ORGANIZING COMMITTEE MEETS VICTIMS OF CLERICAL SEX ABUSE – ABUSE SURVIVOR SPEAKS OF MEETING WITH SUMMIT ORGANIZERS

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE MEETS VICTIMS OF CLERICAL SEX ABUSE

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office stated this afternoon that, “as was announced during the course of the press conference on February 18 in the Holy See Press Office, this morning the Organizing Committee for the Meeting on ‘The Protection of Minors in the Church’ met a group of representatives of victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

“There were 12 people, men and women, from different parts of the world who belong to various organizations. The meeting lasted a little bit more than two hours. The members of the Committee are very grateful to the victims who participated for their sincerity, the depth and the strength of their testimonies, which will certainly help them to always better understand the gravity and urgency of the difficulties that they will confront during the course of the meeting.”

ABUSE SURVIVOR SPEAKS OF MEETING WITH SUMMIT ORGANIZERS

February 19, 2019 CNA/EWTN News).- Juan Carlos Cruz, a clerical sex abuse whistleblower and a victim of Fr. Fernando Karadima, will meet with bishops and with fellow victims of clergy sexual abuse Wednesday, one day before the start of a Vatican summit on the topic.

“I am very proud that I am entrusted with such a task,” Cruz said, according to Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

The summit is a result of months of revelations of clerical sex abuse scandal in the United States and other countries. One of the most high-profile cases in the United States involved Theodore McCarrick, former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, who was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.
McCarrick was laicized by Pope Francis last weekend, just days before the summit.

Scicluna’s trip resulted in a 2,300-page report, the laicization of multiple priests and bishops, the en masse proffering of all Chilean bishops’ resignation, and a major “mea culpa” from Pope Francis, who had originally expressed doubts about the allegations against Chilean Bishop Juan Barros.

Pope Francis met privately last May with Cruz and fellow whistleblowers and abuse survivors James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo. The pope expressed his apologies and sorrow for having been “part of the problem” and resolved to do better on abuse.

Cruz told La Tercera that the meeting will be “very important for the Catholic world, for many people. This is a meeting where many people in the world should give their testimony, which is impossible because of the volume.”

Instead, Cruz said, there will be a group of 12 people to give voice to this issue and to impress its seriousness on the leaders of the Church.

“I sincerely hope that the Church will take it for what it is, something very serious…it deserves zero tolerance once and for all,” he added. “These people [the abusers] cannot hide in the institution anymore.”

Cruz also expressed doubts about Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and president of the Chilean bishops’ conference, who is representing Chile at the meeting.
Cruz told La Tercera that Bishop Ramos “has no empathy with the Chilean victims and I do not know what his contribution can be in this important meeting.”

There will be 190 participants in the Vatican summit, most of whom are presidents of national bishops’ conferences.

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LETTER TO HEADS OF BISHOPS CONFERENCES: WILL YOU ALSO BE SILENT?

The following Open Letter to the Presidents of Conferences of Bishops was written by Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Burke, two of the four cardinals who signed a letter to Pope Francis in 2016 known as the “dubia” for the questions, the doubts or “dubia,” they had about “Amoris Laetitia.” The other two signers – Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Carlo Caffarra – have since died. Pope Francis to this day has never answered the 5 dubia.

This letter, submitted just before the opening day of the conference on the protection of minors, principally addresses what many have called “the elephant in the room,” that is, the question of homosexuality among the clergy. Homosexuality was not a part of preparatory documents about the conference that starts tomorrow in the Vatican’s synod hall, a conference intended to focus solely on the protection of minors.

A number of journalists at Monday’s press conference asked about the statistics that indicate that close to – or perhaps just above – 80 percent of clerical sexual abuse is homosexual, male with male.

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin asked: “It was often said during the Synod on Youth that the abuse of seminarians and vulnerable adults would be addressed at this meeting, partly because of the McCarrick scandal. When this meeting was initially announced, it was to be about the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, but now it seems to be about the protection of minors only. Will this meeting include abuse of vulnerable adults and seminarians in particular?”

In a nutshell, Abp, Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, replied that, “other types of misconduct will be addressed.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, addressing that question, said, “it is our intention at this meeting to focus on those who do not have a voice, that is to say and minors.”

It sounded at the end of the press conference as if homosexuality, which studies have shown to be the great majority of sex abuse cases, including an alleged high percentage of such behavior among Vatican clergy, would be put on a back burner during the conference to protect minors.

To watch the entire press conference – a great deal of which took place in English, except introductory remarks by interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti who speaks in Italian and most remarks by Fr. Lombardi who explains the day to day program of this week’s meeting – click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWQncShy578

LETTER TO HEADS OF BISHOPS CONFERENCES: WILL YOU ALSO BE SILENT?

Dear Brothers, Presidents of the Conferences of Bishops,

We turn to you with deep distress!

The Catholic world is adrift, and, with anguish, the question is asked: Where is the Church going?

Before the drift in process, it seems that the difficulty is reduced to that of the abuse of minors, a horrible crime, especially when it is perpetrated by a priest, which is, however, only part of a much greater crisis. The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the Church, promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.

The roots of this phenomenon are clearly found in that atmosphere of materialism, of relativism and of hedonism, in which the existence of an absolute moral law, that is without exceptions, is openly called into question.

Sexual abuse is blamed on clericalism. But the first and primary fault of the clergy does not rest in the abuse of power but in having gone away from the truth of the Gospel. The even public denial, by words and by acts, of the divine and natural law, is at the root of the evil that corrupts certain circles in the Church.

In the face of this situation, Cardinals and Bishops are silent. Will you also be silent on the occasion of the meeting called in the Vatican for this coming February 21st?

Cardinal Burke

We are among those who in 2016 presented to the Holy Father certain questions, “dubia,” which were dividing the Church in the wake of the conclusions of the Synod on the Family. Today, those “dubia” have not only not had any response but are part of a more general crisis of the Faith.

Cardinal Brandmuller

Therefore, we encourage you to raise your voice to safeguard and proclaim the integrity of the doctrine of the Church.

We pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may assist the Church and bring light to the Pastors who guide her. A decisive act now is urgent and necessary. We trust in the Lord Who has promised: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Mt 28,20).
Walter Cardinal Brandmüller
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

“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.

MEETING ON PROTECTION OF MINORS: RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

MEETING ON PROTECTION OF MINORS: RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

Pope Francis, following the Angelus on Sunday, spoke of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting that starts this week – February 21 – in the Vatican. The presidents of the world’s Episcopal Conferences will attend, in addition to many other invitees for a total of 190 participants.

The four-day meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of common prayer, listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a final Eucharistic celebration. Francis invited the faithful in St. Peter’s Square to pray for the meeting, saying he wanted it “as an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time,” clerical sex abuse.

This morning there was a press conference to present the meeting on protecting minors. Participants included Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, member of the Organizing Committee; Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, member of the Organizing Committee; Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, moderator of the meeting; and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, president of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Also present was American Pauline Sr. Bernadette Reis, assistant to the press office director.

Interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti moderated.

The press conference opened with brief statements by all of the participants for a total of 45 minutes. Cardinal Cupich said, “we at the conference must give a voice to the voiceless, to the minors, to the victims of abuse.” He announced that people who wanted to follow the meeting could refer to a website that would be launched right after today’s press conference.

That website is: http://www.pbc2019.org twitter.com/pbc2019

Archbishop Scicluna, quoting Pope Francis on the trip back from Panama for World Youth Day, said “we all need to be more aware of this problem, we know it’s important that we know what we need to do.” Scicluna added, “It is important that we pray. We must remember the flock is not our own, it is the flock of Jesus Christ. We all need it to be on the same page and just coming together is a big step.” (Scicliuna on left)

The Maltese archbishop thanked the media for the investigative work that has brought this topic where it belongs by bringing stories to light, and encouraged them to continue to collaborate.

Fr. Federico Lombardi outlined the three days of work sessions, as well as the penitential liturgy on Saturday afternoon and the closing Mass with the Pope on Sunday. Those last two events will be in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, whereas the other meetings are in the new Synod Hall. (Lombardi on right, next to Gisotti)

There will be a specific theme for each of the three days of work: responsibility accountability and transparency. Fr. Lombardi outlined the specifics of each day’s morning and afternoon sessions, including speaker

Fr. Hans Zollner noted that a questionnaire was sent to all participants with five questions. There was an astonishing 89% response. Some of the questions included how would you describe sex abuse by clerics in your country? What is the level of awareness among the public? What are the greatest risk factors in your country/ cultures?

Fr. Zollner said this survey will help to create a synodal church and will help even more so in the follow up to this week’s meeting. He then announced the website whereby everyone can follow this meeting: pbc2019.org PBC stands for Presidents Bishops Conference. The site will be continually updated and will eventually serve to tailor the responses for bishops as they do a follow-up in their home countries.

In the question and answer session, which lasted over an hour, Cardinal Cupich was asked when what message he will bring to Chicagoans when he returns. He responded that he wants to make it clear that bishops have to take responsibility on sex abuse issues, that loopholes have to be closed, and that concrete steps – especially for bishops – will be in place. Cupich said he hopes that people see this as a turning point, and that they know that the three themes – responsibility accountability and transparency – will keep children safe. He emphasized that bishops will be held accountable.

In response to a journalist who noted that Archbishop Scicluna was the first to have the courage to use the word “omerta”, a mafia word for silence, vis a vis the Church, Scicluna replied by saying silence can never exist in clerical sex abuse cases. He said, “denial is a natural but a primitive response” adding, there is great need to break any and all codes of silence.

The organizers were asked if they will be addressing “the question of abuse of vulnerable adults, of seminarians,” to which Scicluna immediately responded “other types of misconduct will be addressed.”

Cardinal Cupich, addressing that question, said “it is our intention at this meeting to focus on those who do not have a voice, that is to say and minors.”

A journalist asked Archbishop Scicluna how we felt Pope Francis had evolved on this issue.

In fact, Scicluna was asked last year to be a point man for the Pope in events in Chile after the Pope had he denied the veracity of earlier reports of victims and later, admitted he, Francis, was part of the problem.

The archbishop said “we have to look at Francis where he is now. He no longer hides from reality. The Pope says we need to make things right and the 190 people here for the meeting all want to do that. We are also going to start follow-up procedures immediately after the meeting.” He added he was greatly impressed by Pope Francis’ humility. He added, “If something goes wrong, we need to make it right.”

Another question was asked about accountability. If the Church is asking Episcopal conferences to be accountable for clerical sex abuse cases in their jurisdiction, why is the Vatican not being held accountable to the same standard?

Cardinal Cupich said, “yes, that has to be looked at.” He noted there are reports that say homosexuality is not a cause of abuse of minors, and reports, like CARA, that say reports of cases have declined greatly in the United States since measures were taken to look at how seminaries screen young men.

Another journalist asked how seminarians get ordained, much less move up the ladder to becoming a bishop or beyond. Where are the protocols for selecting a bishop based on behavior, past activity or inclinations, psychological evaluation, etc.

Archbishop Scicluna said the Congregation for Bishops is working on guidelines similar to those in seminaries for evaluating a person nomination for the Episcopal office.

Another journalist asked if there should not be in more input from women, noting that there are only about 10 at this weeks meeting.

Cardinal Cupich agreed and said that, in his 20 years as a bishop the voices and input from women have been very valuable and had helped him very much.

The question was asked: why did the Pope try recently to lower expectations for this conference! Archbishop Scicluna said, “the higher the expectations, the higher the frustrations will be. The Pope has said let’s start with reasonable expectations. It will actually be the follow up everywhere that will be the most watched.

Cardinal Cupich was asked about the alleged Vatican interference in the November meeting of bishops in the US. He said the Holy See actually did us a favor in November by asking us to wait. This is part of the synodality the Pope wants, working together with others.”

Members of the organizing committee have been asked by the Pope to stay in Rome for a few days after the event ends Sunday.