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On Aug. 2, you can get this St. Francis-themed indulgence

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 05:18

New York City, N.Y., Aug 2, 2018 / 03:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Today's feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Porziuncola and its associated indulgence is a way to focus on the importance of Mary and the Franciscan tradition in the Church, said one friar.

The Aug. 2 feast is found in the Franciscan tradition, and marks the dedication of the parish church, called Porziuncola or “little portion,” which is one of those Italy's St. Francis of Assisi rebuilt in obedience to Christ's command to “rebuild my church.”

“The Porziuncola is at the heart of the Franciscan journey,” Father David Convertino, the development director for the Holy Name Province of the Observant Franciscans, told CNA.

“For Francis, it was his most beloved place. He lived near it with the early followers … and he loved the Porziuncola, as it was part of his devotion to Our Lady.”

The Catholic Church teaches that after a sin is forgiven, an unhealthy attachment to created things still remains. Indulgences remove that unhealthy attachment, purifying the soul so that it is more fit to enter heaven. Indulgences are either plenary (full) or partial.

A plenary indulgence also requires that the individual be in the state of grace and have complete detachment from sin. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion up to about 20 days before or after the indulgenced act.

Anyone who visits a Catholic church with the intention of honoring Our Lady of the Angels and recites the Creed, the Our Father, and prays for the Pope's intentions, may receive a plenary indulgence on Aug. 2.

“Any kind of a prayer form that helps people come closer to God is obviously a good prayer form, and certainly an indulgence is one way,” Fr. Convertino said.

“It helps us focus on, in this case, the meaning of the Porziuncola and the Franciscan tradition, how it's situated in the greater idea of the Church.”

Porziuncola located inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi. Credit: emmav674 via Flickr (CC BY_NC_SA 2.0)

The Porziuncola was built in honor of Our Lady of the Angels in the fourth century, and by St. Francis' time had fallen into disrepair. The church, which was then located just outside of Assisi, became the “motherhouse” of the Franciscan orders.

“Although Francis realized that the kingdom of heaven is found in every dwelling on earth … he had learned nevertheless that the church of Saint Mary at Portiuncula was filled with more abundant grace and visited more frequently by heavenly spirits,” says the life of St. Francis written by Friar Thomas of Celano, read today by Franciscans.

“Consequently he used to say to his friars: 'See to it, my sons, that you never leave this place. If you are driven out by one door return by the other for this is truly a holy place and God’s dwelling.'”

Fr. Convertino added that the Porziuncola “was the place he chose to lie next to on his deathbed, and at that time of course you could have looked up to the city of Assisi, which he also loved so well.”

The Porziuncola, a rather small chapel, is now located inside a large basilica which was built around it, to enclose and protect it.

“You have this large basilica built over this teeny tiny little chapel,” Fr. Convertino reflected. “If that chapel wasn't there then the basilica wouldn't be there, but if the basilica wasn't there, the chapel probably wouldn't be there either, given 800 years of war, weather, and turmoil.”

For Fr. Convertino, the duality of the big church and the little church is a reflection of the relationship between the world-wide Catholic Church and the smaller communities which make it up.

“We feel the Franciscans kind of convey, we're the ones at the heart of the Church, the little church there.”

He said that each time he visits Assisi, the “experience” of the Porziuncola is “compounded more and more,” and added that “it's such a magnificent place, and the friars there are wonderful.”

Fr. Convertino also discussed the fresco now painted around the entrance of the Porziuncola, which shows St. Francis, together with some of his followers, receiving the indulgence from Christ and Our Lady.

“The idea behind the story is that Francis is asking Jesus for a Porziuncola indulgence, and Jesus is saying to Francis, 'Well, you really better ask Mary, ask my mother.'”

This article was originally published Aug. 2, 2013.

Planned Parenthood sues after South Carolina bans Medicaid funds for abortion clinics

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 02:05

Columbia, S.C., Aug 2, 2018 / 12:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging a South Carolina executive order barring Medicaid funds from going toward any health services at abortion clinics.

The executive order, issued last month by Gov. Henry McMaster, has drawn support from pro-life advocates.

“We commend Gov. McMaster for not only keeping his promise to protect innocent human life in South Carolina but also keeping his promise to taxpayers of South Carolina who should not be forced to fund agencies that destroy human life,” said Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, according to National Right to Life News Today.

McMaster’s July 2018 executive order said the state “should not contract with abortion clinics for family planning services.”

It told the state’s Medicaid agency to use money left over from last year’s budget on the state’s family planning program, but deemed abortion clinics and any affiliated physicians or medical practices enrolled in Medicaid to be unqualified for the funds. The agency must terminate these clinics and deny any future enrollment applications from such providers, the order said.

In early July, McMaster vetoed about $16 million from South Carolina’s budget for fiscal year 2018-19 in order to defund the local affiliates of the United States’ largest performer of abortions, the South Carolina news site The State reports. In the last two years, less than $85,000 in Medicaid reimbursements went to Planned Parenthood, out of a total of $42 million in reimbursements in the state. These funded Planned Parenthood birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and one of its patients filed suit in U.S. district court July 28, saying the executive order would block patients from accessing “preventive health care services” at Planned Parenthood in South Carolina.

Planned Parenthood argued that federal law bars states from interfering with Medicaid patients’ access to “the qualified provider of their choice.” It said the state’s two Planned Parenthood health centers are in areas that have been federally designated as having a provider shortage.

Brian Symmes, a spokesman for the governor, told The State newspaper July 27 that the governor will “fight this lawsuit with everything he has.”

“Like millions of South Carolinians, he believes in the fundamental right to life for unborn children and does not believe tax dollars should go to organizations that perform elective abortions,” Symmes said.

Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, rejected claims that poor women must rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.

“There are numerous health clinics throughout South Carolina that offer high quality, comprehensive health care to women of childbearing age without peddling abortion as just another means of birth control,” she said.


Lincoln diocese responds to reports of misconduct by former vocations director

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 19:16

Lincoln, Neb., Aug 1, 2018 / 05:16 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska acknowledged reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a deceased former vocations director, following an article by a former priest alleging misconduct and scandal on the part of the director.

In an Aug. 1 statement, the Diocese of Lincoln said that it “is aware of past reports of conduct contrary to prudence and moral law by Monsignor Leonard Kalin, deceased in 2008.”

“The diocese addressed these allegations of misconduct directly with Msgr. Kalin during his time in priestly ministry,” the statement said, adding that the diocese is not aware that Kalin violated any civil laws.

“The Diocese of Lincoln is also aware of past reports of conduct contrary to prudence and moral law by former Diocese of Lincoln priest Peter Mitchell. The diocese addressed these allegations of misconduct directly with Mitchell during his time of ministry in the Diocese of Lincoln.”

In its statement, the diocese emphasized that it “reports all alleged violations of civil law to the proper authorities, and is committed to addressing all violations of prudence, morality, or civil law by its clergy, employees and volunteers at the time they are reported.”

The statement came in response to an Aug. 1 article in the American Conservative by Peter Mitchell, a former priest who had attended seminary in the Diocese of Lincoln. Mitchell was laicized in 2017 after violating his vow of celibacy on multiple occasions.

Mitchell’s article discusses Monsignor Leonard Kalin, was the vocation director for the Diocese of Lincoln and pastor of the University of Nebraska Newman Center from 1970 until the late 1990s.

While Kalin was well-respected for his orthodoxy and attracting vocations, Mitchell said, he led a life of sexual immorality and set a poor example for the seminarians he oversaw.

Mitchell said Kalin would regularly ask seminarians to help him shower, giving the excuse that he was old and needed help, and would then make sexual advances toward them.

He also said Kalin would invite seminarians on trips to Las Vegas and would require them to meet with him late at night at the Newman Center before inviting them to his private quarters for a drink.

Those who declined such invitations were subject to inferior treatment, he said. On one occasion, he said that he was questioned by another seminarian about his loyalty to Kalin after he had complained to the then-Bishop of Lincoln. He said he did not receive a response from the bishop.

“I experienced profound discrimination as a seminarian and later as a priest because I was a heterosexual in an overwhelmingly homosexual environment where sexually active gay priests protected and promoted each other,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell indicated that he avoided showering with Kalin, drinking with him alone late at night, or accompanying him to Las Vegas. Catholic News Agency contacted Mitchell to request additional detail about his knowledge of Kalin's alleged sexual advances. Mitchell did not respond before deadline.

In his article, he said that his “life as a priest was undoubtedly affected by the totally inadequate and abusive formation I received in terms of preparing me for a healthy life as a celibate heterosexual male.”

He acknowledged his own violations of celibacy, which he said he regrets.

“I am painfully aware, however, that the people to whom my seminary formation was entrusted modeled addictive behavior to me and an entire generation of young men who are now priests,” he said.

Mitchell warned that Kalin’s behavior has had lasting effects on the diocese.  

“Although Kalin passed away in 2008, the seminarians he favored became the priests who continue to hold the reins of ecclesiastical power. To this day, anyone who tries to speak critically of Kalin’s behavior and legacy is met with a code of silence for ‘the good of the Church.’ If I ever tried to express frustration with Monsignor’s treatment of me, priests in positions of power over me quickly shut me down, almost robotically: ‘While he may have had a few flaws, he was very orthodox and recruited so many vocations.’”

He said that he believes priests currently in the diocese had bad experiences with Kalin, or knew about the misconduct, but are afraid to speak up due to fear of reprisal.

“Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for active priests to speak out because the men they would be speaking out against control every aspect of their lives and their reputations,” he said. “But it needs to happen for their own good and for the good of the Church.”

The Diocese of Lincoln stressed that it “endeavors to maintain a culture of holiness, chastity, integrity and Christ-like joy among our seminarians and priests. We are also committed to maintaining the high standards of chaste behavior to which the Lord calls us.”

In its statement, the diocese asked “any priest, religious, seminarian, or lay Catholic with any information or concerns about past or current misconduct in a parish, school, or apostolate of the diocese to contact the diocesan chancery or, if criminal behavior is suspected, any law enforcement agency.”

Current Bishop of Lincoln James Conley acknowledged Mitchell’s article in his Aug. 3 column for the Southern Nebraska Register.

Discussing the accusations against both Kalin and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., who was removed from the college of cardinals last weekend, Conley stressed that Christ walks alongside the wounded in their pain and anger.

“Because sexuality is such a powerful gift, I believe that the evil one – Satan – tempts us to sin against chastity, and to misuse and abuse our sexuality, because doing so can cause great harm to the Lord’s beloved children,” he said.

Conley apologized on behalf of the Church to those who had been harmed by its members and leaders. He asked Catholics to pray for victims of sexual abuse and misconduct.

“Christ promises new life. May he renew his Church, and renew the hearts of those who are suffering,” he said.

J.D. Flynn, editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency, previously served as special assistant to Bishop Conley and director of communications for the Lincoln diocese. Flynn has recused himself from coverage of this story to avoid a conflict-of-interest. He was not involved in the assigning, reporting, editing or oversight of this story.


Harrisburg Bishop releases names of 71 accused priests, deacons, seminarians

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 18:00

Harrisburg, Pa., Aug 1, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Harrisburg has released the names of 71 priests, deacons, and seminarians accused of sexual misconduct involving children in the diocese during the past 70 years. At the same time, Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg issued an apology to abuse survivors.

Gainer made the announcement Wednesday, August 1, at a press conference in Harrisburg. More than half of the individuals named on the list have died, and none are currently in active ministry within the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Along with the list of accused, the diocese also launched the Diocese of Harrisburg Youth Protection Program, a new child protection website. The site offers resources for survivors, information about child protection training, and a mechanism for reporting suspected abuse. 

"Many of those victimized as children continue as survivors to suffer from the harm they experienced. In my own name, and in the name of the diocesan church of Harrisburg, I express profound sorrow and I apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse," said Gainer.

In addition to the apology, Gainer also waived any past confidentiality agreements survivors may have signed as part of legal settlements. This allows past victims to speak publicly about their experiences. It is unclear how many of these settlements exist within the diocese. The USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a morally binding document amongst American bishops, bans confidentiality agreements from forming part of the terms of any new settlement, except at the request of victims.

The list released by the Harrisburg diocese includes all accusations deemed to be credible by police or diocesan officials, but the diocese said that those on the list should not be assumed to be guilty. Rather, the list contains all historical allegations found in the records from the diocese.

The list includes 37 priests from the diocese, three deacons from the diocese, six diocesan seminarians, nine priests from other dioceses, and 16 members of various religious communities. Many of the allegations have already been made public.

Matthew Haverstick, an attorney for the diocese, said that the list was intended to be “overinclusive,” and contains “every individual against whom an allegation was made and that allegation subsequently has not been disproven by law enforcement.”

Gainer also announced that the diocese would be removing the names of all of the accused from any building or room where they are honored. Buildings bearing the names of past Harrisburg bishops covering the period of alleged abuses will also have their names removed. While the bishops themselves were not accused of inappropriate behavior, Gainer said that Church leaders “must hold themselves to higher standards.”

The accusations include physical misconduct, inappropriate behavior, possession of child pornography and other boundary violations, crimes, and acts of abuse. Gainer said on Wednesday that the list came from the diocese’s own investigation.

The announcement comes shortly before the expected release of a report from the recently completed grand jury investigation into six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said that the 900-page report includes evidence of “widespread sexual abuse of children and a systemic cover-up by leaders.” 

The investigation has already resulted in the conviction of one priest for the sexual assault of a 10-year-old student during the 1991-92 school year.

The report was initially scheduled for release at the end of June but was held up by legal challenges made by some of those named in it. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered that a partially redacted version be published no later than August 14.

New resource center to promote African American sainthood causes

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 16:50

New Orleans, La., Aug 1, 2018 / 02:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Xavier University of Louisiana has announced a new initiative to unite groups working on the promotion of African American canonization causes.

A July 31 event at the university’s St. Katharine Drexel Chapel presented the project, which is being spearheaded by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago.

A resource center that will soon be constructed by the university’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies will compile and exhibit educational works about the lives of African Americans whose sainthood causes are open.

Xavier President Reynold Verret said the stories of these African Americans are important to every Catholic, no matter their background.

“It speaks profoundly…to the resilience of Catholic faith, even as it was oppressed in the 19th and 20th century,” he said.

The resource center will initially display information on five black Catholics from the 18th-20th centuries: Julia Greeley, Pierre Toussaint, Mother Mary Lange, Henriette Delille, and Father Augustus Tolton. It will also include information on St. Katharine Drexel, who founded Xavier University of Louisiana, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Other stories of potential saints will be added in the future, as new causes open.

Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri of New Orleans moderated the event, which included numerous speakers, including Bishop Perry and advocates for each beatification cause.

The occasion also drew attendees from the Joint Conference of Black Catholic Clergy, Black Sisters, Black Catholic Seminarians, and Black Catholic Deacons.

In addition to advancing the canonization causes of holy men and women, Verret said the project is established “to promote the stories of those saints to the larger Catholic community.”

“By this I don’t mean just the black Catholic community…but also the larger Catholic community of any ethnic origin because their examples are powerful examples of living a life of devotion,” he said.

Servant of God Julia Greeley was born a slave in 19th-century Hannibal, Missouri. Greeley was freed by Missouri’s Emancipation Act in 1865 and then came to Denver, where she worked for the territorial governor and then in a number of odd jobs. She converted to Catholicism while in Denver.

Despite her own poverty, she was known for collecting food and other goods for the poor, gaining the title “Denver’s Angel of Charity.” She had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and would walk to 20 different firehouses each month to hand out badges and devotional materials to the firefighters.

Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a slave in what is now Haiti before being brought to New York City and eventually gaining his freedom.

He became a successful hairdresser and was known for offering financial aid to those in needs, as well as care for the sick and orphans.

Servant of God Mother Mary Lange was raised in a French-speaking community in Cuba, but moved to the United States in the early 1800s.

Lange eventually moved to Baltimore, where she became the founder and first superior of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. The community provided African American women a path to religious life in the Church. The sisters taught and cared for African American children.

Venerable Henriette Delille was born in the early 1800s to a white father and mixed-raced mother. Because of the laws against interracial marriage, her parents were in a common-law relationship – a path of financial comfort which they encouraged her to take.

Instead, Delille established the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans. The order taught and offered medical care for those in poverty, especially slaves and poor freed blacks.

Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton fled slavery in the mid-1800s and went on to attend seminary in Rome, because no seminary in the U.S. would accept him. Ordained in 1886, he became the first African-American priest in the United States.

After his ordination, Fr. Tolton began his priestly ministry in Quincy, Illinois and later founded St Monica’s Church in Chicago, the city’s first black parish.

Xavier University is ranked as the nation’s number two Historically Black College and University by College Consensus and is considered to be the only Historically Black Catholic College in the U.S.

The university was founded in 1925 and established the Institute for Black Catholic Studies in 1980. The institute offers training for Catholic ministry within U.S. black Catholic communities.

Bishop Olmsted named apostolic administrator of Arizona-based Byzantine eparchy

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:39

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 1, 2018 / 12:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix was named Wednesday as apostolic administrator sede plena of the Byzantine rite eparchy which is also based in Phoenix.

The Ruthenian Eparchy of Holy Protection of Mary of Phoenix is led by Bishop John Pažak, 71, who was appointed in 2016.

“Let me first state that this appointment has not come about because of any personal misconduct of any kind on the part of Bishop Pazak. Indeed, Bishop Pazak remains as the Bishop of this Eparchy,” Bishop Olmsted stated Aug. 1.

“However, over the past year there have been some disagreements about administrative matters within the Byzantine Ruthenian Church here in North America, of which the Eparchy of Phoenix is a part. Because of some unfortunate legal developments in these matters, their resolution has been unnecessarily complicated.”

The legal developments “have unintentionally endangered the peace, unity and communion” of the Ruthenian Catholic Church, the Latin rite bishop said.

Bishop Olmsted has been appointed apostolic administrator of the Phoenix eparchy to “facilitate the task of resolving these legal matters” and to “support the efforts on everyone’s part to build up the communion” within the Ruthenian Catholic Church.

The bishop added that his appointment as apostolic administrator has “no fixed term” and he is “happy to serve in any way that will support my brothers and sisters in this Eparchy.”

Bishop Olmsted's statement mentioned “unfortunate legal developments” related to “disagreements about administrative matters” within the Ruthenian Catholic Church in the US.

On April 26, the Phoenix eparchy filed a suit claiming that an employee benefits company had wrongly started a self-insured health plan with funds from the eparchy, which believed it was paying premiums to secure insurance products for its employees, Danielle Smith reported at Law360.

“The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix said in its complaint that Aetna-owned Meritain Health Inc. and Ohio-based Employee Benefits Services Inc., or EBS, flouted their fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by using assets meant to pay insurance premiums for the eparchy's roughly 21 employees to pay for expenses and fees, among other things, instead,” Smith wrote.

It said EBS had also, prior to 2012, been selling health insurance also to the other Ruthenian eparchies in the US: Passaic, Pittsburgh, and Parma.

The Phoenix eparchy in 2012 joined the Eastern Catholic Benefit Plan, which the eparchy called in its complaint “the unregistered, fictitious name provided by Defendants of an employee welfare benefit plan … that was established and maintained to provide welfare benefits to participants.”

The eparchy said that “EBS falsely promoted ECBP … as a fully-insured health plan that would provide equivalent benefits at lower costs than the insurance previously in place.”

It said it opened a joint checking account with EBS, which it understood and intended that all of the assets in the account were to be held in trust and used for the sole and exclusive purpose of paying insurance premiums for medical, dental and drug insurance benefits to the approximately 21 employees of the Eparchy of Phoenix who participated in ECBP and their eligible beneficiaries.”

This joint account “created a fiduciary relationship by and among ECBP, the participants of ECBP, the Eparchy of Phoenix and EBS,” the eparchy maintained.

According to the eparchy in Phoenix, “EBS pooled the contributions with assets from other employers and used the funds to pay itself and for claims from the other organizations' employees — all without the eparchy's consent,” Smith reported.

The eparchy says it contributed more than $1 million to the joint account between 2012 and 2015. The Phoenix eparchy ceased participating in ECBP Dec. 31, 2015.

The Phoenix eparchy alleges that its assets were “used for the benefit of and have unjustly enriched” several defendants “and other parties including, upon information and belief … other Eparchies.” It says that it was owed surplus assets when it withdrew from ECBP, and has not been paid.

The eparchy's complaint said that in or around 2017 EBS merged ECBP with the benefit plans for the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles and for the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, both of which it called groups “with different religious beliefs than the Byzantine Catholic Diocese.”

Both the Maronite and Melkite Churches are sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

The eparchy of Phoenix filed an amended complaint June 18, which added as defendants the administration committee of the ECBP, which it listed as Bert Reimann, William C. Skurla, and Robert Shalhoub.

Skurla is Archbishop of the Ruthenian Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and as such, the metropolitan bishop over the Phoenix eparch.

The amended complaint says Archbishop Skurla was a fiduciary and a party in interest under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

According to Law360, Archbishop Skurla was dismissed as a party to the case July 30.

Before his appointment as Ruthenian Bishop of Phoenix, Bishop Pažak was Bishop of the Slovakian Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto. He became apostolic administrator of the Toronto eparchy when he was transferred to Phoenix.

On July 5, Fr. Marián Pacák was appointed bishop of the Toronto eparchy.

Cardinal DiNardo: 'Grave moral failures of judgment' about McCarrick allegations

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:30

Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2018 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo has issued a strongly worded statement addressing the “grievous moral failure” in the Church revealed by the scandal surrounding former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

In a statement released today, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said the accusations against Archbishop McCarrick have caused “anger, sadness, and shame” for American bishops, himself included.

The statement comes after it was announced that Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation as a cardinal, and assigned him to live in “seclusion, prayer, and penance” pending the outcome of a canonical process.

Addressing both the accusations against McCarrick and the fact that they went publicly undisclosed for decades, Cardinal DiNardo said that great harm had been done, and that there had been “grave moral failures of judgment” by Church leaders.

“These failures raise serious questions,” DiNardo’s statement said. “Why weren’t these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn’t this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?”

DiNardo said that the specific charges made against Archbishop McCarrick would be dealt with by the Holy See through a canonical process, where he “will rightly face judgment,” but that clear steps needed to be taken by the American Church as well.

To this end, DiNardo announced that he had convened the USCCB’s Executive Committee to discuss how the American bishops could best respond to the still unfolding scandal. The meeting was the first of several that will take place in the coming months, including at the Conference’s Administrative Committee meeting in September and the General Assembly in November.

Cardinal DiNardo stressed that, while the work of the Conference would necessarily take time, there were several crucial points for immediate action, beginning with an encouragement for every bishop to stand ready to respond with “compassion and justice” to anyone coming forward with an allegation of sexual abuse or harassment.

At the same time, the cardinal urged all victims of sexual assault or harassment, by anyone in the Church, to come forward and, if the allegations concern a civil crime, to notify local law enforcement as well.

Cardinal DiNardo pledged that the USCCB would do everything in its power to respond to the allegations against McCarrick, and if necessary encourage others to do the same.

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority.”

“One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.”

The statement, which was issued to all Catholic bishops in the United States, ends by acknowledging that a “spiritual conversion” is needed as U.S. bishops seek to renew their relationship among each other and with God.

In recent weeks, many bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have been the subject of pointed questions about the handling of allegations made against McCarrick, over a period of years.

“Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality,” DiNardo concluded. “The way forward must involve learning from past sins.”


Man in custody after Delaware priest assaulted

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 02:01

Wilmington, Del., Aug 1, 2018 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A 25-year-old man is in custody after reportedly attacking an elderly priest and another parish employee in Delaware.

Joshua August allegedly attacked Fr. William Graney in his office at Resurrection Parish in Pike Creek. According to local media, he was discovered mid-assault after employees at the parish heard arguing and commotion in Graney’s office.

After August punched and kicked Graney, police say, he then poured a bottle of wine over the priest and struck him with the bottle, before spraying compressed air into Graney’s mouth.

Police say Graney was transported to a hospital, where he is in stable condition. Another parish employee was injured in the attack with minor injuries, according to reports. The parish remains closed and daily Mass has been canceled until further notice.

Parish employees convinced August to leave the church after they offered him money and a ride, and then locked the doors behind him, police say. After attempting to break into the church, August then left the scene on a skateboard, according to witnesses, and was quickly apprehended by officers. He is being held on more than $50,000 bail.

August has been charged with felony assault, resisting arrest, and criminal mischief.

No motive has been released for the attack.

Appeals court rules against Washington archdiocese in bus ad case

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 17:01

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was within its rights to ban the Archdiocese of Washington’s religious-themed advertisements, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday.

In November 2015, WMATA issued 14 new guidelines for acceptable advertisements on its busses and trains. Guideline 12 expressly prohibited “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice, or belief.” These new guidelines came out after someone attempted to purchase an advertisement featuring an image of Muhammad.

This past December, WMATA rejected a bus advertisement from the Washington archdiocese that directed people to a website for its “Find the Perfect Gift” campaign. The website contains Mass time information, basic information about Christmas and Advent traditions, and had links for various Catholic charitable organizations. The ads were rejected due to their religious content.

The court initially sided with WMATA in the ban, and the Court of Appeals heard the case in March. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is now nominated for the Supreme Court, appeared to be in favor of the Archdiocese during arguments.

Kavanaugh did not participate in Tuesday’s decision due to his nomination.

In the July 31 decision, Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote that “The Archdiocese has not shown … that WMATA is impermissibly suppressing its viewpoint on an otherwise permitted subject,” and that any claim of discrimination “is based on hypothesis.”

“Were the Archdiocese to prevail, WMATA (and other transit systems) would have to accept all types of advertisements to maintain viewpoint neutrality, including ads criticizing and disparaging religion and religious tenets or practices.”

Judge Robert L. Wilkins concurred with Rogers’ decision, and added that the policy did not infringe on the First Amendment because “It does not take sides; it restricts all speech on the topic equally, without discriminating within the defined category.”

The archdiocese may pursue another appeal against the policy.

“The Archdiocese of Washington is disappointed by today’s federal appeals court ruling, and we are reviewing the decision and opinions to determine our next steps,” Ed McFadden, secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA in a statement.

“Today, however, is a reminder that freedom of religion and expression in the public square should never be taken for granted, and we will continue to defend those rights at every opportunity.”

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, took issue with the Court’s claim that WMATA “does not take sides,” saying in a statement that this was “laughable.”

Instead, McGuire believes that the fedrally-funded metro system has “taken the side of restricting any and all religious speech,” which is in violation of the First Amendment.

“Tinder (a dating/hookup app) and Blue Apron (a meal service) can buy ads, but the Catholic Church cannot,” said McGuire.

“It’s a textbook case of discrimination; it sends the clear message that secular speech is welcome in the public, but religious speech is offensive and should be barred.”

Lonely but determined, pro-life Democrats speak up

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:01

Denver, Colo., Jul 31, 2018 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Former Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak has one word to sum up the plight of the pro-life Democrat: “Lonely.”

“We’re not trusted in our party. We are not appreciated by Republicans, even though nothing can pass without us,” he told a gathering of pro-life Democrats in Denver. “It really is a hard road to go.”

Stupak was among the speakers at the Democrats for Life of America annual conference held July 20-22 on the theme “We want our party back.”

When Stupak joined Congress in 1992, there were 20 pro-life Democrats. Now there are only three who openly take a pro-life stand.

“I think there’s more, I think there’s a lot more,” he said. “But our numbers have dwindled so much that there’s no leadership within the Democratic Party to ask these members to vote for pro-life legislation.”

He said he was positive a 20-week ban on abortion could pass Congress with enough key pro-life Democrats. In his view, about 30 Democratic votes are needed to counter to votes of pro-choice Republicans.

“Republicans will never admit it but if you go back and look no right to life legislation can pass in the U.S. Congress without the support of Democrats,” said Stupak.

The nine-term Congressman was a key leader in an amendment intended to limit the provision of abortion in the 2010 health care bill known as the Affordable Care Act. His 2017 book “For All Americans” discusses the passage of the act.

“You need to constantly support the right-to-life Democrats. Remind them they’re doing the Lord’s work. You have to be there for them,” he told his audience. “We have to support our pro-life Democrats and have to remind our party why we are such an integral part.”

Lincoln Davis, a former congressman from Tennessee, also attended the Denver event. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), who faced a strong primary challenge this year from a candidate backed by pro-abortion rights groups, addressed the gathering in a pre-recorded video. He received the Democrats for Life Bob Casey Whole Life Award, named for the former governor of Pennsylvania.

Michael Wear, a political strategist who directed faith outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, spoke to the conference via live video. He recounted his background in an all-Democrat, blue-collar union family. When he became a Christian, he said, it “put new life and meaning behind what I viewed as the central commitments of the Democratic Party: fighting poverty, civil rights, human dignity.”

“The pro-life movement needs Democrats, and the Democratic Party need pro-lifers. You have earned your place in politics, we have earned our place. Our responsibility is to steward the influence we have as best we know how to do the most good as we know it,” he said.

While on some issue the Democratic Party did not necessarily fit, Wear said, “you join a political party not for that party to influence you, but for you to influence that party.”

“Registering for a political party does not mean signing one’s conscience over to “every jot and tittle of the party platform,” he told the audience.

“You’re willing to hold in the tension of contributing to something you don’t always agree with all the time… but our civic life is not just about our personal preferences. It’s about the common good, about how we live together,” said Wear. “Political parties are a very important way of how to do that.”

Wear saw the Democratic Party of 2006 and 2008 as better for pro-life advocates than the current situation. In his view, the pro-life movement is a “helpful, sort-of-nagging element” that pushes Democrats to “stand up for life.”

He believed President Barack Obama cautioned his party against alienating others, including on the issue of abortion. Obama’s controversial visit to the University of Notre Dame had positive elements for Wear. The Democratic Party platform at the time had language about reducing abortion, language which “ended up pleasing nobody,” the president decided to keep this language in his speech.

The conference drew some opposition from Colorado Democrats and Democrat-leaning groups.

Progress Now Colorado, which previously attracted attention for misleading ads against pro-life pregnancy centers in the state, ran internet ads critical of the conference. In a parking lot outside the conference hotel, the group set up a billboard truck which said, “abortion access is a progressive value.”

On the morning of July 21, several critics gathered outside the hotel for a small press conference: Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Colorado; Sam DeWitt, access campaign manager for Compassion and Choices Colorado; and Democratic state legislators Sen. Rhonda Fields and Reps. Leslie Herod and Jovan Melton.

Herod objected to the effort to make space for Democrats who are opposed to abortion.

“Democratic values are not up for debate… the national and Colorado Democratic platforms are clear. Upholding the legal right for anyone to access a safe and legal abortion is essential and non-negotiable,” she said.

Herod characterized abortion as fundamental “to achieving the kind of gender, race and economic equality that we as Democrats have been fighting for, for decades.”

“Let me be clear: a Democrat is someone who stands for equality, stands for choice, stands for racial justice. If you don’t stand for those things then you are not a Democrat,” she said.

Middleton, herself a former Democratic state legislator, said Colorado was “a solidly pro-choice state” and contended that those gathered for the conference were not in fact Democrats, but present “under a ruse.”

“This notion, a false narrative of a false move into the party really needs to be pushed back,” she said. “We’re here to say, ‘No, we don’t believe you, you are not welcome here, we want to see you really let us move forward together, unifying access to abortion care for all.'”

Over a dozen pro-life Democrats and their allies held a brief counter-demonstration. Playing up the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s opposition to unionization of its workers, they held signs such as “Pro-Labor, Pro-Life.”

Just minutes later, the conference hosted speaker Justin Giboney, an attorney and political strategist from Atlanta who was elected as a delegate to the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions.

“A lot of Democrats disagree with the party on abortion but stay silent. We’ve got to speak up,” he said. “Without the assumption of ill intentions on the part of pro-lifers, people would have to acknowledge that there is another life at stake in these debates.”

He said he appreciates the Democratic Party’s “commitment to serving the least of these” and its recognition that government “has a role to play in improving people’s lives.

“The party must not turn away from these fundamental values,” he added.

Giboney, who is African-American, said his formation in traditional black Protestantism “means my faith cannot be separated from my politics.” He placed himself in the Progressive Era tradition of social programs for the poor, workers’ rights, government reform, and criminal justice issues.

Giboney rejected political progressivism that defines itself in “the Western European expressive individualism, permissive culture sense of the term.” While many people appreciate the Democratic Party’s stand on immigration and heath care, he said, they “see the party as speeding recklessly away not only from a sense of morality, but also a sense of reason, a sense of pluralism, and moving so far left on social issues that it is irresponsible. It has become illiberal.”

He feared that other issues will be sidelined for secular progressive issues he said are being championed and funded by a few interest groups.

According to Giboney, there were groups that wanted him kicked out of the Georgia delegation to the Democratic convention. He worried the party is “openly engaging in religious exclusion” to limit the participation of people with certain religious beliefs, hindering any pro-life Democrats’ run for office.

Such candidates will not get exposure or funding if they maintain their beliefs publicly; staff will leave candidates because they fear they won’t get a job later.

“While the party accepts the vote of religious voters, it will treat them as unfit if they try to run for public office,” he charged.

In Giboney’s view, some pro-life advocates on the political right had contributed to false narratives. He found it hard to relate to the Republican Party's version of the pro-life movement, which he said isn’t “whole life.”

“How can you care about the unborn, if you don’t care about the poor or the immigrant?” he asked. “People ask these questions because too many pro-lifers don’t have a strong record on some of these other issues.”

He stressed the need for pro-life advocates to show compassion for people in a crisis situation and to do more than simply encourage a pregnant woman to have a child, who will then grow up in poverty and the pressures of a harsh criminal justice system.

“I think pro-life Democrats are in the best position to do those things and we need to take up that task.”

What might happen for McCarrick, and for the Church in the US

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 14:01

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- The 2014 movie “Calvary” is a reflection on mercy, sacrifice, and the difficulties that the sexual abuse crises of recent years have caused for those priests and bishops who have nothing to hide, but are now viewed with suspicion.

During a sobering scene in the film, an Irish priest- a pastor played by Brendan Gleeson- shares a brief moment of friendship with a young girl he has met as they both walk along the same stretch of country road.

The moment is interrupted when a car screeches to a halt in front of them, and the girl’s father emerges, yelling insults at the priest before driving away with his daughter. The priest is left standing alone on the road, not trusted enough for even an innocent conversation with a child.

The Irish reaction to Ireland’s sexual abuse crisis was sharper and more profound than reaction to the crisis in the United States. After detailed reports of sexual abuse by Irish clerics and religious began emerging in the early 2000s, Mass attendance dropped sharply and suddenly, and Irish anti-clericalism became vocal and commonplace. Of course, other factors have contributed to the decline of Catholic practice in Ireland, but the impact of the sexual abuse crisis was obvious and severe.

The American sexual abuse crisis has also been a serious issue for Catholics, and has had an obvious cultural effect on the Church in the United States. But its effect on the habits and attitudes of Church-going Catholics has not been as apparent, or as visceral.

Gallup polls showed a sharp dip in American Mass attendance in 2002 and 2003, the years the crisis came into full public view, but Mass attendance rates actually rose in 2004, before resuming the steady decline that began all the way back in 1955.

Of course, there has been a measurable and sustained decline in Catholic identity and Mass attendance among Catholics in the US for decades. But it is not immediately clear how much of recent declines can be attributed directly to the sexual abuse crisis. Instead, polls generally attribute declines to broader cultural trends toward secularization, and increasing popular disagreement with Catholic doctrinal issues, particularly with regard to sexual morality.

Many Catholic commentators predict that the McCarrick scandal might change that. Catholics across ideological, theological, and political divides are unified in anger and disappointment over the charge that high-ranking bishops knew of, and even tolerated, serious sexual malfeasance by a cardinal. That anger has led to calls for transparency, repentance, and spiritual renewal.

It seems entirely possible that the McCarrick scandal will become a bright line in American Catholic history, and have long-lasting and dramatic effect on the future of Catholic Church in the United States.

The kinds of changes that might be coming are not yet clear, but what happens next- for McCarrick, for the bishops, and for ordinary Catholics- will begin to demonstrate whether this crisis point will lead to a sharp period of decline, or to a period of renewal.

So what will happen next?


With regard to McCarrick himself, the Vatican has implied that the archbishop could face a canonical trial.

As is well known, in June a process in the Archdiocese of New York reached the conclusion that an allegation McCarrick sexually abused a teenager was “credible and substantiated.” That process, however, was only the first phase of the Church’s canonical process- the phase referred to as the “preliminary investigation.” A formal trial would be the next step.

While a trial has not been scheduled, the possibility of one was implied on Saturday, when Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals. At that time, the pope also consigned the archbishop to a life of prayer and penance until, the Vatican said, until the conclusion of a canonical trial addressing the allegation.

But several complicating factors make a trial unlikely.

At the moment, McCarrick is only facing canonical charges for one of the sexually abusive relationships he is alleged to have had, and some aspects of that case could make it difficult to try- most notably the fact that the alleged victim was 16 at the time the abuse began, and therefore not considered a minor by the canonical standards in force at the time- the standards by which McCarrick would be tried. While he could face charges in that case for other, related, canonical crimes, they make the prospect of a trial more difficult.

Of course, it is plausible that McCarrick could be tried for other, more straightforward charges of abuse, given the number of allegations that have been made against him in the press. But the Archdiocese of Washington noted Sunday that although several alleged victims of abuse by McCarrick have spoken with the media in the last month, few have filed complaints directly with Church officials. Ordinarily, reports made directly to a diocese are the triggering event for Church investigations, and so it is unlikely that McCarrick will face additional canonical charges unless some of his alleged victims make such reports.

It is possible that a bishop- most likely Cardinal Donald Wuerl in Washington- could begin a preliminary investigation into the allegations that have been reported in the press even without direct complaints. Though that would an unusual move, Wuerl might judge it to be warranted in this case- especially if he had support from the Vatican to do so.

Still, there are additional complications.

Given McCarrick’s long tenure in Church leadership, and his wide network of friends around the world, it is not immediately apparent that the Vatican has a sufficient number of qualified personnel, without personal ties to McCarrick, available to assist in a trial.

Furthermore, several sources have told CNA that if McCarrick does face a trial, the pope would personally oversee it, as he has reportedly decided to do in several other high-profile cases involving bishops. Since the pope is apparently already involved in those cases, and since trials are time-consuming and he has only a finite amount of time, it seems probable that his direct involvement in McCarrick’s trial will keep it from getting off the ground anytime soon.

McCarrick is 88. Even under the best circumstances, canonical penal processes can take years. These circumstances are not the best. Barring unusually swift action from the Holy See to begin a complicated trial and bring it completion, or unusual longevity for McCarrick, he is unlikely to live long enough to see a canonical resolution to his case.

Instead, he is likely to see his name taken down from parish halls, his episcopal crest removed from cathedrals, and the visible signs of his leadership and influence scrubbed away. This week Catholic University of America rescinded an honorary degree he’d been given, and other colleges will likely do the same.

He is also, of course, unlikely to face criminal charges in the United States, unless allegations which have not yet reached a statute of limitations are made against him.

Sources say he is now living in a Church facility in Washington, and he is likely to remain there, or in some other discreet place, waiting for his case to be judged by the Vicar of Christ.


Regardless of what trial McCarrick faces, the dioceses, religious communities, and even the foundations he has been affiliated with are now facing serious questions. So are the bishops who succeeded him in the dioceses he led: Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, along with the auxiliary bishops and other advisors who worked for him in those places.

Of particular importance are questions about the 2005 and 2007 settlements with priests who claimed McCarrick abused them, and especially about who was, and was not, informed about them. Cardinal Wuerl said last week that he was never informed that those settlements had been reached. If that is true, why did Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen and Archbishop John Myers of Newark neglect to inform Wuerl that a cardinal living in Wuerl’s diocese had been accused of serious malfeasance?  

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has also faced criticism for not reporting to the pope a letter his office received about McCarrick in 2015. Likewise the apostolic nuncio- the pope’s ambassador to the United States- could also face questions about what, if anything, he knew about McCarrick, and about whether he was in communication with the Vatican about the matter.

CNA and other media outlets are pursuing those questions, and the media will likely begin to report findings soon. But media inquiries are not the same as official investigations.

There has been speculation that to probe those questions Francis might appoint a special investigator to the United States, as he did in Chile when scandals there become a media firestorm. Such an investigator would try to get clarity about who knew what about McCarrick, and when, and get a sense of how he advanced in an ecclesial career despite the persistence of rumors and complaints about him.

But it is also possible that the pope intends accepting McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals to be his last word on the subject.

While there is focus on this story now, and bishops are speaking out about it, media attention is fickle, and it’s possible that some large-scale disaster or political crisis could divert press attention. That could lead to a scaled-down response, in which the bishops at their November meeting issue a new set of policies or procedures, the pope offers some words of regret, and the Church’s leaders move on to the next issue.

Two things might tip the scales toward a robust response from the Vatican and U.S. bishops:

The first is continued reporting from the Catholic and secular press about McCarrick, and the web of questions surrounding his situation. There are many threads to be pulled, probably more threads than are reporters to work on the story. But if media executives and editors decide that attention should be focused elsewhere, or if readers tire of reports on the subject, it will be easier for Church leaders to weather a momentary storm without the thorough investigation- or official inquiry- that might lead to some systemic changes in administrative procedures.

The second thing that will lead to a thorough response is for lay, seminarian, religious, and priest victims of sexual abuse, harassment, assault, or coercion to continue coming forward. If McCarrick’s misdeeds were as widespread as they are rumored to be, dozens of priests might come forward to make official complaints, along with former seminarians and others. Volume speaks volumes, and demands a response.

At the same time the Vatican is deciding whether and how to conduct an investigation, plaintiffs’ lawyers are likely considering what lawsuits might be filed in response to the McCarrick scandal.

The threat of possible litigation will complicate the Church’s response to the McCarrick scandal. Bishops will, on the one hand, want to see victims by compensated for the harms done to them and, at the same time, want to ensure that parishes, schools, and charitable offices that had nothing to do with sexual abuse do not lose their assets. Many bishops will want to be transparent and pastoral, and, at the same time, be concerned about the effects in the courtroom of their pastoral gestures of penitence and contrition.

It is difficult to make prophetic responses to a tragedy in a litigious environment, and bishops will have to navigate that difficulty, as many of them had to do in the wave of litigation that followed the 2002 sexual abuse revelations. Some will do this well, and some, most likely, will not.


Perhaps the most significant questions have to do with the attitudes that Catholics will hold in the aftermath of this scandal, and how Church leaders will respond to those attitudes.

If lessons be learned from Ireland, and other places in which bishops have been implicated in serious negligence and misdeeds, trust in the hierarchy of the Church is likely to erode and stay eroded, and Mass attendance could drop precipitously.

Bishops have begun making pastoral statements, and more will likely come. But this crisis may prompt a greater sense of urgency about the overall decline in Catholic life in the United States, and prompt bishops to consider what mechanisms might lead to renewal.

A friend said this week that the McCarrick scandal might be the final nail in the coffin of “beige cultural Catholicism” in America.

He meant that the scandal could lead to much broader recognition that much about the current model of Church organization and parish management doesn’t seem to be working- that many people leave the practice of Catholicism because of a broad crisis in catechesis, formation, and community and parish life.

This idea was part of the thrust of John Paul II’s “new evangelization” paradigm, which called Catholics to “remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself.”

It is certainly true that the growth areas in the Catholic Church in America are those that seem to have a clear missionary identity, or a particularly focused or intentional approach to Catholic life. Movements like Communion and Liberation and the NeoCatechumenal Way are loci of growth and energy. So too are missionary groups like FOCUS, and the communities devoted to traditional liturgy that have sprung up in places like Clear Creek, Oklahoma.

Those movements are often lay-led, and developed at some distance from chancery and diocesan structures. That means that, if trust in the hierarchy is eroding, they may be seen by many Catholics as having the integrity, authenticity, or transparency that some see as lacking among hierarchs in the wake of the McCarrick scandal.

The question now is, if decline in more typical parishes continues or hastens, whether bishops will see those groups and movements as mechanism of the “new evangelization” and welcome them, even at the cost of relinquishing some institutional and structural control.


Much remains to be uncovered about the McCarrick scandal, and much remains to unfold. But the scandal has already begun to point to changes in American Catholic life. If handled well, great good could come from those changes. “To live is to change,” Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

Catholic universities withdraw honorary degrees from McCarrick

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 12:05

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2018 / 10:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Two Catholic universities have withdrawn honorary degrees from Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, amid numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and Fordham University in New York both announced in recent weeks that they were rescinding the honorary degrees.

Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals on Saturday. The pope directed McCarrick, the 88-year-old former Archbishop of Washington, to observe “a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” until the end of the canonical process against him.

A substantial and credible allegation of child sexual abuse against McCarrick was made public in June.

In recent weeks, McCarrick has faced several additional allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. These include charges that he pressured seminarians and priests into sexual relationships, and another reported allegation that he had a serially sexually abusive relationship with a child.

The Catholic University of America said July 30 that its board had voted unanimously to revoke McCarrick’s 2006 honorary degree, the first time the university has done so in its history.

McCarrick had been a student at The Catholic University of America, where he earned his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in the 1960s. He later served in various roles at the university, including assistant chaplain, dean of students, development director, chancellor, and a member of the Board of Trustees.

“The entire Catholic University community acknowledges the tragedy of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy, and the deep and lasting pain and suffering of survivors,” the university said in a statement. “We offer our prayers and pastoral support for the survivors, that they and their families encounter healing and peace.”

The university encouraged abuse victims to contact the archdiocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection for support and resources.

The move follows a similar decision by Fordham University earlier this month.

University president, Fr. Joseph M. McShane, released a July 5 statement announcing the removal of “McCarrick’s honorary degree and other honors the University has conferred upon him.”

“In taking these steps, we acknowledge the extraordinary and long-lasting harm done to children who were sexually abused by clergy members,” the statement said. “While we can never fully repair the sins of the past, we must respect the experience of abuse survivors, and accord them all the love and compassion of which we are capable.”

Department of Justice creates Religious Liberty Task Force

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 05:11

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2018 / 03:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The announcement of a Religious Liberty Task Force being created at the Department of Justice drew praise from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who said that religious freedom is vital to the common good of the U.S.

“As Americans we intuitively understand that individuals should be free to live in accordance with what they believe to be true, that is, in accordance one’s conscience,” said Kurtz, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ religious liberty committee.

Kurtz spoke July 30 at a Religious Liberty Summit hosted by the Department of Justice.

At the summit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the new task force, saying it “will help the Department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.”

Sessions warned that “a dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.”

Ultimately, confronting and defeating this threat will require an intellectual shift to remember the importance of religious freedom, a “core American principle,” that the Trump administration is committed to protecting, he said.

“This administration is animated by that same American view that has led us for 242 years: that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square.”

In his remarks, Archbishop Kurtz stressed that religious organizations do a lot of good for society.

But in recent years, these organizations have found it harder to operate in line with their beliefs due to governmental policies, such as the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate, and the recent crackdown on faith-based foster care and adoption providers who place children only in homes with a mother and a father, he said.

Kurtz cited Illinois, Massachusetts, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and D.C. as among the places where faith-based organizations have been shut down or hampered by the government because of their religious beliefs.

The exclusion of faith-based groups from being able to serve the public - whether it be through homeless shelters, assisting migrants and refugees, or providing meals to the hungry - “makes no sense in a pluralistic society” like the United States, he said.

“We should look to have all hands on deck when it comes to tackling the greatest needs of our day.”

There are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States, and of those, about 100,000 of them are eligible for adoption. These numbers are only increasing, said Kurtz, in the wake of the opioid crisis.

“Now is not the time to limit agencies that are able to serve children,” the archbishop said. “Intolerance for religious views has real consequences, as vulnerable children suffer the most.”

He noted that in Arkansas, faith-based organizations are responsible for recruiting half of the state’s foster families.

“Our country is much richer when we have public-private partnerships that work well,” Kurtz said, emphasizing that faith-based groups often have “very deep roots” in a community, and have the the trust of community members.


Detroit celebrates the first feast of the 'approachably holy' Blessed Solanus Casey

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 18:39

Detroit, Mich., Jul 30, 2018 / 04:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sixty one years after his death and eight months after his beatification, Blessed Father Solanus Casey is still able to draw crowds in Detroit.

The porter priest and Capuchin friar’s first feast day was celebrated in the Archdiocese of Detroit July 30, with a novena for his canonization and various Masses and special events held throughout the area in his honor.

Four Masses for Solanus were celebrated over the weekend and on Monday, including two celebrated by Archbishop Allen Vigneron. Each Mass was packed to full or overflowing, Fr. David Preuss, OFM Cap. and director of the Solanus Casey Center, told CNA.

When asked why so many people of Detroit and beyond continue to be drawn to Solanus even decades after his death, Preuss said it is because Solanus was “good to people.”

“That’s it, he’s good to people, he always was, and he continues to be,” Preuss said.

“People were asking how many people are going to come (to his feast day events) and I said look...he is a powerful intercessor, and we hear about new favors every week, they happen all the time,” Preuss said, so he was not surprised at the overflow crowds.

Fr. Solanus was a friar and simplex priest, meaning that, due to lesser academic abilities, he was not allowed to preach or to hear confessions.

This meant he carried out simpler tasks, and in Detroit he is fondly remembered as the porter (doorkeeper) at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he served 1924-1945.

As porter, Fr. Solanus became the main link from the brothers to the outside world, and he became renowned among the people of Detroit for the gentle and willing counsel that he offered from his post at the door, and for the miracles attributed to his intercession.

In order to be beatified in the Catholic Church, a miracle must be attributed to a person’s intercession after their death and approved by the Vatican.

For Solanus, that miracle was the curing of a skin disease in Paula Medina Zarate, a woman from Panama, who also made the trip to Detroit this week to celebrate Blessed Solanus’ feast day.

At the Solanus Casey Center, located just down the street from the monastery in Detroit where Fr. Solanus answered the door, nine days of prayer were held for Fr. Solanus leading up to his feast day, which included prayers for his canonization and different themes each day based on various aspects of the friar’s life. There was a blessing for the sick, tours of and donations to the soup kitchen founded by Solanus, as well as Masses for families, young people, and consecrated religious.

A second Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vigneron honoring Blessed Solanus was held at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan, a place where Solanus liked to retreat to pray.

Monsignor Robert McClory, rector of the shrine, told CNA that the chair Blessed Solanus used on his visits to the shrine was displayed for his feast day.

The shrine was also chosen as the first stop for a “relic tour” of a first-class relic of Blessed Solanus - a bone from his right thumb, which will travel throughout the archdiocese’s schools and parishes in the coming days for veneration.

“In the Detroit area it’s hard to meet a Catholic who was not in some way touched by Blessed Solanus Casey,” McClory told CNA.

“Every time I make a reference to Blessed Solanus in a homily, I will typically get anywhere from 6-12 comments afterwards of people telling me stories of how Blessed Solanus helped their father, their grandparents, and had a special role in their life,” he said.

His humility and simplicity gave Solanus “an approachable holiness” that drew so many people to him, McClory added.

“He had humility, and everybody could approach him, and he had a big heart for those who were suffering and those who were sick, and that included those who suffered materially, but also those who had deep spiritual needs,” he said.

The miracles worked through his intercession gave Solanus a kind of “credibility” with God to the people who came to him, McClory added, so they trusted the friar even when they were told their prayers would not be answered in the way they had hoped.

“It’s not just that he was a vehicle through which miracles occurred, but also because of that, in a beautiful way he had more credibility when he told people their prayer isn’t going to be answered the way that you want it to be, but God has a plan and it’s going to be ok,” McClory said.

A modern, local saint shows the people of Detroit that “Jesus is near, that he’s in our midst, that God loves Detroit,” McClory added, “and that God has a desire to build up holy men and women whose virtues we can imitate and whose intercession we can seek, and it makes holiness that much closer for us.”

Blessed Solanus Casey was beatified on Nov. 18, 2017 in Detroit. The next step in his canonization process is for an additional miracle to occur through his intercession and be approved by the Vatican.

Cardinal Tobin: McCarrick's resignation necessary for accountability

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 16:11

Newark, N.J., Jul 30, 2018 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark responded Saturday to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's resignation from the college of cardinals, which came amid numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. Tobin called for continued accountability in addressing sexual abuse claims.

“This latest news is a necessary step for the Church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its ministers, no matter their rank,” Tobin said in a statement.

He asked the faithful “to pray for all who may have been harmed by the former Cardinal, and to pray for him as well.”

Pope Francis accepted Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals on Saturday. The pope directed McCarrick, the 88-year-old former Archbishop of Washington, to observe “a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” until the end of the canonical process against him.

A substantial and credible allegation of child sexual abuse against McCarrick was made public in June.

In recent weeks, McCarrick has faced several additional allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. These include charges that he pressured seminarians and priests into sexual relationships, and another reported allegation that he had a serially sexually abusive relationship with a child.

Cardinal Tobin noted that news of the resignation “will impact the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Newark with particular force.”

The Archdiocese of Newark is one of two New Jersey dioceses to pay settlements to two men who claim they were sexually assaulted by McCarrick while they were seminarians and young priests. McCarrick was then permitted to continue to function publicly as a cardinal.

Tobin took over as Archbishop of Newark in 2017, a decade after the archdiocese reached the settlement in the McCarrick case.

Since the allegations against McCarrick were announced, questions have been raised about whether any other bishops – including Tobin – were aware of the settlements and had spoken up about them. Tobin's statement did not address those settlements.


Albany bishop: Clerical sex abuse a 'profoundly spiritual crisis'

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 14:37

Albany, N.Y., Jul 30, 2018 / 12:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany wrote to the clerics of his local Church Sunday, saying that abuse of authority and sexual abuse by clerics is, more than a crisis of policies and procedures, a spiritual crisis.

His comments come amid a scandal centered on Theodore McCarrick, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington. Last month the Archdiocese of New York announced that it had concluded an investigation into an allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager, finding the claim to be “credible and substantiated.” Since then, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop.

McCarrick resignation from the office of cardinal was accepted by Pope Francis on Saturday.

“Let me be clear,” Bishop Scharfenberger wrote, “in stating my firm conviction that this is, at heart, much more than a crisis of policies and procedures. We can – and I am confident that we will – strengthen the rules and regulations and sanctions against any trying to fly under the radar or to 'get away with' such evil and destructive behaviors. But, at its heart, this is much more than a challenge of law enforcement; it is a profoundly spiritual crisis.”

The Bishop of Albany's July 29 letter was sent to clerics and seminarians, as well as parish life directors and department heads at the diocesan chancery.

He began by reflecting on the betrayal of Christ, saying that “Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, many of our faithful are now feeling betrayed and abandoned by their spiritual fathers, especially the bishops.”

“No doubt you have been and will be hearing from your people about how shaken and discouraged they are over public revelations of despicable behavior on the part of a very popular and charismatic Cardinal with priests and seminarians in his care.”

Bishop Scharfenberger shared that he had been texted by a friend who conveyed “his family’s utter despondency over this and that the USCCB should disband itself: '[t]heir credibility is shot, probably for decades.'”

The bishop said that further “words are not going to repair, let alone restore, the damage that has been done. Lawyering, pledges and changes in the bureaucratic structures and policy – however well intentioned – cannot do it either. I do not see how we can avoid what is really at the root of this crisis: sin and a retreat from holiness, specifically the holiness of an integral, truly human sexuality.”

Bishop Scharfenberger repeated “as clearly and directly” as he could the Church's teaching that sexual activity outside a valid marriage is a grave sin: “A cardinal is not excused from what a layperson or another member of the clergy is not … This is what our faith teaches and what we are held to in practice. There is no 'third way.'”

Gravely sinful sexual activity outside marriage “includes grooming and seduction,” the bishop wrote. Such acts of McCarrick were detailed by a priest of the Diocese of Albany, who was once a seminarian under the former cardinal, in an interview with America magazine published July 25.

“The psychological and spiritual destructiveness of such predatory behavior, really incestuous by a man who is held up as a spiritual father to a son in his care – even if not a minor – cannot be minimized or rationalized in any way,” Bishop Scharfenberger wrote. “On that, it seems to me, we are experiencing an unusual unity amidst the many political and ecclesial tensions in our communities.”

“Abuse of authority – in this case, with strong sexual overtones – with vulnerable persons is hardly less reprehensible than the sexual abuse of minors, which the USCCB attempted to address in 2002.”

He noted that the Charter for the Protection of Young People, adopted by the USCCB in 2002, “unfortunately … did not go far enough so as to hold cardinals, archbishops and bishops equally, if not more, accountable than priests and deacons.”

Bishop Scharfenberger said he believes the vast majority of clerics “live or, at least, are striving to live holy and admirable lifestyles. I am ashamed of those of my brothers, such as the Cardinal, who do not and have not. As your Bishop, you can be sure of my support for you and all the faithful during this very difficult time.”

He expressed gratitude for “all of those who have come forward to expose these patterns of sin in the lives of some – as well the institutional sins of denial and suppression of those brave witnesses whose warnings went unheard or unheeded, so that some of the harm might have been prevented.”

“I hope and pray that others who may have suffered such traumatic experiences at the hands of their spiritual fathers will find the courage to say so. To you, if you are among them, and to them I offer my support and assistance in any way the resources I have can muster.”

Bl. Paul VI's Humanae vitae “prophetically warned … of the long-range consequences of the separation of sexuality and sexual behavior from the conjugal relationship,” he said.

“Contemporary culture in our part of the world now holds it normative that sex and sexual gratification between any consenting persons for any reason that their free wills allow is perfectly acceptable. This is not a sexuality befitting of human beings that responds to the need and true desire of every human person to be respected and loved fully and unconditionally.”

Clerics “must practice what we preach and teach,” he emphasized. “We also need to uphold what our faith proclaims about the gift and beauty of human sexuality, fully lived in its essential conjugal meaning.”

“A culture of virtue and chastity – in short, personal holiness – rooted in a trusting and committed relationship with Jesus Christ is the path toward healing and wholeness, even as we seek to drive the evil behaviors among us from the womb of the Church.”

Bishop Scharfenberger commended preparation for a Eucharistic Congress as “a time of spiritual renewal for all of us seeking to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master who was himself betrayed by his closest friends, but died for us to save us from ourselves and to offer us a way to living our humanity fully in this life and in the heaven to come.”

Bishops announce nine-week novena ahead of Supreme Court confirmation

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 05:00

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2018 / 03:00 am (CNA).- A Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life is being led by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholics are being encouraged to take part ahead of the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The novena will be prayed each Friday between August 3 and September 28. The initiative is part of the USCCB’s ongoing Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

Every Friday, those who have signed up to the Call to Prayer program will receive the day’s prayer intentions by email or text message.

Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin in September, and there are expectations that Kavanaugh could be confirmed by the time the Supreme Court begins its next session in October. Kavanaugh’s nomination was welcomed by Catholics and pro-life groups who hope he could form part of a majority on the court in favor of overturning controversial abortion decisions like Roe v. Wade.

Roe, along with the companion decision in the case Doe v. Bolton, found a legal right to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, regardless of circumstances.

The novena is tied to the confirmation process and the prayers of Catholics are important, Greg Schleppenbach, associate director of the USCCB Pro-Life Activities Secretariat, told CNA. He predicted that the confirmation process will be “very contentious,” with much of the debate centered around the issue of abortion.

"As we've already seen, the pro-abortion side is making this all about Roe v. Wade. It will clearly be contentious on that issue alone and perhaps others. But certainly, the other side has been making Roe vs. Wade a central issue, if not the central issue, in this confirmation process."

Schleppenbach hopes that the novena and prayer initiative will help teach the public and Congress about what the Roe decision and its effects have actually meant in the United States.

The novena “presents an opportunity for us to educate the public on Roe v. Wade, and to urge them to pray for this very important intention [life] that transcends even this particular nomination,” he told CNA.

"One of the things we know about public opinion, about public knowledge, is that there's a lot of misunderstanding about how radical Roe v. Wade is.”

Schleppenbach believes that recent polls indicating a high level of support for the decision are misleading, as most simply do not know what exactly overturning Roe would mean.

This prayer effort will go on even after Kavanaugh’s confirmation process ends, with hopes that this is just the beginning of a shift toward a culture where “unborn children are protected in law and welcomed in life.”

The Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life is a “very concrete and effective way” for those who are concerned about human life to combat the “culture of death,” said Schleppenbach.

“The fact that this effort focuses on and encourages people to pray and to fast is critically important. It is absolutely one of the most productive, effective pro-life actions that we can take,” he told CNA. 

“I very strongly encourage everyone to participate in the prayer and fasting, and to utilize the educational materials on Roe, sharing them with others."

The novena begins Friday, August 3, and information on how to take part is available from the USCCB website.

After McCarrick resigns, DC archdiocese praises abuse victims' courage

Sun, 07/29/2018 - 18:38

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA).- Alleged abuse victims are “courageously stepping forward” with new claims of abuse by former cardinal and retired Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, but these claims weren’t previously known to the Archdiocese of Washington,  the archdiocese said in a Sunday statement.

“These experiences shared by survivors are profoundly troubling and represent a breach of trust and wounding that no person should bear alone,” the archdiocese said July 29. “Cardinal Wuerl again recently affirmed that those coming forward with new allegations show also a confidence in the Church to take seriously these charges and act quickly in responding.”

The archdiocese voiced continued prayers for abuse survivors and expressed understanding about “how difficult it is to share such painful memories.”

“While the struggle to confront such experiences is difficult for survivors, the archdiocese wishes to accompany them and help them through this process,” its statement continued. “The archdiocese encourages all coming forward to share these experiences with any diocese in which they reside so that these grave issues can be reviewed promptly by Church authorities, and that we can offer assistance to begin the process for healing and peace.”

Pope Francis accepted Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals on Friday. The Pope directed McCarrick, the 88-year-old former Archbishop of Washington, to observe “a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” until the end of the canonical process against him.

The fact that there had been a substantial and credible allegation of child sexual abuse against McCarrick was made public in June.

The archdiocese said that it reviewed its own files when the first claim against Archbishop McCarrick was filed in the New York archdiocese. The Washington archdiocese found “no complaints of any kind” against the archbishop, who had led the archdiocese from 2001-2006.

“Further, the confidential settlements involving acts by Archbishop McCarrick in the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark were not known previously to Cardinal Wuerl or the Archdiocese of Washington,” the statement said.

As CNA previously reported, last week the Washington archdiocese’s vicar general Monsignor Charles Antonicelli sent a letter to priests of the archdiocese claiming that its current archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, did not know until recently about settlements made by two New Jersey dioceses in response to allegations of  misconduct on the part of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Sources close to the Archdiocese of Washington also told CNA that Wuerl was not informed of legal settlements in two New Jersey dioceses until June 2018.

In recent weeks, McCarrick has faced several additional allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. These include charges that he pressured seminarians and priests into sexual relationships.

Cardinal Wuerl said the decision to accept the cardinal’s resignation shows that Pope Francis “takes very seriously the allegation of an abuse of a minor.”

“I think this was a big step forward in trying to act quickly, decisively, even though the whole procedure isn’t concluded yet,” Cardinal Wuerl said told the Washington-area radio station WTOP Saturday. “The pope is saying that we need to show that we are hearing these things, paying attention and acting.”
Although the alleged abuse happened decades ago, he said, “people are now coming forward and saying, ‘I know I’m going to get a hearing in the Church’.”

“It’s encouraging people who have kept these things buried to step forward and say, ‘Even though this happened a long time ago, I want you to know it happened’,” said Wuerl.

Wuerl told WTOP he had never been approached with allegations that McCarrick committed abuse. He also said he was not aware of the decades-old rumors about McCarrick’s alleged misconduct.

US bishops to honor three people with 'People of Life' award

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 18:01

Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 28, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More than 100 Catholics will attend the 2018 People of Life awards next week to honor three pro-life individuals for their dedication to the Gospel of Life.

The awards will go to Janice Benton, a proponent for disability rights; Monsignor Joseph Ranieri, an advocate for post-abortion healing; and James Hanson, who campaigned against medically assisted-suicide and who will be honored posthumously.  

The awards will be presented in Phoenix as part of the Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference July 29 – Aug. 1, sponsored by the US bishops' Secretariat on Pro-Life Activities.

More than 125 people are expected to attend, including Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria in Texas, and Bishop Eduardo Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix.

The awards are given to men and women who have made significant and longtime contributions to the pro-life movement, promoting a culture of life and respect for the human person.

Janice Benton has served as the executive director of National Catholic Partnership on Disability for 15 years. Before that, she spent 25 years ministering to people with disabilities, working in areas such as a camp counselor for people with intellectual disabilities.

She also worked for the American Coalition of Citizens in Washington D.C., beginning in 1979, where she advocated for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Education for All Handicapped Children Act.

Monsignor Ranieri has served as a parish priest of the Archdiocese of Washington for more than 60 years. There, he involved himself with Project Rachel Ministry, a post-abortion resource group.

According to the Catholic Anchor, Monsignor Ranieri encouraged priests, who will hear about abortions in the confessional, “to listen, to be open and to be patient. These people need to talk about what happened, often more than once.”

James Hanson was a U.S. Marine Corp veteran and president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, a strategic and financial support group advocating against assisted suicide legislation. Hanson suffered from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Before he passed away in December 2017, Hanson campaigned against legislation permitting assisted suicide.

The People of Life award was established in 2007 by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. The award seeks to honor Catholics dedicated to the pro-life movement as described by St. John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical on the value and inviolability of human life, Evangelium Vitae.

According to the USCCB website, the People of Life award “is presented to individuals who have consistently answered this call of the Gospel of Life.”

“Recipients are recognized because, through their personal or professional contributions, they have demonstrated their lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement, to promoting respect for the dignity of the human person, and to advocacy for an end to the culture of death in this nation.”

Wuerl was not informed about McCarrick settlements, DC letter claims

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 11:54

Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2018 / 09:54 am (CNA).- A letter sent this week to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington claims that Cardinal Donald Wuerl did not know until recently about settlements made by two New Jersey dioceses in response to allegations misconduct on the part of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

"Neither the Archdiocese of Washington nor Cardinal Wuerl knew about these confidential settlements until this most recent credible and substantiated allegation against Cardinal McCarrick was made public," said the July 25 letter, sent to Washington priests by archdiocesan vicar general Monsignor Charles Antonicelli.

"For clarity, the Archdiocese of Washington did not participate in, make any contributions to, nor was invovlved in any way with these settlement agreements," the letter added.

The settlements in questions were reached in 2005 and 2007 by the Diocese of Metuchen,  the Archdiocese of Newark, and two men who claim they were sexually assualted by McCarrick while they were seminarians and young priests.

McCarrick was Bishop of Metuchen from 1981-1986, Archbishop of Newark from 1986-2000, and Archbishop of Washington from 2000-2006. Wuerl succeeded McCarrick in Washington and is the current Archbishop of Washington.

The first settlement took place while McCarrick was still Archbishop of Washington, and the second was reached after Wuerl had taken the helm of that archdiocese. Neither settlement, according to Antonicelli's letter, was reported to Wuerl.

The letter also said that the Vatican is "overseeing any further decisions," regarding McCarrick, and added that "our offices are aware only of the same information regarding these allegations that you are seeing in media reports...We know from past experience with failings of the Church, that this is not an issue that will simply fade away."

Wuerl, according to the letter, encouraged anyone with information regardin abuse of harrassement to "bring it forward as soon as possible so that it may be promptly and fully investigated."

Sources close to the Archdiocese of Washington have also told CNA that Wuerl was not informed of settlements until June, when a substantial and credible allegation of child sexual abuse against McCarrick was made public.

In recent weeks, McCarrick has faced several additional allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, including charges that he pressured seminarians and priests into sexual relationships, and an another reported allegation that he had a serially sexually abusive relationship with a child.

On July 28, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals, and consigned him to a period of prayer and penance until a canonical process regarding the investigations is concluded. McCarrick is 88.