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Wednesday Update

Abuse scandal: Another perspective

The Diocese of Tucson established the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection following the proceedings surrounding its own struggle with sex abuse cases by clergy that came to light in about 2002. Over these past 16 years, this office continues to provide investigation, resources and support to victims of abuse. It also monitors the work of Compliance Officers at every parish or school in the diocese, who are involved with background security checks, fingerprinting, monitoring and proper safety practices to prevent abuse. All clergy, vowed religious, employees and volunteers must adhere to these safety practices.

The depth of the abuse revealed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's report continues to show the ramifications of past practices by Church leadership regarding sexual abuse.  The consequences continue to widen.  It can be difficult to understand how the situations revealed by the report ever happened, let alone how the perpetrators of the abuse were allowed to continue.

Pope Francis issued a letter Monday, clearly outlining the severity of the situation in several Pennsylvania dioceses, along with, I am sure, the cases in Chile and in other nations.  Pope Francis made at least part of his thoughts clear: Abuse cannot be tolerated.

Various bishops and other Church leadership are releasing statements and all comprise an important record.  I saw this article on Catholic News Service, following a statement last week from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, leader of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) , who called for the Vatican to investigate allegations of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

DiNardo's statement also indicated the USCCB would  build  a new way for victims of abuse to report their situations and that claims would be investigated outside of bishop influence. These  investigations "will involve more church members who were not members of the clergy," but rather will include laity with expertise in law enforcement or psychology.

My research led me to the story below that offers another perspective in how lay people can be involved.  Before moving ahead, I once again remind  those here in our Diocese: Please first report your information to law enforcement and  then report instances of abuse or knowledge of abuse to our Protection Office by calling: 520-838-2513.

CUA head sees laity as key to renewal in scandal-marred church

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an Aug. 18 letter to students and staff at The Catholic University of America, its president, John Garvey, said the laity must have a role in rebuilding the church in the wake of a new clergy sex abuse scandal that has also trained its aim on bishops for their failure to act in stopping the abuse.

"The laity must step forward with prayer, energy, and resolve. We need the laity's perspective, expertise, judgment, and prayer -- and the pressure that comes from having been burned more than once," Garvey said in his letter.

"I want to emphasize to all of you -- students, parents, alumni -- the responsibility the laity have, now more than ever, to serve the church," he added.

"This is not a problem the bishops can solve on their own. Though most of them are good and holy men, the actions detailed in the grand jury report have damaged the reputations of all. They will need our help and our insistence on accountability and high standards."
Garvey's letter came four days after the issuance of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that named more than 300 priests as having abused children between 1947 and 2017. The number of victims in the report totaled more than 1,000, and, "according to Pennsylvania's attorney general, more survivors continue to contact his office," Garvey said.

"I have to admit that I am at a loss to understand how such unspeakable evil has been allowed to fester at the heart of the church. It appears clear that some bishops shuffled priests around and devoted their energies to managing the church's image, rather than caring first for the safety of their flocks," he added.

Garvey withheld judgment on Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, the university's chancellor, who served 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh (1988-2006), one of the dioceses examined in the report. The cardinal has had to defend himself from criticism of how he addressed abuse cases during his tenure there.

"The grand jury report includes a number of cases where he refused to return priests to parishes after they were accused of abuse," Garvey said. "But the thrust of the report against Pennsylvania's bishops is that abuse occurred over many years, and was in many instances facilitated, ignored or covered up -- a gross breach of trust with every innocent victim and with the faithful."

Lay Catholics, Garvey suggested, "could take as a model St. Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the church who famously wrote to Pope Gregory XI, demanding that he 'intervene to eliminate the stink of the ministers of the holy church; pull out the stinking flowers and plant scented plants, virtuous men who fear God.'"
Students can have their own role, Garvey said. "The church is experiencing a moment of real crisis," he told them. "I encourage you to prepare yourselves to take on key roles in rebuilding Christ's church. Pray fervently for survivors. And pray for religious vocations; encourage men and women to consider such vocations as part of the church's renewal, joining the many virtuous clergy who continue to serve. And decide how you can best serve."
Garvey said, "About 800 years ago, in a dusty church on the edge of Assisi, St. Francis heard the command to 'rebuild my church, which is in ruins.' I don't know that the church is in ruins, but the present situation feels more like it than anything I have experienced.

"The question in the hearts of all the faithful, including our priests and bishops, is what to do now," he continued. "Let there be no misunderstanding. There need to be stronger reporting protocols and firmer discipline. But procedures will not substitute for repentance and spiritual renewal."

Recap: Directors of Youth Ministry / Directors of Religious Education Convocation

More than 100 DREs and DYMs  attended training sessions and listened to a keynote presentation by  John Vitek, chief operating officer of St. Mary's Press in Winona, Minn., and revelations from a national study entitled , "Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics."

Vitek, who co-authored the study, suggested a three-step process that involved listening, engaging in conversation and instilling in the student a sense that "they are known by name, such that they are missed when they are gone."
The study concluded that there is usually a series of events - "unresolved discrepancies" - that accumulate over time before a young person disaffiliates, or says they no longer consider themselves Catholic. Vitek said the mean age for disaffiliation is 13 – Grade 8.
There are a number of factors that influence disaffiliation, including significant family events, such as divorce. The study also stressed that there are no simple reasons for disaffiliation, only that once it occurs, those former Catholics do not return to their practice of the faith later in life.

Prior to his address, Vitek suggested a strategy parishes might consider to stave off the earliest symptoms of disaffiliation. He recommended that every parish youth have a spiritual director by the second grade.

Above left,  John Vitek, chief operating officer of St. Mary’s Press in Winona, Minn. as he delivers his presentation. 
Above right, DREs and DYMs had an opportunity to view resources and to network throughout the day.
Photos by Michael Brown. 

Congratulations Bishop Vincke

My successor in the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, Bishop-Elect Gerald L. Vincke, will be ordained a Bishop and installed as the shepherd of the diocese this afternoon.  It will be good to know the diocese is now in good hands, and my visit over these few days has included opportunities to see friends and colleagues. Good luck Bishop Vincke and Ad Multos Anos!

Feast of St. Augustine

I will join the faith community at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday, and together we will celebrate our diocesan patron, St. Augustine. Our patron  "is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Christian Church, and the Anglican Communion and as a preeminent Doctor of the Church. His memorial is celebrated on August 28, the day of his death. Augustine is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, the alleviation of sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses."