POPE FRANCIS ON FRENCH ABUSE REPORT: “TO YOU, LORD THE GLORY, TO US THE SHAME” – TRUE FREEDOM FLOWS FROM THE CROSS OF CHRIST – VATICAN TRIBUNAL ORDERS FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN FRAUD TRIAL – VATICAN ABUSE TRIAL: COURT CLEARS FORMER ALTAR BOY AND EX-YOUTH SEMINARY RECTOR OF CRIMES

There is such a quantity of important news today that I barely know where to start. There are reports about two trials being held in the Vatican as well as words spoken by Pope Francis at today’s general audience about a report from France on decades of sex abuse by clergy.

The general audience catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians continued with a remarkable text on freedom, based on Paul’s writings, from the Holy Father. I’ll start with the general audience and work my way through the Vatican trials.

POPE FRANCIS ON FRENCH ABUSE REPORT: “TO YOU, LORD THE GLORY, TO US THE SHAME”

Following his weekly general audience catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and summaries in diverse languages given by monsignori who work in the Secretariat of State, Pope Francis, obviously feeling pain and sadness, spoke of the just-released report on sex abuse cases in the Church in France:

 “Yesterday, the French Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of French men and women religious received received the report from the independent commission on sexual abuse in the Church, charged with assessing the extent of the phenomenon of sexual assaults and violence against minors from 1950 onwards.  “Unfortunately,” lamented the Holy Father, “this resulted in considerable numbers. I wish to express to the victims my sadness and my pain for the traumas they have suffered and my shame, our shame, my shame, for the inability of the Church for so long to put them at the center of her concerns, assuring them of my prayers.

“And I pray – and we all pray together: ‘To you Lord the glory, to us the shame’: this is the moment of shame. I encourage the bishops and you, dear brothers who have come here to share this moment, I encourage the bishops and religious superiors to continue to make all efforts so that similar tragedies do not happen again. I express closeness and paternal support to the priests of France in the face of this trial, which is difficult but healthy, and I invite French Catholics to assume their responsibilities to ensure that the Church is a safe home for all. Thank you.”

TRUE FREEDOM FLOWS FROM THE CROSS OF CHRIST

Today’s general audience took place in a jam-packed Paul VI Hall, to the obvious delight of the many pilgrims and visitors present for the weekly gathering with the Holy Father. It was pouring rain outside but the hall was warm and sunny with miles and applause as Pope Francis continued his catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. (Vatican photo)

“We now consider the Apostle’s teaching on Christian freedom,” Francis began. “Freedom is a treasure that is truly appreciated only when it is lost. For many of us who are used to being free, it often appears to be an acquired right rather than a gift and a legacy to be preserved. How many misunderstandings there are around the topic of freedom, and how many different views have clashed over the centuries!”

“For Paul, that freedom is a gift, the fruit of our new life in Christ. Through baptism, we have been freed from our bondage to sin and freed for a life of generous love in obedience to the Gospel.”

“Above all,” the Holy Father emphasized, “St. Paul’s teaching about freedom is positive. The Apostle proposes the teaching of Jesus that we find in the Gospel of John as well: ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’. Therefore, the call is above all to remain in Jesus, the source of truth who makes us free. Christian freedom, therefore, is founded on two fundamental pillars: first, the grace of the Lord Jesus; second, the truth that Christ reveals to us and which is He himself.”

Francis explained that, “The second pillar of freedom is the truth. In this case as well, it is necessary to remember that the truth of faith is not an abstract theory, but the reality of the living Christ, who touches the daily and overall meaning of personal life. How many people there are who have never studied, who do not even know how to read and write, but who have understood Christ’s message well, who have this freedom that makes them free.”

“The truth that Christ brings is in fact truthfulness about ourselves. Our journey along the path of Christian freedom is not easy, but guided and sustained by the love of the Crucified Lord, and by his liberating truth, we will find our ultimate fulfilment in accordance with God’s saving plan.”

VATICAN TRIBUNAL ORDERS FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN FRAUD TRIAL

A Vatican tribunal, which in July this year indicted 10 people, including Sardinian Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, of embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among the charges, today agreed with defense lawyers who, at a hearing on October 5 said the defendants had been deprived of their full rights and the trial should either end or re-start the investigations.

The tribunal today ordered prosecutors to turn over evidence that had not been heretofore seen by the accused, including a videotaped recording of a key witness, a monsignor who worked for the Secretariat of State whose statements led to a number of the indictments.

Only Cardinal Becciu of those indicted was present today among the magistrates and journalists in the courtroom.

At the October 5 hearing, the prosecutor basically admitted to procedural errors and, in a surprise move, instead of asking that the trial be declared null and void, admitted willingness to essentially start over by turning over the requested documents and video recordings.

The trial began on July 27..

At that first hearing, tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone had ordered the consignment of all of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s recordings by August 10. However, the magistrates said that they would not comply with that order saying there was a risk that undue disclosure of the files audio and video that would have “irreparably compromised the right to privacy of people involved.”

Those recordings will now be turned over to the defense team. All remaining materials must be turned over by November 3 and the trial will resume on November 17.

A July 3, 2021 Vatican statement explained that, “The investigations, launched in July 2019 following a complaint by the Institute for the Works of Religion and the Office of the Auditor General, involved full collaboration between the Office of the Promoter and the Judicial Police Section of the Gendarmerie Corps. The investigations were also carried out in close and fruitful cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome and the Economic and Financial Police Unit – G.I.C.E.F. of the Guardia di Finanza of Rome. The cooperation of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Milan, Bari, Trento, Cagliari and Sassari and their respective judicial police sections was also appreciated.

“Elements also emerged against Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is being prosecuted, pursuant to the law, for the crimes of embezzlement and abuse of office, also in collaboration, as well as subornation.”

Subornation is inducing someone to commit an unlawful act or to commit perjury.

In its summary of the tribunal statement today, L’Osservatore Romano wrote: “(tribunal president) Pignatone ordered the partial restitution of documents to the promoter of Justice for the defendants: Monsignor Mauro Carlino, for all the crimes ascribed; Enrico Crasso, for some crimes; Tommaso Di Ruzza, former rector of the Financial Information Authority (Aif), for some offenses; Raffaele Mincione, Nicola Squillace and Fabrizio Tirabassi for all crimes ascribed. For Cardinal Becciu, on the other hand, a new interrogation will be carried out limited to the offenses of subornation (an attempt to get retractions from Perlasca) and peculato (payments of amounts drawn from the funds of the Secretariat of State to the Spes Coop Social cooperative, represented legally by his brother Antonino).

This trial is the result of the investigations begun in 2019 concerning financial malfeasance linked to the purchase of a London property by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The purchase is reputed to have involved use of monies such as Peter’s Pence – intended only for papal charities – and that eventually led to enormous losses for the Vatican, including questionable fees paid to brokers for the various transactions.

VATICAN ABUSE TRIAL: COURT CLEARS FORMER ALTAR BOY AND EX-YOUTH SEMINARY RECTOR OF CRIMES

(CNA) – The Vatican tribunal cleared a priest who formerly served as a papal altar boy and the ex-rector of a Vatican-based youth seminary of crimes on Wednesday.

Defendant Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, 29, was acquitted of charges of violent sexual assault alleged to have taken place at the Pius X pre-seminary. The school’s former rector, 72-year-old Fr. Enrico Radice, was cleared of charges of cover-up.

The ruling came at the end of a year-long trial for alleged abuse at the Pius X pre-seminary, a residence in Vatican City for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.

The Vatican announced in May that Pope Francis had decided to move the pre-seminary outside of Vatican City State beginning in September

At the last hearings on July 15-16, the Vatican’s prosecutor had asked judges to sentence Martinelli to eight years in prison, with a reduction to four years, and to sentence Radice to four years in jail.

Tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone handed down the decision on Oct. 6. The court said that Martinelli could not be punished for crimes while he was a minor (in Vatican law, before his 16th birthday), clearing him of charges of abuse before Aug. 9, 2008.

For accusations of sexual violence from Aug. 9, 2008, to March 19, 2009 (the period before the alleged victim turned 16 years old and was no longer a legal minor), the court said the sexual acts “were proven in their materiality,” but lacked certainty that they were coerced.

In this case, the tribunal continued, the acts would constitute a different crime, “the corruption of minors,” but the statute of limitations had lapsed by four years when the lawsuit was filed in 2018.

The religious group Opera don Folci, which runs the pre-seminary and is overseen by the Diocese of Como, was a defendant in a civil suit regarding the abuse charges.

No decision in the civil suit was announced on Oct. 6.

Attorneys for the defendants, agreeing with the ruling on Oct. 6, said that “there were very many doubts” about whether the alleged crimes took place.

 

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

More piercingly insightful words from the ever clear and insightful Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, as he cites the clear teaching of Pope emeritus Benedict on the sex abuse crisis:

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

– Sandro Magister

Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.

SARAH

Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason – he explained – is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”

Cardinal Sarah continued:
“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.

“I would therefore like us this evening to allow ourselves to be enlightened by this demanding and luminous thought of his. How could we summarize the thesis of Benedict XVI? Allow me to simply cite him: ‘Why has pedophilia reached such proportions? In the final analysis, the reason is the absence of God.’ This is the architectonic principle of the entire reflection of the pope emeritus. This is the conclusion of his long argumentation. This must be the starting point of every investigation of the scandal of sexual abuse committed by priests, in order to propose an effective solution.

“The crisis of pedophilia in the Church, the scandalous and distressing multiplication of abuse has one and only one ultimate cause: the absence of God. Benedict XVI summarizes it in another formula that is also clear. I quote: ‘It is only where faith no longer determines the actions of man that such crimes are possible.’

“The theological genius of Joseph Ratzinger here touches not only upon his experience as pastor of souls and as bishop, as father of his priests, but also upon his personal, spiritual, and mystical experience. He goes back to the fundamental cause, he allows us to understand what the only way can be for getting out of the frightening and humiliating scandal of pedophilia. The crisis of sexual abuse is the symptom of a deeper crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of the sense of God.”

TO READ FURTHER: http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2019/05/20/cardinal-sarah-endorses-the-“notes”-of-pope-benedict-“martyr-for-the-truth”/

VATICAN INSIDER: A PAPAL DOCUMENT ON NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

VATICAN INSIDER: A PAPAL DOCUMENT ON NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

Welcome to another edition of Vatican Insider on this beautiful weekend when we celebrate Mother’s Day. Congratulations to all who are mothers and grandmothers and godmothers and everyone who is in some way a mother’s helper!

This weekend, instead of an interview, I have prepared a special for you on the just released Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis, a motu proprio on new norms for the entire church on sex abuse cases. The special presentation is taken from an explanation of the motu proprio by the editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications, a piece featured on the Vaticannews site. When you think of the topic of this papal letter – the sex abuse scandal that has convulsed the Church around the world – I felt it fitting to bring you this news. It is a very important document that I want everyone to know about.

Entitled “NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP”, Pope Francis’ Motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi”, establishes new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and ensures that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It includes the obligation for clerics and religious to report abuse. Every Diocese must have a system that allows the public to submit reports easily.

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NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP

This is not a long read, my friends, but a very important one….

NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP

Pope Francis’ Motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi”, establishes new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and ensures that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It includes the obligation for clerics and religious to report abuse. Every Diocese must have a system that allows the public to submit reports easily.

Andrea Tornielli (editorial director for Dicastery for Communication: published on vaticannews)

“Vos estis lux mundi”. “You are the light of the world… Our Lord Jesus Christ calls every believer to be a shining example of virtue, integrity and holiness”. The Gospel of Matthew provides the title and first words of Pope Francis’ new Motu proprio dedicated to the fight against sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, as well as the actions or omissions of Bishops and Religious Superiors that in any way interfere with or fail to investigate abuse.

The Pope recalls that “the crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful”, and mentions the special responsibility of the Successors of the Apostles to prevent these crimes. The document represents another result of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors held in the Vatican in February 2019. It establishes new procedural rules to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It establishes universal norms, which apply to the whole Catholic Church.

An “office” for reporting in every diocese
Among the new indications given is the obligation for every Diocese in the world to set up, by June 2020, “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports” concerning sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, the use of child pornography, and coverups of the same abuse. The legislation does not specify what these “systems” consist of, because it leaves operational choices to the Diocese; and these may differ according to various cultures and local conditions. The idea is that anyone who has suffered abuse can have recourse to the local Church, while being assured they will be well received, protected from retaliation, and that their reports will be treated with the utmost seriousness.

The obligation to report
Another new indication concerns the obligation for all clerics, and all men and women religious, to “report promptly” all accusations of abuse of which they become aware, as well as any omissions and cover-ups in the management of cases of abuse, to ecclesiastical authorities. Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept. The obligation as such is sanctioned for clerics and religious, but any layperson can, and is encouraged to, use the system to report violence and abuse to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Not only child abuse
The document covers not only violence and abuse against children and vulnerable adults, but also sexual abuse and violence resulting from an abuse of authority as well. This includes cases of violence against religious by clerics, as well as abuse committed against adult seminarians or novices.

Dealing with cover-ups
One of the most important elements is the identification, as a specific category, of so-called cover-ups, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious regarding the delicts” of sexual abuse. This section refers to those who hold positions of particular responsibility in the Church, and who, instead of pursuing abuses committed by others, have hidden them, and have protected alleged offenders instead of protecting the victims.

The protection of vulnerable people
Vos estis lux mundi stresses the importance of protecting minors (anyone under 18) and vulnerable people. The definition of a “vulnerable person” is broadened to include “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want to otherwise resist the offense”. In this respect, the new Motu proprio echoes recent Vatican legislation (CCXCVII of 26 March 2019).

Respecting the laws of states
The obligation to report to the local Ordinary or Religious Superior does not interfere with, or change, any other reporting obligation that may exist in respective countries’ legislation. In fact, the norms “apply without prejudice to the rights and obligations established in each place by state laws, particularly those concerning any reporting obligations to the competent civil authorities”.

The protection of victims and those reporting abuse
The sections dedicated to protecting those who come forward to report abuse are also significant. According to the provisions of the Motu proprio, someone reporting abuse cannot be subjected to “prejudice, retaliation or discrimination” because of what they report. The problem of victims who in the past have been told to keep silent is also addressed: these universal norms provide that “an obligation to keep silent may not be imposed on any person with regard to the contents of his or her report”. Obviously, the seal of confession remains absolute and inviolable and is in no way affected by this legislation. Vos estis lux mundi also states that victims and their families must be treated with dignity and respect and must receive appropriate spiritual, medical and psychological assistance.

The investigation of bishops
The Motu proprio regulates the investigation of Bishops, Cardinals, Religious Superiors and all those who lead a Diocese, or another particular Church, in various capacities and even temporarily. The rules apply not only in the case of these persons being investigated for having committed sexual abuse themselves, but also if they are accused of having “covered up”, or of failing to pursue abuses of which they were aware, and which it was their duty to address.

The role of the Metropolitan
There are new indications regarding the role of the Metropolitan Archbishop in preliminary investigations: if the accused individual is a Bishop, the Metropolitan receives a mandate from the Holy See to investigate. This strengthens his traditional role in the Church and indicates a desire to make the most of local resources with regard to investigations into Bishops. Every thirty days, the person in charge of the investigation sends the Holy See “a status report on the state of the investigation”, which “is to be completed within the term of ninety days” (extensions for “just reasons” are possible). This establishes specific timeframes and requires the Vatican Dicasteries concerned to act promptly.

Involvement of the laity
Citing the Canon Law article that stresses the important contribution of the laity, the norms of the Motu proprio provide that the Metropolitan, in conducting the investigations, can avail himself of the help of “qualified persons”, according to “the needs of the individual case and, in particular, taking into account the cooperation that can be offered by the lay faithful”. The Pope has repeatedly stated that the specializations and professional skills of the laity represent an important resource for the Church. The norms now provide that Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses may prepare lists of qualified persons willing to collaborate, but the ultimate responsibility for investigations remains with the Metropolitan.

Presumption of innocence
The principle of presumption of innocence of the person under investigation is reaffirmed. The accused will be informed of the investigation when requested to do so by the competent Dicastery. The accusation must be notified only if formal proceedings are opened. If deemed appropriate, in order to ensure the integrity of the investigation or of the evidence, this notification may be omitted during the preliminary stage.

Conclusion of the investigation
The Motu proprio does not modify the penalties for crimes committed, but it does establish the procedures for reporting and carrying out the preliminary investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Metropolitan (or, in certain cases, the Bishop of the suffragan Diocese with the greatest seniority of appointment) forwards the results to the competent Vatican Dicastery. This completes his contribution. The competent Dicastery then proceeds “in accordance with the law provided for the specific case”, acting on the basis of already existing canonical norms. Based on the results of the preliminary investigation, the Holy See can immediately impose preventive and restrictive measures on the person under investigation.

Concrete commitment
With this new juridical instrument, called for by Pope Francis, the Catholic Church takes a further and incisive step in the prevention and fight against abuse, putting the emphasis on concrete actions. As the Pope writes at the beginning of the document: “In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church”.

MOTU PROPRIO ISSUED WITH NEW NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

MOTU PROPRIO ISSUED WITH NEW NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

The Holy See today issued the following communiqué on a new motu proprio from Pope Francis:

Pope Francis has promulgated the Apostolic Letter in the Form of Motu proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” concerning new measures to be adopted to prevent and fight sexual abuse committed against minors, against vulnerable persons or abuses carried out with violence, threat or abuse of authority. This Motu proprio, the product of reflection and collaboration during and after the meeting of the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and Supreme Moderators of the main religious Institutes held last February, represents a further commitment of the Church in this area.

“Vos estis lux mundi” contains several innovative elements that aim to improve coordination between the dioceses and the Holy See. In particular, within a year all dioceses must establish stable and publicly accessible systems to report cases of sexual abuse and their cover up. Furthermore, this Motu proprio obliges all clerics, as well as men and women religious, to report to the competent ecclesiastical authorities the abuses of which they become aware. The reported cases must thereafter be promptly verified and handled in accordance with canon law.

As for reports regarding Bishops, the Motu proprio introduces procedural measures that, as a rule, charge the Metropolitan of the pertinent ecclesiastical Province with verifying what has been reported.

Also established for the first time are time restrictions within which investigations must be carried out, as well as the procedures to be followed by the Metropolitan, who can make use of the specific professional contributions of the lay faithful.

Finally, the Motu proprio emphasizes the care of people harmed and the importance of welcoming them, listening to them and accompanying them, offering them the spiritual and medical assistance they need. It is our profound desire that this new Motu proprio, accompanied by prayer and animated by conversion, will contribute to eliminating the scourge of sexual abuse of minors and the vulnerable.

(JFL: A further statement in English with specific details will follow)

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/

“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.”