A priests' Voice of Hope and Joy:
A Time of Crisis, a Turning Point

OUR VOICES The news reports are brutal, the accounts horrific, the reactions disheartening and disturbing. Even in this time of crisis, there is hope and a flickering promise of joy. Included among reports of scandal are voices of priests and friends.

USCCB GENERAL ASSEMBLY

• Is schism possible? Read the views of Jesuit Tom Reese HERE

Plan ready. Vatican says ‘Wait” — A report from the New York Times

• Vatican asks U.S. bishops to delay action on episcopal sex abuse

• See the USCCB Twitter feed

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NEW November 2, 2018: ‘It’s clericalism. Not heresy.’ James J. Heany writes a challenging piece in Commonweal.

“There was only one consistent pattern: the closer they were to power, the more my shepherds collaborated to keep the sheep deaf, dumb, and victimized.”
. . .
Priests have relatively few rights, often lack means to exercise them, and are conditioned in seminary to accept indignities, even evil, as “holy obedience.” Absolute power over priests corrupts the bishops, and absolute submission does no favors to priests.”

READ the full article HERE: ‘Our Myth, Their Lie”

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• Pope Francis removes Bishop of Memphis who had re-assigned two-thirds of diocesan clergy. Management. not sex abuse, at the heart of it.

CLICK HERE for the full story from NCR and Catholic News Service

CLICK HERE to read the story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal

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Amid scandal and division, U.S Bishops to hold unprecedented retreat

The Catholic bishops of the U.S. announced Oct. 23 that at the behest of Pope Francis they will meet for a weeklong retreat in Chicago in January. The unprecedented move reflects the depth of the crisis they are facing with the sexual abuse scandal and the long-standing divisions within their ranks over the broader direction of American Catholicism.

CLICK HERE for the full story.

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• National Catholic Reporter publishes an editorial: Ouellet vs. Viganò exposes right wing's anti-Francis strategy

Cardinal Marc Ouellet's concise and sharply worded refutation of the now infamous Viganò letter is the very point needed to burst the bubble of fabulist concoctions spinning around the Catholic far right. Those theories, which wouldn't pass for bad fiction, are easily unveiled as clumsy attempts to discredit the Francis papacy.

Ouellet's out-of-the-ordinary pronouncement is fitting for these extraordinary times. Its very existence signals with some finality the end of the pretense of unity with which the hierarchy in recent decades attempted to mask deep divisions in its ranks.

READ it HERE

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• Commonweal publishes a must-read article by Kenneth L. Woodward: Double Lives: The Peril of Clerical Hypocrisy

“. . . anger, shock, grief, and shame. . . .

Strong feelings can be a spur to action. But they can also foster misreadings of the facts, blur judgment, and trigger rash reactions. Unfortunately, in too many instances, that is what has happened.”

READ the article HERE

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• New York Times reports (October 18, 2018) that a federal investigation has been launched, following the Pennsylvania State Grand Jury report.

The inquiry is believed to be the first statewide investigation by the federal government of the church’s sex abuse problems. And it comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.

. . .

“I hope that this encourages church leaders at every level, and in every locale, to voluntarily open their files on all priests who have been credibly accused in past decades,” said The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America Magazine. “It’s also important to note that, today, any credibly accused priest is immediately removed from ministry. But before the truth can set us free, it must first be revealed.”

READ the complete article HERE

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• Wuerl resigns: Read the NCR report by Josh McElwee HERE

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• Massimo Faggioli writes about the clericalism of money. READ it here in LaCroix International.

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• What happened to the Church? Arthur Jones writes an opinion piece in NCR: How the Vatican culture created a church that feels as if it is dying of shame. It includes an analysis of management style that may make some readers cringe. READ it HERE.

AND READ PART 2 HERE:

Arthur Jones: The issue, however, is not avoidance. It is abuse, the abuse of many thousands of boys and girls, young men and young women, by Catholic priests worldwide. The abuse robbed victims of their innocence, their trust and their self-worth, while inflicting them with confusion about their own sexual development.

As grotesque as that abuse is, the cover-up by the bishops is "a sin that cries out to Heaven for justice," though not on the list. It reveals the rot at the protect-the-church's-image center. The revelations have hurled a rock through the church's stained-glass-window opaqueness. That window that needs to be replaced with plain glass.

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• Ron Chocol, who led an AUSCP working group on seminary formation, is quoted in an NBC news report. The Catholic Church is looking for (more than) a few good men.

Many priests "want things to go back 40 or 50 years," said the Rev. Ron Chochol, a retired priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but "the world is a very different place today."

Chochol heads a committee on priestly formation for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, a national organization of about 1,200 priests in active ministry. In January, the committee sent a report to the U.S. bishops' conference outlining how it could update the Program of Priestly Formation to address challenges facing the church, particularly the dwindling numbers of active priests and candidates for the priesthood.

SEE it here.

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• John Carr, former McCormick aid, calls for Pope Francis to break the silence about abuse. READ it here from Crux.

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• John Carr finds eight lessons to move forward from the sex abuse crisis. READ it here from America magazine.

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• Massimo Faggioli: Why I can’t even think about leaving the Church. Read his thinking HERE from La Croix International.

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• Father William Grimm writes from Tokyo: “My betrayer is at hand”

Higher leaders in the church have betrayed their vocation by ignoring charges and dangers. That betrayal goes all the way up to a canonized saint, John Paul II, who even after Theodore McCarrick's betrayals were common knowledge, made him a cardinal and who over and over again presented a Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel Degollado, as "an efficacious guide to youth."

READ the full story here from La Croix International

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• Bishop Morneau withdraws from public ministry, acknowledging his 1979 handling of a priest who abused a minor.

"Looking back, I should have handled this situation differently than I did at the time," said Morneau. "At the time, I was asked by the family of the victim to arrange an apology from the offending priest, which I did."

He believed that the request satisfied his obligation in the matter, but now knows that it was not enough.

"I felt at the time I had done what was asked of me by helping the parties to reconcile," he said. "The measures taken were ultimately insufficient to protect others from abuse from this same priest. I very much regret and apologize for this, especially to those victimized following my mistake in this regard."

READ the full story in NCR here.

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• Joan Chittester weighs in. READ her comments in NCR HERE.

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• AUSCP voices concern to hierarchy: Involve the Laity on Clergy Abuse and Coverup — or Face Further Failure. READ it here

 The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests calls for lay involvement at all levels of Church decision-making, including the Vatican, as the Church struggles with sexual abuse and cover-up. . . .  The AUSCP, the largest association of its kind in the United States, applauds Pope Francis for his determination to root out clericalism in the Catholic Church because in the pope’s own words, “clericalism fosters every form of abuse.”

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• Editorial from Our Sunday Visitor: Synodality and lay involvement necessary. READ here

. . .  a new apostolic constitution, Episcopalis Communio (“Episcopal Communion”), . . . explains the purpose of the Synod of Bishops . . . . These structures that have been put in place demand an active laity fully to realize them

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• Open Letter to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from Laity, Priests, Deacons and Religious

Dear Members of the Priesthood of All Believers (All Baptized Catholics), and others deeply affected by recent events in the Church:

In light of recent revelations of past sexual abuse by priests and bishops and cover-ups by some bishops in Pennsylvania, and the revelations about Cardinal McCarrick, you are invited to sign on to an Open Letter to the USCCB to be given them in early November before their annual meeting.

It is important that the bishops understand the magnitude of the pain and hurt this has caused victims of priests and bishops and their families, other victims of sexual abuse by a trusted adult who continue to be subject to the abuse of memory, the Catholic laity and the priests and deacons who everyday minister to and with the People of God.

Please consider signing on to this letter and disseminate to others who may want to sign on.  Sign On Here

Peace in all things!

Fr. Larry Dowling, St. Agatha Parish. Chicago

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• A personal story: My brother was abused by a priest. So why am I still a Catholic?

“When I was 16 years old, my parents told me one night at the dinner table that my eldest brother was sexually abused by a Catholic priest.”

READ the story here from America magazine.

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Sr. Nancy Sylvester writes about her anger, the danger of clericalism in the church and her use of contemplation to work through ire and toward change: The Clerical Church in Search of its Soul.

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• Commentary by Massimo Faggioli in Commonweal: Catholic Church Flirting with Schism

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• News Sentinel report: A Pennsylvania district attorney finds no merit in an allegation against Bishop Kevin Rhodes of Fort Wayne-South Bend. READ it here.

• Commonweal details how Pope Benedict removed a bishop, and questions what happened with McCarrick. Read it here.

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• The New York Times reports on the widening scandal as West Virginia’s bishop resigns. READ it here.

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• U.S bishops react to meeting with Pope Francis: NCR reports.

VATICAN CITY — The highly anticipated meeting between Pope Francis and the leaders of the U.S. bishops' conference on the continuing clergy sexual abuse scandal resulted in a "lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange," the American prelates said in a statement afterwards.

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Report of abuse in Germany: Report by La Croix International

Catholic clerics in Germany have over some 70 years sexually abused about 3,700 minors, according to a 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12.

More than half of the victims were younger than 13 and most of them were male, according to the study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference. 

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AUSCP's Bob Bonnot adds his thoughts: CLICK HERE for the article (in La Croix, in French) or CLICK HERE to read a Google machine translation of the article in La Croix.

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• Bishop of Scranton under investigation: See the report here

"The grand jury report noted Timlin was notified of at least 20 abuse cases during his nearly 20-year tenure as bishop and took questionable actions to deal with the allegations. In one instance, Timlin learned in 1986 that a priest, the Rev. Thomas Skotek, raped a young girl and impregnated her, then arranged for her to have an abortion," the report states.

• Bishop Bosco under investigation: Pittsburg Post Gazette

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said Wednesday it reported a sexual misconduct allegation against a former Pittsburgh and Greensburg bishop to the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.

The allegation against the late Bishop Anthony G. Bosco dates to the late 1960s, when he was a priest with the title of monsignor.

The complaint alleges that Bishop Bosco inappropriately touched a nursing student while he was a chaplain and instructor at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, according to the diocese.

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• Wyoming retired bishop under investigation: Report by CNN

Joseph Hart, the retired longtime bishop of Cheyenne, is today being investigated for allegedly sexually abusing children when he was the highest ranking Catholic in the state of Wyoming, according to the diocese he has served since 1976.

Should Hart be charged, it will be the first time in US history that a bishop is prosecuted for sexual abuse. And if that happens, it will be because of the man who holds his old job.

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• Cardinal Wuerl will discuss resignation. READ the report in the New York Times.

In a letter to his priests, dated Sept. 11, Cardinal Wuerl wrote, “At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership.”

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• Viewpoint from the editors of the Christian Century: Read it here

Repenting for sexual abuse isn’t a distraction from the church’s work: It is the church’s work.

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• Personal letter to select archbishops and bishops, by Louis Arceneaux, C.M., AUSCP Leadership Team member

"We are all aware that we are now in very challenging times in our Church and that you as leaders bear a considerable amount of responsibility for the difficulties we are experiencing as a result of the both the sexual abuse by clergy and the cover up by bishops."

-- From a personal letter written by Father Arceneaux

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• Viewpoint: Better policing of clergy and more accountability of bishops is not enough

 “We cannot solve the real problem by better policing of clergy and more accountability of bishops. The Catholic church needs better seminary formation that will help candidates achieve a more mature psychosexual development.” 
-- From an op-ed piece in the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Father Jim Bacik

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• Viewpoint: As for priests in 2002, a complete audit of bishops is needed today

Not enough that the hierarchy ask for forgiveness. The AUSCP should call for a complete audit of the US and Canadian bishops, just as the John Jay School of Law audit done on priests after the 2002 Dallas Charter.
-- By Father Peter Daly

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• Report: Priest alleging seminary abuse leads church reform demonstration

 On the day after it was announced that his alleged assailant was relieved of parish duties, Fr. Desmond Rossi led an Aug. 29 prayer demonstration in front of the Sacred Heart Basilica Cathedral [in Newark], calling upon the church to reform in the aftermath of the sex abuse crisis.

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• Letter: Catholic Women call for answers

• Carta a Su Santidad

We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.

We are Catholic women deeply committed to our faith and profoundly grateful for Church teachings, the Sacraments, and the many good bishops and priests who have blessed our lives.

Our hearts are broken, our faith tested, by the escalating crisis engulfing our beloved Church. We are angry, betrayed and disillusioned. The pain and suffering of the victims never ends, as each news cycle brings more horrific revelations of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, cover-ups, and deceit—even at the Church’s highest levels.

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• Report: Anchorage Archbishop joins Alaskans in prayer and penance

“It is important for us to look at this reality, firmly, and allow it to make us very uncomfortable, so that we properly respond to those who have been victimized,” Archbishop Etienne said during his homily. “I know the reopening of this wound in the church in this last week during this summer has scandalized many of our people once again. I know the Body of Christ and all the members that make up the church need prayer for healing as well.”

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• Viewpoint: Time's up. Catholics demand truth and accountability

-- A news release from FutureChurch

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