CIVILTA CATTOLICA: BACKGROUND ON PROTECTION OF MINORS MEETING

CIVILTA CATTOLICA: BACKGROUND ON PROTECTION OF MINORS MEETING

At yesterday’s press conference to introduce and explain the upcoming February 21 to 24 meeting on the Protection of Minors, interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti suggested that two articles about the meeting written by Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi and published in the Jesuit Magazine, Civilta Cattolica, bear reading (or re-reading) in an effort to understand the clerical sex abuse scandal, how to protect minors and what went into organizing the February meeting:

Here is a link to the December 19, 2018 piece: PREPARING THE MEETING OF BISHOPS ON THE PROTECTION OF MINORS: https://laciviltacattolica.com/preparing-the-meeting-of-bishops-on-the-protection-of-minors/

And a link to the January 22, 2019 piece: CHILD PROTECTION FROM AWARENESS TO ENGAGEMENT: https://laciviltacattolica.com/child-protection-from-awareness-to-engagement/

Advertisements

“THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN IS WRONG ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME: THIS POINT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE” – DIGITAL PRESS KIT FOR THE MEETING ON THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

As I post this column, Pope Francis is attending the second of three days of meetings of the C9 Council of Cardinals who are his advisors. He usually attends both the morning and afternoon sessions but will preside, as previously scheduled, tomorrow’s weekly general audience.

Three of the original nine are no longer members: Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo. On December 12, 2018, the then papal spokesperson Greg Burke told journalists in a briefing that Pope Francis sent letters to each of them at the end of October to thank them for their service to the Council of Cardinals over the last five years.

No new members have been named.

“THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN IS WRONG ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME: THIS POINT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE”

Statement by Major Superiors of Religious Orders and Congregations prior to the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome UISG / USG
#PBC2019

As the meeting on safeguarding and protection of minors begins we, the Major Superiors of Religious Orders and Congregations around the world, unite in support of this initiative of Pope Francis.

In our work as religious, we come across many situations where children are abused, neglected, maltreated and unwanted. We see child soldiers; the trafficking of minors; the sexual abuse of minors; the physical and emotional abuse of minors. They cry out to us. As adults, as Christians and as religious we want to work so that their lives are changed and that the situations in which they are brought up are improved.

The common theme across all of these issues is vulnerability. Children are the most vulnerable in our societies. Children who are poor, who are disabled or destitute or who are on the margins, who belong to lower social classes or castes may have a particular vulnerability. They are considered dispensable, to be used and abused.

Sexual abuse in the Church
This particular meeting focuses on the sexual abuse of children and the abuse of power and conscience by those in authority in the Church, especially bishops, priests and religious. It is a story stretching back for decades, a narrative of immense pain for those who have suffered this abuse.

We bow our heads in shame at the realisation that such abuse has taken place in our Congregations and Orders, and in our Church. We have learned that those who abuse deliberately hide their actions and are manipulative. By definition, it is difficult to uncover this abuse. Our shame is increased by our own lack of realisation of what has been happening. We acknowledge that when we look at Provinces and Regions in our Orders and Congregations across the world, that the response of those in authority has not been what it should have been. They failed to see warning signs or failed to take them seriously.

TO CONTINUE: http://www.internationalunionsuperiorsgeneral.org/statement-prior-meeting-protection-minors-rome-uisg-usg/

DIGITAL PRESS KIT FOR THE MEETING ON THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

At yesterday’s press conference, it was announced that a Digital Press Kit for members of the media had been created by the organizing committee specifically for the upcoming four-day meeting on the clerical sex abuse scandal and the Protection of Minors that opens Thursday, February 21.

It is an amazing volume of the type that would ordinarily be prepared as background material for a huge event in the life of the Vatican, the Roman Curia and the media – an event such as a conclave to elect a new Pope. It thus seems that this is how all of us – we in the media and you our readers, radio listeners and TV viewers – are to consider this week’s meeting.

As I browsed through the kit yesterday, and began a serious reading today, I came to realize why so much time had passed between the announcement of this meeting in September and the actual start of the meeting this month. This had been a huge criticism about the meeting when the dates were announced, and I had tweeted: “The house is on fire and the firemen will be here in February.”

The work of many people and a great deal of time went into this press kit: it was obviously not something that was done – or could have been done – overnight.

The same goes for the official website – http://www.pbc2019.org – and the twitter account @pbc2019

If you are truly interested in what this meeting intends to do, is doing and what it will achieve in reality, you’ll want to stay tuned to the website and twitter account, in addition to the vaticannews.va page where daily press briefings will be streamed.

The Digital Press Kit is divided into 9 chapters that embrace Background on the Meeting on the Protection of Minors, Official Curial or Papal Documents, Timeline of the Church’s Response both on the Local and Universal Levels, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and General background regarding how cases of sexual abuse of minors by a deacon, priest or bishop are processed in the Church.

The final chapters are titled Safeguarding Boards and Guidelines by country, Experts by Country, Articles and Interviews in various languages and A look at Child Abuse on the Global Level.

We read about the three themes for the first three days off meetings, themes desired by Pope Francis: 1) Responsibility, 2) Accountability, 3) Transparency. Each of these themes will be articulated in three presentations. Each presentation will focus on the theme as it relates to: the person of the bishop and his responsibilities; the relationship of a bishop with other bishops; the relationship of the bishops with the People of God and society. The presenters were chosen so that a variety of continents, cultures and situations in the Church could be represented.

Please click here to access a list of the presentations and the presenters: http://www.pbc2019.org/conference/presentations

http://www.pbc2019.prg is the pofficial website for the protection of minors meeting.

There will be a brief time for questions and answers at the end of each presentation. Then the participants will meet in their language groups to discuss the presentation(s). Each group will formulate a brief summary of their discussion to be shared with the assembly in the evening.

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON FEBRUARY MEETING TO PROTECT MINORS – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON FEBRUARY MEETING TO PROTECT MINORS

The Holy See Press Office released the following communique this morning:

“The organizing committee of the meeting for the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican February 21-24, 2019 in the New Synod Hall, met in Rome on Thursday, January 10. At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the committee who proceeded to update him on the preparation of the meeting. It includes plenary sessions, working groups, common prayer moments with listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy and a final Eucharistic celebration. Pope Francis assured his presence for the entire duration of the meeting.

“The Holy Father entrusted Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. with the task of moderating the plenary sessions of the meeting.”

The ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, issued the following statement about that communiqué:

“The February Meeting on the protection of minors has a concrete purpose: the goal is that all of the Bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors. Pope Francis knows that a global problem can only be resolved with a global response. The Pope wants it to be an assembly of Pastors, not an academic conference – a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.

“It is fundamental for the Holy Father that when the Bishops who will come to Rome have returned to their countries and their dioceses that they understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims, and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried.

“Regarding the high expectations that have been created around the Meeting, it is important to emphasize that the Church is not at the beginning of the fight against abuse. The Meeting is a stage along the painful journey that the Church has unceasingly and decisively undertaken for over fifteen years.”

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

Continuing his weekly general audience catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis today began by noting “we now reflect on its very first words: ‘Our Father’. Saint Paul’s letters testify that the earliest Christians, guided by the Holy Spirit, prayed using the Aramaic word for ‘father’ that Jesus himself had used: ‘Abba’. “

“At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, then,” Francis told the faithful in the Paul VI Hall, “we hear an echo of the voice of Jesus himself who teaches the disciples that to pray is to share in his own intimate and trusting relationship with the Father. The parable of the prodigal son shows us most vividly how Jesus wants us to understand our heavenly Father and his infinite love, mercy and forgiveness.”

The Holy Father explained that, “Indeed, there is also something maternal about this love of the Father that accompanies and nurtures the development of our new life in Christ as his adoptive sons and daughters. All the newness of the Gospel, and the very heart of our prayer as Christians, is in some sense summed up in the one word: ‘Abba’. Even in the most difficult times in our lives, may we never be afraid to turn in trust and confidence to the Father, praying in the words that Jesus taught us: ‘Abba’, ‘Our Father’.”

Following the English-language summary of the papal catechesis, Francis welcomed the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, noting especially “groups from Korea and the United States of America. In the context of the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I address a special greeting to the students of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. My cordial greetings also go to the student priests of the Pontifical American College. On all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

VATICAN RELEASES MESSAGE FOR 52ND WORLD DAY OF PEACE – VATICAN ASKS BISHOPS TO MEET WITH SURVIVORS OF ABUSE BEFORE FEBRUARY MEETING

VATICAN RELEASES MESSAGE FOR 52ND WORLD DAY OF PEACE

Today the Vatican released the papal message for the 52nd World Day of Peace on the theme “Good politics is at the service of peace.” This world day takes place every year on January 1, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

In his message, Francis begins by stating “Peace be to this house!”

“In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: ‘Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you’,

“Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history. The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.”

Francis reflects on the role of “good politics at the service of peace,” saying those who hold political office must exercise their office in service to others, basing their work on the foundation of charity and human virtues.

At the same time, Pope Francis warns of the vices that can afflict politics, including corruption, xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the environment, and contempt for exiles. “ The Pope encourages politicians to “foster the talents of young people and their aspirations” in order to promote peace, noting that “Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.”

The Holy Father repudiates a politics of intimidation and fear, and denounces “the uncontrolled proliferation of arms.” Peace, he insists, is based on respect for each person… respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment” as well as “the moral tradition inherited from past generations.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis says that peace “is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings.” But, he says, “it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew” – a challenge that “entails a conversion of heart and soul.”

Read the message here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20181208_messaggio-52giornatamondiale-pace2019.html

VATICAN ASKS BISHOPS TO MEET WITH SURVIVORS OF ABUSE BEFORE FEBRUARY MEETING

The Vatican Tuesday released a note about the February 2019 meeting for the protection of minors that will bring together heads of the world’s Episcopal conferences. Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke underscored the importance of the note, saying: “The organizers are urging participants to meet with victim survivors in their own countries before coming in February. This is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened. The meeting on the protection of minors will focus on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

The Note read:

“The organizing committee for the meeting for the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February, 2019, has made steady progress in preparations for the gathering. A letter sent today regarding those preparations exhorts all participants to follow the example of Pope Francis and meet in person with victim survivors before the Rome summit.

The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened,” the letter says. “For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.” Such personal encounters are a concrete way of ensuring that victim survivors of clerical abuse are first and foremost in the minds of all at the February gathering as they come together “in solidarity, humility, and penitence” to move forward in addressing the abuse crisis.

In addition, the letter includes a brief request for information to be used for internal preparation for the meeting. The meeting will focus on three main themes of responsibility, accountability, and transparency as participants work together to respond to this grave challenge.”

JFL: Pope Francis himself has met with abuse victims. He met a group in Dublin, following the World Meeting of Families in August. During the in-flight press conference on the way back to Rome, the Pope said he had felt it was important to “listen” to those involved and, as a result, to be able to “ask for forgiveness” at the public Mass. Earlier this year, in January, at the nunciature of Santiago de Chile, Pope Francis met another group. On that occasion he both prayed and cried with them. In April and again in June, he received several people who had suffered abuse as minors in Chile, at the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives. A note from the Vatican Press Office confirmed that those present were encouraged to speak for as long as they felt necessary. There are meetings that are made public, and others that are not. (vaticannews)

 

 

ANGELUS: POPE FRANCIS RECALLS UKRAINE HOLODOMOR FAMINE – CARDINAL O’MALLEY: “FEBRUARY MEETING WILL BE AN IMPORTANT MOMENT” – ABP SCICLUNA: PROTECTION OF MINORS IS A GLOBAL, SYNODAL ISSUE

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.”

UPDATE: FEBRUARY VATICAN MEETING ON CLERICAL SEX ABUSE, PROTECTION OF MINORS – INTERVIEW WITH HANS ZOLLNER, S.J., PRESIDENT OF CENTER FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

UPDATE: FEBRUARY VATICAN MEETING ON CLERICAL SEX ABUSE, PROTECTION OF MINORS

From Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke today:

“The February meeting is unprecedented, and one that shows Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church.

This is about keeping children safe from harm worldwide. Pope Francis wants Church leaders to have a full understanding of the devastating impact that clerical sexual abuse has on victims.

The meeting is primarily one for bishops – and they have much of the responsibility for this grave problem. But lay men and women who are experts in the field of abuse will give their input, and can help address especially what needs to done to ensure transparency and accountability”.

In addition, the following information was published in the today’s press office bulletin:

The Holy Father has designated as members of the organizing committee for the meeting on the protection of minors in the Church to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February 2019: Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago (USA); Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India) and President of the Bishops’ Conference of India; the Most Reverend Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and the Reverend Hans Zollner, S.J., President of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, whom he has named contact person for the committee.

Taking part in the meeting, at which His Holiness will be present, will be the Heads of the Oriental Catholic Churches; the Superiors of the Secretariat of State; the Prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Oriental Churches, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Clergy, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life; and of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences; and representatives of the Union of Superiors General and of the International Union of Superiors General.

Involved in the preparatory work for the meeting will be, among others, Dr Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary for the Section for Life, and Dr Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary for the Section for the Lay Faithful of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and some victims of abuse by members of the clergy.

INTERVIEW WITH HANS ZOLLNER, S.J., PRESIDENT OF CENTER FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, President of the Center for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University speaks about the preparatory work of the organizing Committee for the February meeting on the protection of minors.

An organizing Committee for the meeting next February in the Vatican on the protection of children in the Church has been established. The Holy See Press Office released a statement on Friday announcing this decision on the part of Pope Francis.

Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano interviewed Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, the contact person of the committee, and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

What is the Committee’s goal?
Everything needs to be prepared. And in order to prepare everything well, there needs to be someone to shoulder the burden. The meeting in February is an important event; it’s very important for the Church. It is necessary that it be prepared well, and that it involve all of the Episcopal Conferences right away. Information, reflections, the spirit of prayer and penance and proposals for new concrete action needs to be shared immediately. It is necessary that the awareness of a synodal journal be shared — cum Petro et sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter). We must do everything that we can, as the Holy Father said in his letter to the People of God “to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated”. Organizing the meeting well will help to put together the analysis, the awareness, the shame, the repentance, prayer, and discernment regarding actions to be undertaken and decisions to be made in justice and in truth.

Because of this, the consultations that we will have with victims, with groups of experts, with the laity, with educated men and women is also important. This work will be done together with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Cardinal O’Malley, of which I am also a member.

Concretely, what will you do from now until the February meeting?
In concrete terms, the Committee will take care of preparing for next February’s meeting in logistic terms as well as in terms of content, according to the directives given by the Holy Father. In view of this, we will be sending a questionnaire to those invited to participate. It is important that there be a sharing of experiences, of the difficulties as well as of the possible solutions to face this terrible scandal. It seems to us that, even by proceeding in this way, the synodal dimension which Pope Francis has called for so many times, will be expressed.

What structure will the February meeting take on?
The structure provides for the freest and most fruitful encounter possible. And at the same time, one that must be prayerful and reflective, of analysis and proposals. So that the meeting might be fruitful, as I have already said, we believe that it is very important that there be a consultation phase, which we will launch soon. The Holy Father has assured that he will be present at the work sessions during the meeting, something that will recall the synodal experience.

Will there be preparatory material?
Certainly one of the Committee’s tasks is that of preparing base documentation for the participants so that February’s meeting might be set within the journey accomplished so far.

Where does the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors fit in with respect to this new Committee?
There will be a close collaborative rapport. I think the fact that I, a member of the Pontifical Commission, was named to coordinate the activities of the organizing Committee demonstrates precisely this and emphasizes, on the Holy Father’s part, the recognition of the work done up till now by the Pontifical Commission. In addition, the Committee will make use of the Commission in the consultative phase that I spoke of earlier, which will be fundamental in order to adequately prepare the meeting in February.

Some are saying that the expectations for the February meeting are too high. What do you think the Pope expects from this meeting?
We are aware that there are high expectations, and it is understandable that this is so, given the gravity of the scandal that has shocked and wounded so many people, believers and non-believers, in so many countries. As the Holy Father wrote in the letter to the People of God, “we feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.”

The Holy See reiterated this clearly: “Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable.”

And the Holy Father has convoked the meeting in February – an unprecedented decision – precisely because he is aware that the protection of minors is a fundamental priority for the Church, for its mission, and not only for its credibility. For this reason, he wants the encounter between the presidents of episcopal conferences and the other participants in the meeting to be free, without conditions, animated by prayer and by a spirit of parresia (frankness, boldness) which he has particularly at heart.

USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK – ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE – POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

The following column was prepared yesterday but my computer died – or was in a comatose state – before I finished writing and editing so could not post it. All is well today, at least so it seems, so here is the news from November 13 and a bit on today’s general audience with Pope Francis.

Among the offerings I had for yesterday was a penetrating piece by the Register’s Matthew Bunson on the request by the Vatican that the USCCB, as they meet in their fall assembly, delay any vote on further action in the clerical sex abuse issue, especially their plan to propose standards of conduct for bishops and how bishops might be disciplined or punished if in violation of those standards. This was to be the centerpiece of the November meeting. The Vatican asked that the bishops delay these proposals until the February 2019 meeting that Pope has called for in Rome for all the heads of Episcopal conferences throughout the world to address the abuse scandal

Two interesting pieces of news from November 13 from the Holy See Press Office

1. The Pope named Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while remaining archbishop of Malta. For years he worked at the CDF before becoming an archbishop and he has been the Pope’s point man on important cases regarding clerical sex abuse. You might recall that Francis sent Scicluna earlier this year to Chile to investigate allegations of clerical sex abuse. The Pope had called the allegations ‘calumny’ but when Scicluna presented a massive report backing those who were abused, the Holy Father, in all humility, did an about-face, saying he was wrong and also “part of the problem.” Chile’s bishops came to Rome for a meeting and resigned en masse but the Pope has so far only accepted a small number of those resignations.

2. The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis, welcoming the invitation of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and of the (nation’s) bishops will undertake a trip to Morocco on March 30-31, 2019, visiting the cities of Rabat and Casablanca. The program will be published in due time

USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK

Matthew E. Bunson (National Catholic Register)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened its Fall Assembly in Baltimore Monday with an agenda of prayer and deliberations on dealing with bishop accountability in the face of the scandal surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The agenda lasted only a few minutes before being upended by the announcement that no votes would be taken on several key items of reform at the request of the Holy See.

The decision by the Holy See – specifically the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops under its prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet – asked the bishops not to vote on a new “Code of Conduct” for bishops and the creation of a lay-led board to investigate accusations of misconduct against bishops. The news came as a complete surprise to virtually all of the bishops in attendance, even as it raises significant questions about the prospects for finding solutions to the clergy sex abuse crisis and the McCarrick scandal and signals a blunt rejection of the U.S. bishops.

Some might even go so far as to describe the Vatican’s decision and its timing a deliberate act of humiliation of the U.S. bishops at a time when they are trying in good faith to grapple with the greatest crisis in the history of American Catholicism.
“Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.”

The U.S. bishops were only a few minutes into their morning session when the conference’s president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, gave the news to his disbelieving brother bishops. The decision, he told them, was at “the insistence of the Holy See” and had been delivered to him only the night before the start of the fall meeting.

The surprise and anger were palpable in the room in the Marriott hotel in Baltimore, and Cardinal DiNardo himself went on to express his own disappointment.

“Brothers,” he said, “I am sure that you have concerns about this, as I do myself. Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.” In an address to the conference that had to be altered by the shocking news, Cardinal DiNardo stressed, “We remain committed to the program of episcopal accountability. Votes will not take place, but we will move forward.”

He again apologized to the victims of abuse and pledged to go forward.
In a news conference just a few hours later, he again urged Catholics to understand there is no lessening of their resolve.

“We have accepted these events [of the Holy See request],” he said, “we’ll keep pushing and moving until we get to a point until it becomes action. We are not happy.”

He explained further that the demand of the Holy See had come in the form of a letter from the Congregation for Bishops. The stated reason, the cardinal explained, was that the Holy See desired all votes on new measures related to the crisis be delayed until after the February meeting in Rome that Francis has called. That gathering will bring together the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences to discuss the global sex-abuse crisis.

While the stated reasons are defensible enough, the request short-circuited months of preparations by the officials of the U.S. bishops’ conference and the genuine desire of the bishops in Baltimore to take highly anticipated concrete steps both to make progress in the crisis but also to try and regain some of the credibility that had been lost in a summer of scandals, attorneys general reports and simmering anger among the faithful over disgraced Archbishop McCarrick. The shocking events also completely overshadowed what was supposed to be one of those steps in restoring credibility: a day of prayer and penance.

The original plan was to devote most of the first day to prayer and to hearing from abuse victims, as well as reflections on the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9, on sackcloth and ashes, and the great reformer St. Charles Borromeo who was willing to face assassination to bring authentic renewal to his archdiocese of Milan in the 16th century.

The day of prayer, penance and adoration followed by deliberations and votes was potentially doubly significant.

First, it would have anchored the subsequent deliberations in a proper spiritual context, tying the important reality of institutional reform to the need for a corresponding authentic spiritual reform. Second, it would have served as a first step toward the planned longer and presumably deeper reflection, prayer and penance in January that will take place at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.
Francis and Synodality

The notion of prayer had one additional facet. During their September meeting with Francis, Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president of the USCCB, expressed their desire for the Holy See to launch a full investigation into the McCarrick scandal.

In reply, Francis encouraged them to cancel the fall assembly and have prayer and penance. The bishops took to heart the Pope’s suggestion but then also pushed ahead with the debate and vote on the plans to deal with the crisis. It was a compromise with the Pope’s recommendation, a down payment on the week of prayer in Chicago in January and a first step of offering the Catholic faithful a tangible set of proposals for the future.

The vote itself would have benefited from the credibility of action. They had a plan entering the assembly, and while it might not have been perfect and perhaps might not have passed the critical eye of the Congregations for Bishops and the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was something the bishops could point to as a first concrete and transparent step.

Francis, however, wanted days of prayer and no votes. He apparently got his wish. But after asking frustrated and angry Catholics — many victims included — to wait for years for the bishops to begin holding themselves accountable, the idea of waiting months longer might seem intolerable to many. The Congregation for Bishops saw potential problems with the bishops’ proposals and acted firmly but with also painful timing.

To the bishops, of course, there is the requirement of obedience to the Vicar of Christ. At the news conference Monday, Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, the outgoing head of the Bishops’ Committee on Communications, both emphasized the importance of obedience.

Bishop Coyne said in answer to a question on why not just vote anyway, “Bishops by our very nature are collegial. … We work in union with each other to come to a collegial place. So when the Holy See asks us to work in collegiality, that’s what we do.”

Cardinal DiNardo added, “We are Roman Catholic bishops in communion with our Holy Father in Rome and he has people in Vatican congregations, and we are responsible to him to be attentive. Given that attentiveness, of faith, when we receive this letter we respond.”

The demand of the Holy See and the response of the bishops also exemplified another major issue, one that also emerged out of seeming nowhere during the Synod on Youth: synodality. From the closing days of the synod to the first day of the bishops’ meeting, the definition of synodality has been debated and interpreted.
In his morning address, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, taught, “Pope Francis asks us to be a synodal and humble Church. A Church that listens. We need to listen once more to the voice of Christ.”

Synodality means, as the nuncio stressed, listening. It has also been described as a journeying together. Was what happened on Day One in Baltimore a moment of synodality or were the U.S. bishops treated to the sheer raw exercise of power?
When asked if he saw the action of the Holy See as synodal, Cardinal DiNardo described it as “quizzical,” theorizing that the Congregation for Bishops might have considered the U.S. bishops to have been too hasty in crafting their proposal.
“I’m wondering if they could turn the synodality back on us,” he added. “My first reaction was, ‘This didn’t seem so synodical.’ But maybe the Americans weren’t acting so synodically either. But it was quizzical to me, when I saw it.”

Over the next days, the bishops will discuss the most important approaches to the crisis, and while there may not be a vote, the bishops will likely have plenty to say. Look for a final statement and a series of resolutions to salvage something from the disastrous news that began their journey together in Baltimore. Will the road ahead continue to be a long and tortured one? Will Pope Francis be listening?
Pray for our bishops and pray for our Holy Father.

ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE

November 13, 2018 Tuesday
Dear Brothers Bishops in the US,
I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.
I am fasting and praying for you.
+Arch. Carlo Maria Viganò Your former Apostolic Nuncio
November 13, 2018 Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

In his continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, the Pope during his General Audience reflects on the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”.

In his Catechesis devoted to the eighth commandment, Pope Francis told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday that Christians are called to be “truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others.” Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the Pope said that, “our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth.”

Where there is a lie there is no love

When a person is not communicating authentically, underlined the Pontiff, it is a serious matter because it inhibits relationships and therefore inhibits love. “Where there is a lie, he continued, there is no love. ”

Beware of Gossip

Gossiping, Pope Francis pointed out, kills. It kills, he explained, “because the tongue kills, like a knife.” Be careful, the Pope added, the gossip “is a terrorist because he or she throws a bomb and leaves.” “Christians are not exceptional men and women, said the Pope, “we are, however, children of our heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint us, and places in our hearts the love for our brothers and sisters.”

God is truth

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” he stressed, means living as children of God, acting in accordance with his will and trusting in him. “It bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord. “I trust God”, concluded Pope Francis, “ this is the great truth.”

Here is the official English language summary of the Pope’s catechesis at the General Audience on 14th of November 2018:

Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now turn to the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this commandment “forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others” (No. 2464). We are called to be truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others. Our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person (cf. Jn 14:6), who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). In the mystery of his life, death and resurrection, he disclosed the deepest meaning of our life on earth, and invited us to share in his divine life. His gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, enables us to become adoptive sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and to dwell in his love as brothers and sisters. The eighth commandment bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord.