Pope Francis on Monday spent the morning in a meeting with the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia. This occurs several times a year and there are usually no Vatican statements following those meetings.
Yesterday, as you know, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI to respond to growing secularism. In a note about this feast, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote: “In 2018, the Church faces pressures from without and crisis from within. In addition to the challenges that Christians in a secular society must confront, the body of Christ must also tend to the wounds inflicted on the Church by priests and bishops who either committed acts of sexual abuse themselves or failed to respond to abuse with justice when they had the opportunity.”
Relative to the sex abuse scandal, over the weekend in Rome, the Vatican announced that an organizing Committee has been instituted in view of the February 21-24 meeting in Rome on this crisis. Pope Francis named Cardinals Blase J. Cupich, of Chicago and Oswald Gracias of Bombay (India), Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, President of the Center for the Protection of Minors at the Gregorian University as leading members. The meeting will include bishops, men and women religious and lay experts in the field.
Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke said: “The February meeting is unprecedented” and “shows that Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church.”
While many episcopacies already have guidelines for disciplining priests guilty of sex abuse, little exists on how bishops are to be held accountable or disciplined. It is hoped this will be a focus of the February meeting. Currently only the Pope may discipline bishops, although in a May 2010 update of Church child abuse laws, Benedict XVI gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the authority to judge cardinals and bishops, as well as priests and deacons.
Following are comments on that February 2019 meeting by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. Scicluna worked for many years at the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and headed its clerical sex abuse section. Pope Francis recently appointed him adjunct secretary of the CDF while maintaining his position as archbishop of Malta. Abp. Scicluna was assigned by the Pope earlier this year to look into the cases of reported clerical sex abuse in Chile, reports that convinced Pope Francis that he had been wrong in his earlier estimates of stories told by sex abuse victims as not being believable.
ANGELUS: POPE FRANCIS RECALLS UKRAINE HOLODOMOR FAMINE
Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered the man-made famine that struck Ukraine in 1932-1933 and the anniversary of the event that occurred on Saturday.
The famine is known as “Holodomor” in Ukrainian, which means “to kill by starvation”.
Pope Francis called it “a terrible famine instigated by the Soviet regime which caused millions of people to die.”
Though the final death toll is unknown, most estimates put the number of people killed between 3.3 and 7.5 million, most of whom were ethnic Ukrainians.
Vatican City State is one of 16 countries to consider Holodomor an act of genocide carried out by the Soviet government.
“The image is painful,” the Pope said. “This terrible wound of the past is an appeal for all people to ensure that these tragedies never happen again.”
Pope Francis invited the faithful to pray for Ukraine “and for its long-sought-after peace.” (By Devin Watkins – vaticannews)
CARDINAL O’MALLEY: “FEBRUARY MEETING WILL BE AN IMPORTANT MOMENT”
Cardinal O’Malley, President of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, says he is grateful for the announcement of the formation of an organizing committee in view of the February meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and President of the Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors, says he is grateful for the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a commission to prepare for the February meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.
Who proposed the February meeting?
Cardinal O’Malley disclosed in the statement that the “proposal” for the February meeting “was developed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was reviewed by the Council of Cardinals and subsequently accepted by the Holy Father”. He is both pleased that Pope Francis has called for the meeting and he says he looks forward to participating in it.
Role of the Pontifical Commission
The Cardinal explained that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is an “advisory body to the Holy Father, making recommendations on best practices for the universal Church for education and prevention programs regarding the crime of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults”. In view of this mission, he said that the Commission will be a resource for the committee in its work of preparing for the meeting in February. The Commission’s regularly hosts face to face meetings with survivors and newly appointed bishops, he said. This practice provided the Commission with the inspiration that “calling the bishops to Rome for a similar high-impact meeting would be very important in addressing the clergy abuse crisis globally”.
Commitment to zero tolerance
Cardinal O’Malley calls the meeting in February “a critical moment for the universal Church in addressing the sexual abuse crisis”. Diocese around the world will then be part of “developing a clear path forward” toward the implementation of the Church’s zero tolerance policy. He reiterated that the “support and pastoral care of survivors” is the Church’s first priority.
He concluded his statement saying: “This is a life-long journey that is now part of the fabric of the Catholic family and requires a partnership between the laity and clergy in responding to the failures of episcopal leadership by holding bishops accountable for the crimes against children and vulnerable adults.”
ABP SCICLUNA: PROTECTION OF MINORS IS A GLOBAL, SYNODAL ISSUE
Newly appointed to the organising Committee for a February meeting of Church leaders from around the world, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna says he hopes the Church will begin to take a global approach to protecting minors and confronting clerical sexual abuse.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)
In an exclusive interview with Jesuit periodical America, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta described the upcoming meeting as “the beginning of a new approach that I hope will be global, because it concerns the whole Church.” But, he continued, “it will also have a very important local context, because safeguarding is not something up-there, it has to be lived in every parish, in every school, in every diocese.”
A new phase
With the announcement on Friday of an organising Committee, preparations for February’s summit on the protection of minors in the Church has entered a new phase. In addition to Abp Scicluna, the organising Committee is composed of Cardinals Blase Cupich and Oswald Gracias, and child protection expert Father Hans Zollner, SJ.
In the interview with America, Abp Scicluna emphasised the importance of the upcoming meeting, which he called “quite significant,” precisely because it involves bishops from around the world, coming together in dialogue with Pope Francis, in order “to get them on the same page with the Holy Father.”
A crisis in how we approach ministry
Archbishop Scicluna described the main goals of the meeting as making bishops “realise and discuss together the fact that the sexual abuse of minors is not only an egregious phenomenon in itself and a crime, but it is also a very grave symptom of something deeper, which is actually a crisis in the way we approach ministry.” In this context, Abp Scicluna placed accountability in the context of good “stewardship,” and described the cover-up of abuse which has plagued the Church as “the antithesis of stewardship.”
We have to move away from panic-driven policies that put the good name of the institution above all other considerations,” he said, noting that “in the end, those policies do reputational damage to the institution; they are actually also counterproductive.”
At the top of the Church’s agenda
Archbishop Scicluna said that the February summit meeting was called by Pope Francis precisely because “he realises that this issue” – the issue of abuse of minors in the Church – “has to be at the top on the Church’s agenda.” Pope Francis, he said, realises that this is a “global issue which the Church would want to approach with a united front, with respect for the different cultures, but with a united resolve, and with people being on the same page.”
The February meeting, Abp Scicluna said, will send an “important message” that “the prevention of abuse and protection and safeguarding of our children and young people is not a question only of the bishops; it is a synodal issue. It is something that involves the whole Church and everyone in the Church around the world; it concerns one and all.”