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Pennsylvania prelate says bishops who hid abuse should resign

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico said the only way to regain the trust of the laity after decades-long claims of sexual abuse by priests and others at six Pennsylvania dioceses is by deeds and one of those deeds may mean getting rid of bishops who hid abusers.

New assignments, but same joyful service for identical twin Dominicans

As identical twin sisters, Sister Judith and Sister Maristella Maldonado not only look exactly alike, but as members of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, they dress alike, wearing that order's white habit and black veil with white trim.

Philadelphia archdiocese said to be looking at sexual harassment claims

The Philadelphia Inquirer daily newspaper reported Aug. 16 that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is investigating allegations of sexual harassment from a former student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Will other states follow Pennsylvania on church abuse?

Attorneys general around the U.S. have been largely silent this week about any plans to conduct an investigation like Pennsylvania's that uncovered widespread child sexual abuse in six Catholic dioceses.

Indiana bishop announces he'll release list of accused abusers in diocese

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- At an Aug. 17 news conference, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said that in response to the release of the grand jury report on abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses over a 70- year period, he will collect and release a list of the names of priests in the diocese he currently heads who committed similar offenses.

Bishop Rhoades called the details of the grand jury "equally appalling and heartbreaking." He expressed sympathy and support to the victims and their families, adding, "The church failed you. For that, I apologize."

Emphasizing that during his tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend he has released the name of every priest removed from ministry as a result of a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

He said he has learned, as a result of the grand jury, that it also important to victims to see the names of their abusers made public "for all to see. For everyone to know the pain caused by these priests."

"It is my hope," he said, "that by releasing these names, the innocent victims of these horrific and heartbreaking crimes can finally begin the process of healing."

The list will be compiled beginning immediately. In closing, Bishop Rhoades reiterated the diocese's efforts to regain the trust of the those it serves, and indicated a renewed vigilance regarding its efforts to protect young people.

The grand jury report on the six Pennsylvania dioceses included Harrisburg where he was bishop from 2004 to 2009.

He said in an earlier statement that the report "mentions two incidents during my time as bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg."

"In both of those situations," he added, "I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement, and took other action as appropriate, since each of the accused priests had already been removed from public ministry due to previous allegations."

 

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Cardinal says 'sorrow, disgust, rage' are 'righteous' reactions to abuse

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CHICAGO (CNS) -- "Sorrow, disgust, outrage -- these are righteous feelings" for all to have in reaction to the latest abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said in an Aug. 17 statement.

These are "the stirrings of the conscience of a people scandalized by the terrible reality that too many of the men who promised to protect their children, and strengthen their faith, have been responsible for wounding both," he said.

His comments came in reaction to the Pennsylvania attorney general's Aug. 14 release of a grand jury report detailing seven decades of child sex abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Some weeks before that were the allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick that he abused a minor more than 47 years ago and was sexually inappropriate with seminarians.

"Anger, shock, grief, shame," said Cardinal Cupich, who was chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People 2008 to 2011 when he was bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota. "What other words can we summon to describe the experience of learning about the devastating revelations of sexual abuse -- and the failures of bishops to safeguard the children entrusted to their care."

He described the grand jury report as a "catalog of horrors" that came on "the heels of news accounts of deeply disturbing sexual abuse and harassment allegations" against McCarrick.

"And yet whatever words we may use to describe the anguish of reading about these heinous acts, they can never capture the reality of suffering endured by victims of sexual abuse, suffering compounded by the woeful responses of bishops who failed to protect the people they were ordained to serve."

He quoted a written Vatican statement issued Aug. 16 by Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement: "The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur."

"I know that many of you are asking: How could this be happening again?" Cardinal Cupich continued. "Didn't the U.S. bishops address this crisis sixteen years ago when they met in Dallas? What are they doing now, and why should we trust that this time they will do the right thing? These are precisely the questions that ought to be asked."

As a former chair of the child protection committee, "I have asked them myself."

He credited the "admirable work" of many in the news media who played "an essential role in bringing this crisis into the light."

"Now, we have been made to face these scandals first and foremost by the courage of victim-survivors -- the men and women who found the strength, even when doing so meant suffering again unimaginable pain, to come forward and seek justice from an institution that grievously failed them," the cardinal said.

He reviewed the statement made Aug. 16 by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal DiNardo announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the "moral catastrophe" of the scandal He said the "substantial involvement of the laity" from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines will be essential to this process.

The goals are: A "full investigation" into "the questions surrounding" Archbishop McCarrick; the opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. Three criteria, he said, will be followed: proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity."

Cardinal Cupich said he and his brother bishops "must resolve to face our failures and hold each other accountable."

"We must resolve to be clear-eyed about what we have done, what we have failed to do and what remains to be done," the cardinal said. "We must resolve to live in the light of humility, of repentance, of honesty -- the light of Christ. As your bishop, I pledge to continue holding firm to that resolve. And I ask for you to pray for all victims of abuse."

In Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput addressed the release of the grand jury report in his week column posted Aug. 17.

He said it had been "an ugly week: first for the survivors of sex abuse; second, for Catholics across the state; third, for the wider public. For many, rage is the emotion of choice. The latest grand jury report is a bitterly painful text.

"But rage risks wounding the innocent along with the guilty, and it rarely accomplishes anything good," he said.

He recalled the anger Philadelphians felt toward the archdiocese after the 2005 and 2011 grand jury reports, calling it "well placed and justified."

"We've worked hard to remember the lessons of that time. Seven years later, we are keenly aware of the evil that sexual abuse victims have suffered. We understand our obligation, and we're sincerely committed, to help survivors heal," Archbishop Chaput said.

"We've worked hard to ensure the safety of children and families in church-related environments. In that task, the guidance and counsel of laypeople -- including former law enforcement officials and professionals in assisting abuse survivors -- have been especially valuable."

He added: "We know that rebuilding the trust of our people and the morale of our good priests can only be accomplished with a record of doing the right thing over time. The roughly 100,000 laypeople and clergy we've trained in recent years to recognize and report the signs of sexual abuse are part of that effort.

Archbishop Chaput said that as a member of the U.S. bishops' Executive Committee, "I support Cardinal DiNardo's leadership on these difficult issues," and he included in his column the full text of the cardinal's Aug. 16 letter.

In the Midwest, Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, echoed the same strong sentiments as Cardinal Cupich and Archbishop Chaput.

"Overwhelmed. Disheartened. Ashamed. And at a loss as to an adequate response," he said in an Aug. 13 statement. "Those are some of my reactions to recent accounts of ' sexual abuse of children, young people, and vulnerable adults, perpetrated by the likes of team doctors, coaches, and clergy, here in the USA and elsewhere ... the failure of people in charge, especially bishops, to hear accusers, to act on allegations, and to remove those who are predators from access to potential victims."

He also said he felt the need "to state that the vast majority is good and faithful, and does so much to help us on the way to heaven. Thanks be to God. Moreover, I feel the need to state that there is nothing inherent in an all-male clergy, or mandatory celibacy, or diocesan priests living alone that is the cause of this problem."

He said he looked forward to the bishops full discussion on the abuse crisis at their November meeting and he urged laypeople "to be a partner in this effort" prevent abuse and create safe environments.

He also listed other actions including prayer for conversion ' penance to make amends for past sins. Affirmation of church teaching "about the human person, sexuality, marriage and family" and being "vigilant."

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Editor's Note: The full of these statements can be found online: Cardinal Cupich, https://bit.ly/2wgtxMe; Archbishop Chaput, https://bit.ly/2MpqkF2; and Bishop Jackels, https://bit.ly/2Bj0PQq.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Priests' group says it's 'sad, angry, frustrated' by abuse scandals

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests said its members are "sad ... angry ... frustrated" over continued reports involving fellow priests and a lack of accountability by bishops.

"At every level, our church is in pain," the 1,200-member organization said Aug. 17.

The organization cited concerns over a Pennsylvania grand jury report that recounts seven decades of child sex abuse claims throughout six Catholic dioceses in the state, the recent resignation of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals over allegations he is an abuser, an investigation into alleged improper activities at a Boston seminary, and clergy abuse in Australia and Chile.

Father Bob Bonnot, chairman of the association's leadership team, told Catholic News Service that repeated revelations about improper clergy behavior are "something that has flared up more frequently than any of us wish to remember."

"We suffer with the Catholic people. While all of us priests and the Catholic people are not suffering nearly as much as the families and the individuals who have been abused, we need to let them know we're suffering too," said the retired priest of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.

"People need recognition and encouragement that they're not alone in their feelings," Father Bonnot added.

The organization's statement also serves to support the vast majority of Catholic clergy who have not been accused of wrongdoing and "to raise the voice of hope and joy, a pastoral voice to those within the church and society," he said.

The association offered a series of recommendations to Catholic leaders as they formulate their response to resolve the challenges posed by the recent revelations. First on the list was a call to "those responsible for the scandals" who "must publicly apologize and ask forgiveness for what they have done and what they have failed to do."

The AUSCP statement also repeated the organization's call for reform of the seminary formation process "to make it effective and adequate for our times."

In March, the priests' organization called for revisions in the way seminarians are prepared for ministry so that the U.S. Catholic Church can better address challenges that include declining membership and falling seminary enrollment. It urged that priests get closer to the people they serve and better understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as envisioned by Pope Francis.

Priestly formation must include faithfulness to the outcome of the Second Vatican Council, a call to a life of service to God and God's people, and "authentic human psychosexual development" of seminarians, the association said. In addition, it called for women to be involved in the "formation and decisive discernment of candidates for priesthood and integrated at every level, from top to bottom, in the power structure of the church."

The association's stance earlier was detailed in a March 29 letter and eight-page document addressed to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The committee, is reviewing the Program for Priestly Formation, the fifth and most recent edition of which was published in 2006. Committee members are expecting to submit revisions for a new edition of the guide at the November 2019 USCCB fall general assembly.

The new statement also offered prayers that all members of the church, including clergy and laypeople be given "the strength to root out the pride and ambition of clericalism and its scandalous behavior."

Finally, the association offered support to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, for his efforts to investigate the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, establish a new channel for reporting complaints against bishops and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.

While the AUSCP represents a minority of priests, Father Bonnot said the organization felt it was important to respond to the rash of new related to clergy abuse by offering a "constructive and collaborative contribution to the issues we all face."

"If we don't speak, there is nothing for them to hear," he told CNS.

"We want to be party to continue the effort to abolish this kind of behavior and the kind of attitude that leads to that behavior."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @Dennis Sadowski

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pennsylvania prelate says bishops who hid abuse should resign

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an Aug. 16 interview with Eternal Word Television Network, Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico said the only way to regain the trust of the laity after decades-long claims of sexual abuse by priests and others at six Pennsylvania dioceses is by deeds and one of those deeds may mean getting rid of bishops who hid abusers.

During a report on EWTN's evening show, reporter Jason Calvi asks him: "Should bishops who knew about or covered up abuse resign?"

"I think they should," Bishop Persico answered. "I think we need complete transparency if we're going to get the trust of the people back. We have to be able to demonstrate it."

Bishop Persico was the only bishop who met in person with members of a grand jury investigating decades-long claims of abuse at six Pennsylvania dioceses. In an explosive report, the grand jury said it identified more than 1,000 who said they were victimized as children by priests and other church workers in the state.  

"I've been saying, we can talk about transparency and truth, but much is going to depend upon our deeds, how do we carry that transparency out and how do we act moving forward?" he said during the TV interview. "That's going to be key to all of this and we have to show that we mean what we're saying."

Bishop Persico's Diocese of Erie, as well as the dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh and Greensburg were named in the report released Aug. 14 after an investigation of almost two years.

A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but whether there may be enough evidence or probable cause to support a criminal charge. Almost all of the cases in the report were too old for charges to be filed and many of the 301 priests named are dead or no longer in ministry. But Catholic laity have been insisting on some form for accountability for those who may have known of and hidden the abuse.

"We need this transparency and we also need action, so that if there were other bishops or leaders that were negligent, then they need to be removed because the more we cover up, the less credibility we have," Bishop Persico said.

He said it was important to note that the report documented 70 years of abuse, most of it from 1970s into the 1990s. Following the sex abuse crisis in 2000 in the U.S., the country's bishops in 2002 approved procedures and protocols for addressing allegations of abuse.

"There's less (abuse)" since then, Bishop Persico said, "but we still have to be on guard."

In an interview with CNN's "New Day" news show Aug. 17, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, answered questions about how it was possible that given the procedures and protocols set in 2002, abuse seems to continue. 

As allegations of sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick came light this summer, the procedures have come under fire because they contained no provisions for holding bishops accountable, leading many to ask whether they were enough because the church continues to deal with similar situations.

"I think all the bishops are asking that question and part of it is, there isn't a great explanation," said Bishop Doherty on the news show. "We're still looking at the facts here. I could speak for bishops of my era and I know we came in without knowing much about this and having a great trust in our church and people that we work with, and so this is devastating."

But because this has come out in the public, "a light has been shined on part of the culture that allowed this to happen and there is a great resolve not to let it happen again," he said.

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Citizenship question for 2020 census prompts strong criticism, lawsuits

IMAGE: CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. Commerce Department decision that a question about citizenship status be included on the 2020 census has its fair share of critics and has prompted lawsuits.

The critics say such questions might make people less likely to participate in the census, especially members of immigrant communities.

"The faith community has powerfully spoken up against the unjust, dangerous addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Everyone counts, and faith leaders are organizing to make sure our government recognizes this," said Sara Benitez, the organizing director of Faith in Public Life.

The Census Bureau set about adding this question in response to a letter from the Department of Justice. The DOJ said it wants to ask everyone living in the United States whether they are citizens to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Congress delegated to the U.S. Commerce secretary the authority to determine questions to be asked on the decennial census. Regarding the citizenship question, the Trump administration considers the proposal as reinstating the citizenship question, not adding, what was on the census for decades

"The department (DOJ) needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected ... the decennial census questionnaire is the most appropriate vehicle for collecting that data," the DOJ letter says.

Having the citizenship data is important because "multiple federal courts of appeals have held that, where citizenship rates are at issue in a vote-dilution case, citizen voting-age population is the proper metric for determining whether a racial group could constitute a majority in a single-member district," according to the letter.

The letter admits that the DOJ can get some of this information from the American Community Survey, which is sent to about 300,000 households each month and collects far more information than the census, but the DOJ believes that this survey's data is not precise enough. In addition, the DOJ wants the data from the Census used in redistricting to be the same data used in enforcing the Voting Rights Act with regard to those districts.

Other critics of the proposal include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which said in an open letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that "adding a new citizenship question to the 2020 census would destroy any chance for an accurate count, discard years of careful research and increase costs significantly."

In addition, many states, cities, towns, and other organizations are bringing lawsuits against the Trump administration in an attempt to keep the citizenship question from the census.

The lawsuit brought by Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, says that "the state of California, in particular, stands to lose if the citizenship question is included on the 2020 census. ... Under-counting the sizeable number of Californian noncitizens and their citizen relatives will imperil the state's fair share of congressional seats and Electoral College electors and will cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade."

During a public comment period, which closed recently, the Census Bureau received more than 39,000 comments about the citizenship question.

A U.S. Census Bureau memo noted that Center for Survey Measurement research has "noticed a recent increase in respondents spontaneously expressing concerns about confidentiality" and that Spanish-speaking focus groups "brought up immigration raids, fear of government, and fear of deportation."

Arabic- and Chinese-speaking focus groups expressed similar fears. Members of all groups recommended that the Census Bureau make it clear that none of the data it collected would be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. census is established in Article I Section 2 of the Constitution, which reads in part:

"The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."

Over time, the census has added more questions. The first census, conducted in 1790, asked for only the name of the head of each household, the number of free white males above and below 16, the number of free white women, the number of other free persons and the number of slaves.

The most recent census, conducted in 2010, asked four questions about the household and six about each individual person part of the household. It was, however, shorter than the long form of censuses from 1940 through 2000.

The long-form census, which was sent to one in six households, has been replaced by the American Community Survey.

A question about citizenship is not new on the census, although it has not been asked since 1950.

The 1820 and 1830 censuses asked about the number of foreigners not naturalized in each household, and the 1870 census and all censuses from 1890 to 1950 asked about each person's naturalization status.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican wants accountability for abusers, those who protected them

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, a Vatican spokesman called the abuses described in the report as being "criminal and morally reprehensible."

"Victims should know that the pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent," said Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement Aug. 16.

"Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur," he wrote.

"The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors," Burke wrote and, as such, "the Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm."

"The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements," he added.

The statement, sent in Italian with unofficial English and Spanish translations, came after the Pennsylvania attorney general held a news conference Aug. 14 announcing a 900-page report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by 301 priests, who harmed more than 1,000 victims.

In response the report, Burke said, "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow."

"The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society," the spokesman said.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.