old and tired institutions that cater to church-going people, just the usual people. Our access to the poor is really the big challenge for us," said Bishop David.

Although Sunday Masses at the cathedral parish in Kalookan are standing room only, Bishop David said the church is reaching just a fraction of the people in his diocese. Instead of starting new parishes, which he said is cumbersome, expensive, and takes time, he has opened mission stations in the slums of his diocese, staffing them with religious from around the world.

"We are getting acquainted with the poor because of our mission stations. These are not parishes, but rather the church being present among the poorest of the poor. We have mission partners who I ask to live right there in the slums, among the poorest of the poor, so that the church will be accessible, so that the church will have quicker access to the poor and their needs," he said.

Bishop David said those mission workers keep him directly informed of arrests and killings and have even witnessed extrajudicial executions. They also frequently appeal to the bishop to intercede with officials on behalf of detained children.

"Our mission stations are like new wine bursting the old wineskins," he said. "Pope Francis keeps talking about going to the periphery, and this is the perfect opportunity. A mission station is a church without a church building, without a chapel. I send missionaries to live with them and they do community organizing and set up basic ecclesial communities. The sense of community is going down here in the city. There is no common ethnicity nor common language nor common origin. All of these people have migrated from the different provinces, and so they are strangers to each other. Who will build them into a community? They are very transient, they come and go, looking for where they can find jobs. Our role is to build community among them."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Religious superiors admit denial, slowness to act against abuse

IMAGE: CNS

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Twisted ideas of power and authority in the Catholic Church have contributed to the clerical sexual abuse crisis, leaders of religious orders said, but sometimes the positive "sense of family" in their own communities also made them slow to act.

"Pope Francis rightly attacks the culture of clericalism which has hindered our fight against abuse and indeed is one of the root causes," said a statement Feb. 19 from the women's International Union of Superiors General and the men's Union of Superiors General.

But, they said, "the strong sense of family in our orders and congregations -- something usually so positive -- can make it harder to condemn and expose abuse. It resulted in a misplaced loyalty, errors in judgment, slowness to act, denial and at times, cover-up."

The superiors, who represent a combined total of almost 850,000 women and men religious, stated, "We still need conversion and we want to change."

"We want to act with humility. We want to see our blind spots. We want to name any abuse of power. We commit to engage in a journey with those we serve, moving forward with transparency and trust, honesty and sincere repentance," said the statement from the two organizations of superiors general.

The two groups were to send 22 superiors general to the Vatican's summit Feb. 21-24 on child protection and the abuse crisis.

"The sexual abuse of children and the abuse of power and conscience by those in authority in the church, especially bishops, priests and religious" is "a story stretching back for decades," the statement said. It is "a narrative of immense pain for those who have suffered this abuse."

The superiors general said, "We bow our heads in shame at the realization that such abuse has taken place in our congregations and orders and in our church" and that the response of congregational leaders "has not been what it should have been. They failed to see warning signs or failed to take them seriously."

The religious superiors said they hoped that with the Vatican meeting "important processes and structures of accountability can be started and the ones already in place can be supported."

Acknowledging an oft-repeated observation that different approaches may be necessary for uncovering and ending abuse in different cultures, the superiors said one thing must be clear: "The abuse of children is wrong anywhere and anytime; this point is not negotiable."
 
In the statement, the leaders of Catholic religious orders vowed "to listen better to survivors" and to "implement what is decided at this meeting in terms of the accountability required of those in authority."

The superiors of men's and women's orders also asked Catholic parents, especially mothers, to assist them in responding to the abuse crisis.

"It is fair to say that if women had been asked for their advice and assistance in the evaluation of cases, stronger, faster and more effective action would have been taken," the statement said. "Our ways of handling allegations would have been different, and victims and their families would have been spared a great deal of suffering."

This Vatican meeting in February was to focus on protecting children, but the religious superiors acknowledged recent media attention "on the abuse and exploitation of religious sisters, seminarians and candidates in formation houses."

"This is a matter of grave and shocking concern," they said. "We pledge ourselves to do all in our power to find an effective response. We want to ensure that those who generously apply to join religious orders or who are trained in seminaries live in places of safety where their vocation is nourished and where their desire to love God and others is helped to grow to maturity."

The superiors promised to strengthen safeguarding programs in the schools and hospitals they run and to ensure all formation programs have a strong child-protection component.

The superiors also asked that the spirituality and retreat centers their orders run "develop special outreach to any survivor who wishes to find help in their struggles with faith and meaning."

"Those who have been abused by priests or religious may want to stay far distant from the church and from those who represent the church," they said. But others may want to attempt a "journey of healing and we will try humbly to journey with them."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican summit: Silence, denial are unacceptable, archbishop says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When presented with an accusation that a priest has sexually abused a child, "whether it's criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial" on a very human level, such reactions are no longer tolerable, said the Vatican's top investigator of abuse cases.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who handles abuse cases as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was part of a panel of speakers at a news conference Feb. 18 to outline the Vatican's plans and hopes for the summit meeting on the protection of minors in the church.

The meeting Feb. 21-24 was to bring together almost 190 church leaders: the presidents of national bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of religious orders of men and women, Roman Curia officials and invited experts and guest speakers.

After reciting the Angelus Feb. 17, Pope Francis publicly asked Catholics around the world to pray for the summit, and he repeated the request Feb. 18 in a tweet, saying he wanted the meeting to be "a powerful gesture of pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge."

At the news conference Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago told reporters, "The Holy Father wants to make very clear to the bishops around the world, not only those participating, that each one of them has to claim responsibility and ownership for this problem and that there is going to be every effort to close whatever loopholes there are."

Bishops "are going to be held accountable," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Cupich said he expected the meeting to be "a turning point" in the way the Catholic Church handles allegations across the globe and the way it strengthens child protection policies.

However, like the other speakers, he said it would be unreasonable to expect the meeting to mark a sudden and complete end to the clerical sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

"We are going to do everything possible to make sure people are held responsible, accountable, and there's going to be transparency, because those three elements will keep children safe," the cardinal said.

Both Archbishop Scicluna and Cardinal Cupich insisted that if all church leaders around the world had a full grasp of what is necessary to protect children from clerical sexual abuse, the church also would be in a better position to counter other situations of abuse, including the abuse of vulnerable adults, women religious and seminarians.

While declining to describe if and how he has seen Pope Francis change in response to abuse accusations, Archbishop Scicluna said, "I think that if you are talking about the pope's experience in Chile," where he initially insisted allegations against a bishop were slanderous, "I have been impressed by the humility of the Holy Father, his readiness to say, 'I got that wrong.'"

"That gives us great hope because we leaders need to confront ourselves with prudential judgments that could have been better," but also need to "move forward," the archbishop said. "If something has gone wrong, we need to make it right."

While the summit was not designed to produce a new document, Archbishop Scicluna said a greater awareness of the global reality of the problem and the serious responsibility of every bishop to address it should lead to action around the world.

Participants will share what they learned in Rome with other bishops and religious superiors and begin to take action locally, the archbishop said. "That will need to be audited," and Pope Francis has asked the meeting's organizing committee to stay in Rome after the meeting to begin discussing follow-up.

The panel was asked by a correspondent for LifeSiteNews if the summit would address "homosexuality among the clergy" given that so many of the victims of clerical sexual abuse were boys.

Cardinal Cupich said it is clear the majority of clerical abuse cases involve priests abusing boys, but high-level, independent studies, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report in the United States and the report of Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, "indicated that homosexuality itself is not a cause."

Both studies found that priest abusers had more access to potential male victims and that poor screening of candidates for the priesthood was a greater risk factor for abuse than homosexuality was, he said.

Each of the first three days of the meeting will be devoted to one aspect of the abuse crisis: responsibility, accountability and transparency. Pope Francis and participants will attend a penitential liturgy the evening of Feb. 23 and a Mass Feb. 24, both of which will be livestreamed from the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace.

The main speakers for the meeting's general assemblies are: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines; Archbishop Scicluna; Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota; Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai; Cardinal Cupich; Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; Sister Veronica Openibo, superior of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus; German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising; and Valentina Alazraki, a Mexican television journalist.

 

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Pope Francis Names Bishop Boris Gudziak as Archbishop of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Boris Gudziak as archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop Gudziak, 58, currently serves as bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Saint Vladimir-le Grand de Paris in France.

The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 18, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Gudziakwas born November 24, 1960 in Syracuse, New York. He was ordained on November 26, 1998 by Bishop Sofron Mudry O.S.B.M.He was ordained a bishop in Franceon August 26, 2012.

Bishop Gudziak holds a duel bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biology (1980) from Syracuse University, a degree in theology (1983) from the Pontifical Urban Universityin Rome, and a Ph.D., in Slavic and Byzantine Cultural History (1992) from Harvard University.

Post-ordination assignments include: vice rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, rector of the Lviv Theological Academy, and rector and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of 67,250. The Archeparchy has been sede vacante since April 2018.

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Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Boris Gudziak, Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Ukrainian Eparchy of Saint Vladimir-le Grand de Paris

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

DiNardo: Action on McCarrick 'clear signal' church will not tolerate abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican's removal from the priesthood of Theodore E. McCarrick "is a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated," said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Feb. 16.

"No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the church," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. "For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgment will be one small step, among many, toward healing."

"For us bishops, it strengthens our resolve to hold ourselves accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ," the cardinal said. "I am grateful to Pope Francis for the determined way he has led the church's response."

Cardinal DiNardo's statement followed the Vatican's early morning announcement that Pope Francis has confirmed the removal from the priesthood of McCarrick, the 88-year-old former cardinal and archbishop of Washington.

The Vatican said he was found guilty of "solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

A panel of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty Jan. 11, the Vatican said. McCarrick appealed the decision, but the appeal was rejected Feb. 13 by the congregation itself. McCarrick was informed of the decision Feb. 15 and Pope Francis "recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law," making a further appeal impossible.

By ordering McCarrick's "dismissal from the clerical state," the decision means that McCarrick loses all rights and duties associated with being a priest, cannot present himself as a priest and is forbidden to celebrate the sacraments, except to grant absolution for sins to a person in imminent danger of death.

The Vatican decision comes after months of mounting accusations that he abused children and seminarians decades ago. The accusations surrounding the former cardinal have prompted many to ask USCCB leaders and the heads of the archdioceses and dioceses he has served how he could have risen up the ranks of the church to become a cardinal.

Ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese, he was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, then served as archbishop of Newark, New Jersey. His last assignment was as archbishop of Washington. During his tenure there, he was named a cardinal.

McCarrick's punishment is the toughest meted out to a cardinal by the Vatican in modern times.

Last July, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals, after U.S. newspapers reported detailed accounts that he exposed himself and sexually molested two boys in his early years as a priest -- accusations that spanned almost five decades and were too old to legally prosecute.

In a June 20 statement, he said he had "absolutely no recollection" of the abuse "and (I) believe in my innocence" but said he was stepping down out of obedience. In December he went to live at a friary in Kansas to await the outcome of the Vatican's decision on his status.

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Cindy Wooden and Rhina Guidos contributed to this story.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

McCarrick removed from the priesthood after being found guilty of abuse

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has confirmed the removal from the priesthood of Theodore E. McCarrick, the 88-year-old former cardinal and archbishop of Washington.

The Vatican announced the decision Feb. 16, saying he was found guilty of "solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

A panel of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty Jan. 11, the Vatican said. McCarrick appealed the decision, but the appeal was rejected Feb. 13 by the congregation itself. McCarrick was informed of the decision Feb. 15 and Pope Francis "recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law," making a further appeal impossible.

By ordering McCarrick's "dismissal from the clerical state," the decision means that McCarrick loses all rights and duties associated with being a priest, cannot present himself as a priest and is forbidden to celebrate the sacraments, except to grant absolution for sins to a person in imminent danger of death.

The only church penalty that is more severe is excommunication, which would have banned him from receiving the sacraments. The other possible punishment was to sentence him to a "life of prayer and penance," a penalty often imposed on elderly clerics; the penalty is similar to house arrest and usually includes banning the person from public ministry, limiting his interactions with others and restricting his ability to leave the place he is assigned to live.

McCarrick's punishment is the toughest meted out to a cardinal by the Vatican in modern times.

McCarrick's initial suspension from ministry and removal from the College of Cardinals in 2018 came after a man alleged that McCarrick began sexually abusing him in 1971 when he was a 16-year-old altar server in New York; the Archdiocese of New York found the allegation "credible and substantiated" and turned the case over to the Vatican.

At that point, in June, then-Cardinal McCarrick said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican, although he maintained he was innocent.

In late July, the pope accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals and ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until the accusation that he had sexually abused a minor could be examined by a Vatican court.

In the weeks that followed the initial announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by McCarrick, and several former seminarians spoke out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had in New Jersey.

Since September, McCarrick has been living in a Capuchin friary in rural Kansas.

The allegations against McCarrick, including what appeared to be years of sexual harassment of seminarians, also led to serious questions about who may have known about his activities and how he was able to rise to the level of cardinal.

At least two former seminarians reported the sexual misconduct of McCarrick to their local bishops as far back as the 1990s. The Archdiocese of Newark and the dioceses of Metuchen and Trenton made a settlement with one man in 2005, and the Diocese of Metuchen settled with the other man in 2007.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Metuchen told Catholic News Service in August that both settlements were reported to the Vatican nuncio in Washington. The two archbishops who held the position of nuncio in 2004 and 2006 have since died.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio in Washington from 2011-2016, made headlines in mid-August when he called for Pope Francis to resign, claiming the pope had known of allegations against McCarrick and had lifted sanctions imposed on McCarrick by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.

The former nuncio later clarified that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions "privately" perhaps "due to the fact that he (McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey."

In an open letter to Archbishop Vigano released in October, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops since 2010, said that in 2011, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus (McCarrick) who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past."

Then-Cardinal McCarrick "was strongly exhorted not to travel and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors," Cardinal Ouellet said, but "it is false to present these measures taken in his regard as 'sanctions' decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such documents signed by either pope."

Cardinal Ouellet's letter was published a few days after the Vatican issued a statement saying that it would, "in due course, make known the conclusions of the matter regarding Archbishop McCarrick."

In addition, Pope Francis ordered "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."

The Vatican statement said it is aware "that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were made that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead.' Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated, and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact, represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable."

McCarrick had been ordained to the priesthood in 1958 for the Archdiocese of New York. James, the first child he baptized after ordination, claimed that from the time he was 11 years old and for some 20 years, McCarrick sexually abused him.

In 1977, McCarrick was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New York and, in 1981, St. John Paul II named him the first bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. Five years later, he became the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and in November 2000 St. John Paul named him archbishop of Washington, D.C., and made him a cardinal early in 2001. McCarrick retired in 2006.

At least three other cardinals have been accused of sexual abuse or impropriety in the past 25 years. In the 1990s Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was forced to step down as archbishop of Vienna and eventually to relinquish all public ministry after allegations of the sexual abuse and harassment of seminarians and priests; he died in 2003 without having undergone a canonical trial.

Pope Benedict XVI forced Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien to step down as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in early 2013; after an investigation, Pope Francis withdrew his "rights and duties" as a cardinal, although he retained the title until his death in March 2018.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, facing charges of abusing minors, has been on leave from his post as head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy since mid-2017; he reportedly was found guilty of some charges in December, but the court has imposed an injunction on press coverage of the trial. Pope Francis told reporters he would not speak about the case until the court proceedings have run their course.

 

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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement on Theodore McCarrick in Response to Judgement by the Holy See

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement upon the decision of the Holy See announced today regarding Theodore McCarrick.

Cardinal DiNardo’s Full Statement Follows:

“The Holy See’s announcement regarding Theodore McCarrick is a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated. No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church. For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgement will be one small step, among many, toward healing. For us bishops, it strengthens our resolve to hold ourselves accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to Pope Francis for the determined way he has led the Church’s response.

If you have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of someone within the Catholic Church, I urge you to contact local law enforcement and your local diocese or eparchy. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available to help. We are committed to healing and reconciliation.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Pope Francis, Holy See, Theodore McCarrick, sexual abuse, local law enforcement, Victim Assistance Coordinators, Church response

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Update: Catholic bishops, groups oppose Trump's call for national emergency

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic bishops near the U.S.-Mexico border, joined by other U.S. prelates, voiced opposition immediately after President Donald Trump's Feb. 15 declaration of a national emergency so he can order construction of a barrier along parts of the border between the two countries.

"In our view, a border wall is first and foremost a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries," the bishops said.

"Furthermore, the wall would be an ineffective use of resources at a time of financial austerity," they said. "It would also would destroy parts of the environment, disrupt the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers, weaken cooperation and commerce between border communities, and, at least in one instance, undermine the right to the freedom of worship."

Speaking at news conference in the Rose Garden, Trump said he was going to sign a national emergency declaration to stave off a flow of drugs, human trafficking, gang members and illegal immigration coming across the southern border.

The president later signed a spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for fencing and other measures along the border -- a fraction of the $5.7 billion he had been asking from Congress for construction of the a barrier. Declaring the national emergency could grant him up to $8 billion for his project.

The promise of a wall on the southern border was key to his presidential campaign, but as a candidate he said neighboring Mexico, not the U.S., would pay for the structure. When Mexico refused to pay for the wall, he turned to U.S. lawmakers for funding, but they have largely refused to grant U.S. taxpayer money to build it, which led to a partial government shutdown earlier this year.

In a separate bishops' statement following Trump's announcement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said they were "deeply concerned about the president's action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall."

"We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall," Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Vasquez said. "We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls."

In their statement, the border bishops and the other prelates who joined them said that while they agree with the president that there is a "humanitarian challenge" at the border, "erecting a wall will not solve the problem," they said, and they asked Congress to step in with more humanitarian responses.  

This statement was signed by Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego; Texas Bishops Mark P. Seitz of El Paso and James A. Tamayo of Laredo and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio; Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona; Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; New Mexico Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces and retired Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who is apostolic administrator of Las Cruces; Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky; and Cardinals Sean P. O'Malley of Boston and Blase J. Cupich of Chicago.

In his speech, the president said he wanted to build the wall "not just because it was a campaign promise," but because "everyone knows a wall works" and national emergencies such as the one he is calling for had been used by presidents previously without problems. Such declarations are common and at least 31 declared emergencies remain in place, but the current one seems to be designed to get around Congress.

The dozen or so bishops in their statement said they worried that a wall would drive migrants to more remote regions of the border and risk great loss of life.

When a wall was constructed in the San Diego area in the mid-1990s, for example, migrants were driven, often by smugglers, to the desert of Arizona and other remote regions in order to cross the border, they said, citing U.S. Border Patrol statistics that showed that over 7,000 migrants died in those areas from 1998 to 2016.

"The truth is that the majority of persons coming to the U.S.-Mexico border are asylum-seekers, many of whom are women and children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries," the bishops' statement said. "Along their journey to safety, they encounter many dangers. A wall would not keep them safe from those dangers. Rather, a wall would, further subject them to harm by drug cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers."

They said that while the country had a right to control and secure its borders, "border enforcement must protect and preserve the human rights and life of all persons, regardless of their legal status." Instead of a wall, they said, Congress should focus on more humane policies, such as reforming the immigration system "in a manner that is just, protects human rights and reflects American values."

"It is powerful that the bishops on the border are speaking against a wall. They, more than anyone in the church, know firsthand the reality along the border, and the suffering endured by families and children at the hands of recent U.S. policies," said Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies in New York in an email to Catholic News Service.

The Center for Migration Studies and the Ignatian Solidarity Network in Ohio joined in a statement signed by more than 40 faith leaders questioning the morality of structure.

"History has shown that border walls constructed to restrict human rights, such as the Berlin Wall, cause harm to human beings, all of whom possess God-given rights and are equal to us in the eyes of God. Because of this injustice, they eventually come down," the statement said.

Other Catholic groups such as the Sisters of Mercy and the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach also voiced early opposition to Trump's declaration.

"We unequivocally oppose the president's decision to declare a state of national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and divert funding to pay for construction of a border wall. This decision is immoral and unnecessary. The real emergency is the dehumanization of migrants and the utter disregard for border communities and the environment. Construction of a wall and further militarization is not a solution," said a statement from the Columban center.

"A declaration of a national emergency aimed at funding an immoral wall will not correct years of failed immigration policy or ameliorate the U.S. role in root causes of migration," said Mercy Sister Patricia McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, in a statement. "The real one is of disinformation and misplaced values. President Trump fans a fear of asylum seekers by mischaracterizing them as criminals when the vast majority are people fleeing unspeakable atrocities for safety and a better life."

Trump said he expected lawsuits over the declaration but hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would ultimately rule in his favor. He defended his actions and said such declarations have been made in the past "for far less important things."

"I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster," Trump said, while voicing frustration that seemed directed at former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, whom Trump seemed to blame for Congress' early failure to fund his proposed border wall.  

"I'm very disappointed in certain people, one in particular for not having pushed this faster," Trump said. A reporter then asked: "Are you referring to former Speaker Paul Ryan?"

"Let's not talk about it. What difference does it make?" the president responded.

 

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Welcome Christ present in migrants and refugees, pope urges

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even if Christians struggle to recognize him with his "torn clothes (and) dirty feet," Jesus is present in the migrants and refugees who seek safety and a dignified life in a new land, Pope Francis said.

If Jesus' words, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me," are true, the pope said, then "we must begin to thank those who give us the opportunity for this encounter, namely, the 'others' who knock on our doors, giving us the possibility to overcome our fears in order to encounter, welcome and assist Jesus in person."

Pope Francis spoke about overcoming fear and welcoming others during a Mass he celebrated Feb. 15 at a church-run retreat and conference center in Sacrofano, about 15 miles north of Rome.

The Mass was part of a conference titled, "Welcoming Communities: Free of Fear," which was sponsored by the Italian bishops' office for migration, Caritas Italy and Jesuit Refugee Service's Centro Astalli. The 500 participants included representatives of parishes, religious orders and Catholic-run agencies assisting migrants and refugees, as well as individual families who host newcomers.

At a time when Italy's government is trying to severely restrict immigration, Caritas Italy said the meeting was designed to encourage those working with migrants and refugees and to counteract fear of migration by highlighting how individuals and the entire country benefit from welcoming them.

The prayers of the faithful, most of which were read by migrants, included asking God to help pastors educate all Catholics to welcome migrants and refugees and to help government leaders promote tolerance and peace. Ending, as is traditional, with a prayer for the dead, the petitions made special mention of people who were killed for their faith.

In his homily, Pope Francis noted how the ancient Israelites had to overcome their fear of crossing the Red Sea and trust God in order to make it to the promised land. And, when the disciples were on the lake in a storm, Jesus told them to not be afraid and assured them he was there with them.

"The Lord speaks to us today and asks us to allow him to free us of our fear," the pope said.

"Fear is the origin of slavery," just as it was for the ancient Israelites, he said, "and it is also the origin of every dictatorship because, on the fear of the people, the violence of the dictator grows."

Of course, the pope said, people naturally are afraid of what they don't understand and of strangers who speak another language and have another culture. The Christian response is not to play on those fears, but to educate people and help them turn strangers into friends.

"We are called to overcome fear and open ourselves to encounter," he said. "The encounter with the 'other,' then, is also an encounter with Christ. He himself told us this. It is he who knocks on our door hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned, asking to be met and assisted."

Pope Francis asked Catholics who have had "the joy" of assisting migrants and refugees to "proclaim it from the rooftops, openly, to help others do the same, preparing themselves to encounter Christ and his salvation."

 

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