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Supreme Court denies relief to Philadelphia Catholic foster care agency

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 19:06

Philadelphia, Pa., Aug 30, 2018 / 05:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Supreme Court declined Wednesday to compel the city of Philadelphia to resume working with Catholic Social Services (CSS) for the placement of foster children.

In March, Philadelphia officials announced the city would no longer work with CSS for foster care placement, citing the group’s unwillingness to place foster children with same-sex couples due to its religious beliefs. CSS asked the Supreme Court in July for an injunction that would require the city to continue its foster-care placement with the agency during litigation over the matter.

The court’s order did not explain why it had not granted a requested injunction, but it did note that Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch supported the request. Five justices are needed to grant an injunction. The Supreme Court has presently eight justices following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In 2017 the Catholic agency placed 266 children and aided more than 2,200 children in the Philadelphia area.

No same-sex couple had applied to be a foster parent with Catholic Social Services, and there are other agencies in the city that would accept and work with same-sex couples. Typically, CSS serves about 120 foster children in about 100 homes at any one time.

CSS had argued that without an injunction from the Supreme Court, the agency would likely be forced to close its foster care program.

Philadelphia’s refusal to work with Catholic Social Services comes amid a foster care crisis in the city. After announcing it would no longer work with the Catholic group, the city put out a call for an additional 300 homes to house some of the city’s 6,000 foster children.

As of May, about a dozen foster homes affiliated with CSS were empty, and there were concerns that all children residing in foster homes affiliated with the agency could be removed after the contract with the city expired in June. This does not appear to have happened.

Philadelphia is not the only city to refuse to work with a Catholic organization on the issue of foster care and adoption placement. In Buffalo, Catholic Charities recently ceased adoption and foster care work due to rules that would have forced the organization to violate their religious beliefs. Catholic Charities had done work with adoption in Buffalo for nearly a century before the rule change.


South Carolina rules Planned Parenthood to stay a state 'family planning provider'

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 17:00

Columbia, S.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A judge has ruled that Planned Parenthood’s designation as a “family planning provider” for South Carolina’s Medicaid program does not mean that state funding is being used to pay for abortions.

U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis made the ruling in an 18-page decision granting Planned Parenthood a temporary injunction against a July order issued by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster.

In July, McMaster issued the order in an explicit attempt to deprive the controversial abortion provider of state funds.

All three of South Carolina’s abortion facilities--two of which are operated by Planned Parenthood-- were covered by his order, which stated that these locations were “unqualified” to provide family planning services.

Planned Parenthood is currently receiving approximately $82,000 in funding from South Carolina for “family planning services.”

Through a spokesman, McMaster said that he was upset with the ruling and “will continue to do all that he can to make sure no taxpayer dollars either directly or indirectly subsidize abortions in South Carolina.”

Federal law already prohibits the use of taxpayer money for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest.

Despite drops in the number of contraceptive services offered and in total number of patients seen, government funding for Planned Parenthood has increased over the last decade.

According to its 2016-2017 annual report, it received more than $500 million in government funding; making government  - 37 percent - the largest source of its income.

Planned Parenthood claims that state money is not used for abortions, and is only used for family planning services. This is disputed by former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, who said in a 2011 column that “money received by Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics all went into one pot at the end of the day — it isn’t divvied up and directed to specific services.”

Johnson left Planned Parenthood and now operates the group “And Then There Were None,” which assists abortion workers with leaving the industry.

Why robot brothels are not the solution to America's STD crisis

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 14:08

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- With several sexually transmitted diseases reaching an all-time high in the U.S., could sex robots be the answer? Catholics leaders say no, because the alleged benefits of “sexbots” will never outweigh the harms inflicted upon the person and authentic human sexuality.

“There are all sorts of bad solutions to a legitimate problem. Even if it were the case that sex robots would cut down on STDs, it wouldn’t make sex robots a good idea,” said Matt Fradd, author of The Porn Myth.

“[It] denigrates the sexual act and pretends it’s an accidental feature of marriage rather than a substantial feature of marriage. The sexual desire is not an itch to be scratched.”

Sex is “not a negative thing that has to be discarded,” he clarified, but “a positive drive that ought to be tempered and regulated by virtue.” Without the virtue of chastity, he stressed, there is no love.

Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that nearly 2.3 million syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia cases had been diagnosed in 2017 – a record high. This number represents a 200,000-case increase from the previous year, and marks the fourth straight year of increase.

Experts have called the rise in STDs a “public health crisis” and are looking for ways to stop the spread of the diseases.

Meanwhile, a “sex doll brothel” hoping to open in Toronto next month claims to offer a “safe sex” experience for customers, who can order from a menu of life-like sex robots.

The owners of Aura Dolls claim it is the first “sex doll brothel” in North America. Similar brothels exist in Japan and some parts of Europe.  

The brothel has faced criticism and the recent drop of its lease. The city of Toronto ruled that it fits the definition of an “adult entertainment parlour,” and is therefore restricted to certain areas of the city. Owners say they are hoping to find a new location to open in the coming weeks.

“We operate similar to a brothel where guests come in, they have their own room,” Aura Dolls’ marketing director, Claire Lee, told CityNews.

“We try to focus on the fact that since we have this service, for men who have these dark, violent fantasies, instead of putting out the urge to act aggressively, they can do something like this which is safe for everyone,” she added.

But not everyone agrees that the use of sex dolls is safe. For one thing, they do not eliminate the risk of diseases. Though the dolls are sterilized, the brothel encourages condom use to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases from one customer to the next.

Forensic criminologist Xanthe Mallett warned in a June 2018 article in The Conversation that “sexbots could be tools to empower some who sexually offend against women and children.”

“[C]reating life-like robots that cannot say ‘no’ and that can be violated and abused without impunity will play into some men’s fantasies. For a small proportion, this may encourage them to enact that abuse on living people as part of an escalation,” Mallett said.

Hannah Gutierrez, mission team manager at the Culture Project, a youth-run organization that promotes virtue, human dignity and sexual integrity, raised additional concerns. Regardless of the level of violence, she said, any misuse of human sexuality promotes ideas of using other people.

“It will perpetuate this idea, and it already does perpetuate this idea, that when it comes to sex… we only see them as good as long as we get what we want,” she told CNA.

“Love should not be this exchange of you do this and I do this,” she further added. “They might get the physical pleasure they may be desired in that, but what they desired more than the physical pleasure is someone to connect with – a human being, a human person.”

She said people should look at sexuality in a healthy and beautiful way – not as a feeling to suppress or of which to be ashamed, but something that must be governed by chastity, to elevate it beyond a mutual exchange of pleasure.  

Chastity, she explained, “gives us…freedom because we are not tied to think that sex is just this exchange of human body parts and pleasure. We are able to love freely because we are not controlled by our sexuality, instead we can channel it to love fully and love freely.”


US bishops continue to respond to Viganò testimony

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 13:50

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 11:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Since Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler first responded Saturday to the former US nuncio's testimony which alleged sex abuse cover-up by the pope and several other prelates, several other US prelates have joined him with statements and planned Masses of reparation.

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

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

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said Aug. 29 that the former nuncio “served his mission with selfless dedication” and that he knew him to fulfill his Petrine mission “at great personal sacrifice and with absolutely no consideration given to furthering his 'career' – all of which speaks to his integrity and sincere love of the Church.”

“Moreover, while having no privileged information about the Archbishop McCarrick situation, from information I do have about a very few of the other statements Archbishop Viganò makes, I can confirm that they are true. His statements, therefore, must be taken seriously. To dismiss them lightly would continue a culture of denial and obfuscation.”

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said Aug. 28 that Archbishop Viganò's testimony “merits, indeed it demands deeper examination and verification of each of its claims.”

He said that while he lacks “personal knowledge or experience” of its details, “I have the deepest respect for Archbishop Viganó and his personal integrity. His claims, yet to be investigated or substantiated, confirm the urgency of a thorough investigation of Archbishop McCarrick’s advancement through the ecclesiastical ranks given his history of alleged abuse, involving seminarians and young people.”

The Oklahoma City archbishop said this moment “calls for a renewed commitment to vigilance, transparency and accountability from our shepherds and indeed for the whole Church. Only prayer, penance and deeper conversion will guide us through this dark period.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois stated Archbishop Viganò “has revealed a set of facts and circumstances that are deeply troubling as they relate to the awareness, actions, and inactions at the very highest levels of the Church.”

He noted that Pope Francis responded to the former nuncio's testimony by saying, “Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this.”

“Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate,” Bishop Paprocki wrote.

“Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered.”

“Toward that end,” the Bishop of Springfield stated, “Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised.”

He also noted his concurrence with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston's call for “a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.”

Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford also referred to the statement of the president of the US bishops' conference, saying, “we all share” a “profound concern” over Archbishop McCarrick's advancement and that “the truth has to be told. Once again I ask God to bring the truth to light and to bring healing and help to all victims of sexual abuse.”

He said history demonstrates “the tremendous storms, both from within and from without, that have threatened to overwhelm the Church.”

“In modern times perhaps we have been lulled into complacency about the power of evil.”

Archbishop Blair quoted St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians: “our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and flood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The Connecticut archbishop said St. Augustine preached about “the scandal of bad shepherds,” warning against both “leaving the Church because of the scandal provoked by wicked shepherds … and putting one's trust in good shepherds instead of Christ.”

“Please pray for strong faith in Christ and his promise,” Archbishop Blair stated. “And please pray for your bishops and priests … I join you in this prayer and I pledge to do my part as a Bishop to unmask whatever has led to our present anguish.”

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison stated Aug. 27 that he too was in solidarity with Cardinal DiNardo's statement.

He went on to “confess my disappointment that in his remarks on the return flight from Dublin to Rome, the Holy Father chose a course of 'no comment'.”

Bishop Morlino stated that he is “deeply convinced of [Archbishop Viganò's] honesty, loyalty to and love for the Church, and impeccable integrity.” He added that the former nuncio had “more than fulfilled” the criteria for credible allegations, “and an investigation, according to proper canonical procedures, is certainly in order.”

Statements from several other bishops, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Cardinal DiNardo, and Bishop Strickland, have been previously covered by CNA.

A number of bishops in the US have also announced Masses of reparation or healing in the wake of the sex abuse crisis.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said a Mass “for the healing of those who have been the victims of sexual abuse by clergy and also by bishops who have attempted to cover up the abuse.”

In his homily, Archbishop Aymond said that “it is time for us to repent. And I promise, as a bishop and your local bishop, your shepherd, I promise not only to pray but to fast. Some things can be driven out only by prayer and fasting.”

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has announced that Archbishop Robert Carlson will say a Mass of Reparation Sept. 7 at his cathedral.

Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland will observe a day of prayer and repentance Sept. 14, during which he will say Mass. He said anger over mishandled cases of sexual abuse of minors is justified, and that “I can think of nothing worse than this incomprehensible abuse and any attempt to cover it up. As your bishop, I am doing penance for the failure of some bishops to act appropriately to protect young people and who have failed in reflecting the holiness and integrity demanded by the Gospel.”

And in Connecticut, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport will lead a Holy Hour with a rosary, followed by a Mass of Reparation and Purification, Sept. 15. He has asked all the priests in his diocese to attend the Mass.

“During this time of trial, we must come together as a family of faith and beg the Lord for forgiveness and to offer reparation for the sins committed by priests, bishops and any member of the Church, especially the depraved sins against children and the vulnerable,” Bishop Caggiano wrote to his priests.

“It is also a time to ask God to heal those who have been wounded by sin, to turn our hearts away from anything that is evil and to renew our commitment to holiness.”

He invited all the faithful “to join me and accompany one another during this time of sadness and anger, and to strengthen one another in our Catholic faith,” and expressed hope that this will be a “first tangible step towards renewing confidence and trust in the Church for many of our faithful.”

Bishop Caggiano also instructed his priests to say the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end of each Mass, before the recessional hymn, beginning Sept. 15.

“Christ has conquered sin and death, but we are still in the midst of a spiritual battle. For that reason, I would like the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel recited,” Bishop Caggiano wrote to his priests.

“I believe that the Church is facing a moment of crisis that demands honesty and repentance from the bishops and decisive action to ensure that these failures will never happen again.”

Seminarians were McCarrick aides amid abuse investigation

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 12:49

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 10:49 am (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Washington has confirmed that seminarians were permitted to serve as assistants to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick while the archbishop was being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of a teenager.

In 2011, McCarrick moved from a parish rectory to a house adjacent to the seminary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), a religious order, in Chillum, Md., within the Washington archdiocese.

According to two former IVE seminarians on campus at the time, McCarrick lived in a separate house on the grounds, which he paid for himself, or at least arranged to have purchased for him.

The IVE initially assigned McCarrick a priest to serve as secretary for him once he was living on the property. Sources confirm that the priest was assigned to live in the house with McCarrick.

Archdiocesan records confirm that priests were given this assignment, and a spokesman told CNA it is likely the archdiocese provided some financial support for the role.
Former IVE seminarians told CNA that McCarrick made significant demands of staff and formators. CNA was told, for example, that despite the austere lifestyle encouraged by the order, McCarrick had his own VIP menu served to him in the refectory, regardless of what the priests and seminarians were eating.
Local formators and superiors of the IVE were, according to CNA’s sources within the order, unhappy with the arrangement, but recognized that the liberal-minded McCarrick functioned as a sort of informal patron for the order, despite its more traditional leanings. McCarrick frequently ordained the order’s priests, in Washington and abroad, and helped them to navigate criticisms from South American bishops, including Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis.

The Institute of the Incarnate Word was founded in 1984 in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela. Buela retired in 2010 amid suspicion of sexual misconduct. In 2016, the Vatican affirmed the veracity of allegations that Buela engaged in sexual improprieties with adult seminarians of his community; the priest was forbidden by the Vatican from contact with members of the IVE, and from appearing in public.

McCarrick’s assistance has been reported to have been especially important to the order as allegations against Buela came to light. But sources say that help came with a price. One source characterized McCarrick’s attitude toward the group as “If you’re grateful, you’ll shut up.”
Eventually, the order withdrew the priest secretary assigned to McCarrick, citing the need for ordained priests to serve in active ministry. In his place, McCarrick arranged to have two IVE seminarians, known as “bedels” in the order, assigned to him.

These seminarians lived with McCarrick in his on-campus house and were responsible for driving him around Washington, accompanying him on trips, and essentially functioning as his personal staff.
It was not, according to seminarians who spoke with CNA, a prized assignment, and the bedels assigned to McCarrick were rotated each year.

One former IVE seminarian told CNA that complaints were raised about McCarrick’s demands – although none of them were sexual in nature – and said the rector warned seminarians to try to remain detached from McCarrick’s “worldly” tastes.
Some of the seminarians were, according to sources, obliged by McCarrick to take him on trips to see friends, including to a beach house, though it is not clear if this was the now much-reported house in New Jersey.

On at least one occasion, McCarrick obliged his bedels to accompany him to a casino, an incident which triggered strong complaints from the seminarians themselves and from their formators, who raised the matter with the order’s leadership in Rome.  

The Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that the archdiocese did not regularly monitor McCarrick’s travel arrangements, and said it was unaware of the extent of the IVE seminarians’ involvement with McCarrick.
McCarrick eventually moved from the IVE property to a retirement home run by an order of religious sisters.
Archdiocesan spokesman Ed McFadden told CNA that McCarrick moved from the IVE campus for health reasons sometime in early 2017. However, a former senior IVE official told CNA that in the summer of 2016, Wuerl told the order he wanted McCarrick to leave his house on the seminary campus.

The source said this was communicated by the Archdiocese of Washington to the seminary rector and the provincial superior of the order.
The source, who had first-hand knowledge of the event, said that Wuerl had previously been very “hands off” about McCarrick’s stay with the IVE, until the summer of 2016, when the IVE was told that Wuerl wanted McCarrick to be “less active and more retired” and to keep a “lower profile.”
The Archdiocese of Washington would not confirm the intervention but said that any discussion in the summer of 2016 between the IVE and the Archdiocese of Washington would have concerned McCarrick’s failing health.

A source familiar with the case told CNA on Aug. 25 that Wuerl was informed in the summer of 2017 that McCarrick was being investigated in New York for an allegation of sexual abuse. The source said that Wuerl communicated directly with McCarrick at that time, encouraging him to withdraw from public ministry. Based on McCarrick’s subsequent travel records and engagements, this request was ignored.

Two IVE seminarians remained assigned to McCarrick after this notification, with the knowledge of the Archdiocese of Washington, until late June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York publicly announced a credible allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenager in the 1970s. Reports subsequently emerged that McCarrick had allegedly engaged for decades in sexually coercive and abusive misconduct with seminarians and priests.

While IVE seminarians did not continue to live with McCarrick following his move, they were still responsible for meeting his daily staffing requirements and traveling with him.

The Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that the IVE was informed of the allegation against McCarrick as soon as it was deemed credible, in June 2018.

McCarrick’s arrangement with the IVE, including the assignment of two seminarians to live with him and act as his personal staff, appears highly irregular in the light of the restrictions Archbishop Carlo Vigano claims were imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI.
CNA previously reported a meeting in which McCarrick was ordered by papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi to leave a different seminary where he had been living. McCarrick moved subsequently into a parish, and from there he moved to the IVE property.

Despite evidence that the archdiocese approved renovations to the parish rectory for McCarrick, and the IVE’s reports that Wuerl intervened to move McCarrick from that property, CNA has been repeatedly told by the Archdiocese of Washington that “Archbishop McCarrick typically made his own housing arrangements and did not directly involve the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Wuerl has also denied being informed of the restrictions reportedly placed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, and in July denied being aware of rumors about McCarrick’s sexual behavior before the New York investigation began.


Ave Maria president denounces 'defiance' of pope by 'conservative Catholics'

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 08:00

Venice, Fla., Aug 30, 2018 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University, said Wednesday that he unhesitatingly supports Pope Francis, in the wake of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's call for the pope's resignation.

Archbishop Viganò, the emeritus apostolic nuncio to the US, alleged that Francis ignored sexual misconduct allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (who resigned from the cardinalate July 28), lifting sanctions on the former Archbishop of Washington which had been imposed by Benedict XVI.

Towey's Aug. 29 statement “regarding the rift within the Church” characterized Archbishop Viganò's testimony as part of a “rift between Pope Francis and some conservative members of the Church hierarchy”, the “battle lines” of which were drawn “five years ago shortly after the Pope ascended to the chair of Saint Peter.”

Towey quoted the pope's 2018 apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, in which Pope Francis criticized "false prophets, who use religion for their own purposes, to promote their own psychological or intellectual theories. God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises.”

Affirming that God is full of surprises, the university president asserted that “the call for the Pope’s resignation by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is not one of them. Neither is the challenge to the Pope’s authority by Raymond Cardinal Burke, an American prelate who has consistently opposed the direction Pope Francis has led the Church on certain matters.”

Towey also speculated that Cardinal Burke “may still be smarting” from his 2014 removal as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

Towey stated that the timing of the release of Archbishop Viganò's testimony seemed to be meant “to inflict the maximum damage possible to the Pope’s credibility, and the choreographed chorus of support by others in league with them, was just as troubling.”

“Contrary to the popular narrative, most conservative Catholics are not following suit and embracing their defiance, and certainly not on our campus,” he added.

Towey said Ave Maria University is known “for our unqualified fidelity to the Church”, which he said “we do … not because we are conservative (we are) but because this is the requirement of discipleship. This explains why our students love Pope Francis and support him wholeheartedly.”

Noting that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter, who “bears the anointing of the Holy Spirit”, Towey said that “conservative Catholics may legitimately disagree with Pope Francis’ take on everything from the environment and capitalism, to marriage and family.”

He called such “dissent” healthy “when properly channeled and respectfully communicated.”

“But when Church dissent becomes openly hostile and rebellious, and some members of the hierarchy assert their opinions as if they were elected pope instead of Francis, faithful Catholics like our students will rally to the Supreme Pontiff’s defense,” Towey asserted.

Towey added that “we forgive” Francis, who “has admitted that he failed in his own response to the clergy sex abuse scandal and its cover-up.”

He also said that Francis “wasn’t the only one to be charmed by now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick,” saying that “Saints John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta also knew Cardinal McCarrick personally and were deceived by him, too.”

Towey said that “personal attacks against the Vicar of Christ and calls for his resignation are wildly divisive and patently wrong … at a time when the Church is roiled by scandal occasioned by so many within the hierarchy.”

“Those so-called conservative Catholics who now challenge the Holy Father’s legitimate authority and openly undermine his papacy, are betraying their own principles and hurting the Church they profess to love. They should stop now,” Towey maintained.

Among the US bishops, Archbishop Viganò's testimony has received a mixed response.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago found it “astonishing,” and called for a “thorough vetting of the former nuncio’s many claims...before any assessment of their credibility can be made.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark expressed “shock, sadness and consternation at the wide-ranging array of allegations...which cannot be understood as contributing to the healing of survivors of sexual abuse,” and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego called the former nuncio's words a “distortion.”

By contrast, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler said that while Archbishop Viganò’s claims have not been investigated and are “still your shepherd I find them to be credible.”

Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa said Archbishop Viganò's allegations “mark a good place to begin the investigations that must happen in order for us to restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church.”

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City both also called for an investigation of Vigano’s claims, and both have affirmed their respect for the former nuncio.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said the former nuncio “served his mission with selfless dedication” and “at great personal sacrifice and with absolutely no consideration given to furthering his 'career' – all of which speaks to his integrity and sincere love of the Church.”

“Moreover, while having no privileged information about the Archbishop McCarrick situation, from information I do have about a very few of the other statements Archbishop Viganò makes, I can confirm that they are true. His statements, therefore, must be taken seriously. To dismiss them lightly would continue a culture of denial and obfuscation.”

Towey, who dismissed Archbishop Viganò's testimony as "personal attacks against the Vicar of Christ," has served as president of Ave Maria University since 2011.

When he was named president of the university, he told the National Catholic Register that his bishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, “twisted my arm a little bit when I was discerning to take the job.”

Archbishop Viganò wrote in his testimony that Cardinal Wuerl knew of McCarrick's misdeeds: “I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it.”

Ed McFadden, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA that Wuerl categorically denies having been informed that McCarrick’s ministry had been restricted by the Vatican.

The bishops on the board of trustees of Ave Maria University are Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice in Florida, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

O’Malley is mentioned by Viganò’s testimony, which said that the cardinal’s “latest statements on the McCarrick case are disconcerting, and have totally obscured his transparency and credibility.”


Catholic judge defends death penalty sentence on theological grounds

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 18:39

Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug 29, 2018 / 04:39 pm (CNA).- A Catholic judge in Ohio who recently sentenced a man to death defended his decision on both legal and theological grounds.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker sent convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland to death row Aug. 28, agreeing with a jury’s recommendation of capital punishment.

Kirkland, 49, was convicted of killing three women and two teenage girls. He has been serving a life sentence for two of the adult murders, while the death sentence was handed down for killing a 13- and 14-year old girl.

“As a person who morally believes in the sanctity of life, to judge another to determine if the imposition of the death penalty is appropriate is not a duty I take lightly,” Dinkelacker said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

He stressed the rule of law, saying without it, “those not able to protect themselves become prey for those like Kirkland.”

“I took an oath to follow the law and I will do that,” the judge said, according to Fox 19 Now. “To do otherwise, is morally, legally, philosophically and theologically wrong.”

But Dr. Kevin Miller, a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, suggested that following the law does not require the use of the death penalty.

“Prosecutors in Ohio are never obliged by state law to request – and judges are never legally obliged to impose – the death penalty,” Miller told CNA.

He explained that the Church has taught since John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae in 1995 that the death penalty can only be justified when it necessary to defend society. Evangelium Vitae states that “as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

“Pope Francis has strengthened that part of the teaching,” Miller said, adding that there is still room for prudential judgement while taking into account these principles.

However, he cautioned, “A prudential judgment can’t be a simply arbitrary one. It has to be based on a reasonable reading of the evidence. It’s hard for me to see why the ones made by the prosecutor and judge in this case should be regarded as a reasonable reading of the evidence.”

Earlier this month, Pope Francis approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to say that “the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

Reasons for changing the teaching, the new Catechism paragraph says, include the increasing effectiveness of detention systems, growing understanding of the unchanging dignity of the person, and leaving open the possibility of conversion.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters, also a Catholic, pursued the death penalty in the Kirkland case and argued that the Vatican stance was misguided.

Fr. Paul Mueller, superior of the Jesuit community at the Vatican observatory, wrote a letter to Deters earlier this month, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Mueller and Deters attended the same high school.

“I am disappointed, embarrassed, and scandalized that you, not only a Catholic but also a fellow alumnus of St. Xavier High School, have used the platform of your public office to oppose and confuse the moral teaching of the Church in so open a fashion,” Mueller wrote.

“As Prosecutor, you are obliged to enforce civil law. But as a Catholic, you are obliged to endeavor to conform your own mind and heart to the higher moral law and help others in their efforts to do the same – not to undermine their efforts. The teaching of the Church is clear: in defending society against evil, it is morally unacceptable to make use of the evil of the death penalty.”

Deters defended his position, saying it was his job to protect society from evil in the world.

According to local media, Deters called Kirkland “a homicidal piece of garbage” who had shown no remorse and would kill more people if he was not executed.

Miller objected to the claim that execution was necessary to prevent Kirkland from further killing.

“It seems unlikely that there is much evidence that this is true,” Miller said. He pointed to low prison rates in Ohio, as well as the fact that Kirkland had been in jail for more than nine years without killing anyone during that time.

Kirkland’s defense attorney plans to appeal the sentence. The attorney had asked for life in prison without the possibility of parole, arguing that Kirkland had suffered from severe physical, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as mental illness, and should be shown mercy.

Cupich says interview edited unfairly

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 18:24

Chicago, Ill., Aug 29, 2018 / 04:24 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Chicago said Wednesday a recent television interview was edited in a way that inaccurately portrayed him.

"An NBC Chicago TV report that aired Monday night was edited in such a way that gave the false impression that Pope Francis and I consider the protection of children to be less important than other issues, such as the environment or immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth," Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in an Aug. 29 press release.

The cardinal was interviewed by Chicago NBC 5 reporter Mary Ann Ahern, about an Aug. 25 testimony published by a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano. That testimony alleged that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich’s appointment as Archbishop of Chicago in 2014.

"The edited report created the false impression that my comment that the pope should not 'go down the rabbit hole' of the allegations in the Viganò letter was about sexual abuse. As the unedited footage shows, it was not," he added.

The entirety of the paragraph in which Cupich referenced a "rabbit hole" is as follows: "But for the Holy Father, I think to get into each and every one of those aspects, in some way is inappropriate and secondly, the pope has a bigger agenda. He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this."

After airing a story containing portions of its interview with Cupich, NBC 5 published five videos which contain more footage of Ahern’s conversation with Cardinal Cupich. For clarity, CNA has transcribed those videos.


Transcipt of Cardinal Blase Cupich interview on Vigano

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 17:03

Chicago, Ill., Aug 29, 2018 / 03:03 pm (CNA).- On Aug. 27, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago was interviewed by Chicago NBC 5 reporter Mary Ann Ahern, about an Aug. 25 testimony published by a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano. That testimony alleged that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich’s appointment as Archbishop of Chicago in 2014.

After airing a story containing portions of that interview, NBC 5 published five videos which contain more footage of Ahern’s conversation with Cardinal Wuerl. For clarity, CNA has transcribed those videos.

Video one:

NBC: Does the pope need to tell Catholics exactly what he knew about Cardinal McCarrick and when he first knew it?

Cupich: Well I think that the Holy Father on the airplane had exactly the kind of answer that was needed.

He was asked about the letter of the Archbishop Vigano. He said he read it. He encouraged the media to read it carefully and to come to their own conclusions. And that he would not have any final statement - any other statement on it. I think what he was signaling is two things; the first is that, you have to see whether or not these remarks stand up to scrutiny.

There are so many things in there that he says about so many people that it’s impossible to try to get into the weeds on this. And he [the pope] trusts the media to use their skills, their expertise, and, he said, their maturity to explore these questions.

For instance, look at the language of the letter and compare it to the language that’s in these websites and news outlets that released the document. There’s so many parallels there in terms of the kinds of things that they’re attacking the Holy Father and other people about. The other is look at, look at- look at these things that were said on an individual basis.

That’s why I clarified it. I offered a statement that addressed the three areas that he said about me. I suspect others are going to be doing the same thing.

So the news media now needs to go and press him for information. I read the Washington Post and other major newspapers and their first line always is, he’s made these accusations but offered no proof. Let’s let the news media do their job here.

But for the Holy Father, I think to get into each and every one of those aspects, in some way is inappropriate and secondly, the pope has a bigger agenda. He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.

NBC: But, does there also need to be an independent investigation from top to bottom of who knew what when?

Cupich: Oh, in fact, you know the president of our bishops’ conference has already called for that weeks ago in saying that we need to know what happened here of how he was promoted, what happened in terms of McCarrick, but also we need to find out what happened in Pennsylvania. Let’s not overlook that. Let’s not let this letter take us away from the fact that there was something flawed in the way that the Charter, which should have been followed from 2002 on, was implemented. We have done it here in Chicago, and we’re proud of it. I’m deeply disappointed and somewhat angry that there were people in another state, in another jurisdiction, that were not doing the things that we promised to do. We should hold each other accountable and we need an independent review of that too.

NBC: By an independent review, would that be Lisa Madigan and the attorney general’s office? (ed note: Lisa Madigan is Illinois’ attorney general)

Cupich: Well, no no no. Independent review of what, nationally, has happened. I think, for instance, we need to call on lay people who are skilled to find out what happened.

Now, with regard to Lisa Madigan and the attorney general, we talked this morning. And I assured her of our full cooperation. I said, “First of all, we don’t mind at all because they have all our documents anyway. We turned them over in ‘14 and ‘15. We also have all the names of people who have any credible accusation against them through our review board that have been released to the officials. So we’re - The only thing I said is that if we’re going to move in this direction, let’s make child protection the priority. It’s not just about the Catholic Church. Let’s look at all the agencies and institutions that deal with children on a day-to-day basis because we’re seeing in the newspapers every day inappropriate behavior in various institutions, schools systems and so on, with regard to child safety. So let’s make sure that everybody who deals with children opens their files and their records . . . (video cuts off)

Video 2:

NBC: So does the rule that those who knew but did nothing, or perhaps worse - it is worse - covered if up, does that apply to everyone? For instance, if the pope knew something, some time ago, about these allegations, should he resign?

Cupich: Well I think that my answer to that would be very simple. My experience with the pope is that as soon as he knows about something, he acts on it. As soon as he’s given evidence about this, he acts on it. Let’s remember the accusation of Archbishop Vigano is that this information was known under the pontificate of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But who was the one who took action? It was Pope Francis. When Pope Francis received the report from Cardinal Dolan, who did his job in accord with our Charter, he acted right away. So I think that the record shows that whenever there’s actionable information, Pope Francis acts.

NBC: Does that same rule apply to you?

Cupich: Oh well, I think that yes, I think that my record shows that I have acted. I’ve been in three dioceses now and if you look at the newspaper reports in Rapid City and Spokane about my handling of situations. And here in the archdiocese, even when there’s adult misbehavior by clerics. We’re public about it. We have been all the time. We’ve always put out information to parishes. So I’m fairly - I’m very sure that we have always followed those procedures.

NBC: So you did have a critical role as the chairman of the committee protecting children. Wouldn’t an allegation involving a bishop or a cardinal, including McCarrick, wouldn’t that have come to your attention?

Cupich: Yes, if somebody made it, it would have come to my attention. I can say that when I was chairman, and I have never had any knowledge of this ahead of time about this about this, I surely would have acted. For instance, he was invited to various events in the Church, life of the Church, that I attended with. If I had known that he was abusing people, either adults or children, I surely would have acted on it. That’s the way I have always done things.

So I think that - I think that it’s - but, you know, somebody told me something very interesting. They said, you know, there’s this business of grooming victims by predators. They kind of get them in a position. But the psychologist told me there’s also grooming of people around him or her, so that they are put in such a position that they can never, ever believe that something like that is true.

But you have that in your own industry. You have people who have been news anchors and heads of communications systems who have for years abused people and they have created this atmosphere that nobody would ever believe any rumor and so nobody acted on it. So I think that it is part of the illness, but also part of the clever tactics of abusers to build that scenario around themselves.

Video 3:

NBC: When did you become aware of the McCarrick allegations?

Cupich: Well after- right when, uh - right when the decision, I think I had a few days ahead of time that it was going to be announced, that it was going to be announced. And that’s - at the time, at the time that when the decision was made by the Holy See that to have him not only removed from public life as a cleric, but also to make it public, I was told that.

NBC: So, because of Archbishop Vigano’s claims that McCarrick had lobbied for you.

Cupich: Yeah.

NBC: I know you responded by a statement, but what do you say to that?

Cupich: Well, I would say - first of all - I’ve been appointed by three popes. Not just by Francis. I was appointed in 1998 by John Paul II, 2010 by Benedict XVI. It’s not as though I just fell out of the sky.

I worked at the Vatican embassy in the ‘80s, I was the rector of the pontifical seminary, the only pontifical seminary in the United States, so it’s not as though I was a newcomer. People knew me in Rome, and so on. I don’t think that I needed one person to be my advocate and I believe that- I believe that the pope wanted someone who was pastoral, as he said, and I was a candidate that he looked at seriously.

NBC: Were you involved in choosing Cardinal McCarrick for the Catholic Extension St. Francis Award?

Cupich: Yeah, I was consulted about that and I agreed to it and, in fact, had I known any of this I surely wouldn’t have. I think that’s a good indication that I didn’t have prior knowledge. I surely wouldn’t choose somebody that had that kind of record behind them and, and yes I was.

NBC: So those allegations, then, did not - they weren’t common knowledge, as some have suggested.

Cupich: No, they were not to me. I mean, if they were common knowledge, I don’t know who had that information. Maybe on the East Coast, where he was, on a day-to-day basis, but I surely did not know that. And I wouldn’t be so stupid and foolish as to allow him to be recognized by Catholic Extension, which does enormously good work, and have their reputation threatened if I knew this information about him.

Video 4:

NBC: Is this the Catholic Church's #MeToo scandal with adult clergy in positions of power not just abusing children but adults like seminarians who are subordinate to them?

Cupich: Right. Mary Ann, you are hitting the nail on the head, because this is not about sex. It’s about power and clericalism. That’s what has to change in the life of the Church, and that’s what the pope is talking about.

But let’s also be clear that people who want to make this about sex, in terms of homosexuality and all the rest of it, are a diversion from the real issue that we need to attack in the life of the Church. And that is that there are some people who believe that they are both privileged and protected. That has- that wall has to come down.

Any institution, like the Church or other larger institution, that have that kind of insular protection for their members, always gets in trouble. I have told other people that I’ve talked to, who have asked me to come to talk about the issue from their own perspective of kind of a lay clerical culture in their industries, is that if you circle the wagons when you have an issue, you’re gonna end up circling the drain. And that’s what’s happening.

Video 5:

NBC: Is there a Catholic civil war underway? I mean, today you would think the headlines are so-

Cupich: Well, I would say, I would say not a civil war. There’s a small group of insurgents, who have not liked Pope Francis from the very beginning.

They don’t like the fact that he’s calling for more lay involvement. They don’t like the fact that he is calling for a synodal Church, where we get the advice of people. They don’t like that he’s talking about the environment or the poor or the migrants or that the death penalty is something that we should outlaw. They don’t like the fact that he is saying that economies kill. There are people who don’t like that message. And so there’s an insurgency of people who don’t like that. And, quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino and that he is bringing Latino culture into the life of the Church, which we have been enriched by and I think that that’s part of all of this too.

NBC: When’s your next visit to Rome and do you believe that all of these issues - Archbishop Vigano, Cardinal McCarrick, the grand jury - will this something that will be discussed between you and the pope?

Cupich: I don’t think so. I’ll tell you why, because I know that the president of our conference is going to be going to Rome, as he said, to talk to the pope. He represents our conference. I’m consulted from time to time by our conference leadership and directly by the Holy See and I stand ready to do my part.

But let’s be clear, I think it’s important right now, in view of the letter that was issued today by the president of our conference, that this is not on the pope’s plate to fix. This is on us.

We, as the bishops’ conference of the United States, obviously need to look at what went wrong here and hold each other accountable. So before we give the pope another task to do, let’s look at what we’re supposed to do. What’s on our agenda to fix this? That’s where the failure is.


CNA's Kate Veik transcribed this interview.


Circuit court upholds 'In God We Trust' on currency

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 16:55

St. Paul, Minn., Aug 29, 2018 / 02:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The phrase “In God We Trust” does not violate the Constitution, a circuit court of appeals ruled on Aug. 28.

The 3-0 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota came in response to an action brought by a group of 29 atheists and supporters. They contended that the national motto “In God We Trust” appearing on currency was a violation of the First Amendment clause against the establishment of a state religion and a violation of their freedom of speech.

Tuesday’s decision upheld a lower court ruling from December 2016. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar decision upholding the constitutionality of the phrase in May 2018, in which the use of the motto on currency was not deemed to be compelled speech.

Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender said that putting “In God We Trust” on currency did not establish a religion, and that it “comports with early understandings of the Establishment Clause.” Further, Gruender said, the motto appearing on money also did not constitute compulsory religious practice and was therefore not a constitutional violation.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Michael Newdow, who represented the atheists and atheist groups, said in an email to Reuters that Tuesday’s decision was “utterly revolting.”  

In addition to attempting to remove “In God We Trust” from currency, Newdow has also litigated attempts to remove the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. He was not successful in that effort.

“In God We Trust” was made the country’s national motto in 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law. The phrase had appeared on currency since 1864, and appeared on paper money about 100 years later.


Continued Hurricane Harvey recovery aided by Catholic Charities grant

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 15:46

Corpus Christi, Texas, Aug 29, 2018 / 01:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Hurricane Harvey victims still need recovery assistance one year later, and Corpus Christi Catholic Charities aims to continue its services thanks to a $1 million grant.

“Catholic Charities understands that without assistance survivors can sink into a spiral of non-recovery, especially vulnerable populations,” Kevin Branson, executive director of Corpus Christi Catholic Charities, said Aug. 27. “We need to walk with them throughout the recovery journey.”

Thousands of families still need assistance.

The storm dropped about 27 trillion gallons of water in Texas and Louisiana in August 2017. More than 12,000 homes were completely destroyed and 200,000 were damaged. Nearly 500,000 vehicles were ruined and many business buildings were damaged as well, the Catholic Charities affiliate said.

An estimated 738,000 people have requested assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Catholic Charities USA awarded the long-term recovery grant of just over $1 million. The grant comes from funds through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ second collection.

Yiyi Dean, the grant writer and administrator for Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, said the grant could help hurricane victims address multiple needs.

“We will only see clients by appointment and go through the person or family’s situation on a case-by-case system,” Dean told the Corpus Christi Caller Times. “But it can be for something like crisis therapy, helping young adults go to school or home reconstruction.”

The Catholic Charities affiliate serves 12 counties in Texas’ Coastal Bend area. Other services include emergency aid, family and individual counseling, housing counseling, immigration services, disability services, and rural outreach.

The affiliate is a member of Catholic Charities USA, the official domestic disaster relief agency of the U.S. bishops, which itself is a member of Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s international confederation of human development and disaster relief agencies.

Pittsburgh priest: Catholics angered by abuse reports deserve a hearing

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 05:01

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug 29, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics who are demoralized, angered, or scandalized by revelations about sex abuse must feel free to talk to clergy and other Catholics, and other Catholics must reach out to them, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh has said.

“I would invite those who are wavering to be open about their concerns – their anger, their frustration, their questions – so that someone can respond to them,” Father Nicholas Vaskov, executive director of communications for the Pittsburgh diocese, told CNA.

“I would also encourage them to stay close to God in prayer so that he can hear their calls to him and respond with his compassion and love.”

Father Vaskov, who is also administrator St. Mary of Mercy parish in downtown Pittsburgh, reflected on the tendency of some people scandalized by abuse allegations to stop going to Mass. He encouraged Catholic clergy and laity to “be patient with those who are scandalized by the reports.”

“Listen attentively as they share what is on their heart,” he said. “I would also suggest that clergy and laity reach out to those who they know are particularly troubled by what they have learned. Thoughtful conversation can be such an effective way to process what is troubling us.”

On Aug. 14 a Pennsylvania grand jury released its report claiming to have identified more than 1,000 victims of 300 credibly accused priests from 1947 to 2017 across six Pennsylvania dioceses. It presented a portrait of efforts by Church authorities to ignore, obscure, or cover up allegations, either to protect accused priests or to spare the Church scandal.

Approximately two-thirds of the accused priests have died. Due to laws regarding the statute of limitations, nearly every abuse allegation cannot be criminally prosecuted, although two indictments have been filed. One priest named in the report was convicted of sexually assaulting a student in the early 1990s.

Before the report’s release, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh confirmed that some of the priests named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report into sexual abuse remain in active ministry, but stressed that none faced substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse.

Responding to the report, Zubik emphasized that “the Diocese of Pittsburgh today is not the Church that is described in the grand jury report,” and that “it has not been for a long time.” Data from the diocese showed that more than 90 percent of abuse incidents took place before 1990.

The bishop apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse and to “any person or family whose trust, faith and well-being has been devastated by men who were ordained to be the image of Christ.”

The Catholic response is ongoing. The grand jury report could affect the future of Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, a previous Bishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl is already a center of controversy as critics ask what he knew of allegations of sex abuse and sexual exploitation against his predecessor, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

On Aug. 20 National Public Radio and its member stations had sought comment from listeners, asking, “Have you stopped going to Mass as often, left your church or left the Catholic faith entirely because of these revelations or ones that were previously reported?”

Pittsburgh-area couple Andy and Courey Leer were among those who had responded to NPR about their reaction.

“So it goes beyond just the priests and their superiors,” Courey, 31, told NPR. “It leads me to question entire Catholic communities. Who knew what? And not only why didn't they expose them, but, how long have people been turning the other way?”

Courey attended part of  Mass with her two-year-old daughter after the report was released but they didn’t stay.

“I think a part of me was thinking I’m going to go to Mass and I’m going to get an okay to leave and not come back,” she said. “And of course that’s not going to happen. Part of me just wanted someone to say ‘we really messed up, it’s all on us, and you guys use your own moral discretion to decide what's best because we have no moral authority’.”

According to NPR, she said the priest acknowledged the report and “offered little more than prayers.” She stood up with her daughter and left after the homily.

“And I’m thinking ‘is this our last Mass?’ And it’s hard. I can’t fathom when she’s eight years old saying ‘no we don't go to church, sorry you can't receive Communion, even though your mom and dad did, your grandparents did, you don't get to do that’.”

The Leers told NPR that they will miss the sacraments, community dinners, and the music ministry. They said they want to see Church leaders push for more investigations into sex abuse in dioceses around the country.

“They don’t need to be worried about our spirituality right now,” said Andy, 32. “They need to be worried about dealing with the corruption, and dealing with the priests that are out there that need to answer for what they've done, and the people that have potentially covered up and withheld information.”

Andy, 32, was a teenager when decades-old claims against his priest, Father Joseph Pease, surfaced. He thought the “bad apple” had been removed. He later watched the movie “Spotlight,” about sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston, but he said the issue “doesn't really hit until it’s in your backyard.”

The Leers said they don’t know what it will take for them to go back to church.

Father Vaskov cited his experiences with churchgoers who went to Mass in the wake of the latest news. He thought there was an upturn in attendance for the Aug. 15 feast of the Assumption, a holy day of obligation which came a day after the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

He also reflected on what churchgoers told him, such as one woman at Mass last Sunday.

“She said that while it was difficult for her to go, she knew that she couldn’t be anywhere else because it is only in the Eucharist that we can be renewed,” the priest said. “Another conversation with a recent convert to the Catholic faith revealed the depth of his love for Christ and His Church and his desire to stay close to the sacraments when he felt his frustration was getting the better of him.”

Fr. Vaskov said that in response to the abuse scandals, many parishes had organized holy hours, days of Eucharistic adoration, discussion groups, and listening sessions. He said he has had “beautiful moments” praying with people for “strength in their lives and in the lives of those who have been harmed by abuse.”

“I have also had some very fruitful conversations with parishioners, friends and strangers over the past weeks because they were willing to open up about their concerns,” the priest said. “That doesn’t mean that every issue is resolved or every suffering is healed, but it is the beginning of an important discussion that needs to happen.”

Participation in Mass on Sundays is “at the heart of the Church's life”, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, and “participation … in the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church.”

By attending Sunday Mass the faithful together “testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” according to the Catechism.

Participation in the sacrifice of the Mass is the means by which “we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life” and render worship to God.

The Catechism adds that “the institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.”

Father Larry Adams, a priest at St. Ursula’s Church in the Pittsburgh diocese, told NPR that he understands the frustration of his fellow Catholics, but the struggle to confront abuse is why he became a priest.

“To a certain extent. I’m kind of a ‘spotlight’ priest — the movie Spotlight,” he said. “When this broke, (it) was kind of the time when I was discerning what my vocation would be. And in a certain way, what has formed me is the desire to be part of this Church, and be part of the solution.”

Catholic Charities school supply giveaway brings joy to Virginia families

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 02:27

Arlington, Va., Aug 29, 2018 / 12:27 am (CNA).- For the third year in a row, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia has given away free school supplies for children in need, ages 5-17.

This year’s giveaway was held on Aug. 24 at Catholic Charities’ food pantry Christ House in Alexandria, and began with a prayer led by Bishop Michael Burbidge, followed by a meal. Backpacks filled with supplies were then handed out to the students by Burbidge and Catholic Charities president and CEO Art Bennett.

The backpacks, prepared by volunteers, were stuffed according to the specific grade level of each child, with high schoolers receiving supplies such as three-ring binders, protractors and spiral notebooks while elementary students received supplies such as crayons, glue sticks and pencil pouches.

Each child also received a gift card to Payless shoe store as well as snacks and water.

“We really care about these families who come to Christ House,” Bennett told The Arlington Catholic Herald. “This event makes a real difference for them. And it brings children and parents - and us - a lot of joy. We want to help parents help their kids feel excited about school and ready to go right out of the gate. That happens here.”

This year, 130 students received school supplies through the giveaway.

Lashay Bailey, who attended the event with her seven children, told the Herald that the giveaway was “a blessing” and “means a lot. We’re going through a tough time right now.”

Junice Talbert, a single mother of three, came to the event to pick up a backpack for her 5-year-old son who is starting kindergarten.

“You spend so much for everything and, as a single mom, it’s hard to also pay for these supplies,” she said. “The prayers help a lot sometimes; it’s really stressful.”

The giveaway was funded by the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria and individual donors through Christ House, the St. Lucy Food Project and the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP).

Catholic Charities in Arlington provides the region with a myriad of services, including a food pantry, emergency financial assistance, crisis pregnancy counseling, foster care, refugee resettlement services and other programs and ministries.

After controversy, Calif. bishop to put planned retirement home up for sale

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 21:01

San Jose, Calif., Aug 28, 2018 / 07:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A 73-year-old bishop in California has changed his retirement plans after media reports sparked criticism of his decision to purchase a five-bedroom home for $2.3 million in California’s overheated housing market.

While Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose said the purchase made economic sense as a good investment, he said he “erred in judgment” to purchase the house.

“I failed to consider adequately the housing crisis in this valley and the struggles of so many families and communities in light of that crisis,” he said Aug. 27. “I have heard from many on this topic and I have decided that I will not move into this house.”

The diocese will put the house up for sale “as soon as possible” and any profits will go to Charities Housing, under Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

“I assume full responsibility for this decision and I believe that the sale of the house is the appropriate action. I thank those who have advised me,” he said.

The 3,300 square-foot home sits on one-third of an acre in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood.
The bishop first considered living in a diocese-owned house on cemetery property, but the retrofitting would have been too expensive.

Liz Sullivan, communications director for the Diocese of San Jose, told CNA the renovation’s exact costs are not certain but the return on investment would not be good, “since few people would choose to live in a cemetery.” The house’s future would have been uncertain after the bishop left.

“The bishop is in good health for a man of 73, but a single-level house was desirable because of the stairs,” Sullivan added.

McGrath said the Diocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors approved the home purchase which later became a matter of controversy.

“I agreed with them that in economic terms the purchase of the home made sense in terms of financial return on investment,” said the bishop.

The median sale price of a home in the city is now over $1 million, compared to a California-wide home price of $600,000, a record high as of May 2018, Business Insider reports. In the last year, the median sale price of San Jose homes increased by 24 percent ($210,000), the real estate site Trulia reports.

The bishop, who became head of the Diocese of San Jose in 1999, said when his retirement planning began he wanted to stay in the diocese.

“This has been my home for nearly 20 years,” he said.

Under policy set by the U.S. bishops’ conference, the Diocese of San Jose is responsible for paying the bishop’s housing and upkeep when he retires.

McGrath said the home was purchased using a fund dedicated to housing retired bishops and using proceeds from the sale of a Menlo Park condominium where his predecessor, Bishop Pierre DuMaine, had lived before he moved into assisted living.

“The fund is a fund that can be used for nothing else,” the bishop said. “When I’m not around anymore, the house can be sold. It’s a good investment in that sense. It probably makes more money this way than if it were in the bank.”

One McGrath critic said that the house purchase “seems very inappropriate.”

“Our diocese is greatly underfunded as it is,” said the parishioner, who asked the Mercury News not to be identified to avoid harming relationships with other Catholics.

The Mercury News’ report cited Bishop McGrath’s own advocacy for affordable housing, such as a 2016 commentary piece backing a $950 million bond measure for affordable housing.

In his initial remarks, McGrath said he had looked at places “way out in the East Bay,” but he liked the valley.

“I thought it would be nice to be here, to be of assistance if I can,” he said.

The bishop has not announced a retirement date, though he has asked the Holy See permission to retire before the required retirement date of 75 years to allow a younger man to become bishop.

Bishop Oscar Cantú, 51, was named Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose in July; as such, he will succeed as Bishop of San Jose upon Bishop McGrath's retirement.

The retiring bishop had looked forward to a house with a yard.

“I like to putter around in the garden,” McGrath said. “So I think it would be good for me.”

McGrath acknowledged to the Mercury News that many retired clerics live in retirement communities, in rectories, or in other accommodations.

“But I’d like to live in a house so I would have the freedom to help the diocese but not disturb the priests in the rectories,” he said.

Cupich dismisses Viganò claims as a 'rabbit hole'

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Review Board calls for lay investigation of all misconduct claims

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did retired McCarrick live after alleged Vatican sanctions?

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Vigano testimony receives mixed response from US bishops

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 18:13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 13:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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