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Forgiveness turns evil into good, pope tells Catholics in Geneva

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region's Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith.

The Lord's Prayer "offers us a road map for the spiritual life" by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said.

"There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good," he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality.

The pope was in Geneva June 21 "as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches -- a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member.

Celebrating Mass at the city's enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day's Gospel reading.

The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome.

"Father, bread, forgiveness," Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three words in the Lord's Prayer "that take us to the very heart of our faith."

When praying "Our Father, who art in heaven," people are reminded that God "does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family."

This prayer says that "every human being is part of us," he said, and that "we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference toward" everyone. "This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast."

God commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said.

When praying, "Give us this day, our daily bread," it is asking God to "help me lead a simpler life."

"Life has become so complicated," he said, with everyone acting "pumped up, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time to see other people's faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems."

"We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles," the pope said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family's wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others.

With so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people's lives and empties their hearts.

May people rediscover "the courage of silence and of prayer" and "let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual relationships may flourish."

"Daily bread" also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; "he is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a side dish."

Without him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said.

Finally, the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift.

God forgives everything and yet, "he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others."

Offer up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete forgiveness, the pope said.

Imagine taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the "stones needing to be removed," the pope said. Pray to God, "You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for that situation; even if I struggle to forgive, I ask you for the strength to do it."

Forgiveness renews and works miracles, he said. After receiving God's forgiveness, "each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters. Only then do we bring true newness to the world."

The pope said God is pleased "when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart."

"Let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity" and, like God, love without ever counting the cost.

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Update: Broken world needs Christian unity, pope tells Christian leaders at WCC

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

GENEVA (CNS) -- Not only God, but today's broken, divided world is begging for unity among Christians, Pope Francis said on an ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva.

"Our differences must not be excuses," he said, because as Christ's disciples, Christians can still pray together, evangelize and serve others.

On his 23rd apostolic journey abroad June 21, the pope spent several hours with Christian leaders at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches. The pope came to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of what is the largest and broadest ecumenical fellowship in the world.

Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Rome, the pope said, "This is a trip toward unity," representing the "desire for unity."

He was greeted on the tarmac by dignitaries and two children in traditional dress; two former members of the Swiss Guard stood by the red carpet in the corps' full colorful uniform, which only happens on papal trips to Switzerland. Active guard members traveling with the pope are always in plainclothes.

Accompanied by the leadership of the WCC, the pope attended an ecumenical prayer service, marked by songs from the Protestant traditions and the Catholic Church's theme song for the Jubilee of Mercy. There was a common witness of faith in reciting the Nicene Creed and representatives from the Catholic Church and other Christian communities alternated readings, including a prayer of repentance, which asked God's forgiveness for their disunity and failure to serve God and all his children.

In his speech, the pope said, "Our lack of unity" is not only contrary to God's will, it is "also a scandal to the world."

"The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all-too-many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity."

Pope Francis, the third pope to visit the WCC, said he wanted to come as "a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace." He thanked God for having found "brothers and sisters already making this same journey."

The journey requires constant conversion, he said, and a renewed way of thinking that rejects worldliness and seeks to live "in the Spirit, with one's mind bent on serving others and a heart growing in forgiveness."

"Divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root," he said, "a worldly mindset has seeped in."

"First self-concern took priority over concern for Christ," he said, and from there, it was easy for the devil to move in, "separating us."

Following Christ entails loss, he warned, because "it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether 'conservative' or 'progressive.'"

Christians must belong to the Lord above and before they identify with anything else, "right or left; to choose in the name of the Gospel, our brother and sister over ourselves," he said.

After lunch at the WCC ecumenical academic institute at Bossey, outside of Geneva, the pope paid homage to the courageous men and women before them who "changed the course of history" with a love for Christ that overcame the mutual mistrust and suspicion, which all "contributed to the infernal spiral of continued fragmentation."

Speaking at an ecumenical encounter with the central leadership committee of the WCC, the pope praised their work and commitment to unity; however, he expressed his concern that the Christian sense of mission was no longer "as closely intertwined" with their ecumenical pursuits.

The missionary mandate is more than just service and promoting human development, he said; it includes "the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth" and recognizing that the church grows "by attraction" to Christ himself, not human ideas, strategies and programs.

"Faith in Jesus Christ is not the fruit of consensus, nor can the people of God be reduced to a nongovernmental organization," he said.

Christians must never "debase this treasure" of knowing and praising God and his glory, by turning it into "a purely immanent humanism."

Also "troubling," he said, "is the conviction on the part of some, who consider their own blessings clear signs of God's predilection rather than a summons to responsible service" to the whole human family and the environment.

The pope said he wanted to "take part personally in the celebrations marking the anniversary of the World Council" of Churches as well as reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to the cause of ecumenism and encourage cooperation.

He said it was critical that Christians come together for "the credibility of the Gospel," which is "put to the test by the way Christians respond" to those suffering in the world today.

"It is problematic when Christians appear indifferent toward those in need," he said, urging everyone to avoid partisan interests or overemphasizing "certain cultural paradigms." Instead, he urged them to help people become aware of events and situations that affect a large number of people, "but seldom make it to the front page."

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Cardinal McCarrick's 60 years of ministry in church had global impact

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican has told Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, that he can no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

While maintaining his innocence, the cardinal said June 20 he had cooperated with church authorities' investigation of the claim and that he would obey the Vatican directive on ministry.

As people in the many places he has served -- the New York Archdiocese, the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and finally the Archdiocese of Washington -- absorb the news about the high-profile churchman, many also will recall Cardinal McCarrick's long years of ministry in the church on the national and international levels.

Even in retirement, after decades of regularly testifying before Congress and attending White House meetings on public policy, Cardinal McCarrick kept abreast of a range of policy issues, domestic and international.

As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, he continued to travel the world and had regular speaking engagements and other activities, in the United States and beyond.

In May 2014, he was part of a U.S. bishops' delegation that traveled to Iran to meet quietly with Iranian religious leaders. In November 2013, he toured areas in the Philippines that had been devastated, visiting residents and celebrating Mass.

Then-Archbishop McCarrick was installed to head the Archdiocese of Washington in 2001. Just three weeks later he was made a cardinal. He was the fifth archbishop of Washington and the fourth in a row to be named a cardinal.

As canon law requires of all bishops, the cardinal submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI when he turned 75 on July 7, 2005. However, the pope asked the cardinal to continue heading the archdiocese. He retired in 2006 at age 76, and now-Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was named to succeed him.

Ordained a bishop in 1977, he was an auxiliary for the New York Archdiocese until 1981, when he was made the first bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Metuchen. In May 1986 he was named archbishop of Newark.

He was there for 14 years. During his tenure in Newark, he ordained 200 priests, more than any other U.S. diocese in that period.

In 1997, as a speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series of the U.S. State Department's Open Forum, he called for U.S. policy at home and abroad to focus on the poor and the vulnerable.

"We believe that we are called to put the needs of the poor first in our national and global choices," he said.

In 1998, he chaired and hosted a major international conference on the ethical dimensions of international debt, co-sponsored by the Vatican and U.S. bishops, at Seton Hall University in his archdiocese. The conference is credited with having a significant impact on the U.S. and world commitment to reducing the debt of heavily indebted poor countries.

He set an example of debt forgiveness in his own archdiocese early in the jubilee year 2000 by forgiving some $10 million that parishes, schools and church agencies owed the archdiocese.

In 2001, he was named to succeed retiring Cardinal James A. Hickey in the nation's capital.

He ordained 43 men in his time in the nation's capital, including a class of 12 that was the largest in more than 30 years.

Often in the news for his leadership in international justice and peace issues, Cardinal McCarrick headed the U.S. bishops' committees on migration, international policy and aid to the church in Central and Eastern Europe.

He is a founding member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and was on the U.S. Commission for the Study of International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development.

At a White House ceremony Dec. 6, 2000, he received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Born in New York July 7, 1930, Theodore Edgar McCarrick was the only child of Theodore Egan McCarrick, a sea captain, and Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick. Growing up in the Great Depression, he was 3 when his father died and his grandmother moved in to help raise him while his mother worked.

He was 22 and had studied in Europe for a year-and-a-half, learning to speak French and German, before he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He earned a master's degree in history there and was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958.

After ordination he was assigned to The Catholic University of America in Washington. He spent seven years there, earning a master's degree in social sciences and a doctorate in sociology while serving first as an assistant chaplain and later dean of students and director of development.

From 1965 to 1969, he was president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

He returned to New York in 1969 as archdiocesan associate secretary for education, and the following year he became secretary to New York's Cardinal Terence Cooke.

On June 29, 1977, he was ordained a bishop, serving as an auxiliary for the archdiocese.

He frequently traveled abroad to trouble spots, especially as chairman of the bishops' Eastern Europe and international policy committees.

Among places he had visited were Yugoslavia, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, East Timor, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico.

Besides English, French and German, he could handle Spanish and Italian "reasonably well" and "can understand Portuguese and a little Polish."

Cardinal McCarrick was a former member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He was on the board of trustees of The Catholic University of America and the boards of CRS and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In addition to the committees he headed for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served or had served on the bishops' Administrative Committee and their committees on doctrine, the laity, Latin America, Hispanic affairs and missions.

He was a founding member and president since 1997 of the Papal Foundation, established in the 1980s to assure the long-term solvency of the Holy See and contribute to its activities and papal charities around the world.

He was a member of the Synod for America in 1997 and served on its post-synodal council.

He spent a year from January 2011 to January 2012 as a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, working out of an office in the library's historic Thomas Jefferson building.

During the yearlong post, Cardinal McCarrick looked at into how the Amman Message has evolved and what its effects have been on the teachings and practice of Islam. The subject fit one of his goals for retirement: to build bridges between Catholicism and Islam.

The Amman Message is a declaration recognizing the common principles of eight traditional schools of Islamic religious law.

Cardinal McCarrick's interest in Islam and involvement with relations between Christians and Muslims went back many years. In the mid-1990s, he served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad and was one of the first members of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom when it was created in 1999.

He also was chairman of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land and continued to be involved in a variety of Holy Land and Middle East peace organizations and dialogues.

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Trump signs executive order stopping family separation policy

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that halts his administration's family separation policy for families who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The executive order seeks to work around a 1997 consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention -- even if they are with their parents -- for more than 20 days. The executive order instructs the attorney general to seek federal court permission to modify the consent decree.

The crisis was spawned when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. Under the policy, adults would be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor for crossing the border. Under federal statute, those charged with felonies cannot have their children detained with them.

The government earlier in June said 1,995 minors had been separated from 1,940 adults who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, although some minors had crossed without their parents or adult kin.

The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative.

Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the U.S. bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

Mexico's bishops likewise decried the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled June 19 while she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the Washington area.

Every living former first lady and the current first lady, Melania Trump -- herself an immigrant from Slovenia -- expressed their sorrow, or a stronger emotion, at the sight of children being separated from their parents.

"My wife feels strongly about it. I feel strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it," Trump said during the June 20 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, with Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence flanking him.

"I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," Trump added. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border."

Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea. It allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together "under present resource constraints." The "temporary detention policy" also is only in effect "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations."

Pence criticized those who make a "false choice" between being "a nation of laws" and showing compassion.

"We expect the House to act this week. We expect them to do their job," Nielsen said. The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy.

"You will have a lot of happy people," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "What we have done today is we are keeping families together."

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Uptick in abuse claims likely after high-profile case brought to light

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An increase in calls to dioceses to report claims of clergy sexual abuse has happened before, and is likely to happen again in the wake of the credible claim lodged against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, according to the head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

Those claims and inquiries, though, won't solely be about Cardinal McCarrick, said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the secretariat.

Deacon Nojadera said the most noticeable such example was following the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" series examining clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston in early 2002. Another such example he gave was the release of the movie "Spotlight," based on the newspaper's reportage. In the film's case, though, he added, abuse reports "weren't just about clergy sex abuse, but all kinds of abuse."

Much of this results, he said, "because there's this invitation (by dioceses) to survivors to please come forward."

When they do, diocesan victim assistance coordinators realize "you only have one shot" to engage with someone reporting abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Deacon Nojadera, in a June 20 interview with Catholic News Service, outlined the difference between "credible" and "substantiated" claims of abuse. Both terms were used in the Archdiocese of New York's report of the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick in the 1971 incident.

"Credible" means "it could have happened," Deacon Nojadera said. "There's truth to this."

"Substantiated," though, means "there's evidence to back this up," he added. That evidence is born out in a police investigation of the incident, a practice followed by the New York Archdiocese in the complaint against Cardinal McCarrick. "There's something that points to (the fact) that this, indeed, did happen."

In his June 20 statement accepting the Vatican's directive he cease any public ministry, Cardinal McCarrick said he did not recall the incident and "believe(s) in my innocence."

The incident was 47 years ago. Given all of the reports of abuse that have been filed since 2002 when the scandal in Boston was exposed, it may seem hard to believe that there are those who still had not reported abuse.

"We've had people report abuse from the Thirties," Deacon Nojadera told CNS. Each person who was victimized by abuse gets ready to discuss it at their own time, he added, although for some "that will be a secret they keep with them and go with them to the grave."

Fear, embarrassment and shame factor into the unwillingness to report abuse. Some victims live "in a small diocese, a small town, where everybody knows everybody," he said, and are wary of reporting abuse given those circumstances.

Those who do come forward, however, will be treated "with the utmost respect" by those they contact at the diocese, the deacon said. Should there be an influx, most dioceses have forged partnerships with hospitals, mental health professionals and the Catholic Charities agencies in their dioceses to provide services a victim needs.

Just as the diocesan net has widened to offer assistance to victims, the number and kinds of people showing an interest in preventing abuse and rendering aid also has expanded. What used to be known as a "safe environment leader-victim assistance leader" conference has since been rechristened the "Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference," with one held recently in New Orleans, attracting bishops and vicar generals.

"It's not just one or two people in a diocese, not just one or two people in a parish" who are addressing abuse, Deacon Nojadera said.

Now, with one of the highest-ranking U.S. church officials having been credibly accused of abuse, will the reporting of abuse stop anytime soon?

"I get asked this at conferences," Deacon Nojadera said. "and I tell them it will stop with the Second Coming."

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Update: Pope supports U.S. bishops' criticism of 'immoral' immigration policy

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

"I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference."

On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy.

"Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said.

The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution.

In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country.

The separation of families in the United States, however, isn't a new problem, the pope said.

In a transcript of the interview shared by Reuters, the pope said, "During Obama's (presidency), I celebrated Mass at Ciudad Juarez, on the border, and on the other side there were 50 bishops concelebrating and in the stadium there were many people. The problem was already there; it wasn't just Trump but also the government before."

Nevertheless, Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected.

Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty."

"Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."

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New York Archdiocese posts timeline on cardinal's ministry, abuse claim

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of New York has posted an FAQ providing a timeline of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick's ministry in the church, information on how the archdiocese learned of an abuse allegation against the prelate now deemed credible and the church's procedure for addressing abuse claims.

Early June 20, Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said in a statement he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation that he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. "While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence," the prelate said, he said he cooperated with the investigation into the claim.

Here is the FAQ posted at https://archny.org/tm-faq:

Q: When did Cardinal McCarrick serve in the Archdiocese of New York?

A: He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on May 1, 1958, and he remained a priest of the archdiocese until his appointment as the bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981. While a priest of the archdiocese, his assignments included: serving as assistant chaplain, dean and director of development at The Catholic University of America in Washington (1958-1965); president of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (1965-1969); associate secretary for education for the archdiocese and parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Manhattan (1969-1971); secretary to Cardinal Terence J. Cooke (1971-1977); auxiliary bishop (1977-1981).

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York learn of this allegation?

A: The allegation came to us through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which was established by the Archdiocese of New York two years ago as part of its ongoing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese and bring a sense of healing, resolution and compensation to victim-survivors. The program is administered by Kenneth Feinberg and his associate, Camille Biros.

Q: How did the Archdiocese of New York respond to the allegation?

A: The first step was to notify the district attorney. Then, because this allegation involved a cardinal, the archdiocese contacted the Holy See, which has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal. The Holy See delegated New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, as the archbishop of the diocese where the alleged abuse occurred, to investigate the matter, following the requirements of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and the policies of the Archdiocese of New York. This includes reporting the matter to law enforcement, and having the entire matter examined by outside professional investigators and the Archdiocesan Review Board, which found the allegation to be credible and substantiated.

Q: Can you provide details of the allegation?

A: Out of respect for the privacy of the victim, we will not release specific details about the allegation. Of course, there is no prohibition or restriction on the victim, who can choose to speak about any aspect of the case, including the allegation and how the case was handled by the IRCP, the Review Board, and the archdiocese.

Q: What happens now to Cardinal McCarrick?

A: As with all cases of substantiated abuse by a priest or deacon, the matter is now in the hands of the Holy See, which has final authority to determine what "punishment" to impose. This could range from living a life of prayer and penance, to a dismissal from the clerical state. Cardinal McCarrick has already been directed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that he is no longer to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.

Q: Where is Cardinal McCarrick now?

A: Cardinal McCarrick is the retired archbishop of Washington and continues to reside with them. He is 87 years old and in frail health. (He turns 88 July 7.)

Q: Isn't this all just another black eye for the Catholic Church?

A: This news will certainly be shocking and painful, especially to Catholics, and will cause many to wonder if this tragedy of abuse will ever end. At the same time, however, it should be noted that, fortunately, the policies and procedures put into place by the church are working. Although this case involves activity from nearly a half-century ago, the allegation was taken seriously, the matter was thoroughly and carefully investigated, and the decision is being publicly announced. No one, not even a cardinal, is above the law or our strict policies. The church can never be complacent, and must always do all that it can to prevent abuse, and respond with compassion, sensitivity and respect to victim-survivors who come forward. In this, it can be a model for others who are looking to respond to this sin and crime that affects all segments of society.

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DiNardo: All clergy, no matter their 'standing,' must protect children

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said June 20 that all clergy in the Catholic Church "have made a solemn promise to protect children and young people from all harm."

"This sacred charge applies to all who minister in the church, no matter the person's high standing or long service," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

He made the comments in a statement issued in response to the announcement that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, will no longer exercise any public ministry after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"This morning was a painful reminder of how only through continued vigilance can we keep that promise" of protecting children and young people, Cardinal DiNardo said, without mentioning Cardinal McCarrick by name. "My prayers are with all who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. May they find healing in Christ's abundant love."

He said the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," first approved in 2002, "outlines a process for addressing allegations, holding us accountable to our commitment to protect and heal."

He expressed gratitude to New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, "who has carried forward with clarity, compassion for the victims, and a genuine sense of justice. With him, I express my deep sadness, and on behalf of the church, I apologize to all who have been harmed by one of her ministers."

Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was named auxiliary bishop of New York in 1977. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal in Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006.

In his statement, Cardinal McCarrick said that Cardinal Dolan had informed him "some months ago" of the abuse allegation.

"While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence, I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York," Cardinal McCarrick said. "I fully cooperated in the process."

He will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican, he said.

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Bishops 'cannot, in good faith, endorse' new GOP immigration bill

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "cannot, in good faith, endorse" an immigration bill submitted by the House's Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration.

Bishop Vasquez said the bill would bring about "large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable." He said the new bill, still without a name or number, "contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching."

He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted June 19 on the U.S. bishops' website justiceforimmigrants.org.

Bishop Vasquez said this unnamed bill would "undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the 'credible fear' review, lead to increases in child and family detention ' eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement."

Nor would the bill "end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, he added. "Instead, this bill would increase the number of children and families in detention, which is not acceptable." Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy, without the need for legislation, at its own discretion.

Bishop Vasquez added, "We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement."

The Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, which he referenced in the letter, would protect Dreamers and strengthens border security. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which he also mentioned, primarily would offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.

In the letter, Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy without the need for legislation through its own discretion, and that an immigration bill could secure the U.S. border and ensure humane treatment to immigrant families through alternative policies.

Given the newness of the bill, "we ask for timely consideration of our concerns," Bishop Vasquez said, "particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has pledged to bring both the new bill and H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, to the House floor for votes. Bishop Vasquez, in January, wrote to the House opposing H.R. 4760. In the June 18 letter, he said, "we respectfully urge you to reject" it.

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Editor's Note: The full text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2I3gDFf.

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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.