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Cupich dismisses Viganò claims as a 'rabbit hole'

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:45

Chicago, Ill., Aug 28, 2018 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- Archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich has dismissed recent allegations made by a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., saying that Pope Francis has a “bigger agenda” to worry about, including defending migrants and protecting the environment.

Speaking Aug. 27 to Chicago’s NBC 5, Cupich said that the pope has “got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church.”

Cupich described the contents of Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò’s 11-page testimony, published Aug. 25, as a “rabbit hole” that he does not think the Church should be going down.

Vigano’s testimony claimed that Pope Francis had removed restrictions on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that had been imposed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It also stated that McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich’s appointment as Archbishop of Chicago in 2014.

McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July of this year, following a series of public allegations against him concerning the sexual abuse of minors, seminarians, and priests. The dioceses of Newark and Metuchen subsequently confirmed they had previously reached two out-of-court-settlements with adult accusers.

Cupich dismissed the claims of McCarrick’s influence in his appointment, telling NBC 5 that “It’s not as though I just fell out of the sky.”

Cupich was elevated to the College of Cardinals in November 2016. He was ordained a bishop in 1998. Prior to becoming the Archbishop of Chicago, Cupich led the Rapid City and Spokane dioceses.

The cardinal also defended Pope Francis’ record on combating sexual abuse, saying that “the record shows, whenever there’s actionable information, Pope Francis acts.”

Cupich also implied that racism was a motivating factor behind the release of Viganò’s letter and the ensuing criticism of the pope.

“Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino,” said Cupich. Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent.

Last week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that the Catholic Church “has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois.” Each of the state’s six bishops agreed to assist with this report.

During the Monday interview, Cupich noted that child sexual abuse is not a problem limited to the Catholic Church, and that the state should be investigating other organizations as well.

“It’s not just about the Catholic Church. Let’s look at all the agencies and institutions that deal with children on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

National Review Board calls for lay investigation of all misconduct claims

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:55

Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2018 / 12:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The body charged with advising the U.S. bishops on sexual abuse prevention has called for an independent lay-led investigation into all allegations of sexual misconduct in the Church and for revisions of the Dallas Charter.

The National Review Board (NRB), which is constituted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the call in a sternly worded statement Aug. 28, in which it condemned a “culture of silence” in the Church hierarchy.

In a press release circulated by the U.S. bishops’ conference, the board, which is entirely composed of lay experts from different fields, said that they have been raising concerns about episcopal complacency “for several years” and called for specific reforms.

“The revelations of horrific incidents of abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, along with the abuse perpetrated by Archbishop McCarrick point to a systemic problem within the Church that can no longer be ignored or tolerated by the episcopacy in the United States,” the statement read.

The board was constituted in June 2002 as part of the U.S. bishops’ response to the wave of clerical sexual abuse scandals which were revealed in the Boston Globe. The 13-member panel makes its recommendations to the USCCB’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The board noted that, in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals of the early 2000s, new policies and procedures had been put in place – including the creation of the NRB itself. These, the board said, resulted in a “significant decrease” of incidents of abuse, but clearly underlying problems remain unaddressed.

“The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy. The recent revelations make it clear that the problem is much deeper. We are saddened, angry, and hurt by what we have learned in the past few weeks.”
The statement said that “the evil of crimes that have been perpetuated” reach the “highest levels of the hierarchy,” and cannot be simply addressed with procedural and structural changes. The Board called for a “genuine change in the Church’s culture,” and singled out the bishops as particularly in need of change, noting that it was not just minors who were the victims of abuse.

“This evil has resulted from a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence that enabled these incidents to occur. Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable.”

A central critique of the Church hierarchy was a “culture of silence” which, the NRB said, led to abuse running “virtually unchecked.” The need to hold bishops accountable required, according to the statement, an “independent review into the actions of a bishop” following any allegation and this could only be ensured by entrusting it to laity.

“The NRB, composed exclusively of lay members, would be the logical group to be involved in this task,” the statement observed.

The board recommended the creation of an anonymous whistleblower policy, mirroring some corporate and public sector structures, which would provide a clear, lay-led mechanism for reporting an allegation to the competent bishop, Vatican authorities, and civil law enforcement.

Existing policies should also be revised, the board said, including the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. While calling the document “helpful,” the NRB said it was a “living document” that needed continual revision in the light of experience – most notably its “deliberate ambiguity and its lack of inclusion of bishops.”

Currently, there is no clear USCCB mechanism or policy for handling abuse beyond a document called the Episcopal Commitment, which the bishops have agreed to abide by – though this document has no binding force.

The board’s recommendations called this document “ineffective” and said there need to be “concrete steps” for fraternal correction when a bishop is accused of either abuse or failure to respond to an accusation. At the same time, it said, there needs to be clear formation of new bishops on their responsibility as “moral leaders” in responding to accusations, saying that such leadership is currently lacking.

“We recognize that the overwhelming majority of our current bishops have, and continue to, take the sexual abuse of minors seriously and who act accordingly by adhering to the Charter, some even going beyond these basic requirements. However, every time one bishop fails to act, the entire episcopate is tainted.”

The statement ended by saying the Nation Review Board would consider making further recommendations in the coming weeks, and would continue to work with the USCCB.

“It is time for the laity to assume courageous leadership to help the Church respond and to heal and for the bishops to listen carefully to our recommendations.”   

Where did retired McCarrick live after alleged Vatican sanctions?

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:09

Washington D.C., Aug 27, 2018 / 05:09 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Washington has declined to confirm new details about the post-retirement living arrangements of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and maintained that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington’s archbishop, was unaware of alleged Vatican sanctions against McCarrick.

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., claimed in an Aug. 25 statement that McCarrick was directed by the Vatican in 2009 or 2010 to discontinue living in a seminary, among other restrictions.

Vigano wrote that in 2009 or 2010 “Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

The archbishop said that McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, was at that time known by the Vatican to have committed acts of sexual immorality involving seminarians and priests.
On Aug. 25, the same day as the release of Viganò’s statement, a spokesman for Wuerl told CNA that “Cardinal Wuerl did not receive documentation or information from the Holy See specific to Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior or any of the prohibitions on his life and ministry suggested by Archbishop Vigano.”
Viganò wrote that Pope Benedict’s sanctions explicitly included an order to “leave the seminary where he was living.” At the time, McCarrick was a resident at the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary in the Archdiocese of Washington, where he had a self-contained apartment.
Two sources present at a 2008 meeting between McCarrick and Sambi told CNA that the nuncio instructed McCarrick to leave the seminary at that time. According to those sources, Sambi told McCarrick his departure was the direct instruction of Pope Benedict XVI. They stressed to CNA that they were unaware of any knowledge Cardinal Wuerl may have had of Sambi’s instructions.
McCarrick did make plans to leave the seminary at the end of 2008. His next home was the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodley Park, an upscale neighborhood in central Washington D.C.
One of the four priests resident in the rectory of St. Thomas’ parish in 2008-2009 recalls being told in December of 2008 that he would have to move out of his rooms in the parish to accommodate a “mystery VIP.”
“It was all very sudden,” he told CNA. “I was moved around but given another room in the rectory.” The priest told CNA he was informed by the pastor of the parish that it was McCarrick moving in, and that his arrival caused considerable upheaval.
“There was significant construction to create his suite, which took over two prior suites and two full baths, as well as the single guest room next to me which was converted into a private chapel for McCarrick's exclusive use.”
The construction apparently continued during the first two months of 2009, with McCarrick moving in either late February or early March.

Despite the preparations and expenditures being made for McCarrick’s arrival, Ed McFadden, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA on Aug. 27 that “Archbishop McCarrick typically made his own housing arrangements and did not directly involve the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Archdiocesan policy requires that any expenditure by a parish of more than $25,000 have the explicit approval of either the archbishop or the Moderator of the Curia. When asked directly about the construction at St. Thomas, the Archdiocese of Washington refused to comment on who had approved or funded the renovations.  

The priest-resident of St. Thomas told CNA that he been told that McCarrick was “no longer allowed” to live in the seminary, and that Cardinal Wuerl had “ordered” the move, but he stressed that he did not have direct knowledge of those circumstances.

Fr. Rory McKee, pastor of St. Thomas in 2009, declined to comment, and directed enquiries to the archdiocesan communications office.

Despite repeated requests, the Archdiocese of Washington declined to confirm when McCarrick moved into St. Thomas, or when he left.

CNA previously reported that McCarrick next lived alongside a house of priestly formation belonging to the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) on the property of St. John Baptist de la Salle is located in Chillum, Md.

Sources told CNA that the cardinal likely moved to the property in the summer of 2010, though the Archdiocese of Washington declined to comment.

McCarrick is reported to have had, for a time, an IVE brother in formation living in his residence, which was on the parish property but separate from the house of formation. At least two members of the IVE served as assistants to McCarrick between 2014 and 2018.

In July, the Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that McCarrick “made his own living arrangements for his retirement,” and declined to comment on his residence at the John Baptist de la Salle property.

On June 20, the Archdiocese of New York reported that it had found credible an allegation that McCarrick committed acts of child sexual abuse. Wuerl wrote at the time that he was “saddened and shocked” by the allegation.

On the same day, Cardinal Joseph Tobin confirmed that the McCarrick’s former dioceses of Newark and Metuchen had reached settlements with adults who said McCarrick had engaged in sexual misconduct. In response, Wuerl specifically denied that he had been told of several out-of-court settlements made on McCarrick’s behalf by his former dioceses of Metuchen and Newark.

On Aug. 14, a report by a Pennsylvania grand jury investigating clerical sexual abuse mentioned Wuerl, previously the Bishop of Pittsburgh, more than 200 times. Defending himself against charges of mishandling priests who had been accused of child sexual abuse, Wuerl reported in at least one case being uninformed about the scope of allegations against a priest whom he permitted to minister in the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas.

Wuerl has faced mounting pressure and calls for his resignation. Those close to Cardinal Wuerl insist that he has not asked the pope to accept his letter of resignation. Wuerl is said to be planning to attend the November plenary meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference, which is expected to focus on the fallout of the McCarrick and Pennsylvania scandals.


Vigano testimony receives mixed response from US bishops

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:02

Washington D.C., Aug 27, 2018 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Multiple bishops have responded to a testimony published over the weekend by a former apostolic nuncio to the United States, which called for the resignation of Pope Francis and several cardinals and bishops, who are alleged to have covered-up of sexual abuse allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

In the testimony, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Vigano claimed that this was ignored by Francis, who pulled McCarrick back into public ministry and allowed him to become a “kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States.”

He added that this is how “the Pope replaced Cardinal Burke with Wuerl and immediately appointed Cupich (to the Congregation of Bishops) right after he was made a cardinal.”

In a statement issued Sunday, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago responded, saying that Vigano must be “confused about the sequence of these events,” as he was named to the Congregation of Bishops on July 7, 2016, before he was named a cardinal on October 9, 2016.

Vigano also claims in his testimony that Cupich’s appointment to Chicago and Bishop Joseph Tobin’s appointment to Newark “were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark.”

Cupich said he found these words “astonishing” because he had only ever received “supportive remarks and congratulations” from Vigano regarding his appointment to Chicago.

“As to the issue of my appointment to Chicago as well as the question of episcopal appointments in general, I do not know who recommended me for the Archdiocese of Chicago, but I do know that Pope Francis, like his predecessors, takes seriously the appointment of bishops as one of his major responsibilities,” Cupich said.  

Furthermore, Vigano asserts that Cupich is “blinded by his pro-gay ideology” because he has stated that the main issue in the sex abuse crisis is clericalism, rather than homosexuality, which Vigano says ignores findings “that 80% of the abuses found were committed against young adults by homosexuals who were in a relationship of authority over their victims.”

Cupich said that “any reference I have ever made on this subject has always been based on the conclusions of the ‘Causes and Context’ study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, released in 2011, which states: ‘The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.’”

At the end of his statement, Cupich called for a “thorough vetting of the former nuncio’s many claims...before any assessment of their credibility can be made.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark is mentioned twice by Vigano, first along with Cupich, in Vigano’s assertion that his appointment to his current position was “orchestrated” by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl.

Vigano also accuses Tobin of supporting Father James Martin, S.J., a “well-known activist who promotes the LGBT agenda.”

In a statement issued Monday, Tobin and the Archdiocese of Newark expressed “shock, sadness and consternation at the wide-ranging array of allegations...which cannot be understood as contributing to the healing of survivors of sexual abuse.”

“The factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology of the ‘testimony’ serve to strengthen our conviction to move ahead resolutely in protecting the young and vulnerable from any sort of abuse” and guaranteeing a safe environment for all, the statement said.

“Together with Pope Francis, we are confident that scrutiny of the claims of the former nuncio will help to establish the truth.”

Pope Francis on Sunday responded to questions about Vigano’s testimony by saying that he will “not say a single word about it” and encouraged journalists and Catholics to study the testimony and its claims and draw their own conclusions.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego is also mentioned by Vigano, who claims that his appointment to San Diego was also “orchestrated from above” by Cardinal Parolin. He also alleged that McElroy knew of “McCarrick’s abuses, as can be seen from a letter sent to him by Richard Sipe on July 28, 2016.”

In his response issued in a statement on Monday, McElroy slams Vigano’s testimony as a “distortion” that does not attempt to “comprehensively convey the truth.”

“In its ideologically-driven selection of bishops who are attacked, in its clear efforts to settle old personal scores, in its omission of any reference to Archbishop Vigano’s own massive personal participation in the covering up of sexual abuse by bishops, and most profoundly in its hatred for Pope Francis and all that he has taught, Archbishop Vigano consistently subordinates the pursuit of comprehensive truth to partisanship, division and distortion,” McElroy said.

“We as bishops cannot allow the pathway of partisanship to divide us or to divert us from the searing mission that Christ calls us to at this moment,” he added.

“We must make public our sinful past. We must engage and help heal the survivors of abuse. We must develop new, lay-governed instruments of oversight and investigation in every element of how we confront sexual abuse by clergy at all levels in the life of the Church. And we must reject all attempts to subordinate these goals to ideological or personal projects. For if we do not, we will have betrayed the victims of abuse once again.”

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., of which Cardinal Donald Wuerl is the head, issued a statement reiterating that Wuerl has “categorically denied that any of this information was communicated to him” regarding any sanctions against McCarrick and his ministry.  

“Archbishop Viganò at no time provided Cardinal Wuerl any information about an alleged document from Pope Benedict XVI with directives of any sort from Rome regarding Archbishop McCarrick,” the archdiocese stated.

“Archbishop Viganò has not produced in his testimony any objectively verifiable proof that he in any way communicated to Cardinal Wuerl restrictions imposed on Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI. In fact, Archbishop Viganò’s testimony says that he did not.”

Vigano wrote it was “absolutely unthinkable” that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, nuncio at the time the restrictions were imposed, would not have informed Wuerl about the restrictions placed upon McCarrick.

Wuerl’s spokesperson Ed McFadden told CNA on Saturday that Vigano “presumed that Wuerl had specific information that Wuerl did not have” regarding any specific allegations or sanctions against McCarrick.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and McCarrick, both mentioned in the testimony, have not issued responses as of press time.

While Archbishop Charles Chaput is not directly mentioned in the Vigano testimony, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which he heads, is mentioned several times, and its leader is mentioned as someone opposed by Francis and McCarrick.

Chaput’s spokesperson said that the archbishop “enjoyed working with Archbishop Vigano during his tenure as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and found his service to be marked by integrity to the Church.”

However, Chaput declined to comment on Vigano’s testimony, “as it is beyond his personal experience."

Critics of Vigano have called the credibility of his testimony into question, in part because of Vigano’s own involvement of the case of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, previously of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Nienstedt was accused of covering up multiple cases of clerical sexual abuse in his diocese at the time, and an investigation reportedly revealed further allegations of sexual misconduct towards seminarians on Nienstedt’s part.  

In 2016, a document was made public accusing Vigano of suppressing a 2014 investigation into Nienstedt. The memo, written by Father Dan Griffith, an archdiocesan priest who was a liaison to the lawyers conducting an independent investigation into Archbishop Nienstedt, reported that Vigano ordered the halt of the investigation into Nienstedt and the destruction of evidence once sexual and criminal allegations against Nienstedt were uncovered.

The move was “a good old fashioned cover-up to preserve power and avoid scandal and accountability,” Griffith said in the memo.

Some bishops not mentioned in the testimony have also issued responses to it, mostly calling for prayer and transparency.

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, issued a statement to his diocese saying that while Vigano’s claims have not been investigated and are “still your shepherd I find them to be credible.”

He called for a “thorough investigation” of the testimony and said while he does not have the authority to launch such an investigation, “I will lend my voice in whatever way necessary to call for this investigation and urge that it’s findings demand accountability of all found to be culpable even at the highest levels of the Church.”

When asked by CNA why Strickland believed Vigano’s claims were credible, diocesan spokesman Luke Heinstschel responded, saying that Strickland had said “all that he wished to say for the time” in his original statement, and that “he asks that we all pray for bishops and priests at this time.”

Bishop David Konderla of the Diocese of Tulsa said on his personal Facebook page that he counts himself “blessed that it was Archbishop Viganò who called me to tell me that I was appointed fourth bishop of Tulsa.”

“The allegations he details mark a good place to begin the investigations that must happen in order for us to restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church,” he added. “Now is the time for us to re-double our prayers for the church and for the victims of these crimes. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.”

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said in a statement that he has known Vigano since 1979 and, “I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity.”

While he said he had no personal knowledge of the allegations contained in his testimony, he asked that it be “taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly. Many innocent people have been seriously harmed by clerics like Archbishop McCarrick; whoever has covered up these shameful acts must be brought to the light of day.”

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit issued a statement in which he said Catholics have “nothing to fear” in the face of Vigano’s claims because the “truth will set us free.”

“Whether the Archbishop’s claims are confirmed or proved to be unfounded, the truth which comes to light will show us the sure path to the purification and reform of the Church.”

He called on Catholics to pray for truth and transparency in the coming days, and urged Catholics to not lose hope.

“Christ has not abandoned us in this time of crisis. By his rising, he is Lord of all history. And in these trials, he seeks to restore the vitality of his Church,” he said.

“We must respond with abandonment to his designs, to identify the grace he offers us in this moment and to accept it willingly regardless of the cost. If we respond with hope, the Lord will take us to a new place from which we can go forth to unleash the Gospel with new power and new strength.”  


DiNardo calls for conclusive answers to questions raised by Viganò's testimony

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 18:13

Washington D.C., Aug 27, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, reaffirmed Monday the need for a “prompt and thorough examination” of questions surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

The Aug. 27 statement of the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston was in response to a letter released by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio emeritus to the US, over the weekend.

The former apostolic nuncio’s 11-page written statement raised questions about the conduct and appointment of several U.S. cardinals and bishops, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, and Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore Frederick O’Brien.

Archbishop Viganò claimed that Pope Francis knew about allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and reinstated him in ministry, after Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on him.

“The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past,” wrote DiNardo.

Viganò’s letter “brings particular focus and urgency” to the need for an “examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement,” he continued.

DiNardo’s statement renews the cardinal’s earlier invitation to the Vatican to proceed with an apostolic visitation to the United States “to seek the truth.”

The cardinal said that he is eagerly awaiting an audience with Pope Francis to “earn his support” for the U.S. bishops’ plans to “seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops.”

Dinardo apologized again to victims of clergy sexual abuse. He reaffirmed the positive steps that the Church in the United States has taken to implement a “zero-tolerance policy” since 2002, but continued:

“In other ways, we have failed you. This is especially true for adults being sexually harassed by those in positions of power, and for any abuse or harassment perpetrated by a bishop. We will do better.”

“The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church’s firm foundation is Jesus Christ. The failures of men cannot diminish the light of the Gospel. Lord, by the help of your mercy, show us the way to salvation.”

Pope Francis, asked whether it was true that Archbishop Viganò had informed him in 2013 about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct with priests and seminarians, and if it was true Benedict XVI had previously imposed sanctions on the former cardinal, said he would have preferred to talk about his trip to Ireland, from which he was returning.

“I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment,” the Pope answered. “I will not say a single word on this.”

Bishops in Illinois plan to work with attorney general on sex abuse inquiry

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 13:55

Springfield, Ill., Aug 27, 2018 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Several Illinois bishops have indicated their desire to discuss with the state attorney general their dioceses' sexual abuse policies, noting the steps they have taken against clergy misconduct.

Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan said Aug. 23 that the Church “has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois.”

She indicated that the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clerical sex abuse of minors identified “at least seven priests with connections to Illinois,” and that the Archdiocese of Chicago had already agreed to meet with her.

“I plan to reach out to the other dioceses in Illinois to have the same conversation and expect the bishops will agree and cooperate fully. If not, I will work with states' attorneys and law enforcement throughout Illinois to investigate,” Madigan wrote.

The following day, the Diocese of Rockford stated: “We look forward to discussing with the Attorney General’s office the Diocese’s sexual abuse policies and procedures.”

The diocese added that it has had policies for the proper handling of reports of sexual abuse since 1987, and that these are compliant “with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including notifying law enforcement and screening and training of our clergy, employees and volunteers, and the training of minors in the dignity of their bodies and how to resist and report inappropriate conduct. We have worked cooperatively with our law enforcement officials and the State’s Attorneys’ offices.”

The Rockford diocese also encouraged victims of sexual abuse by clerics, religious, or laity affiliated with the local Church to contact police and its own victims abuse hotline.

Also on Aug. 24, the Diocese of Joliet said, “we look forward to assisting the Attorney General’s office in answering questions about our policies and procedures regarding clergy misconduct with minors.”

The Joliet diocese noted its adoption of the policies of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and that since the charter's implementation in 2002, it “has been audited annually by a third party for our compliance with the Charter and has passed each year.”

It said it reports “all allegations of sexual abuse by clergy or other employees to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and State’s Attorney’s Offices,” and provided a link to its office for youth protection.

“The Diocese of Joliet is pleased to be a partner with state law enforcement officials to make every available effort to protect young people,” the local Church stated.

And Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said Aug. 25 that “I certainly agree to speak with [Madigan] and pledge our diocese’s full cooperation with law enforcement officials to make every available effort to protect our people.”

“We welcome this opportunity to review the firm commitments we have made and the concrete steps we have taken to protect against clergy misconduct in our diocese.”

He said, “We are also willing to consider any additional actions that would be helpful in making our safe environment program more effective.”

Bishop Paprocki also provided information about the diocese's safe environment program and how to report abuse.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report which occasioned Madigan's statement was drafted by the office of the Pennsylvania attorney general. The report followed an 18-month investigation into thousands of alleged instances of abuse spanning several decades in six of the state's dioceses. It identified more than 300 priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 victims.

The report's release has led to calls for similar investigations in other states.

The Missouri attorney general does not have the authority to convene a like grand jury, but the Archbishop of St. Louis nevertheless invited the state's attorney general Aug. 23 to conduct an inspection of its files related to allegations of sexual abuse and to produce an independent report.

A lawyer who has represented clerical sex abuse victims in Minnesota has called for a grand jury to investigate that state's dioceses.

After 95 years, NY rules end Catholic adoption and foster services in Buffalo

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 06:01

Buffalo, N.Y., Aug 27, 2018 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Adoption and foster services through Catholic Charities of Buffalo are ending because state rules do not allow the agency to maintain its practice of only placing children in homes with a mother and a father.

“Because Catholic Charities cannot simultaneously comply with state regulations and conform to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the nature of marriage, Catholic Charities will discontinue foster care and adoption services,” Catholic Charities of Buffalo said Aug. 23.

The Catholic Charities affiliate said it cannot follow state requirements that require contracting agencies to allow same-sex couples to foster and adopt children. It cited Catholic teaching recognizing marriage as a union of a woman and a man.

Adoption services were one of the first services provided by Catholic Charities when it was founded almost 95 years ago.

“It is with deep sadness we acknowledge that the legacy of the high quality, exceptional services which our staff provides to children and families through foster care and adoption will be lost,” said Dennis C. Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo.

At present the affiliate has 34 children in foster care in 24 of its 55 certified foster homes. These children will stay in these homes, but responsibility for them will eventually pass to another agency.

Monica Mahaffey, a spokeswoman for the New York Office of Children and Family Services, said state law is clear.

“Discrimination of any kind is illegal and in this case (Children and Family Services) will vigorously enforce the laws designed to protect the rights of children and same sex couples,” Mahaffey added.

“There is no place for providers that choose not to follow the law,” she said, according to the Buffalo News.

On average, Catholic Charities helps arrange adoptions for five children per year, mostly those who are released from foster care for adoption.

“We’re a Catholic organization, so we have to practice what we do consistent with the teaching of the Church,” Walczyk said.

The Catholic Charities CEO said the affiliate’s decision was prompted by a same-sex couple’s recent application to become adoptive foster parents.

Catholic Charities’ contract with the Erie County Department of Social Services expires in March 2019.

The affiliate is working with New York state and Erie County officials to support “a smooth transition for children in foster care and foster parents” and also support those who have applied to provide foster care or adoption, its statement said.

Sister Mary McCarrick, Catholic Charities diocesan director, told the Buffalo News that Catholic teaching on marriage is commonly known and it is important for children to have both a mother and a father.

Catholic adoption and foster care agencies in several states have shut down after anti-discrimination laws or funding restrictions barred participation from agencies that place children only with married mothers and fathers.

The Buffalo announcement cited the March 2006 end of adoption services for Catholic Charities of Boston and the end of adoption services of Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois in November 2011.

Catholic Family Center in Rochester, which is a division of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, is reviewing its own policies following the decision in Buffalo, the Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM reports.


Former nunciature official: 'Vigano said the truth'

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:17

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2018 / 10:17 pm (CNA).- Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., has said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement released to the press on Aug. 25.

The 11-page document contains specific allegations that senior bishops and cardinals have been aware of the allegations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick for more than a decade. Archbishop Viganò also states states that, in either 2009 or 2010, Pope Benedict XVI imposed sanctions on McCarrick “similar to those now imposed upon him by Pope Francis” and that McCarrick was forbidden from travelling and speaking in public.

In his statement, Viganò says that these were communicated to McCarrick in a stormy meeting at the nunciature in Washington D.C. by then-nuncio Pietro Sambi. Viganò directly cites Msgr. Lantheaume as having told him about the encounter, following his arrival in D.C to replace Sambi as nuncio in 2011.

“Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d'Affaires ad interim after the unexpected death of Nuncio Sambi in Baltimore, told me when I arrived in Washington —  and he is ready to testify to it —  about a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the  Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that ‘the Nuncio’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor.’”
CNA contacted Msgr. Lantheaume and requested an interview with him to discuss the account attributed to him by Archbishop Viganò. Lantheaume, who has now left the Vatican diplomatic corps and serves in priestly ministry in France, declined to give an interview, and said he had no intentions of speaking further on the matter.

“Viganò said the truth. That’s all,” he wrote to CNA.

The full text of Viganò’s statement lists numerous senior curial cardinals, during the last three pontificates, as being aware of McCarrick’s alleged predatory behavior but either failing to act, or in some cases deliberately acting to cover-up McCarrick’s alleged crimes.

The former nuncio names three different Vatican Secretaries of State - Cardinals Angelo Sodano, Tarcissio Bertone, and Pietro Parolin - as having failed to curtail McCarrick’s behavior, or positively acting to support him.

“Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current Secretary of State, was also complicit in covering up the misdeeds of McCarrick who had, after the election of Pope Francis, boasted openly of his travels and missions to various continents,” Viganò wrote.

Most controversially, Archbishop Viganò alleges that Pope Francis acted to lift the restrictions on McCarrick shortly after his election as pope, in 2013.

Viganò says that he met McCarrick in June 2013 and was told by the then-cardinal, “The pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.” In a subsequent meeting with Francis, Viganò says he warned the pope about the long list of allegations against McCarrick but that the Holy Father did not respond.

Archbishop McCarrick is believed to still be residing within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., under conditions of “prayer, penance, and seclusion” imposed by Pope Francis.


How seminaries help men discern the call to chaste celibacy

Sun, 08/26/2018 - 18:01

Denver, Colo., Aug 26, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When seminaries aim to form Catholic men to live a chaste, celibate life, it’s a matter of both the right habits and the right perspective: choosing celibacy as a way to show God’s love.

“Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God is a gift and as Scripture says, not all can accept this teaching, just as not all are called to live it out,” Dr. Christina Lynch, director of psychological services at the Archdiocese of Denver’s St. John Vianney Seminary, told CNA. “Seminary formation is a place of discerning this call and capacity to live it out. The man must discern with his spiritual director if he is called and the Church must also discern if she is calling this man to live this life.”

Father James Mason, President-Rector of the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, reflected on celibacy from the perspective of a priest.

“When someone asks me about celibacy and the priesthood my first response is quite simple: Jesus. My desire to conform myself completely to Jesus and to give my life as he did as a sacrifice for his bride the Church,” he told CNA.

In the academic year 2017-2018, over 3,300 seminarians in the US were enrolled in post-baccalaureate studies, also known as the theologate, for both diocesan and religious orders. There were just under 1,300 college-level seminarians, and 350 enrolled in the three remaining high school seminary programs, according to figures from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

Father Paul Hoesing, who serves as Kenrick-Glennon Seminary’s dean of seminarians and human formation director, told CNA that celibacy is “choosing to be unmarried,” and there are good and bad reasons for making such a choice.

“Some may choose celibacy for the bad reason of disdaining or avoiding marriage,” he said. “The virtue of chastity does not necessarily accompany that choice.”

Citing Christ's words, Hoesing said that celibacy is “for the sake of the kingdom.” It is a response to God’s sacrificial, enduring love.

“The chaste celibate says: ‘I want to give my life as a gift.’ Both the chaste celibate and the chaste couple can say ‘This is my body given for you’ with undivided and very joyful hearts,” Hoesing said.

“The chaste celibate declares that God’s love is as concrete and satisfying as living a faithful married life. Moreover, because the chaste celibate and the married couple are choosing their way of life as a personal response to God’s love, there is no competition. “

Both celibacy and marriage “make God’s love as evident and fruitful ‘on earth as it is in heaven’,” he said. “Whether married or single, chastity ensures that our sexuality is deeply experienced as a gift and way of communicating free, total and faithful love.”

Lynch said that all people are called to live chastely.

“Living a chaste life enables the person to right order their sexual desires and more fully receive and give the gift of love,” she said. “God created man and woman to live chastely which means to be a self-gift to each other and not use each other for gratification.”

Lynch said Denver’s St. John Vianney Seminary has a “very integrated approach in forming men.”

“We have a program called ‘Formation in Priestly Identity’ that not only addresses living a chaste celibate life but helps form men to be healthy persons who will flourish in life no matter their calling, whether marriage or priesthood,” she said. “The program intentionally addresses many tough issues, and approaches each topic as a team approach incorporating each area of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.”

“We begin by understanding what authentic manhood looks like and how one can grow into an authentic man given the distractions in today’s culture,” she said, adding, “chastity and celibacy are counter-cultural.”

The dangers of seminary life include thinking that men can “try to live as sexual beings,” rather than integrating their sexuality into their whole person, Lynch said. This comes amid other trends including excessive use of social media, lack of “real human contact” in face-to-face relationships, and “lack of involvement in communal settings.”

There are also some positive trends.

“Sexual psychology is becoming more aware of the addictive quality of certain sexual behaviors such as pornography, masturbation, and other online relationships,” said Lynch. “There is more of a trend to work on saving marriages rather than divorce.”

Hoesing said lay Christians can provide a model for seminarian formation.

“The healthy, holy, joy-filled married man provides a standard,” he said, resulting in questions like “Could I see this seminarian in a vibrant, life-giving marriage? Does the seminarian enjoy healthy friendships with married men? Does he have real friendships of any depth or maturity at all?”

He saw some danger in a seminary formation that creates a “bubble” between seminarians and families and couples who are developing their vocation. A seminary formation that is too “long and protective” might enable an unrealistic approach to parish life, making some seminarians, priests, and bishops seem removed from “real accountability and responsibility.”

Hoesing warned against an erroneous view of celibacy which sees it as simply a “bachelorhood” in which “marriage was never really considered or an option through circumstances or choice.”

In this case “celibacy is passively endured or drifted into, because marriage may be asking too much of the man’s personality or generosity,” he summarized. In other ways, celibacy is wrongly seen as “simply a discipline” that some rationalize by saying, “The Church requires it, so I imagine God can make it possible.”

Stresses on the “useful” or “practical” effects of celibacy can be “rationalizations for the painful absence of married life.” In Hoesing’s view, these include arguments that celibacy makes one better available to serve God’s people, that celibacy protects potential spouses and children from the difficulties of parish leadership, and that celibacy provides economic efficiencies and avoids practical difficulties for the Church.

“Availability, mobility, and efficiency do not mean intimacy,” he said. “Such negative justifications terminate in a kind of deadly disdain or ignorance for how to receive intimacy from God and others in chaste friendship.”

These errors, whether self-referential or pragmatic, have consequences, said Hoesing, who declared, “chastity is the first victim in the false views of celibacy.” These rationalizations will not promote “the integration of a man’s sexuality.”

Taking a too-practical approach to celibacy sees sexuality as something to be managed, which in turn fosters a false sense of self-reliance. Viewing sexuality as problematic risks playing into self-pity, while viewing it as “simply dangerous” traps a man into self-protection.

Church movements geared towards “intentional community living” or regular faith sharing are an aid to human formation, according to Hoesing.

“When young people learn how to share their faith in a small group or community, they can learn the art of living chastity,” he said. “The virtues, especially the chastity which governs our relational gifts, are best learned with others in a community.”

“Friendship is the school of virtue and chastity in particular,” he said. “While I may have a private life with rich friendships, I cannot have a secret life and real friendships. I will not have shared my heart. Too many unchaste people live in the misery of a self-made aloneness.”

The revival of sex abuse scandals has renewed concerns about seminary life. A Pennsylvania grand jury report, citing records from six diocese, said there were credible accusations against 300 priests for the sexual molestation, groping or rape of 1,000 minors in cases going back seven decades.

In June a New York archdiocesan board ruled credible a claim that Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick of Washington had sexually abused a minor as a priest in the archdiocese. That report led to other accusations of sexual misconduct, including abuse of seminarians and young priests. Two New Jersey dioceses McCarrick had led agreed to make legal settlements in 2005 and 2007 with two men who said they had been sexually assaulted by McCarrick.

McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in late July, the first American cardinal to do so.

Lynch said a failure of chastity is one reason for the sex abuse crisis, but not the sole reason.

“Abusing another person is the result of being an underdeveloped personality, a disordered personality, it is the lack of development in emotional maturity, stunted in nature,” she said.

For Hoesing, the sex abuse crisis is “a terrific failure of faith.” He suggested the crisis in the Church resulted from “a perfect storm of factors,” including the sexual revolution, systemic fearfulness, and low accountability.

Churches tended to engage in worldly self-protection, seeking to avoid scandal, and ended up brushing off the victims, rather than taking a gospel approach. Legal advice at the time included a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement, which was intended to protect victims but ended up protecting abusers, he said. Abusers were sent to psychological facilities and repeatedly “treated and released.”

There is also the problem of dissenting theologians who, while rejecting abuse, “still blindly excuse or remain complicit in relativistic immorality,” Hoesing charged.

“Bad theology results in bad pastoral practices, and these can become a playground for perpetrating greater deviance,” he said.

Wuerl denies he was informed of Vatican restrictions on McCarrick

Sun, 08/26/2018 - 00:01

Washington D.C., Aug 25, 2018 / 10:01 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has denied a report that he was informed about restrictions apparently placed by the Vatican upon his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

“Cardinal Wuerl did not receive documentation or information for the Holy See specific to Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior or any of the prohibitions on his life and ministry suggested by Archbishop Vigano,” the cardinal’s spokesman, Ed McFadden, told CNA.

On Aug. 25, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, released a “testimony,” alleging that in 2009 or 2010, after receiving reports of habitual sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick, Pope Benedict XVI had ordered that “the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

Vigano wrote it was “absolutely unthinkable” that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, nuncio at the time the restrictions were imposed, would not have informed Wuerl about the restrictions placed upon McCarrick, who was living in Washington at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

“I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” Vigano added. The archbishop mentioned one specific interaction, in which he raised with Wuerl a vocations promotional advertisement inviting young men to meet with McCarrick. Wuerl, he said, immediately said he would cancel the ad.

Wuerl does not dispute that he discussed with the archbishop a vocational promotion. However, according to McFadden, “Archbishop Vigano presumed that Wuerl had specific information that Wuerl did not have.”

While McCarrick reportedly did move from Redemptoris Mater Seminary in 2009 or 2010, McFadden said that “Cardinal Wuerl categorically denies that he was ever provided any information regarding the reasons for Cardinal McCarrick’s exit for the Redemptoris Mater Seminrary.”

A source close to the cardinal told CNA that Wuerl had the impression some issues had arisen when McCarrick left the seminary, but neither McCarrick nor the apostolic nuncio spoke with him about the matter.

Vigano offered a different account: “Cardinal Wuerl, well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict, transgressing the Pope’s order, also allowed him to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C. In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk.”

McCarrick was removed from ministry on June 20, after the Archdiocese of New York deemed credible an allegation that he had serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s. Since that time, allegations have been made that McCarrick serially sexually abused at least one other teenage boy, and that he sexually coerced and assaulted young priests and seminarians during his decades of priestly and episcopal ministry. On July 28, McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals was accepted, and he awaits a Vatican trial.

A source close to McCarrick’s case told CNA that when Wuerl was informed that McCarrick was being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse, he requested that McCarrick withdraw from public ministry, and McCarrick refused. The source said that Wuerl was not permitted by canon law to forbid McCarrick from exercising ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington, and that McCarrick has also refused requests from other Church leaders to avoid travel or ministry in their dioceses.

Archbishop Vigano’s “testimony” said that Wuerl’s “recent statements that he knew nothing about it, even though at first he cunningly referred to compensation for the two victims, are absolutely laughable. The Cardinal lies shamelessly.”

Vigano’s missive said that McCarrick has exercised influence over Vatican figures for decades, saying that the archbishop has had particular influence over Pope Francis. He said that McCarrick influenced several of the pope’s recent episcopal appointments, among them the 2014 appointment of Cardinal Blase Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the 2016 appointment of Cardinal Joseph Tobin to the Archdiocese of Newark.

The archbishop’s letter said that “Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses, and resign along with all of them.”

The Vatican has not yet responded to Vigano’s testimony.

World Youth Day Cross and Marian Icon tour US

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 18:09

Washington D.C., Aug 25, 2018 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has organized a tour of of the official World Youth Day Cross and Marian Icon to mark the 25th anniversary of the World Youth Day which was held in Denver.

“Each of the five locations will feature special events and liturgical celebrations in commemoration of this historic journey,” according an Aug. 23 statement from the USCCB.

The Aug. 19-27 tour includes stops in Chicago, Miami, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

“We want women and men of all ages to come out and encounter these important symbols of faith when they are here in our country," said Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, who serves as the USCCB's chief liaison for World Youth Day.

“In addition to those preparing to go to Panamá, we hope that young people and young adults who are unable to travel to World Youth Day next year will be part of these local celebrations. We also hope that veterans of past World Youth Days, including those who went to Denver in 1993, will have a chance to join us along the way.”

From the US, the World Youth Day Cross and Marian Icon will go to Panama in advance of the January 2019 World Youth Day being held there.

The USCCB stated that “at least ten U.S. bishops will be part of the pilgrimage”, listing Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Wenski of Miami, Bishop Caggiano, Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond, Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell of Washington, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville-Rodriguez of Washington, Auxiliary Bishop George Rassas of Chicago, Auxiliary Bishop George Sheltz of Galveston-Houston, and Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau of Los Angeles.

Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama will be present at the events in Miami and Washington, D.C.