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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“IF THERE IS DOUBT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY, BETTER NOT TO ENTER THE SEMINARY”

“IF THERE IS DOUBT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY, BETTER NOT TO ENTER THE SEMINARY”

Following is my translation of an article that appeared yesterday in the online edition of the Italian daily, La Stampa, in its section called “Vatican Insider.” The piece is by Salvatore Cernuzio and is entitled, “If there is doubt about homosexuality, better not to enter the seminary.”

(A little footnote for history: In June 2011 when La Stampa wanted to inaugurate its new section about the Vatican, the papacy and Catholic Church, they wanted to name it “Vatican Insider.” However, we at EWTN had copyrighted that name with my weekend radio show “Vatican Insider,” and thus they had to ask us for permission to use that name.)

I took the time to translate this piece because I feel that what the Pope has said in the past about homosexuality, and what Church documents say, especiallyt vis-à-vis homosexuality and candidates to the priesthood, might calm the waters that have reached boiling temperatures over words allegedly spoken by Pope Francis to Juan Cruz, a victim of clerical sex abuse in Chile, when he was in Rome with two other victims as a guest of the Holy Father earlier this month. Cruz had quoted the Holy Father in a recent interview.

Neither Pope Francis nor the Holy See Press Office has confirmed or denied the words the pontiff allegedly said to Cruz.

Re: the Vatican Insider article: Pope Francis’ opening remarks to the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference, as it met Monday in the Vatican, have been reported in several languages. Following his opening remarks in which he spoke of three areas of “concern” for the Church in Italy, there was a give and take, a question and answer session. The author of this piece does not explicitly say so but I am surmising that what he writes (he says at one point “Vatican Insider has learned”) occurred during the Q&A session as these words are not in the formal papal address.

Here is my translation:

On Monday, May 21 Pope Francis spoke to the bishops of the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference, during a three-hour session of their 71st General assembly. Pope Francis faced the delicate theme of admission of homosexual young men into seminaries.

Pope Bergoglio expressed his opinion on the question, in fact repeating what he affirmed several years ago, though in a manner more implicit. “An eye on seminary admissions, open eyes,” is what he told the Congregation for Clergy.

Vatican Insider has learned that, with the Italian bishops Francis, speaking of the decline in vocations – one of his “three preoccupations for the Italian Church,” was clearer on this and he invited the prelates to take care of the quality of future priests over quantity. He explicitly mentioned the cases of homosexual persons who wish for various reasons to enter the seminary and he therefore invited the bishops to an attentive discernment, adding “If there is doubt about homosexuality, better not to enter the seminary.”

This indication by the pope expresses his great concern: these tendencies, when they are “deeply rooted” and the practice of “homosexual acts” can compromise the life of the seminary, in addition to that of the young man and his eventual future priesthood. And these acts can generate those “scandals” about which the pope spoke in his speech opening the CEI general assembly in the New Synod Hall, saying these acts disfigure the face of the church

Between the lines one can read what Pope Francis wrote in his letter of meditation given to the bishops of Chile during their meeting in the Vatican. In a note added to that text, the pope denounced the problems occurring in seminaries where, he wrote, bishops and religious superiors entrusted the leadership to “priests suspected of practicing homosexuality.”

Naturally, cases are very diverse among themselves and one needs to avoid generalizations. The pope’s note to the bishops of Italy actually goes back to the Ratio Fundamentalis published in December 2016 by the Congregation for Clergy: a thick document with the title, “The gift of the priestly vocation” in which this dicastery updated norms, uses and customs for access to the seminary, furnishing practical suggestions on matters such as health, nourishment, sports activity and rest.

Paragraph 199 of the Ratio states: “In relation to persons with homosexual tendencies who want to enter the seminary or who discover in the course of their formation in the seminary, in coherence with her Magisterium, the Church, though profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and to Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture.”

These indications from the 2016 Ratio repeat what was established by the instruction published by the Congregation for Catholic Education in August 2005 on the same “criteria for discernment of a vocation regarding persons with homosexual tendencies in view of their admission to seminaries and to Holy Orders.”

In nine pages with 20 notes, the document, approved by then Pope Benedict XVI, repeated the “no” of the Holy See to entrance into seminaries and religious orders of men who “practice homosexuality, have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or even outright support the so-called gay culture.”

Above all, a distinction was made between “homosexual acts” and “homosexual tendencies”: for the first one, the Church reaffirmed the definition of “grave sin,” “intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law,” whereas what was asked for those who show tendencies, in any case defined as “objectively disordered,” was an acceptance marked by “respect and delicateness,” avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination.”

In any case, even just a doubt about the homosexual orientation of the candidate to priesthood – according to indications furnished by this instruction – can be considered an obstacle on his path towards ordination. One paragraph states: “If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards ordination.”

In another paragraph of the same text, aspiring seminarians (with homosexual orientations) are invited to not lie to their superiors just to enter the seminary. “It is understood that the candidate himself is the first one responsible for his own formation” says the Vatican text. It would therefore be “gravely dishonest if a candidate hides his own homosexuality to arrive at – notwithstanding everything – ordination. Such an inauthentic behavior does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty and availability which must mark the personality of those who believe they are called to serve Christ.”

What must not be forgotten – another risk indicated by Pope Francis in the previously quoted speech to the Congregation for Clergy – is that often “there are young men who are physically ill and seek strong structures that will defend them.”

VATICAN INSIDER GOES TO THE UNITED NATIONS – PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MAY: CHRISTIANS IN AFRICA – POPE TO ROMANIAN SEMINARY: PRESERVE MEMORY, CULTIVATE HOPE – POPE TO WELCOME PRESIDENT TRUMP ON MAY 24

As is traditional on May 6, the newest Swiss Guards will be sworn in tomorrow in the Vatican in what is always a colorful and memorable ceremony. Say a pray for these young men from Switzerland as they take the oath to defend the person of the Supreme Pontiff:

“I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honourably serve the Supreme Pontiff Francis and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant.

Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”

VATICAN INSIDER GOES TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Join me on “Vatican Insider” this weekend where my special guest is Archbishop Bernadito Auza, apostolic nuncio and Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations. We spoke when I was in New York recently and attended an event at his residence for the Bethlehem University Foundation.

Listen to Abp. Auza as he explains Holy See diplomacy and his work at the U.N.. Our conversation, by the way, follows my double Q&A this weekend in which I explain what an apostolic nuncio is and also talk about the work of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State.

The archbishop’s limestone residence in the Upper East side of New York was a delightful setting for the reception for the BU Foundation. The archbishop, in opening remarks to the assembled guests, explained that his five-story residence was once home to New York’s youngest mayor, Hugh J. Grant, but noted with a smile that he was no relation to the actor by the same name! Mayor Grant and his wife hired the same firm of architects that had worked on St. Patrick’s Cathedral and they asked that a small private chapel be installed.

We also saw the bedroom in which Pope Francis slept during his NYC visit. Interestingly enough, we learned that he asked that the flat screen TV be removed from the room.

The crucifix facing the bed –

The residence foyer –

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MAY: CHRISTIANS IN AFRICA

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is: That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

The Apostleship of Prayer produced the Pope’s Video on this intention. http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/

Here is the English text of that video:

When we look at Africa, we see much more than its great natural richness. We see its joie de vivre, and above all, we see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellectual, cultural and religious heritage. But we cannot fail to see the fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these natural and cultural resources. Let us join with our brothers and sisters of this great continent, and pray together that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

POPE TO ROMANIAN SEMINARY: PRESERVE MEMORY, CULTIVATE HOPE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted members of the Pontifical Romanian College or Collegio Pio Romeno on the occasion of its 80th anniversary.

This Roman Pontifical College has been training seminarians from all over the world for eight decades in the Eternal City and on Friday the Pope on this auspicious occasion had two wishes for those present.

The first was to preserve memory and the second, to cultivate hope.

Speaking about the former, the Holy Father said that by tuning into ones ecclesial memory which he added, lives through the events that each era presents us with, “you will be helped to overcome dangerous temptations that may arise, such as settling for mediocrity, settling for a normal life; where one jealously guards their own time and their own well-being.

The Pope described their College as a place where seminarians train as if they were “in a gym” in order to give their lives for the good of others.

On the theme of cultivating hope, Pope Francis said that there was, “so much need to nourish Christian hope, that hope that gives a new outlook, capable of discovering and seeing good, even when it is obscured by evil”.

Concluding his address the Pope had a special greeting for those present from the Pontifical College of St. Ephrem, which provides lodgings for those student priests of the Arabic language from all of the Oriental Catholic Churches and who are welcomed by the Pontifical Romanian College (Pio Romeno).

The Pope said that, “by meeting you I think of the situation in which there are so many faithful in your lands, many families who are forced to leave their homes in the face of waves of violence and suffering. I want to embrace these brothers and sisters in a special way, together with their Patriarchs and Bishops.”

POPE TO WELCOME PRESIDENT TRUMP ON MAY 24

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See press office announced on Thursday that Pope Francis will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Vatican on the morning of May 24th. The U.S. leader will also meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See foreign minister.

A senior White House official said Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as U.S. president will also include visits to Belgium, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as Italy and the Vatican.

On May 25th Trump will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels and the following day he will take part in the G7 summit meeting in Sicily.