BREAKING: BOSTON CARDINAL SETS UP INQUIRY INTO REPORTED ABUSE AT SEMINARY

BREAKING: BOSTON CARDINAL SETS UP INQUIRY INTO REPORTED ABUSE AT SEMINARY

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley issued the following statement August 10:

Earlier this week I was informed that two former seminarians of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston had posted allegations on social media sites including the Archdiocese’s Facebook page that during their time at the seminary they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.

At this time I am not able to verify or disprove these allegations. As Archbishop of Boston, with responsibility for the integrity of the seminary and its compliance with the Church’s Program for Priestly Formation, I am committed to immediate action to address these serious matters and have made the following decisions regarding St. John’s Seminary.

First, I have asked Msgr. James P. Moroney, Rector of St. John’s, to go on sabbatical leave for the Fall Semester, beginning immediately, in order that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters.

Second, I have appointed Rev. Stephen E. Salocks, Professor of Sacred Scripture, to serve as Interim Rector at St. John’s.

Third, I have appointed the Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, Dr. Francisco Cesareo, President of Assumption College and President of the USCCB National Review Board, which advises the USCCB on matters of child and youth protection policies and practices, and Ms. Kimberly Jones, CEO of Athena Legal Strategies Group to oversee an inquiry into the allegations made this week, the culture of the seminary regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood, and any seminary issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination. The inquiry will be staffed by Mark Dunderdale, Esq., Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Professional Standards and Oversight.

I have directed this group to proceed with due seriousness of their assignment and as soon as possible to submit to me the findings of the inquiry and a set of recommendations to assure appropriate standards of professional behavior in compliance with Church teaching at all levels of seminary life. The faculty, staff and students at the seminary will be advised of my expectation that they will fully cooperate with the inquiry.

The allegations made this week are a source of serious concern to me as Archbishop of Boston. The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve. I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society.

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CARDINAL O’MALLEY; POPE’S WORDS ‘A SOURCE OF GREAT PAIN FOR ABUSE VICTIMS’ – VATICAN NEWS TWITTER, JANUARY 20, 2018 – POPE APOLOGIZES TO SEX ABUSE VICTIMS, DEFENDS ACCUSED CHILEAN BISHOP

Today the United States observes National Sanctity of Human Life Day! As President Trump’s proclamation for this day says, we mark this “to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as ‘non-human’.”

That proclamation goes on to say, “Reverence for every human life, one of the values for which our Founding Fathers fought, defines the character of our Nation. Today, it moves us to promote the health of pregnant mothers and their unborn children. It animates our concern for single moms; the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled; and orphan and foster children. It compels us to address the opioid epidemic and to bring aid to those who struggle with mental illness. It gives us the courage to stand up for the weak and the powerless. And it dispels the notion that our worth depends on the extent to which we are planned for or wanted.”

On another matter: In answer to a journalist’s question at the end of his time in Chile, some words pronounced by Pope Francis caused quite a bit of consternation for victims of clerical sex abuse.

In this regard, Cardinal O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and a key papal advisor (one of the C9, that is, the Council of Cardinals that advises the Holy Father) released a statement that appeared in the online version of thebostonpilot.com. The cardinal was in Peru for another event but did concelebrate at Pope Francis’ final Mass in that nation.

The last story is again from thebostonpilot.com: it was reported by a CNS correspondent aboard the papal flight from Lima, Peru to Rome. The Pope landed about 2:15 this afternoon in Rome.

CARDINAL O’MALLEY; POPE’S WORDS ‘A SOURCE OF GREAT PAIN FOR ABUSE VICTIMS’

From The Boston Pilot, January 20, 2018:

(Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley released the following statement Jan. 20 after Pope Francis’s response to a journalist in which he defended the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to lead the Osnoro Diocese in Chile. Bishop Barros had been accused by abuse advocates of covering up abuse perpetrated his friend Father Fernando Karadima. — Ed.)

It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator. Words that convey the message “if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed” abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.

Not having been personally involved in the cases that were the subject of yesterday’s interview I cannot address why the Holy Father chose the particular words he used at that time. What I do know, however, is that Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.

Accompanying the Holy Father at numerous meetings with survivors I have witnessed his pain of knowing the depth and breadth of the wounds inflicted on those who were abused and that the process of recovery can take a lifetime. The Pope’s statements that there is no place in the life of the Church for those who would abuse children and that we must adhere to zero tolerance for these crimes are genuine and they are his commitment.

My prayers and concern will always be with the survivors and their loved ones. We can never undo the suffering they experienced or fully heal their pain. In some cases we must accept that even our efforts to offer assistance can be a source of distress for survivors and that we must quietly pray for them while providing support in fulfilment of our moral obligation. I remain dedicated to work for the healing of all who have been so harmed and for vigilance in doing all that is possible to ensure the safety of children in the community of the Church so that these crimes never happen again.

VATICAN NEWS TWITTER, JANUARY 20, 2018

In a statement, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, says, “Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and its clergy who abused children.”

POPE APOLOGIZES TO SEX ABUSE VICTIMS, DEFENDS ACCUSED CHILEAN BISHOP

(From BostonPilot.com) ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PERU (CNS) — Pope Francis apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse, saying he unknowingly wounded them by the way he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse by his mentor.

Speaking with journalists on his flight to Rome from Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, the pope said he only realized later that his words erroneously implied that victims’ accusations are credible only with concrete proof.  (CNA photo)

“To hear that the pope says to their face, ‘Bring me a letter with proof,’ is a slap in the face,” the pope said.

Pope Francis was referring to a response he gave in Iquique, Chile, Jan. 18 when local reporters asked about his support for Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, given accusations that the bishop may have been aware of abuse perpetrated by his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. The priest was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?” the pope had told the reporters in Iquique.

His response provoked further outrage, especially from Father Karadima’s victims who said the pope’s response made his earlier apologies for the church’s failure to protect sex abuse victims seem hollow.

Asked about the incident during the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis said he meant to use the word “evidence,” not “proof.” The way he phrased his response, he said, caused confusion and was “not the best word to use to approach a wounded heart.”

“Of course, I know that there are many abused people who cannot bring proof (or) they don’t have it,” he said. “Or at times they have it but they are ashamed and cover it up and suffer in silence. The tragedy of the abused is tremendous.”
However, the pope told reporters on the papal flight he still stood firmly behind his defense of Bishop Barros, because he was “personally convinced” of the bishop’s innocence after the case was investigated twice with no evidence emerging.

Pope Francis said that while “covering up abuse is an abuse in itself,” if he punished Bishop Barros without moral certainty, “I would be committing the crime of a bad judge.”

During the inflight news conference, Pope Francis answered eight questions over the course of an hour, although the conference was interrupted by turbulence, which forced the pope to sit for about five minutes.

As he did in November on his return from Bangladesh, he said he only wanted to respond to questions related to the trip.

Pope Francis told reporters he appreciated the statement made Jan. 20 by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, acknowledging the pain survivors of abuse felt because of the pope’s statement about Bishop Barros.

“Words that convey the message ‘If you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile,” the cardinal wrote.

He also said, “Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.”

The pope said he was grateful for Cardinal O’Malley’s statement because it struck the right balance between listing what he has done to show his support for sex abuse victims and the pain experienced by victims because of the pope’s remarks.

Pope Francis also spoke about the scandal-plagued Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic movement based in Peru.

The movement’s founder, Luis Fernando Figari, has been accused of the sexual and psychological abuse of members; he has been ordered by the Vatican to remain in Rome and not have any contact with the movement.

“He declared himself innocent of the charges against him,” Pope Francis told reporters, and he has appealed his cause to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court. According to the information the pope has received, he said, “the verdict will be released in less than a month.”

Pope Francis also was asked about the status of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he set up in 2014. The three-year terms of its members expired in December and some have questioned whether child protection really is a priority when the commission’s membership was allowed to lapse.

Before the terms ended, he said, the members decided to recommend who should serve a second term and offering the names of possible new members.
The final list, he said, arrived on his desk a week before the trip began “and now it is going through the normal channels in the Curia.”

LENT, A PILGRIMAGE OF EXPECTATION AND HOPE – ABUSE SURVIVOR RESIGNS FROM VATICAN COMMISSION TO PROTECT MINORS – COMMISSION MEMBER EXPLAINS HER REASONS FOR LEAVING

Pope Francis tweeted today: Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.

A bit of trivia about Ash Wednesday from an Aleteia article by Gerith Gardner: This year, Ash Wednesday falls on the March 1 feast day of Saint David, and there couldn’t be a more fitting saint to share this day with. David founded a monastery in Wales, where both he and his monks drank no beer or wine, as he practiced extreme asceticism—abstaining from all forms of indulgence.

Today’s Station Church in Rome – Santa Sabina: https://www.pnac.org/station-churches/week-of-ash-wed/ash-wednesday-santa-sabina/

santa-sabina-1

santa-sabina-2

santa-sabina-3

LENT, A PILGRIMAGE OF EXPECTATION AND HOPE

Pope Francis marked Ash Wednesday by presiding at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square and, later in the afternoon, by processing from the Benedictine church of Sant’Anselmo to the nearby Dominican basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass and received ashes. (file photo: Ash Wednesday)

francis-ashes

His catechesis at the audience focused on Lent and he opened his weekly lesson by noting that “today, Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten journey towards Easter.  Lent is essentially a pilgrimage of hope, a season of penance and spiritual renewal that prepares us to share more fully in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

Francis said, “We relive the experience of the Exodus, in which the Chosen People journeyed towards the Promised Land and, through spiritual discipline and the gift of the Law, learned the love of God and neighbor.”  The Scriptures tell of a tormented journey that symbolically lasted forty years, the time span of a generation, and difficulties and obstacles represented continuous temptations to regret Egypt and to turn back. But the Lord stayed close to the people who finally arrived in the Promised Land guided by Moses.

“Easter is Jesus’ own exodus, his passover from death to life, in which we participate through our rebirth in Baptism.”

Francis explained that in order to open this passage for us, Jesus had to cast off his glory, he had to humble himself, he had to be obedient until death on the cross. “This doesn’t mean that he did everything and we don’t have to do anything… it doesn’t mean he went through the cross and we will go to heaven in a carriage. That is not how it works.”

He stated that “our salvation is Jesus’ gift, but it is part of a love story and requires our ‘yes’ and our participation.”

“By following Christ along the way of the Cross,” continud the Holy Father, “we share in his victory over sin and death; by living the new life bestowed by the Holy Spirit in the communion of the Church, we are united more fully to the Lord in the sacraments, prayer and adoration.

ABUSE SURVIVOR RESIGNS FROM VATICAN COMMISSION TO PROTECT MINORS

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) issued the following statement after the resignatiuon of commission member and abuse survivor, Mrs. Marie Collins:

On Monday, February 13, 2017, Mrs. Marie Collins, a Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] advised Cardinal Sean O’Malley, President of the PCPM, of her intent to resign from the Commission effective March 1, 2017.

Mrs. Collins, a Member of the Pontifical Commission since its inception in 2014 is a survivor of clerical abuse, and consistently and tirelessly championed for the voices of the victims/survivors to be heard, and for the healing of victims/survivors to be a priority of the Church.  In discussing with the Cardinal, and in her resignation letter to the Holy Father, Mrs. Collins cited her frustration at the lack of cooperation with the Commission by other offices in the Roman Curia.

Mrs. Collins accepted an invitation from Cardinal O’Malley to continue to work with the Commission in an educational role in recognition of her exceptional teaching skills and impact of her testimony as a survivor.

The Holy Father accepted Mrs. Collins resignation with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims/survivors of clergy abuse.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in March of 2014. The Chirograph of His Holiness Pope Francis states specifically, “The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church. The Commission is to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.”

At the bottom of the letter on Commission letterhead, they listed two contacts: info@tutelaminorum.va and www.protectionofminors.va

The Holy See Press Office released the following Statement from PCPM President, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap.

“On behalf of the Members of the Commission I have expressed to Marie Collins our most sincere thanks for the extraordinary contributions she has made as a founding member of the Commission.  We will certainly listen carefully to all that Marie wishes to share with us about her concerns and we will greatly miss her important contributions as a member of the Commission.  As the Commission gathers for the plenary meeting next month we will have an opportunity to discuss these matters.  With the members of the Commission I am deeply grateful for Marie’s willingness to continue to work with us in the education of church leaders, including the upcoming programs for new bishops and for the dicasteries of the Holy See.  Our prayers will remain with Marie and with all victims and survivors of sexual abuse.”

COMMISSION MEMBER EXPLAINS HER REASONS FOR LEAVING

Marie Collins, in a piece she wrote for ncronline, said she intended “to respect the confidentiality of my former colleagues on the Commission and the work they are doing,” although some has already been made public.

She outlined some of the stumbling blocks the commission has run into: “lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance. The most significant problem has been reluctance of some members of the Vatican Curia to implement the recommendations of the Commission despite their approval by the pope.”

She said she could “no longer be sustained by hope. As a survivor I have watched events unfold with dismay.”

Collins wrote: “The Commission’s recommendation for a Tribunal to be put in place whereby negligent bishops could be held accountable was approved by Pope Francis and announced in June 2015. Yet it was found by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as Baroness Sheila Hollins stated to the Royal Commission, to have unspecified “legal” difficulties, and so was never implemented.”

Marie Collins, who was harsh in her criticism of various Vatican offices, wrote: “When I accepted my appointment to the Commission in 2014, I said publicly that if I found what was happening behind closed doors was in conflict with what was being said to the public I would not remain. This point has come. I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity.”

“In the past three years,” the former commission member wrote, “I have never had the opportunity to sit and talk to the pope but if I had I would ask him to do three things:

  1. Give the Commission the responsibility and the power to oversee implementation of the recommendations when they are approved. No matter how much work is put into the recommendations given to the Holy Father and no matter how much he supports them they must be properly implemented to have any effect.
  2. Give the Commission an adequate, independent budget to do its work without having each item of expenditure go through the internal Vatican approval process.
  3. Remove the restriction on the recruitment of professional staff from outside the Vatican.

She did write that, “Despite everything I have said, I do believe there is value in the Commission continuing its work. The members are sincerely putting every effort into very important projects with the intention of moving things forward.”

TRAVELS AND TRIVIA – REPORT FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS – POPE CONFIRMS AILING ITALIAN YOUTH BEFORE SATURDAY AUDIENCE

TRAVELS AND TRIVIA

I leave tomorrow morning for Alabama to spend some days with my EWTN colleagues at our studios in Irondale and to attend the September 17 and 18 Family Celebration at the Jefferson Convention Center in Birmingham. I’ll be with Jim and Jim Pinto on Thursday to do a live edition of “At Home!” I’ll be on “At Home” tonight from Rome!

The weekend events will feature EWTN Radio Live, Main events (Mass, speakers, etc) each day in the auditorium, Meet the Author, Family Corner, Faith Factory for Kids, Religious Catalogue Shop, the National Catholic Register and Media Missionaries. If you are in the vicinity, come and put a face to a name! I leave for Rome on September 19 – will try post some news and photos while I am away!

The answer to Friday’s Question of the Week: Pope Urban VII was elected Pope on September 15th, 1590 but died just 12 days later – making his papacy the shortest in history.

Joan’s Advice for Tourists, Pilgrims and Visitors: As you walk to St. Peter’s Square, be it from Via della Conciliazione or either of the two colonnades, you will probably be approached (assailed?) by dozens of people trying, in multiple languages, to sell you tickets to Vatican sights and urging you to “avoid the lines” to the Museums, etc. They can be aggressive and follow you for 10 or more feet, trying to get you to listen. Many of them wear large vests that are white or, in most cases, chartreuse (lime green) and have the word STAFF on them. These are NOT Vatican people. The official Jubilee Year Vatican staff wear large YELLOW vests that say “Volunteer.” Help me help others – tell your friends!

Avoiding lines? SOOOOO easy! Just reserve in advance to visit the Museums: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/index.html   There might be a little wait for security to enter the Basilica but these lines move rather quickly.

REPORT FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

I saw this news today on the Vatican website and immediately posted it on Twitter and tried to put it on my Facebook page but was blocked! This appeared on my screen: “This message contains content that has been blocked by our security systems. If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.”

Of course, I let them know and I have not heard back all day. I sent them the following URL: http://www.news.va/en/news/pontifical-commission-for-the-protection-of-mino-4,

This is a very interesting but somewhat lengthy report: Click on the above link for the complete Commission statement.

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met in Plenary Assembly last week, September 8-11 focusing their attention on the three key areas of education: a Day of Prayer and the Holy Father’s MOTU PROPRIO “As a Loving Mother,” the accountability of Church leadership. The Plenary also recognised the importance of digital technology and announced the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will be going live with its own website. The Working Group meetings focused on the updates for current projects, and developing draft proposals for Pope Francis.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley heads this Commission. He is also a member of the C9 Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis. They are all in Rome, meeting for three days this week, for the 16th time, with the Holy Father in the Vatican.

POPE CONFIRMS AILING ITALIAN YOUTH BEFORE SATURDAY AUDIENCE

What a great story this is!

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a seriously ill young man before his Saturday Jubilee audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen-year-old Giuseppe Chiolo, a patient of the oncological department of the Meyer Hospital in Florence, travelled to the Vatican on Saturday morning aboard an ambulance.

The Pope embraced Giuseppe before confirming him, and gifted him with a rosary as he asked the boy not to forget to pray for him.

pope-confirms

Giuseppe had recently written a letter to Pope Francis in which he revealed his strong desire to meet him and he was immediately invited to come to the Vatican.

The Pope also had words of encouragement and comfort for Giuseppe’s parents and for his sister and aunt who were present in St. Peter’s Square together with the chaplain of the Meyer Hospital and the vice-director of the local Florentine Caritas office. He also thanked the three volunteers of Mercy who accompanied Giuseppe on his journey to Rome.

During the special Jubilee audience, Pope Francis had words of greeting for other sick and disabled persons, including Laura Salafia who was shot by mistake six years ago and has undergone a series of operations and rehabilitation, and Pompeo Barbieri, a survivor of the 2002 earthquake in the southern Apulia region who has managed to become a swimming champion notwithstanding a disability that constrains him to a wheelchair.

BOSTON CARDINAL O’MALLEY’S STATEMENT ON “SPOTLIGHT”

BOSTON CARDINAL O’MALLEY’S STATEMENT ON “SPOTLIGHT”

From the Boston Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper:

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley released the following statement to The Pilot March 1, after the film Spotlight won two awards at the 2016 Oscar ceremony that took place in Los Angeles February 28. The movie describes the Boston Globe’s investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston that led to a series of stories that ran in 2002:

Spotlight is an important film for all impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse. By providing in-depth reporting on the history of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the media led the Church to acknowledge the crimes and sins of its personnel and to begin to address its failings, the harm done to victims and their families and the needs of survivors. In a democracy such as ours, journalism is essential to our way of life. The media’s role in revealing the sexual abuse crisis opened a door through which the Church has walked in responding to the needs of survivors.

Protecting children and providing support for survivors and their families must be a priority in all aspects of the life of the Church.

We are committed to vigilant implementation of policies and procedures for preventing the recurrence of the tragedy of the abuse of children. These include comprehensive child safety education programs, mandatory background checks and safe environments training, mandatory reporting to and cooperating with civil authorities with regard to allegations of abuse, and caring for survivors and their families through the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach. The Archdiocese consistently provides counselling and medical services for survivors and family members who seek our help and we remain steadfast in that commitment. We continue to seek the forgiveness of all who have been harmed by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse and pray that each day the Lord may guide us on the path toward healing and renewal.

(JFL: Cardinal O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, is one of the Council of 9 Cardinals that advises Pope Francis, and he also heads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors)

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS HOLDS SECOND PLENARY

STAY TUNED TO “JOAN’S ROME” AND TO MY FACEBOOK PAGE TODAY AS  THERE IS A LOT OF NEWS AND I WILL BE POSTING SEPARATE STORIES AS THEY OCCUR.

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS HOLDS SECOND PLENARY

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has completed its second plenary assembly, focusing on formation of candidate for priesthood and religious life,  the use of forensic assessments for people accused of sex abuse crimes and the use of liturgical support materials for the pastoral care of survivors. (photo L’Osservatore Romano)

COMMISSION ON ABUSE-MEMBERS

The Commission met in Rome from October 9th to 11th, beginning their plenary with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in his Santa Marta residence. Members then focused their sessions on listening to and discussing progress reports presented by the Working Groups formed in the February 2015 Plenary.

Please find below the full press statement from the Commission:

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered in Plenary Assembly, October 9-11, 2015 in Rome.  It is the second time that the full Commission has gathered together.

The Plenary Assembly began with Mass with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in Santa Marta. Members then focused their sessions on listening to and discussing progress reports presented by the Working Groups formed in the February 2015 Plenary.

These Working Groups cover key areas of the mission that has been entrusted to the Commission by the Holy Father, namely to advise him, his collaborators and the local church on the protection of minors.  The Working Groups are:

  • Guidelines for the safeguarding and protection of minors;
  • Healing and care for victims, survivors and their families;
  • Formation of candidates to the priesthood and religious life and the education of Church leadership;
  • Education of families and communities;
  • Theology and spirituality;
  • Canonical and civil norms.

Particular areas of focus of these working groups include research into the assessment and ongoing formation of candidates to the priesthood and religious life; the use of forensic assessments with people accused of a crime; the provision of liturgical support materials for the pastoral care of victims, survivors and communities. The Commission does not address individual cases, it does not exercise oversight, and is not a decision-making body.

Since its establishment, the Commission for the Protection of Minors has been invited by Church leaders to place the inter-disciplinary expertise of its members at the service of Church in various parts of the world.

Commission members have taken part in workshops, conferences and seminars on the protection of minors in Ireland, the UK, France, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and recently in the Philippines, where 76 bishops attended.  Next month, Commission members will also address all of the bishops of Central America.

Very positive feedback has been received from our participation in these initiatives.  The Commission’s contribution has been seen as a resource for the local Church worldwide as Bishops’ Conferences continue to develop sound and culturally effective guidelines that reflect the local reality.

The Commission plans to hold its next Plenary Assembly in February, 2016.

Commission members in attendance:

Cardinal Seán O’MALLEY, OFM Cap. (United States), President; Mons. Robert OLIVER (United States), Secretary; Rev. Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA (Colombia); Catherine BONNET (France); Marie COLLINS (Ireland); Gabriel DY-LIACCO (Philippines); Sheila BARONESS HOLLINS (United Kingdom); Bill KILGALLON (New Zealand); Sr. Kayula LESA, RSC (Zambia); Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS (South Africa); Kathleen McCORMACK (Australia); Claudio PAPALE (Italy); Peter SAUNDERS (United Kingdom); Hanna SUCHOCKA (Poland); Krysten WINTER-GREEN (United States); Rev. Humberto Miguel YÁÑEZ, SJ (Argentina) and Rev. Hans ZOLLNER, SJ (Germany).

PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS, ABORTION AND THE THROWAWAY CULTURE – VATICAN PAPER ON ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW IN UAE: A COURAGEOUS DECISION

Another great papal tweet on marriage today: The most powerful witness to marriage is the exemplary lives of Christian spouses.

The official Jubilee of Mercy site today published the calendar of events for this special year called by Pope Francis that will start December 8, 2015. Click here to see events so that you can plan your pilgrimage to Rome – and don’t forget to explore the other parts of this site: http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en/calendario.html

If by chance you will be flying into Rome in a day or two – or perhaps even next week – you should know that Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is in the throes of yet another crisis as a blackout that lasted about 20 minutes Thursday struck the main terminal. The good news is that the outage did not affect the air-traffic control towers so flights were able to land and takeoff, officials told ANSA news agency. The power outage lasted about 20 minutes but control towers have a particular system supported by the ENAV civil aviation authority that allowed operations to continue, officials added.

ANSA said the cause of the power outage, reported shortly before noon, was not immediately known. This marked the latest crisis at the airport, which was forced to temporarily close its runways on Wednesday by smoke blown in from pine-forest fires nearby. Delays and disruptions because of the smoke-blocked runways continued Thursday morning, with delays of up to three hours for some domestic and European flights.

And all this on top of damages caused by a fire in Terminal 3 in early May that has caused major disruptions since then.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS, ABORTION AND THE THROWAWAY CULTURE

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded on Wednesday to recent videos showing leaders from Planned Parenthood discussing the provision of fetal organs, tissues, and body parts from their abortion clinics.

CARDINAL O'MALLEY

Below is the full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement:

Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society. The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion. Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.

If the Planned Parenthood news coverage has caused anyone to experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion, be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance through the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. If you or someone you know would like confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit www.projectrachel.com. (Source: USCCB)

VATICAN PAPER ON ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW IN UAE: A COURAGEOUS DECISION

In an article entitled, “Courageous decision,” L’Osservatore Romano highlighted the anti-discrimination law recently enacted in the United Arab Emirates that advances religious liberty.

“Under the new law, all forms of discrimination based on religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin’ are outlawed. This means that in the UAE, discrimination based on Islam is banned. The Sunni-Shia divide has been a fault-line around which many wars have been fought in the Arab world. With the new law, equality will be guaranteed among people, largely inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a step forward.”

The above statement was made by the noted Islamic scholar. Jesuit Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, who spoke to AsiaNews about the new law against discrimination recently passed in the United Arab Emirates.

Fr. Samir explained that this act goes against the current, especially in comparison to other countries in the region, which are locked in Islamic totalitarianism. There are 24 churches in the region, which were built by the people themselves. Christians are treated with respect and it is not uncommon to see believers living in Saudi Arabia move to Abu Dhabi to celebrate Christmas or Easter.

“It is important to note,” Fr Samir continues, “that another positive element is the fact that the law’s anti-discrimination provisions will also cover written communication, broadcasting (TV) and social medial. UAE leaders are well aware of the ubiquitous presence of such media; hence, they have decided to deem ‘a criminal act’ all forms of discrimination in them or hate spread by them. With the new law, calling someone else ‘infidels’ (takfir) is punishable. Why? Because under Islamic law, someone who is an ‘infidel’ or an ‘unbeliever’ (kafir) could be put to death.

“Although the same law prohibits the killing of Christians and Jews because they are ‘dhimmi,’ or protected, “ continues Fr. Samir, “this does not apply to pagans, atheists or members of other religions. Under Islamic rule, infidels enjoy no protection. He or she can either convert to Islam or be killed. The Islamic State group has used this principle, and used it to kill Christians (even if it is against Islamic law).”.

Another new step, the Jesuit explains, is the fact that provoking religious hatred is also banned. “In the past, hate crimes were not banned under the law. Now this is the case, and this is something of a daring step to take. And we in the West might have a thing or two to learn. Consider all the contempt people have for migrants in Europe, or blacks in the United States. In your countries, hate is mostly racial in nature. In our region, in the Middle East, hate is always about religion.” The law also“outlaws support for violent foreign groups, especially by making monetary donations.”