What follows in this link is a series of articles related to the clergy sexual misconduct crisis in our Church. We hope you will find them to be helpful to you. If you are aware of any other articles that you think would be good to have in this link, please let me know about them. - Fr. Paul
PROCESS FOR REPORTING SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A BISHOP
WASHINGTON — A reporting system accepting sexual abuse allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place.
Called the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, the system became operational March 16.
The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop.
The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org. Calls can be placed at 800-276-1562.
The nationwide system is being implemented by individual dioceses under the direction of each respective cardinal, archbishop or bishop. The information gathered will be protected through enhanced encryption.
“As the Holy Father emphasized during the Summit of February 2019, the way forward for bishops in promoting safe environments for minors and vulnerable adults has to be marked by responsibility, accountability and transparency. This reporting system is a major step in advancing that agenda, particularly with the involvement of lay experts,” Cardinal Cupich said.
Bishop John M. Botean of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton, Ohio, was set to post a notice on the diocesan website March 16 as the service started.
“I’ll have just a little explanation of what the service is,” he said.
Bishop Botean welcomed the reporting system as well. “It’s too bad that it’s come to this, but if it’s necessary, here it is,” he said.
In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which in January 2019 implemented its own system for reporting allegations against bishops, Auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker said CBAR is similar in that it will be accessible from the archdiocesan home page and by phone.
Posters will be displayed at each parish promoting the national hotline as well as information about contacting the archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office.
“Our intention was that the (nationwide) system — which we are implementing locally as a metropolitan — would be no less robust than what we had implemented here in Baltimore,” Bishop Parker said.
Denver-based Convercent developed the reporting system under a two-year contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The company specializes in ethics and compliance management for businesses and organizations.
Under the system, the company gathers information and routs reports to the appropriate church authority consistent with canon law. It does not conduct any investigation.
Approved by the U.S. bishops in June at their spring general assembly, the reporting mechanism meets the requirements established by Pope Francis in his “motu proprio” “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) to have a way of receiving reports of sexual misconduct by a bishop.
“Motu proprio” is a Latin phrase that means “on one’s own initiative.” Popes use it to signal a special personal interest in a subject.
The system works like this:
• Calls initially will come into a central phone bank, where trained personnel will ask for information about the allegation being made including the name of the person making the report and his or her contact information. People also will have the option of filing a report online if they do not want to call. People will not be required to give their name if they wish to remain anonymous.
• The information gathered will be forwarded to the appropriate metropolitan, or archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province. Allegations against a metropolitan will be forwarded to the senior suffragan bishop in the appropriate province. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans. Each province has one archdiocese and several dioceses.
• The information also will be forwarded to a layperson designated to assist the bishop in receiving allegations.
• After review, the metropolitan or senior suffragan will send the report to the apostolic nuncio in Washington.
• The nuncio is required to send the report and the metropolitan’s assessment to the Vatican, which has 30 days to determine if a formal investigation is warranted. If so, a bishop will be authorized to oversee an investigation.
• When an investigation is ordered, qualified experts, including laypeople will conduct it. An investigation is expected to be completed within 90 days and forwarded to the Vatican.
• Vatican officials will review the findings of the investigation and determine the appropriate process leading to a final judgment.
As each case is filed, the person reporting an incident will be given a case number and password which can be used to follow progress of their particular case.
Individuals who file a report also will be encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they believe they have been a victim of a crime.
Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary, told the bishops during their fall general assembly in November that the system is designed to filter complaints so that only those addressed in the “motu proprio” will be forwarded.
Under CBAR, people with complaints about any other actions of a bishop, such as diocesan assignments, church closings, liturgy or homily content, will be asked to contact the appropriate diocese or eparchy directly.
Allegations of sexual abuse by a priest, deacon, religious, diocesan staff member or volunteer, will be directed to the local diocesan or eparchial victim assistance coordinator under the process that has been in place under the 2002 “Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.”
Pope Francis released his “motu proprio” last May following a worldwide meeting of bishops’ conference leaders at the Vatican early in 2019 to discuss the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse. The document specifically addresses allegations of sexual misconduct and other accusations of actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or church investigations of such misconduct by clergy.
The “motu proprio” requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports” by May 31.
Contributing: Christopher Gunty, associate publisher/editor of Catholic Review Media, the media arm of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Real progress and a commitment to reform
Cardinal Blase Cupich
At the conclusion of February’s Vatican meeting on the protection of minors in the church, Pope Francis promised concrete results, and they came with a swiftness rarely seen in society, let alone in the church. Within 90 days he issued four legislative documents designed, as he stated, to “reinforce the protection of minors by strengthening the normative framework.”
The first three documents involved norms for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults in Vatican City and those who staff the various offices of the Holy See. The fourth text, “Vos estis lux mundi,” established universal church law for the reporting and handling cases of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
It was this last document that preoccupied the bishops’ attention at the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last week in Baltimore, as we crafted procedures for implementing this universal law in the United States.
Our meeting produced five outcomes:
1. the establishment of a national hotline managed by a third-party entity that will receive reports of misconduct and mishandling of cases by bishops;
2. the requirement that each diocese inform the faithful and the public of the system in place for reporting allegations against bishops, either directly to the office the metropolitan bishop has designated for this purpose and staffed by a qualified lay expert or to the national hotline;
3. the defined role and responsibilities of the lay expert designated by each metropolitan to receive allegations. These include:
• engaging and interacting with the third-party entity established at the national level to receive reports;
• informing the public about how to report cases involving bishops;
• receiving reports on behalf of the metropolitan, either through the third-party entity managing the hotline or made directly to the metropolitan;
• gathering any needed additional information from the one making the report if there is a need for clarification about details that are time-, place- and person-specific;
• advising the metropolitan on the merits of sending the case to Rome; and
• coordinating pastoral outreach to those who come forward with allegations;
4. the requirement that each metropolitan create a list of lay experts after consulting with the bishops in the province to assist with any investigation ordered by the Holy See following the initial report by the metropolitan; and
5. the establishment of procedures for submitting the results of the investigation to the Holy See, with defined timelines, as provided in the universal law, that is 30 days for the Holy See to make a decision after receiving the initial report and 90 days for the completion of the investigation, guidelines for conflict-of-interest issues and confidentiality measures to protect the accusers and due process norms.
We were able to craft and nearly unanimously approve this very substantial document (only one “no” vote) because we took the time in a spirit of unity to reflect on and study the challenges, aided particularly by the pathway provided by the Holy Father, who is the guarantor of unity in the church.
The task before us now is to put into practice what we pledged to do. As soon as possible I will announce the system to receive reports involving bishops in the Chicago province (the bishops of Illinois) and complete the work of creating, with the assistance of the bishops in the province, a list of lay experts who could be called upon to assist with any eventual investigation.
There is much work to do as we address the challenges we face, but the church universally and in the United States has taken a big step forward, building on the progress we have made. It is worth reminding everyone of the leadership in our archdiocese, which has been at the forefront of dealing with this crisis for nearly 30 years. It is summarized in the sidebar of this article, and expanded on at heal.archchicago.org/our-response.
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with these efforts and feel free to make suggestions on how we can build on this work. Children, wherever they are served by the adult world, are all our responsibility.
Safe-environment measures taken by the Archdiocese of Chicago
Healing and respect of victims is our priority and starting point. Nearly three decades ago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin led the way in establishing a victim-assistance program, which to date has helped more than 400 victim-survivors and their families.
• Starting in 2002, we have reported all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities when they are received. At that time, we reported all historical allegations whether the accused was alive or dead, a diocesan priest, an extern priest from another diocese or religious-order priest.
• We investigate every allegation against an archdiocesan priest, regardless of whether the accused is alive or dead.
• When we learn of an allegation of abuse we promptly report it to civil authorities, remove the accused from ministry and investigate the allegation. Allegations are submitted to our lay-majority independent review board for investigation. Since its establishment in 1992, this board has conducted 255 recorded meetings.
• Since 2006, we have published the names of archdiocesan priests with substantiated allegations of abuse, and in 2014 we released more than 20,000 documents from these priests’ files.
• Safe-environment efforts in the church have made progress. The last known case of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy took place in the archdiocese almost 15 years ago. There have been two allegations of child pornography during the past five years, which also have been reported to civil authorities. According to the USCCB and CARA at Georgetown University, in the last decade there have been on average four cases of abuse of minors annually by clerics in the entire United States, with a Catholic population of 70 million.
• Sexual abuse of children is a problem across society. Therefore, we conduct background screenings for all archdiocesan employees and volunteers and implement a comprehensive safe-environment training program for adults and children. Last year alone, we trained 112,000 children in an age-appropriate manner on how to recognize, resist and report abusive behavior. To date we have trained more than 263,000 adults in 3,700 training sessions.
• We have subjected our processes, policies and files to the review of independent experts multiple times to help ensure we remain accountable and current in dealing with this issue.
• We stand ready to cooperate with all institutions and agencies that care for children and will share our experience and learning. No matter where a child is educated or cared for, they are all our children and deserve to be protected.
SUMMARY OF NEW UNIVERASAL CHURCH LAW REGARDING CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
As part of the commitment of the Catholic Church to protect minors and vulnerable people, the Holy Father has established a universal Church law by a motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi,” which creates new requirements for the reporting, handling and investigating sexual abuse and the mishandling of such misconduct, including cover up, to and by Church authorities. This universal law goes into effect June 1, 2019 and includes measures already in use in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Vos estis lux mundi is among the concrete measures called for by the Holy Father at the February 2019 Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church. The first was Pope Francis’ March 26 motu proprio and related documents, which made the reporting of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the Vatican City State and the Roman Curia mandatory for all officials. Vos estis lux mundi extends that obligation worldwide.
“While this new law validates many of the procedures already in place in the Archdiocese of Chicago and in the United States, it provides a framework for the bishops in this country to adopt measures at our June meeting that will both implement the pope’s executive order and address the issue of holding everyone in the Church accountable,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago.
What are the provisions of this law?
This law requires Church leaders throughout the world to offer spiritual, medical and psychological support to victims and their families as appropriate. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Assistance Ministry has offered these services for nearly three decades.
Dioceses must establish publicly accessible systems for reporting sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct, as well as for dealing with the mishandling of such misconduct, including cover up, before June 1, 2020. The archdiocese has such systems and regularly encourages those who have experienced abuse to come forward.
Vos estis lux mundi mandates that all clerics and members of religious orders within the global Church report clergy sexual abuse and the cover-up of such misconduct to Church authorities, including when these offenses were committed by bishops or religious superiors, regardless of when they occurred.
Vos estis lux mundi confirms the duty to follow the reporting requirements of local civil jurisdictions. The archdiocese has reported all allegations to civil authorities, regardless of whether the accused is deceased or a diocesan clergy person or a member of a religious order.
Sexual acts carried out through violence or use of intimidation, including offenses against seminarians or novices, are subject to mandatory reporting and investigation.
This law protects those who report abuse from recriminations of any kind.
Vos estis lux mundi requires metropolitan bishops to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and the mishandling or cover-up of such misconduct by bishops and religious superiors in a timely and effective manner.
It encourages the inclusion of laypeople in such investigations. Lay people are already integral to the investigatory process in this archdiocese through our independent review board comprised of victim survivors and experts in the fields of counselling, law enforcement and child care.
Investigations of accused bishops or leaders of religious orders are to be carried out at the local level, whether by archbishops or superiors of religious orders, unless there are conflicts of interest. In such cases, the law provides for an appropriate alternative. The law allows for lay experts to be used in the process.
How does this law work?
Anyone can forward an allegation against a diocesan cleric and/or member of a religious order to the relevant bishop and/or religious superior for investigation. Other measures for reporting can also be adopted to assure accessibility and transparency. All reporting requirements to civil authorities are to be observed.
Once a bishop or religious superior receives an allegation, he must forward it to the relevant local Church authority, the metropolitan archbishop of a given region or the superior general (“supreme moderator”) of the religious order. The allegation also must be forwarded to the Holy See.
The metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator must then investigate the allegation in a timely manner. If the metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator is accused or subject to a conflict of interest, another person, who is not in a conflict, is chosen by the Holy See.
Those tasked with carrying out such investigations are encouraged to engage the help of lay experts — including, for example, members of the existing review boards of many dioceses. Our conference can adopt guidelines to standardize the use of lay people in the process throughout the dioceses of the United States.
Once the investigation is complete, the results are forwarded to the relevant office of the Roman Curia, which must act promptly in accord with set time lines.
The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and encourages anyone who feels he or she has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at www.archchicago.org
STATEMENT OF CARDINAL BLASE CUPICH ON THREE RECENT DOCUMENTS OF POPE FRANCIS RELATED TO CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE - 3/29/19
I welcome the release today of three important documents by which Pope Francis makes clear that everyone in the Church has a “duty to report abuses (of minors and vulnerable adults) to competent authorities and to cooperate with them in the activities of prevention and response.” This is so, the Holy Father remarks, because “the protection of minors and vulnerable persons is an integral part of the Gospel message that the Church and all her members are called to spread throughout the world.”
The first of these documents is an executive order (motu proprio), which issues both specific laws and pastoral guidelines applicable to Vatican City State and the embassies of the Holy See around the world. It is true that few, if any children reside in the Vatican. Yet, it is precisely that fact, along with the inclusion of the most advanced international norms in shaping these documents, which demonstrates that Pope Francis is offering a template for the global church.
Specifically, these documents released today put into law and/or provide the following measures:
· All crimes related to abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, not just those of a sexual nature, but any mistreatment, will be prosecuted even if the victim does not file an official report;
· Everyone in the Vatican, the members of the Roman Curia and diplomatic staff serving in embassies around the world are mandatory reporters and there are sanctions for failure to report;
· The Vicar of Vatican City has the obligation to report to the Promoter of Justice any information of abuse that “is not manifestly unfounded”, and to remove the alleged perpetrator of the abuse from pastoral activities as a precautionary measure;
· Anyone found guilty of abuse will be “removed from office” in the Vatican. If the person is a priest, all the canonical norms already in force, will be put into practice;
· A qualified expert will be appointed to offer pastoral care and accompaniment for victims of abuse in the Vatican;
· Guidelines are now in place regarding proper behavior of adults, i.e., adults must “always be visible to others when they are in the presence of minors,” it is strictly forbidden “to establish a preferential relationship with a single minor, to address a minor in an offensive way or to engage in inappropriate or sexually allusive conduct, to ask a minor to keep a secret, to photograph or to film a minor without the written consent of his parents;”
· A 20-year prescription period (statute of limitations) has been introduced, that, “in the case of offense to a minor” begins on his or her eighteenth birthday. In Italy, these crimes could not be prosecuted more than four years after the crime itself was committed.
We should not overlook the fact that these documents come just a month after the Holy Father’s meeting with the presidents of the episcopal conferences and leaders of religious women and men from across the world. On the last day of the meeting, the pope called for an all-out battle against child abuse. Today’s development should be viewed as the first in a series of concrete steps the pope indicated would come in short order. We can anticipate the release of a handbook or ‘vademecum’ for the universal Church, the revision of chapter 6 of the Code of Canon Law, the issuance of procedures for implementing the Apostolic Letter “Like a Loving Mother”, which deals with misconduct and mishandling on the part of bishops and the creation of task forces to assist under-resourced dioceses in bringing their norms for protecting minors up-to-date and to deal with these cases effectively.
Much work needs yet to be done, but today sets the Catholic Church on a path from which there is no turning back.
Statement of the Archdiocese of Chicago on the List of Accused Priests Released by Anderson & Associates
Anderson & Associates released the names of clerics and laypeople they say have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors and have served in one or more of the six Illinois dioceses. The Archdiocese of Chicago reports all allegations we receive to the civil authorities. In addition to the priests listed on the archdiocese’s website, we have identified 22 priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago on Anderson & Associates’ list.
The archdiocese has reported 20 of these clerics to the civil authorities; in one of the remaining two cases, the archdiocese first received notice when the cleric was arrested, and in the other it was an allegation of misconduct with an adult, not a minor. The attached chart details the circumstances surrounding these 22 allegations and disposition of those cases.
Priests with substantiated allegations are listed on the archdiocese’s website. The Archdiocese of Chicago reports all allegations to the civil authorities, regardless of the date of the alleged abuse, whether the priest is a diocesan priest or religious order priest, and whether the priest is alive or dead.
When an allegation against an archdiocesan cleric is made and before any investigation begins, the archdiocesan Office of Assistance Ministry promptly reaches out to the person making the allegation and offers therapy at archdiocesan expense from a licensed therapist of the person’s choosing. The archdiocese withdraws the accused priest from ministry pending investigation of the allegation and publicly announces this action.
After the civil authorities have completed their investigation, the archdiocese conducts its investigation.
The Independent Review Board, which considers the results of such investigations, was established in 1993. The majority of its members are laypeople. The Independent Review Board is the primary adviser to the archbishop on issues of risk to children and fitness for ministry.
Anderson & Associates conflates people who have been accused, but may be innocent, with those who have substantiated allegations against them, referring to all as perpetrators. Their list includes: a priest whose allegations were investigated by the public authorities and were determined to be unfounded. The Archdiocese’s Independent Review Board also investigated and determined that the allegations were not substantiated. The priest was then returned to ministry. Two priests whose cases are under investigation; their cases were reported to the authorities and they have been withdrawn from ministry, pending the outcome of the investigation. A seminarian (who was a transitional deacon) who was never ordained a priest. A priest who was accused of misconduct with an adult, not a minor.
Many of the names listed by Anderson & Associates are religious order priests. We provide the following information to help clarify their governance:
Dioceses and religious orders are separately governed entities in the Roman Catholic Church. Bishops govern dioceses; religious superiors govern religious orders. The bishop selects, trains, and supervises diocesan priests. The religious orders select, train, and supervise their priests. The diocesan and religious order priests often do similar work, but each group is responsible to its own chain of authority (Canon 586). Disagreements between a bishop and a religious superior are referred to the Holy See for resolution.
A bishop and a religious superior work cooperatively such as when a bishop grants faculties (a license) for a religious priest to work in a diocesan institution, such as a parish (Canon 678). Nevertheless, the religious order priest is still under the authority of his religious superior. Similarly, a bishop may revoke a religious order priest’s faculties (a license) to work in the diocese. In that eventuality, the supervision and management of the order priests also remains the responsibility of his religious superior. In brief, a diocesan priest is the responsibility of the diocese and a religious priest is the responsibility of the religious order.
If the Archdiocese of Chicago receives an allegation that a religious priest has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor, the archdiocese reports it to the civil authorities, publicly withdraws the priest’s faculties to work in the archdiocese, and refers the matter to his religious superior.
Religious superiors have the same obligation and responsibility as bishops to adhere to the terms set forth in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
For more information about the archdiocese’s response to clergy sexual abuse, please visit: https://heal.archchicago.org/.
REFLECTION ON THE PLENARY IN ROME: THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IN THE CHURCH BY CARDINAL BLASE CUPICH - February 27, 2019
The historic meeting on the protection of children convened by the Holy Father this past week set the direction of the entire global Church on the question of child safety. Our firm resolve and the actions we will take were the direct result of our listening to victim survivors throughout the meeting. Their unflinching witness moved the hearts of the participants and the world and led us to commit to a common mission of making the Church a safe place for all, achieved by taking personal responsibility, holding bishops accountable and practicing transparency.
The nine talks over three days were given by presenters approved by the Holy Father. There was no glossing over the problem as each of the speakers pointed out the failures of bishops to act responsibly and described the damage done by their lack of accountability and transparency. Pope Francis built on what was said in the various talks by making it clear at the end of the Mass on Sunday that the Church’s agenda in protecting children must be proactive not reactive or defensive. He insisted that the Church will spare no effort to hold abusers accountable and will not tolerate cover ups.
The Holy Father has already begun the transformation of the Church’s approach to child abuse. The pope’s Apostolic Letter, Like a Loving Mother, provided for the removal of a bishop on the basis of incompetence rather than the higher level of proof of fault in handing cases of abuse. Additionally, the way has been cleared for episcopal conferences to establish procedures for holding bishops accountable should they abuse minors or mishandle cases. The all-out effort the pope has called for will continue to build over time and will be marked by a commitment to ongoing learning and improving, particularly by listening to victim survivors of abuse.
Four concrete steps were announced at the end of the meeting.
1. The imminent publication of a motu proprio by the pope, providing rules and regulations to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults within the Vatican City State;
2. The distribution of a “vademecum” (or rulebook) to bishops around the world, standardizing guidelines so church leaders everywhere take on this task in a united way and explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities regarding protecting children;
3. Recognizing that the global Church is marked by great culture diversity and unique regional challenges, task forces of competent experts that are culturally sensitive and regionally representative will be organized to assist bishops’ conferences that may lack the necessary resources or expertise to fully address the issue of safeguarding minors and dealing with abuse;
4. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is responsible for approving the norms of each bishops’ conference.
I invite you to view the major talks, prayer services with testimonies of victims, the penitential ceremony and Mass, all of which were live streamed, so the entire world could follow this event. The videos and talks are posted on the Vatican’s dedicated website at www.pbc2019.org.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago
MESSAGE OF CARDINAL BLASE CUPICH ABOUT CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE UPCOMING FEBRUARY BISHOPS MEETING IN ROME WITH POPE FRANCIS
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
You may know that Pope Francis has called a meeting in Rome, of the presidents of bishops’ conferences and other leaders in the Church from around the world to address the crisis of clerical sex abuse of minors. As I work with others to organize this meeting, I want to tell you that your concerns are close to my heart. I truly appreciate the input I have heard and received from you. I will carry your concerns and insights with me as I go to Rome.
At the same time, I know how hard these past few months have been for you. I understand the anger and disappointment many feel as the Church suffers from the scandal of clergy sexual abuse, and the mishandling by some church leaders.
Victim-survivors have been courageous in telling their stories. Listening to them, taking measures to protect children and holding everyone accountable is the only response to make.
We are and have been doing all of this in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and will continue to provide support for victims, to report every allegation of clerical sexual abuse to civil authorities, and to permanently remove anyone from ministry who is credibly accused.
I invite you to learn more about what the Archdiocese does to protect children, heal victims and make sure all priests and church leaders are held accountable, by visiting our website http://heal.archchicago.org. I’ve also asked pastors to print the website address in your bulletins.
Pope Francis understands that abuse in the Church is a global problem that needs a global solution. The Holy Father’s aim in calling the meeting at the end of this month is to make sure that every bishop in the world takes personal responsibility and is held accountable for how he handles these matters. But, the pope also intends to make clear to all bishops the concrete steps for complying with this agenda. Getting this right is the priority.
I also want to tell you how sorry I am, for the harm done to victims, but also the harm done to you, the faithful who also have been deeply wounded by all of this. You continue to be in my prayers and I ask for yours, not just for me and the success of the February meeting, but especially for our priests and all who work for the church faithfully during these very challenging times. They need our support now more than ever. God Bless you all.
Cardinal Blase Cupich - Archbishop of Chicago
Statement of the Archdiocese of Chicago on the Attorney General of Illinois Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse
“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse. It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history. Their bravery spurred my predecessor Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to establish an archdiocesan Special Commission in 1991 to examine this terrible crisis, and to develop a robust set of procedures to protect young people from predators and to establish supportive services for victim-survivors and their families. Those efforts continue today in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, which is staffed by lay professionals with backgrounds in investigative services, education, social work, and therapeutic services. They work daily to protect and heal. There can be no doubt about the constant need to strengthen our culture of healing, protection, and accountability. While the vast majority of abuses took place decades ago, many victim-survivors continue to live with this unimaginable pain.” - Cardinal Blase Cupich
The archdiocese has reviewed the preliminary report of the Illinois Attorney General’s investigation of the Catholic dioceses of Illinois’ handling of clergy sexual abuse cases. The nature of the report makes it difficult to discern which generalized findings apply to the Archdiocese of Chicago. However here are a few comments we can make:
o First and most important, we recognize and mourn the grave damage done to the many people harmed by clergy sexual abuse. We will always need to own and express deep regret for the suffering caused both by the abuse and the past failures to respond.
o Recognizing the need to help heal this harm, since 1991 we have maintained one of the first and largest victim-assistance programs in the nation. The assistance ministry and the help it offers is independent of the investigative process. We provide this assistance to anyone making an allegation regardless of when the abuse is alleged to have occurred, whether the accused is living or whether the allegation is eventually substantiated. To date, we have provided assistance to more than 400 victim-survivors and their families. We ask that anyone who has been abused by a member of clergy or employee of the archdiocese to come forward to receive the help and healing they deserve.
o The Archdiocese of Chicago has been at the forefront of dealing with the issue of clergy sexual abuse for nearly three decades. In 1991, Cardinal Bernardin called for a dramatic change in our culture, and in 1992 the Archdiocese of Chicago established a hotline for reporting abuse and adopted policies and procedures for the safeguarding of children, which ultimately served as the model for the Charter adopted by the U.S. Catholic bishops a decade later.
o Starting in 2002, we have reported all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities, and at that time we reported all historical allegations. We report these allegations regardless of whether the accused is alive or dead, a diocesan priest, an extern priest from another diocese or religious order priest. We consider an allegation to have been made even if the report is made anonymously, and we report it to civil authorities.
o We investigate every allegation against an archdiocesan priest we receive, regardless of whether the accused is alive or dead.
o When an allegation of child sexual abuse involves a religious order priest, we remove the accused’s faculties to minister in the archdiocese, contact the religious order and help facilitate the victim’s report. Each religious order is mandated to have a process for investigating such allegations.
o Since 2006, we have published the names of diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of abuse, and in 2014 we released more than 20,000 documents from these priests’ files.
o When we learn of an allegation of abuse we act promptly, report it to civil authorities, remove the accused from ministry and investigate the allegation. Allegations are submitted to our lay-majority independent review board for investigation. To date this board has conducted 255 recorded meetings.
o Sexual abuse of children is a problem across society. Therefore, we conduct background screenings for archdiocesan employees and volunteers, along with a comprehensive safe-environment training program for adults and children. Last year alone, we trained 112,000 children in an age-appropriate manner on how to how to recognize, resist and report abusive behavior. To date we have trained more than 263,000 adults in 3,700 training sessions.
o We have subjected our processes, policies and files to the review of multiple independent experts multiple times to help ensure we remain accountable and current in dealing with this issue.
o We stand ready to cooperate with all institutions and agencies that care for children and will share our experience and learnings. No matter where a child is educated or cared for, they are all our children and deserve to be protected.
o For more information please visit heal.archchicago.org
A priest's epiphany: People in the pews will save the Catholic Church by Rev. Bill Stenzel
I am a “cradle Catholic” from the South Side of Chicago. In local parlance, “I was baptized at Sabina, grew up in Leo, Leo HS, class of ‘62.” Faith was simple because the Catholic Church had all the answers and always would: There is a God. Be good. Go to heaven!
During my first weeks of high school, the jovial and gentle John XXIII was elected pope. Pushing for renewal, he was a hospice nurse to outdated practices and worship, a midwife to much-needed reforms. We heard him call church leaders to a Vatican Council. From that council came a new vision, a church that was more than its hierarchy. We, the people in the pews, weren’t just spectators, we were the church. In December 1964 we rearranged church furniture to bring the altar table close to us in the pews. We set aside the church’s language, Latin, to pray in our language, English.
We were energized. But troubling surprises lay ahead.
For half a century, we rank-and-file Catholics have accepted these new responsibilities — stewards of our church — that the Vatican Council bestowed on us. Yet we also have experienced and resisted the efforts of many church leaders to take that legacy back and keep us in our place.
And we have learned about our leaders’ failed oversight. We have heard, over and over, about the tragic and criminal sexual abuse of children by people we trusted. We have known some of the abusers and too many of their victims. Every time we thought that we had heard the full story, that our leaders had everything under control, we experienced the recurring trauma of hearing more. And our trauma was minimal next to that of the victims.
We also heard, over and over, public sorrows from the voices of church leaders. We have been informed of their studies and their commissions and their judgments and their decisions. Those of us who work with the church and its people — especially its children — have had our backgrounds screened. We have been trained. We have been certified. We document our compliance. We establish our “suitability” when we minister in another diocese. All because we acknowledged the truth of the abuse and took on the mission of protecting our children.
And we — thousands of us — have made children safer. Church employees and volunteers, parish priests and religious men and women, youth ministers and coaches, ministers of music, education and faith formation, our office staffs and facilities staffs, ushers and sacristans, and every person in every pew. We have made that happen.
And there is no going back. The thousands of us employed by the church, or who volunteer in our parishes, know that we cannot remain in our positions unless we comply with the so-called Dallas Accords. Meeting in Texas, our bishops drafted those new protections in 2002, after abuse by clerics became a national scandal.
Yet we have learned that our bishops were not subject to the same scrutiny. Not all of the rules that applied to us applied to them. As we honored reporting procedures and documented our compliance, some bishops opted out of the annual audit process that we thought they had to follow.
And now, once again, we experience more revelations of abuse. More trauma. A recent Pennsylvania investigation reveals yet again the weakness of “internal investigations.” It reveals the unwillingness or unpreparedness of some bishops — and some higher-ranking church leaders — to confront these tragedies as they unfolded. They didn’t report. They didn’t impose consequences. And we have learned that these bishops are not accountable to one another. That the Dallas Accords dealt primarily with priests, not bishops. That only Rome can supervise those bishops.
After Dallas, our national conference of bishops should have quickly and urgently and publicly demanded equal compliance in every diocese. America’s bishops should have stormed the papal offices demanding compliance from all their brethren. Instead, the tradition of bishops not publicly criticizing one another has been part of the problem. But concealment and transparency cannot co-exist. So our crisis grows worse.
After Pennsylvania, after all we’re learning, our church will never be the same. We, the people in the pews, will save the Catholic Church. This epiphany comes not only because Pennsylvania has brought us to a terrible moment. It comes in part because, after all these years of sadness and grief, I finally cried.
On Sept. 8, I worshipped at Saturday evening Mass to support a friend who was presiding and preaching. When he spoke of the hurt that we have all experienced as sisters and brothers in the Catholic community, he asked all of us sitting in the pews to remember that we are the church. We cannot and should not rely on a pope or a cardinal or a bishop. He reminded us that we do not demand our church’s healing and reform from others. Healing and reform are our responsibility.
As my brother priest spoke, those of us coming to realize we must save our church applauded. An uncontrollable flow of tears ran down my face. After my long career as a priest, I felt anew what I had learned in the 1960s: We in the pews are the church. And we, not the hierarchy, must be its healers.
As I wept, I remembered when a mother walking toward me pulled her young sons close to her as she saw my black suit and Roman collar. I remembered the victim of abuse who told me that whenever he sees a man wearing a black suit and Roman collar, he sees his abuser. I remembered the relatives of victims saying how the thought of being in the church where the abuse had happened still overwhelms them.
We have much work to do. We must reform how our church is governed. And we must replace anyone who has allowed the wounding to continue again and again. As we move to rescue our church and embrace those victims, I hope we all feel the tears.
Rev. Bill Stenzel is a retired pastor of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Why I'm not leaving the Catholic Church by John Gehring – National Catholic Reporter
If there ever was a time for a demoralized Catholic to pack it up, head to the nearest Episcopal church and declare himself a refugee from religious malpractice, the most recent round of clergy sexual abuse scandals would seem ample justification.
As the Pennsylvania grand jury report discloses in painful detail, the institutional evil and brazen culture of cover-up that allows predators to abuse with impunity befouls the air like a mobster's cigar. The Mafioso analogy might seem overwrought, but omertà — the Mob's code of silence about criminal activity — feels like an apt description in this case. The Pennsylvania grand jury, after consultation with the FBI, described the way church officials acted as "a playbook" for concealing the truth.
I've been asked by friends who aren't Catholic, and some former Catholics over the years, how a progressive could stay in a church that doesn't allow gay people to marry or how I could be part of a patriarchal institution that refuses to ordain women.
I sputtered out answers that were likely insufficient, not logically airtight, and probably unacceptable for some. For me, and I would guess for many Catholics, the church is not like a political party's platform that you parse for complete alignment with your preferred ideology or policy goals. My faith is more naturally compared to the complicated bonds of family and tribe, a place where you feel most at home even when the people in your own living room sometimes drive you mad.
Questions about my Catholic identity are becoming harder to answer in recent weeks. How could somebody choose to associate with a church where the words predators and cover-up are now commonplace in headlines? Of course, the abuse crisis isn't new. The National Catholic Reporter was chasing down the story almost two decades before The Boston Globe broke its bombshell investigations in 2002. Nevertheless, the latest revelations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — the first American cardinal in history to resign from the College of Cardinals — and the news that 300 priests in six different Pennsylvania dioceses abused at least a thousand children, feels different. No longer is there any doubt about the scale of this systemic evil. If what took place in Boston wasn't the norm, the details from Pennsylvania also prove it wasn't an aberration or isolated.
While it's true that most of these abuse cases occurred years ago, and the U.S. bishops' implemented a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002 that helped significantly reduce the number of abuses in recent years, this has been a summer of anguish for Catholics. The church feels at a breaking point.
In the middle of Mass last Sunday, a father in Georgia stood up with a searing question for his priest that reverberates far beyond one parish: "I have a son. He's going to make his first Communion. What am I supposed to tell him?" This is a question and a haunting lament. About 5,000 Catholics, including theologians and scholars, have signed on a statement calling on every bishop in the country to resign. The poetry of William Butler Yeats comes to mind: "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."
So why am I still Catholic?
The church has always been a flawed, sinful, human institution filled with darkness and light. In part, I go to church these days to grapple with those contradictions, to find healing in the Eucharist and strength standing next to my fellow weary travelers.
I like to imagine those who became improbable saints — the Christ-denying Peter and the persecuting Saul who found redemption as Paul — looking down and reminding me that Jesus never abandons us, especially in our darkest hours, even when we don't know the way home. I refuse to let the church I love, still filled with grace, be handed over to men who abused children, abused power and defiled the sacred.
The writer James Baldwin remarked that he loved this country so much that he insisted on the right to criticize it perpetually. I feel the same way about the Catholic Church. I've lost trust in some bishops and cardinals. I still believe in the people of God.
While some of our captains who wear those pompous hats and expect to be called "your eminence" have steered the ship badly off course, those of us down in steerage class are the reason the ship hasn't completely sunk. We journeyed too long and weathered too many storms to let this vessel crash on rocks without a struggle.
I'm probably writing this as a form of therapy. I'm piecing words together to form some order amid the chaos, trying to remind myself that the best lights that illuminated my path came from the same church that now seems shrouded in darkness. Catholic nuns who taught me about justice and dignity. Jesuit priests who taught me to pray and discern and think. Franciscans who reminded me that the grandeur and glory of God can be reverenced in a forest as much as any cathedral.
I'm grateful to those I never met but who are spiritual teachers: Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton. I want to summon all of that goodness and wisdom and spirit. I need it as medicine for healing. Fuel to keep believing. So with all those companions, living and dead, I will keep showing up. Together, we might rebuild our church again.
[John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, and author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope's Challenge to the American Catholic Church.]
Katie Prejean McGrady - August 27, 2018
I went to bed Saturday night with a feeling of deep sadness. After reading the 11-page bombshell testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States, in which he alleges that bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis himself knew about the allegations of abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and continued to support him in his ministry, I truly did not know what to think. The question that kept running through my head as I turned off the light and tossed and turned for hours was simply: If it is true, what do we do now? What happens next?
The same question weighed on my mind Sunday morning as my family and I made breakfast. My 1-year-old sat in her high chair, blissfully chewing on bananas and avocado toast. My husband brewed a pot of coffee. I made waffles. And as I laid my daughter down for her 9 a.m. nap and got ready to go to 11 a.m. Mass, I thought for a split second: “Do I really want to go today? How can I? What’s the point?”
I think a lot of us are asking those questions as day after day another round of news sends tremors through the church. One day there are reports of terrible abuse and systemic cover-ups. Then there are confirmed rumors about a former cardinal doing awful things to the very men being formed to serve the church. The next day, there are allegations that this abuse and cover-up and immorality goes all the way to the top of the hierarchy. Caught in the midst of the news storm are the normal churchgoing Catholics who pray their rosaries, hang crucifixes on their walls, raise their children in the faith and diligently give of their hard-earned money to keep the church’s lights on. Now suddenly asking they are, “What do we do now?”
So what do we do?
We pray. More than we ever have, with more fervor, passion and hope than ever before. We cry out in anguish, we cling to the merciful and just Lord, and we beg him to cast out Satan and all his evil works and shed light on the truth.
We go to Mass. We sit in that pew, we sing, we sit, we stand, we kneel, we receive the Eucharist, and we go forth proclaiming the Gospel with our very lives, knowing full well that without the Mass, we will not survive, and without us, the church will not be who she needs to be in the world.
We demand transparency. We insist upon independent and thorough investigations, from top to bottom. We write letters. We attend listening sessions. We demand that no complaint go uninvestigated, no file unopened. It all must be revealed, no matter what may be found and no matter how hard it may be to see. The only way to heal the wound is to expose it completely so that the infection can be completely dug out.
We stay. We remain. We proudly, definitively and without hesitation declare that we are Catholic, and we live our Catholic faith more boldly than ever before.
I know this is all far easier to write about than it will be to execute. When staring into the face of abuse and grave sins, it would be far easier to simply walk away. When people go looking for answers to injustices in the church, sometimes lies are told and sides are almost always picked. We look at this church and think: “How can I stay here, in the midst of this sickness and destruction and dishonesty? Surely there’s someplace better.”
But there isn’t. Despite hurt and confusion and fear and doubt, we are called to remain, firmly rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ established this church, built it upon a rock and calls us to stay.
Jesus once slept in the bottom of a boat in the middle of a terrible storm. He napped. The apostles were bailing out water, trying to navigate stormy seas, and Jesus was taking a snooze. He woke up to the screams of the apostles, “Do you even care if we perish?”
Jesus calmed that storm, and he will calm this one, too. And we need to be here when he does.
I still went to Mass Sunday morning, and I prayed the Nicene Creed with pride, saying each word louder than I ever have before. I still received the Eucharist and knew, without an inkling of doubt, that without it I would not survive any of this. I still prayed a rosary with my child Sunday afternoon, thumbing each bead, begging Mary, the mother of the church, to lead us closer to her son. I will still serve the church as best I can, however I can, whenever I am called to.
What do we do now? What happens next? We stay Catholic. We are not Catholic because of men in collars who do or do not do the right thing. We, all sinners united in the pursuit of a relationship with Jesus, are the church. We stay Catholic because we need one another now more than ever.
We are Catholic because Jesus Christ established this church, unites us in this church, and even in the midst of turmoil and confusion and hurt and fear, we do not walk away. We do not bail out. We stay. We pray. We fight. We lead. We yell out to Jesus and beg him to calm the storm, and we stand there in awe, with steadfast faith, and watch as he does.
Katie Prejean McGrady was a U.S. delegate sent by the U.S.C.C.B. to the Vatican’s pre-synod gathering of young people. She is a Catholic speaker and the author of Follow: Your Lifelong Adventure with Jesus. She lives in Lake Charles, La., with her husband and daughter.
Why, despite the Catholic Church's problems, I still go to Mass
Mary Wisniewski Contact Reporter - firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week was tough. There was distressing news, including an earthquake in Indonesia and bitter partisan divides over the Supreme Court. At home, family members were sick. I felt sad and angry, and I did not know what to do.
So on Sunday, I did something I always do, which always helps. I went to Mass.
I have many, many problems with the Catholic Church. Many of its leaders failed miserably at protecting children. The institutional church is backward in its views about women and gays. After growing up Catholic, and taking it so seriously I considered becoming a nun, I left the church at 15. I had read Bertrand Russell and decided I was an atheist.
But I still had a longing for something beyond the material world. I studied Judaism, and then practiced Buddhism. I finally came back to my birth church when I was 30. I figured that at least with Catholicism, I knew where most of the nonsense was. I wouldn’t have to waste time being awed by the exotic, and I could concentrate on sorting out ideas about God and morality, life and death. For all the sins committed by the institution, the practice of Catholicism can offer a path to the transcendent, to what is beyond ourselves. It is a tough journey, the search for God, and it helps not to be alone.
I go to Mass every week — sometimes more than once — and participate in the ancient ritual. I cantor or lector, and sing in the choir. And it helps because, apart from its anachronisms, the church gives me something I need. Every week it invites me into a conversation about the power of love and the search for peace, and the necessity of going beyond our individual needs and looking at the needs of others. It is a call to community and sharing, in a world that tries to focus our attention on selfishness and possessions and tribalism.
Sometimes I engage with the Gospel and the scriptures on an intellectual level — sometimes I just sit there, numbed by the events of the week, and appreciate both the physical and liturgical architecture. Being at a Catholic Mass is like being inside a sonnet — though what’s inside changes, the structure stays the same, with the Gloria, the Alleluia, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei. It’s comforting to know that the same ritual, the same structure, is being repeated every day in hundreds of languages around the world.
I love the mundane things about the church too. We had a blood drive and doughnut and coffee social last Sunday, with a raffle, because so many church events come with a raffle. We’ll have a big ethnic festival in a few weeks when we’ll celebrate the 90th anniversary of our building, and people will bring food from the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, Germany and Ireland. A Eucharistic minister thanked the choir for singing happy birthday to his mother, who had turned 96. I laughed at the cartoon our choir director had set on the table by the piano (“This month — pumpkin spice-flavored Communion!”) I got to look at babies, bouncing to the music. I got to sing with my daughter. These things, too, are church.
It is these things — the reach for transcendence and the power of community — that all faiths offer. I find them in Catholicism because it’s the faith I know. But Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other paths offer them too. We are all reaching for something beyond ourselves, and we hope to be made better by the effort — even if our reach must always exceed our grasp. As another lapsed-then-unlapsed Catholic, Oscar Wilde, said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
I recognize the violence that has been committed in the name of religion. But religious institutions are made by humans, and humans are flawed. Blaming a faith itself for the sins committed in its name is like blaming a hammer for bashing someone in the head. It is the misuse of a tool that can also be used for good.
People have asked me how I, as a progressive and a feminist, can stay in the church with all its problems. I stay for the same reason I stay in the United States, whose leaders also have been guilty of crimes throughout the decades. It is beautiful, and it belongs to me. It is my home. Why should I let some ignorant old guys keep it for themselves? Unless I’m actually driven out, bell, book and candle, I’ll stay, and serve, and work for peace.