Clergy sex abuse not about gay priests, top psychologist says

(Editor’s note: Bishop Kopacz and the Diocese of Jackson continue to acknowledge the suffering that victims of abuse and their communities continue to experience. We continue to try an better understand this terrible reality in hopes of never repeating this history and of bringing healing to our communities. Research such as this article are an effort to move this reform forward.)

By Gina Christian
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – Misconceptions people may have about sexual abuse, sexual harassment and homosexuality as elements of the ongoing crisis in the church can hinder efforts to address it, according to a leading psychologist and expert on the crisis.
The complex nature of each of the elements can make it “hard for the average Catholic in the pew” to grasp key differences among them, delaying the formulation of “good, smart solutions,” Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante told, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
A prolific author who also serves on Stanford University’s faculty, Plante has spent more than 30 years researching and treating psychological issues among Catholic clergy and laypersons.
Although many blame the abuse scandals on homosexuality among the clergy, same-sex attraction does not make priests more likely to sexually abuse children, Plante said.
“It’s perfectly understandable that people could be confused by this, because we know that 80 percent or more of the clerical sexual abuse victims are boys,” Plante said. “So people conclude that if you get rid of homosexuals in the clergy, then you’ve got the problem solved. And it doesn’t work that way.”
Most of the clerical sexual abuse perpetrators have been “situational generalists,” a term used throughout extensive John Jay College of Criminal Justice summary reports, the most recent in 2011, to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Generalists do not have a specific sexual preference for youth, but instead “turn to children as a sort of substitute” due to psychological and emotional difficulties in bonding with peers, Plante observed.
Such individuals – who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control – “can’t develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults,” said Plante, who recently served as vice chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth.
Since generalist offenders seek readily available victims, boys have historically – though by no means exclusively – been a target for many clerical abusers.
“Priests for the most part had access to boys, and trust with boys, much more so than girls,” said Plante, noting that this proximity has led to the erroneous correlation between homosexuality and clerical abuse.
Only a small number of abusive priests – and of sexual abusers in the general population – can be formally classified as pedophiles, according to the clinical definition used by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),” the authoritative guide used by mental health professionals worldwide.
“The classic pedophile is attracted to young, prepubescent children,” said Plante. Prepubescence is typically defined as less than age 11.
Priestly celibacy can also be discounted as an underlying cause of the clerical scandals. In an article Plante wrote Aug. 23 for “Psychology Today,” he pointed out that “the vast majority of sex offenders are regular men, often married or partnered, with 80 percent or more victimizing their own family members.”
Overall, men are far more likely than women to become abusers, which helps to explain the comparatively lower rates of abuse perpetrated by female religious.
This striking gap between the genders – with “90 to 95 percent” of perpetrators being male – is generally due to basic differences in the psychological makeup of the sexes.
“Men tend to have what we call more ‘externalizing’ problems when it comes to psychiatric issues, while and women tend to have more ‘internalizing’ problems,” Plante said. “Women are more likely to exhibit depression and anxiety, whereas men tend to act out. They’re more prone to commit violence and sexual exploitation.”
Plante also stressed that sexual harassment, perpetrated by a number of clerical superiors against seminarians, should be distinguished from child sexual abuse.
“Both involve power and sexual violation, but they are different,” he said. “Sexually harassing people at the workplace is not a sexual psychiatric disorder. It could be a personality disorder; it could be a variety of things, but it’s not a sexual disorder. Every industry, every organization has a problem with this issue, where people abuse power and sexually harass their subordinates.”
Historically, child sexual abuse has occurred in the church and in human society “since the dawn of time,” said Plante, noting that St. Basil decried the problem in the fourth century.
In the United States, incidents of clerical sexual abuse rose during the 1960s and 1970s, paralleling a society-wide increase in other problematic behaviors such as substance abuse and sexual experimentation. By the early 1980s, the number of cases began to level off, due in part to increased research, mandated reporting, awareness and intervention strategies.
Because the traumatic nature of child sexual abuse tends to hinder victims from disclosing their attacks until years later, recent legal investigations do not always reflect current levels of clerical abuse, which have declined significantly, Plante observed.
“I think the average person on the street thinks this is rampant today in 2018, when it’s not,” he said, adding that annual data collections, independent audits, safe environment training and zero-tolerance policies have proven effective.
Although ongoing vigilance is required, Plante is hopeful about the Catholic Church’s ongoing prospects for protecting youth from clerical sexual abuse.
“I think we are using best practices now,” he said. “Sadly, we can’t change what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago, and we treat those victims with great compassion and respect. But thankfully for everybody, today’s church is very different from yesterday’s church.”

(Christian is senior content producer at, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. For more perspective on this research, read Plante’s article from Psycohology Today:

Cardinal: clear response to abuse crisis urgently needed

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Responding quickly and appropriately to the problem of abuse must be a priority for the Catholic Church, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
“Recent events in the church have us all focused on the urgent need for a clear response on the part of the church for the sexual abuse of minors” and vulnerable adults, he told Vatican News Sept. 9.
“Bringing the voice of survivors to leadership of the church is crucial if people are going to have an understanding of how important it is for the church to respond quickly and correctly anytime a situation of abuse may arise,” he said.
The cardinal, who is the archbishop of Boston, spoke at the end of the papal commission’s plenary assembly in Rome Sept. 7-9. Afterward, Cardinal O’Malley remained in Rome for the meeting Sept. 10-12 of Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals.
Cardinal O’Malley told Vatican News that in cases of abuse “if the church is unable to respond wholeheartedly and make this a priority, all of our other activities of evangelization, works of mercy, education are all going to suffer. This must be the priority that we concentrate on right now.”
The pontifical commission, he explained, is an advisory body set up to make recommendations to the pope and to develop and offer guidelines, best practices and formation to church leaders throughout the world, including bishops’ conferences, religious orders and offices in the Roman Curia.
The commission is not an investigative body and does not deal with past abuses or current allegations, but its expert-members try, through education, leadership training and advocacy, to “change the future so that it will not be a repeat of the sad history” the church has experienced, he said.
“There are other dicasteries of the Holy See that have the responsibility for dealing with the cases and dealing with individual circumstances of abuse or negligence on the part of authority, and our commission cannot be held accountable for their activities,” he said.
Most allegations of clerical sexual abuse are handled through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Commission members, however, have spoken with officials at various Vatican offices, including the doctrinal congregation. For those meetings, Cardinal O’Malley said he always brings a survivor with him “to talk to them about the church’s mission of safeguarding, and I think those (moments) have been very successful.”
Safeguarding training for bishops, priests and religious around the world is meant to help them become “aware of the seriousness” of abuse and negligence, “to be equipped to be able to respond” and to be able “to put the safeguarding of children and the pastoral care of victims as their priority,” said the cardinal.
A critical part of building awareness, he said, has been making the voice of survivors be heard directly by leadership. Every year when new bishops attend a course in Rome, the commission also addresses the group.

Cardinal explains plan to address ‘moral catastrophe’ of abuse

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON(CNS) – The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Aug. 16 announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the “moral catastrophe” of the new abuse scandal hitting the U.S. church.
The plan “will involve the laity, lay experts, the clergy and the Vatican,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said. This plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.
He said the “substantial involvement of the laity” from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines will be essential to this process.
He also said that right now, it is clear that “one root cause” of this catastrophe “is the failure of episcopal leadership.”
In a lengthy letter addressed to all Catholics, Cardinal DiNardo laid out three goals just established by the bishops’ Executive Committee in a series of meetings held early the week of Aug. 13.
The first is a “full investigation” into “the questions surrounding” Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington. He said the Executive Committee will ask the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation into these questions “in concert with” a group of laypeople identified for their expertise by the USCCB’s lay-run National Review Board who will be “empowered to act.”
With a credible allegation that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor nearly 47 years ago and accusations of his sexual misconduct with seminarians, many have been asking how the prelate could have risen up the ranks of the church as an auxiliary bishop, bishop, archbishop and finally cardinal.
Cardinal DiNardo described the second and third goals, respectively, as an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops, and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.
The three goals “will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity,” he said.
“Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick,” the cardinal said. “Those sentiments continue and are deepened in view of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.
We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report,” he added.
Cardinal DiNardo said the members of the Executive Committee “have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity and clergy, as well as the Vatican.”
In addition to this being presented to the full body of bishops at their Baltimore assembly, the cardinal said he will go to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.”
“The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” Cardinal DiNardo explained.
He elaborated on each of the goals he described, starting with the “full investigation” of the Archbishop McCarrick case and questions surrounding it.
“These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence,” he said, and “so help to protect minors, seminarians and others who are vulnerable in the future.”
He said the second goal “is to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier.”
“Our 2002 ‘Statement of Episcopal Commitment’ does not make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops,” he explained. The statement is in the bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” approved in Dallas in 2002, and revised in 2005, 2011 and 2018.
“We need to update this (commitment) document,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “We also need to develop and widely promote reliable third-party reporting mechanisms. Such tools already exist in many dioceses and in the public sector and we are already examining specific options.”
The third goal has to do with advocating for “better procedures to resolve complaints against bishops,” he said.
“For example, the canonical procedures that follow a complaint will be studied with an eye toward concrete proposals to make them more prompt, fair, and transparent, and to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process,” he said.
He also laid out the three criteria for pursing these goals: “genuine independence,” authority and “substantial involvement by the laity.”
“Any mechanism for addressing any complaint against a bishop must be free from bias or undue influence by a bishop,” he said. “Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation or from skewing their resolution.”

University, institute to be hub for causes of African-American Catholics

By Christine Bordelon
NEW ORLEANS – Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana, announced July 31 that the university and its Institute for Black Catholic Studies will become the new hub for the advancement of sainthood causes of African-American Catholics.
Verret made the announcement in the university’s St. Katharine Drexel chapel.
Privy to this historic announcement were attendees of the Joint Conference 2018 of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, the National Black Sisters Conference, the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association and the National Association of Black Catholic Deacons held in New Orleans July 28 – Aug. 2.
Verret said Xavier and its Institute for Black Catholic Studies will serve as hosts and administrators, and Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry will be moderator and chair of the center, whose goal is to unite all guilds advancing the causes of black sainthood.
Bishop Perry is postulator of the cause of Father Augustus Tolton, the first recognized African-American priest. Father Tolton has the title “servant of God” at this stage in his cause.
The center’s initial focus will be on the canonization of Father Tolton and Pierre Toussaint, Mother Henriette Delille, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange and Julia Greeley, Verret said, with the hopes, this fall, of adding another ground-breaking black Catholic, Sister Thea Bowman, who taught at Xavier’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies.
The eventual goal, Verret said, is to establish “a resource center at Xavier with scholarly work on the lives and work of the … soon-to-be six candidates for sainthood and St. Katharine Drexel and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.”
A brief update was given during the announcement by promoters of the causes of each of the five sainthood candidates:
– Father A. Gerard Jordan, representing Bishop Perry, described Pierre Toussaint as a former slave and hairdresser who purchased freedom for his family. Toussaint has been declared “venerable.”
– Father Jordan also talked about Father Tolton, a former slave from Missouri whose family used the Underground Railroad to find freedom in Illinois. He trained for the priesthood in Rome because he was refused entrance into American seminaries and was ordained in 1886. He suffered threats while pastoring in his Illinois hometown and moved to Chicago to found St. Monica’s, the city’s first black parish.
“His life was a life of courage,” Father Jordan said. The cause for his canonization was proclaimed in 2011. He was named a “servant of God” in 2012. The Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes declared affirmatively to the validity of the inquiry into his life in 2015. His remains were exhumed in 2016, and his “positio” was approved so his cause can move forward to the pope.
Father Jordan also said the five candidates were universal saints for everybody, and their causes are “not in competition but in communion” to recognize black Americans who are people of virtue.
– Sister Magdala Gilbert, an Oblate Sister of Providence, discussed Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, her order’s founder and a “servant of God.” Sister Gilbert described her “as a no-nonsense woman who did what she had to do.” She worked to educate African-American children when it wasn’t popular: “When you have God at your side, you fear nothing.” Mother Lange’s cause began in 1991 but was recently assigned a new postulator in hopes that the “positio,” or position paper, on her life will be completed this October.
– Sister Greta Jupiter, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family, talked about the cause of Mother Henriette Delille, who founded the order in 1842. She was declared “venerable” in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. Two miracles attributed to her intercession are being examined. In general, one authenticated miracle is required for beatification and a second such miracle for canonization.
– Mary Leising described the Denver Archdiocese’s progress made on the cause of “Angel of Charity” Julia Greeley of Colorado. Born in Hannibal, Missouri, she worked and walked the streets of Denver collecting food, coal, clothing in a little red wagon and delivered the goods at night to the needy. She joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1901. A guild to research her sainthood was established in 2011. Her cause was opened by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquilla in 2016. On Aug. 10, the archdiocese will close its investigative phase and send its findings to Rome.
Xavier University was the last stop on the conference’s Black Catholic Enrichment Tour that treated attendees to significant sites in the life of African-Americans in New Orleans. The conference celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus and the National Black Sisters Conference and their formation of strong black Catholic men and women of service.
The enrichment tour illustrated the joint conference theme of “We’ve Come a Mighty Long Way!”
“Welcome. You are standing on holy ground” were the first words tour participants heard when entering St. Augustine Church, founded in 1841, in New Orleans’ historic Treme’ neighborhood.
Local conference committee member Jari Honora and New Orleans Auxiliary Bishop Fernand J. Cheri explained that St. Augustine Church saw whites, free people of color and slaves worshipping together.

Pictures of five candidates for sainthood are featured on the altar at St. Katharine Drexel Chapel of Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans July 31. An announcement was made that day that Xavier would be the center for coordinating the advancement of all African-American sainthood causes. (CNS photo/Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald)

It also was where Mother Henriette Delille began her ministry to the poor and elderly; and where civil rights activists Homer Plessy, attorney A.P. Tureaud and many musicians prayed. It also is home to the “Tomb of the Unknown Slave.”
Along the route, Bishop Cheri referenced Congo Square as a place where free people of color congregated, the Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center (named after the New Orleans-born gospel singer) and how native Louis Armstrong was baptized Catholic at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church on Canal Street.
When passing Corpus Christi-Epiphany Church, which merged after Hurricane Katrina, Corpus Christi Parish, founded in 1916, was noted as once being the largest African-American parish in the world and was considered “Queen of the Josephite missions.” Bishop Cheri recalled there being about 53 majority-black parishes in New Orleans; now, the number is close to 24 parishes and three predominantly black schools.
At the Sisters of the Holy Family Motherhouse in Gentilly, Sister Laura Mercier said when her order’s founder is canonized, she would be the first native-born African-American saint. “Her life will be a reminder that everyone can be a saint, no matter what color they are,” Sister Laura said.
Blessed Sacrament Sister Eva Marie Lumas, interim director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies, said Xavier University is a special place that understands the woes and giftedness of the African American community and a perfect place to honor black Catholic ancestors who walked before and contributed much to society and the church.
She said elevating these African-Americans to sainthood is “a witness to advancing some who are ordinary people who did extraordinary things, and extraordinary people that understood the frame of reference of ordinary things …” While they might not have seen the fruits of their labors in their lifetime, these candidates for sainthood did what was right anyway by standing tall, walking, talking and showing how to do it right.
“It is both appropriate and significant that this joint effort to promote the cause for sainthood for these six extraordinary individuals should originate at Xavier,” Verret said.
The center will add Sister Thea Bowman once her cause is officially opened by the Diocese of Jackson, hopefully later this year.

(Bordelon is associate editor of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.)

Catholic death penalty opponents praise pope’s catechism revision

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Aug. 2 announcement that Pope Francis had ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church calling the death penalty “inadmissible” was praised by Catholic death penalty opponents in the U.S.
“I am overjoyed and deeply grateful to learn that Pope Francis closed the last remaining loophole in Catholic social teaching on the death penalty,” said Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, who is a longtime opponent of capital punishment.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network in Washington, an advocacy group seeking to end the death penalty, called the news “a capstone teaching moment for the Catholic Church.”
Both advocates, in separate statements, stressed the clarity of the pope’s announcement. Sister Prejean said the Catholic Church “has opposed capital punishment for many years, but the official language used to talk about the issue up to this point has always been equivocal” leaving room for some to say that “executions are morally permissible.”
The catechism’s “new language is very clear,” Sister Prejean said, with its description of the death penalty as “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” There are “absolutely no exceptions,” she added.
Vaillancourt Murphy said Catholic bishops in every state that have the death penalty have taken stands to see an end to this practice. She said the revision to the catechism “further clarifies any remaining ambiguity about the church’s teaching against the death penalty and strengthens the global resolve to bring an end to this practice.”
Both leaders pointed out that the Pope Francis’ action builds on work begun by St. John Paul II, who spoke of the dignity of guilty and innocent life and described executions as cruel and unnecessary.
“The moral ground zero of this issue in the Catholic context has been the question of self defense and the inviolable dignity of every human being,” said Sister Prejean, who pointed out that there is “nothing dignified about rendering a person defenseless, strapping them down to a gurney and killing them.”

Father Chris Ponnet, chaplain at the St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care in Los Angeles, speaks during a rally protesting the death penalty in Anaheim, Calif., Feb. 25, 2017. Pope Francis has ordered a revision to the catechism to state that the death penalty is inadmissible and he committed the church to its abolition. (CNS photo/Andrew Cullen, Reuters)

“The moral tectonic plates have shifted,” she added, saying the “very nature of the act of executing a person can no longer be justified.”
But as thrilled as she was by the pope’s announcement, the author of “Dead Man Walking” – about her experience helping death-row inmates – also said the revision is “still just words on a page. Words must be followed by action. It’s time to abolish state-sponsored killing forever.”
Vaillancourt Murphy similarly stressed the reality of the death penalty in the United States, saying 31 states “still have it on the books.”
She also said more than 2,800 people are currently on death row in the United States and 14 executions are scheduled for the remainder of 2018, including three in August.
“These upcoming executions are a stark reminder that the death penalty is active in the United States, and it violates our commitment to the dignity of all life,” she said. “The death penalty is a failed practice that perpetuates the cycle of violence and disproportionately targets marginalized populations, especially people of color, those living in poverty and people suffering with mental illness.”
Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, also issued a statement in support of the pope’s revision.
“(It) reflects what we are seeing in our work with conservative Catholics who increasingly understand the death penalty is a failed and unnecessary policy that does not value life and does nothing to make our society safer,” she said. “We are grateful for the leadership of the Catholic Church, including Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis, in efforts to end the death penalty.”

Many urge more accountability by church after abuse revelations

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The sexual abuse allegations surrounding now-former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick have prompted some church figures to call for a more thorough reckoning of the U.S. church’s clerical sexual abuse policies.
“We can – and I am confident that we will – strengthen the rules and regulations and sanctions against any trying to fly under the radar or to ‘get away with’ such evil and destructive behaviors,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, in a July 27 letter to clergy in his diocese. “But, at its heart, this is much more than a challenge of law enforcement; it is a profoundly spiritual crisis.”
“In negative terms, and as clearly and directly as I can repeat our church teaching, it is a grave sin to be ‘sexually active’ outside of a real marriage covenant. A cardinal is not excused from what a layperson or another member of the clergy is not,” Bishop Scharfenberger said.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, delivers the homily in 2009 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Archbishop McCarrick, and has ordered him to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

“A member of the clergy who pledges to live a celibate life must remain as chaste in his relationship with all whom he serves as spouses within a marriage. This is what our faith teaches and what we are held to in practice. There is no ‘third way,'” he added.
Bishop Scharfenberger said, “Abuse of authority – in this case, with strong sexual overtones – with vulnerable persons is hardly less reprehensible than the sexual abuse of minors, which the USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) attempted to address in 2002. Unfortunately, at that time – something I never understood – the ‘Charter’ (‘for the Protection of Children and Young People’) did not go far enough so as to hold cardinals, archbishops and bishops equally, if not more, accountable than priests and deacons.”
He said he believes the “vast majority of clergy – priests, deacons and bishops alike – live or, at least, are striving to live holy and admirable lifestyles. I am ashamed of those of my brothers, such as the cardinal, who do not and have not.”
With his resignation July 28 from the College of Cardinals, McCarrick retains the title of archbishop. However, “his prompt reduction canonically to the laity should be strongly deliberated,” said a July 28 statement by Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas.
“As each day passes, we learn that the former cardinal not only allegedly perpetrated abuse against minors but also against subordinates including priests, seminarians and members of the laity. The evil effects of these actions were multiplied by the fact that financial settlements were arranged with victims without transparency or restrictions on the former cardinal’s ministry,” Bishop Olson said.
“Justice also requires that all of those in church leadership who knew of the former cardinal’s alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.”
Trinity Washington University president Patricia McGuire, in a July 27 blog posting titled “Cardinal Sins,” reflected on the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick through the prism of her mother’s late-in-life dread that she may have exposed her young sons to abusive clergy.
“As the tawdry, tragic stories of priests committing appalling acts of abuse spread from Boston to Philadelphia and parishes and dioceses nationwide, the mothers of the altar boys, in particular, suffered silent grief and suspicion, leading to a sense of betrayal and then alienation from the church to which they had devoted unquestioning loyalty throughout their lives,” McGuire said.
In the year before McGuire’s mother died, “the abuse scandal left her bitter about the hypocrisy of priests and bishops; she wondered aloud about her own father, my grandfather who, as a young man in Milan (Italy), had been in the seminary for a while. He left the seminary and came to America and, in my mother’s memory, he would not set foot inside a church. ‘All’s right between God and me,’ he would say to her,” she wrote.
“The emergence of the American abuse scandal made her wonder if something had happened to her father even so long ago in the Italian seminary; again, no evidence, but the scandal created more doubts, caused more anguish, like a rapidly spreading toxic algae bloom.”
McGuire added, “The church’s response to the massive sex abuse crisis has always seemed to lack a certain level of deep, urgent understanding of the gravity of the sin against children and other victims. Certainly, words have cascaded, gestures made, money paid out. But, somehow, the words and gestures and checks have all seemed more self-protective of the organization than truly penitential at the most profound level.”
“As a father, I am appalled and angry. As a Catholic, I feel ashamed and betrayed,” said a statement from John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, who had worked closely with Archbishop McCarrick on various policy initiatives when Carr worked at USCCB headquarters in Washington.
“As a friend of former Cardinal McCarrick, I am devastated, especially for the victims and their families,” Carr added. “I pray that these horrific developments can help end this evil of clerical sex abuse and dismantle the culture that permitted it within our family of faith.”
Msgr. Owen Campion, former editor of the national newspaper Our Sunday Visitor and now chaplain of OSV Newsweekly, said he felt dismay, revulsion, heartsickness, anger and – for once – weariness upon learning of the accusations lodged against Archbishop McCarrick.
“I am weary of trying to make excuses, of trying to find something to say,” Msgr. Campion wrote July 18. 
“I am tired of stepping away from restrooms in restaurants until a youth has emerged. I am tired of watching my every move and calculating my every word if a young person is present. I am tired of calling my diocese when I have been invited to preach in another location, asking for a letter stating that I have never been in trouble.”
He added that he is tired of making the point that “sexual abuse is a vast problem in our culture,” because he is “assailed for concocting excuses.” “But I make it again,” he said.
Sexual abuse “hardly only involves clergy. Our society’s insanity when it comes to satisfying erotic desires in the most selfish of circumstances, and our increasing disregard for morality in any setting, is sickening and frightening because of where it is taking us,” Msgr. Campion said. “We must face this fact.”
Msgr. Campion said, “One excuse that I have offered with increasing lack of enthusiasm is the Dallas ‘Charter,’ a policy created by U.S. bishops to right the wrongs. The charter, whether it is followed or not, spoke of children, but attention must also be given to the wide sexual abuse of adults.”
He added, “A seminarian would have to be very brave to accuse an archbishop, let alone a cardinal. The seminarian, however persuasive his story, would not enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Quite likely, he could forget about being a priest.”
In Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori said allegations against Archbishop McCarrick “have shaken our church to its core.”
“That we find ourselves in this place again is tragic and heart wrenching – for the victims; for their families and friends; for all Catholics; and for our neighbors whom we are called to serve in truth and love,” he said in a July 30 statement.
He said he strongly supports Pope Francis’ response to Archbishop McCarrick’s case and other recent cases, including accepting the resignation of several Chilean bishops, and praised the pope’s “determination to hold accountable all those who have sexually abused others or failed to report allegations of sexual abuse, regardless of their position or rank in the church.”
Building on those efforts “to strengthen the accountability of bishops,” Archbishop Lori said, “some bishops in the United States are discussing proposals to do the same, (including) measures that can be implemented in each diocese to ensure that victims can easily report allegations of abuse by any member of the church, including bishops, and can confidently expect that those allegations will get a full and fair hearing.”
“I will contribute actively to those discussions and will fully implement their results in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to best protect those in our local Catholic community and all those we serve,” he said, pledging his “continued diligent oversight of the measures currently in place” and renewing his commitment “to do all I can to build a culture of accountability and transparency.”

(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison)

Experts in youth, Hispanic ministry to headline workshops

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON — Two of the leading voices in ministry in America today are coming to the Diocese of Jackson. Dr. Hoffsman Ospino and Robert Feduccia will lead this year’s faith formation workshop. The Office of Hispanic Ministry and the Department of Faith Formation are using the opportunity to also host a series of workshops and appearances with Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and a member of the leadership team for the V Encuentro.

Hosffman Ospino, assistant professor of theology and religious education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, delivers a lecture in 2017 at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Ospino told Catholic News Service in an interview that emerging in the national encuentro process as it unfolds is the need for all U.S. church leaders to strengthen outreach to Hispanic youth and young adults. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard) See ENCUENTRO-OSPINO-YOUNG July 5, 2018.

On Saturday, August 25, Ospino and Feduccia are set to be keynote speakers anchoring this year’s Faith Formation Day at Madison St. Joseph School. The day is aimed at catechists and those who work in the protection of children, but others can register if they would like to attend. The theme this year – One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – was developed around the four marks of the Church.
“We are looking at what unites us as Catholics and underscoring the importance of our Catholic identity, presence and catechesis in the world we live in today. Both keynote speakers have a well-developed perspective on what evangelization looks like in the modern era,” said Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson and one of the organizers.

Robert Feduccia

Feduccia is a native of Brookaven and was active in the youth group at St. Francis. He was even a seminarian for the diocese before he discerned a call to married life. He helped found a youth liturgical leadership program called One Bread, One Cup at St. Meinrad Seminary and has worked with the National Catholic Youth Conference and World Youth Day.
Breakout sessions will focus on all areas of faith formation including family catechesis, adult faith formation, RCIA, youth ministry, elementary catechesis, Confirmation, self-care, and protection of children. Anyone involved in Faith Formation or Religious Education is encouraged to attend. The $10 cost includes a lunch.
That afternoon, from 3-7 p.m., Ospino will offer a program in Spanish at Pearl St. Jude Parish. Ospino is leading a workshop for pastors, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers one day before the public events.
In the invitation to the pastor event, Christian Brother Ted Dausch, coordinator for the Office of Hispanic Ministry, wrote a little about why hearing from Ospino is so relevant.
“We are living in very challenging times. Most of us cannot remember time a of such divisions, lack of civility, polarizations. It is against this backdrop, we are called to bring together people of different, languages, cultures, values, political preferences to reflect Catholic values lived out in very concrete ways. (Mt. 25)” he wrote.
Ospino has worked for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Educational Association. He brings with him a love for research and years of experience working with the Hispanic communities across the United States. He will speak with pastors, deacons and LEMs about the challenges of uniting diverse communities within faith communities. Registration for all events is open through the Office of Faith Formation, (601) 960-8473 or by emailing

Synod working document: Young Catholics need church that listens to them

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.
The synod’s “instrumentum laboris” (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people “want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching.”
Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics “want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community.”
The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops’ conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering.
An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world’s bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.” Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online.
The meeting, the working document said, “highlighted the potential that younger generations represent” as well as their “hopes and desires.”
“Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment,” it said.
Presenting the “instrumentum laboris” to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find “the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love” in a world that often robs them of their “affections, bonds and prospective of life.”
“The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education,” he said.
Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church’s need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them.
The responses collected by bishops’ conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality.

Pope Francis prepares to take a photo with young people at a presynod gathering of youth delegates in Rome March 19. The Vatican has released the working document for the October Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women “do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church.”
“Although no bishops’ conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment,” it said.
Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.
The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more “technocratic approach to the body,” citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.
“Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one’s own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life,” the “instrumentum laboris” said.
Church leaders, it said, must “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”
Also, “LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church,” while some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church, the document said.
Regarding the use of the initials “LGBT” in a major church document, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that it was a term used in one of the documents given by the bishops’ conferences “and we quoted them.”
“We are open. We don’t want the synod to be closed in itself,” Cardinal Baldisseri said. “And in the church, there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves – on the right, left, center, north and south – this is all possible. That is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions.”
The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with nonbelievers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.
Young men and women from primarily secularized areas “ask nothing from the church” and “expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating.” These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to “serious and respectable reasons.”
Among the reasons are the church’s sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.
Young men and women are also hoping the church can help them “find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of vocation,” which is often misinterpreted as referring only to priesthood and consecrated life.
While the church has confirmed that marriage is also a vocation, the document confirms the need for “a youth vocational ministry capable of being meaningful for all young people.”
“Called to holiness and anointed by the spirit, the Christian learns to grasp all the choices in existence in a vocational perspective, especially the central one of the state of life as well as those of a professional nature,” it said.
“For this reason, some bishops’ conferences hope that the synod will find ways to help all Christians rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness … and in view of the professional orientation of young people with a vocational perspective,” the document said.

Bishops end border visit, call reunification of children urgent

By Rhina Guidos
SAN JUAN, Texas (CNS) – In less than 48 hours, a group of Catholic bishops saw the faces of triumph and relief from migrants who had been recently released by immigration authorities, but ended their two-day journey to the border with a more “somber” experience, visiting detained migrant children living temporarily within the walls of a converted Walmart.
During a news conference after the second and last day of their visit July 2, they stressed the “urgent” need to do something to help the children.
The separation for some of the children began shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in early May that if migrants wanted to take their chances crossing the border illegally with their children, they faced the consequence of having them taken away – and he implemented a policy doing so.
Widespread outrage in the weeks following led to President Donald Trump essentially rescinding the policy in mid-June. But the stroke of the pen could not automatically reunite the children and parents who had been and remain apart.
“The children who are separated from their parents need to be reunited. That’s already begun and it’s certainly not finished and there may be complications, but it must be done and it’s urgent,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The visit to the facility known as Casa Padre capped the bishops’ brief journey to the border communities of McAllen-Brownsville near the southern border.

Trump picks Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Donald Trump announced July 9 that his nominee for the Supreme Court is Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington and a Catholic who once clerked for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“What matters is not a judge’s personal views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require,” Trump said in his announcement at the White House, adding: “I am pleased to say I have found, without doubt, such a person.”
He said the nominee has “impeccable credentials” and is “considered a judge’s judge.”
“I am grateful to you and I am humbled by your confidence in me,” said Kavanaugh, who was standing near his wife and two daughters.

Brett Kavanaugh, a Catholic, who is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, smiles July 9 at the White House in Washington after President Donald Trump named him his Supreme Court nominee. (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters)

Kavanaugh spoke about his Catholic faith saying he tries to live by the motto instilled in him by his Jesuit high school: “be men for others.” Kavanaugh, like Justice Neil Gorsuch, attended Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit boys school in Maryland. He also pointed out that his former pastor, Msgr. John Enzler, was in the audience. He said he he used to be an altar boy for him and now the two serve the homeless together. The priest is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington. Kavanaugh also gave a shout-out to the girls basketball team at his parish which he coaches. He said the team has nicknamed him “Coach K,” the name given to Duke basketball’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Kavanaugh said if he is chosen to be on the Supreme Court he would “keep an open mind in every case” and “always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
Immediately after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announced his retirement June 27, Trump said he would move quickly to nominate a replacement, saying he would review a list of candidates from the list he had to fill the seat now held by Gorsuch after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kennedy is one of five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a Yale Law School graduate who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he has authored more than 280 opinions. He was part of the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation, which ultimately led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate.
His biography on the court website notes that he is a regular lector at his church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington. He also volunteers for the St. Maria’s Meals program at Catholic Charities, has coached CYO, tutors at the Washington Jesuit Academy and belongs to the John Carroll Society, a group of Catholic lawyers and professionals.
He dissented from a recent ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that a teenager in an immigrant detention center was entitled to seek an abortion. He claimed the decision would give immigrant minors a right to “immediate abortion on demand,” but urged the government to transfer her to private custody so she could do “as she wished.”
Kavanaugh also dissented from a majority decision of the D.C. Circuit that rejected a request from the Archdiocese of Washington and Priests for Life to have the full court review their challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.
He said that “the regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs.” But he also wrote that the government “has a compelling interest in facilitating access to contraception for the employees of these religious organizations” and should “achieve it in other ways.”
Two of the other judges reported to be top picks as nominees are also Catholic: Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman. Judge Amul Thapar, on a broader top list, is also Catholic.
The nominee must be confirmed by the Senate in order to have a seat on the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings questioning the nominee and if the committee approves, a vote for or against the nominee goes to the full Senate floor and must be approved with a simple majority or 51 votes. – –

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.)