Federal authorities order USCCB, dioceses to retain documents

By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) – An attorney for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has confirmed that federal officials have asked the organization to keep documents and other files that might pertain to possible sex abuse allegations and other matters and to order the same of all dioceses around the country. 
“We have transmitted the U.S. attorney’s letter at his request and in the spirit of cooperation with law enforcement,” said Anthony Picarello, associate general secretary and general counsel for the USCCB in an Oct. 29 email to Catholic News Service.
News reports in late October said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, sent the bishops’ conference a letter and instructions about the preservation of documents in early October asking that it be sent around to the country’s 197 dioceses.
The Diocese of Jackson already had a record retention policy in place so did not need to take any additonal action, according to Bishop Joseph Kopacz.
In mid-October, The Associated Press news agency said McSwain had started issuing subpoenas in Pennsylvania, where the state attorney general Aug. 14 released a grand jury report detailing decades of claims of sex abuse by clergy and other church workers in six of the state’s Catholic dioceses.
The report, which was the result of a monthslong probe into a 70-year period beginning in 1947, also claimed that church officials in many cases handled allegations of abuse byhiding them and brushing aside victims.
Since its release, more than a dozen attorneys general around the country have announced investigations of their own, seeking church records about what diocesan authorities knew of past abuse.

Abuse crisis, day of prayer top agenda for fall bishops’ meeting

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Discussion and voting on concrete measures to address the abuse crisis and a day of spiritual discernment and prayer will top the agenda for the U.S. bishops when they meet Nov. 12-14 for their fall general assembly in Baltimore.
Public sessions of the assembly also will be livestreamed live tweeted and carried via satellite, said an Oct. 29 news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The assembly will begin Nov. 12 with an address by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB president, as well as remarks by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States.
The body of bishops will then adjourn to an on-site chapel for a full day of spiritual discernment and prayer. This will be followed by a Mass celebrated at the site of the assembly that evening.
In a letter sent late Oct. 26 to all U.S. bishops, Cardinal DiNardo asked them to spend seven days before the meeting, from Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, in “intensified” prayer, fasting and reparation to prepare for their general assembly in Baltimore.
During their business sessions, the U.S. bishops will discuss and vote on a series on concrete measures to respond to the abuse, including those approved for their agenda at the September meeting of the Administrative Committee.
Actions approved by the committee Sept. 19 and to be voted on include approving the establishment of a third-party confidential reporting system for claims of any abuse by bishops.
Committee members also instructed the bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of abuse of minors or adults.
They also initiated the process of developing a code of conduct for bishops regarding sexual misconduct with a minor or adult or “negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.”
The Administrative Committee consists of the officers, chairmen and regional representatives of the USCCB. The committee, which meets in March and September, is the highest authority of the USCCB outside of the full body of bishops when they meet for their fall and spring general assemblies.
In Baltimore the bishops also will hear reports from the National Advisory Council and National Review Board.
They also will vote on a proposed pastoral on racism titled “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism.”
“Despite many promising strides made in our country, the ugly cancer of racism still infects our nation,” the proposed document says. “Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love.”
They also will hear a report on the now-concluded Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, will vote on a 2019 budget as well
as voted for a USCCB treasurer-elect and a couple of committee chairmen and five chairman-elect.The USCCB announced several of the nominees Oct. 30:
– For USCCB treasurer-elect: Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis.
– For chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education: Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois.
For the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations: Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey, and Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas.
– For the Committee on Divine Worship: Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, and Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
– For the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development: Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
– For the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette, Wisconsin.
– For the Committee on Migration: Auxiliary Bishop Mario E Dorsonville-Rodriguez of Washington and Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky.
Chairmen-elect will be chosen for the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Religious Vocations; the Committee on Divine Worship; the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and the Committee on Migration.
Also on the agenda will be a voice vote to endorse the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman, the great-granddaughter of slaves and the only African-American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. (See related story on page 1.)
Public sessions of the discussions and votes during the general assembly as well as portions of the day of spiritual discernment will be available via livestream at: http://www.usccb.org/live.News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials will be posted to this page: www.usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible. Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can use the hashtag #USCCB18 and follow on Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook, www.facebook.com/usccb, and Instagram, https://instagram.com/usccb.

V Encuentro. Los jóvenes energizaron el evento

Por Berta del Carmen Mexidor
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Con una reunión nacional culminó el ciclo del quinto encuentro. El conclave se celebró por tres días en Grapevine, Texas, desde el 20 al 24 de septiembre. Delegados de todo el país, seleccionados después de reuniones parroquiales, diocesanas y regionales, participaron en el V Encuentro, al llamado de los Obispos de los Estados Unidos para entregar a estos el resultado de múltiples consultas con los católicos, que incluyen, por supuesto los retos y planes de la comunidad latina/ hispana dentro de la iglesia católica.
La delegación de la Diócesis de Jackson, dirigida por el Obispo Joseph Kopacz, contó con excelentes representantes: Susana Becerril, María Isamar Mazy, quienes llevaron la voz de los más jóvenes y Danna Johnson , Sor María Elena Méndez, MGSpS, una de las coordinadoras del Ministerio Hispano para la diócesis y el padre Michael Mc Andrew, quienes resumieron las expectativas y experiencias para formación de fe, vocaciones y trabajo de comunidad.

El trabajo del V Encuentro termina donde comienza el VI Encuentro. Todos los delegados deben transmitir los resultados nacionales, comenzando con la réplica del mismo proceso de consulta a nivel de cada iglesia, diócesis y región. Este proceso llevará cuatro años más hasta concluir con una nueva cita nacional para cumplir con la tarea de ser discípulos misioneros.
A su regreso la pregunta a los participantes fue la misma-
P: ¿Qué experiencias resaltan del evento nacional del V Encuentro? Las respuestas no se hicieron esperar:
R: Isamar – Mi experiencia fue muy bonita viendo que la iglesia en estos tiempos de dificultad pudo unirse en oración y que los obispos fueron con sencillez y humildad a pedirnos a nosotros que rezáramos por ellos. Me impresionó la multitud de personas que hubo, éramos alrededor de 3,200 personas de todo los Estados Unidos y por parte del CELAM (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano) Monseñor Constantino Barrera Morales y el Obispo de Sonsonate de El Salvador trajeron jóvenes de Costa Rica y Brasil para escuchar nuestras experiencias. Contamos con la grata presencia del Nuncio Apostólico comisionado por el papa Francisco y su mensaje alentador fue de mucha alegría para nosotros cuando nos dijo que “somos un pueblo en marcha.”
R: Susana Becerril – Me llevo muchas cosas del V Encuentro, algunas buenas otras no tanto, pero todo me ha servido para aprender cosas urgentes en realidad, que quizá no creía necesarias. Me gustó que se habló de una integración de la comunidad estadounidense y la latino/hispana. Remarcaron que no somos invitados de la iglesia, nosotros somos iglesia, tenemos voz, tenemos derecho, pero más nada tenemos la obligación de hacer algo por los que más lo necesitan. Pero como dije al principio no todo fue tan bueno, siento que faltó más tiempo o no se usó el tiempo de manera proporcional para abordar todos los temas y para ser escuchados por los obispos.”
R: Danna – Como ya se nos había explicado antes de ir al encuentro nacional, la dinámica de estos tres días era continuar la metodología y espiritualidad del pasaje bíblico de los discípulos que van camino a Emaus y que refleja los cinco movimientos que el Papa Francisco presenta en la Alegría del Evangelio: Primeriar, involucrarse, acompañar, dar frutos y festejar.
De estos cinco movimientos, el que más me dejo marcada fue el de acompañar. El Obispo Daniel Flores de la diócesis de Brownsville, TX, nos decía en su presentación que para acompañar “debe existir el deseo de hacerlo.” Acompañar es presencia, tiempo, paciencia, escucha, mirada cercana y contemplativa, es nuestro “Muévete y detente ante la otra persona (move and stop before the other person)” al estilo de Jesús. Esto requiere “desinstalar nuestra cómoda condición de espectadores” nos dijo.
Yo regreso a mi vida ordinaria con esas palabras del Obispo Flores en mi memoria y corazón. ¿Cómo me hablan esas palabras en mi vida? El V Encuentro fue una oportunidad de apertura para ver con nuevos ojos las mismas necesidades, particularmente las del pueblo hispano en la iglesia católica en los Estados Unidos y aquí en Mississippi. Se habló mucho de la falta de atención espiritual (especialmente en los jóvenes), de los obstáculos de integración y de la falta de una formación integral en todos los niveles de liderazgo de la iglesia.
En medio de los escándalos y las crisis que pasa la iglesia católica actualmente, Dr. Hosffman Ospino nos dijo “el V Encuentro es un modelo de reflexión y acción, comunión en la diversidad. Es un gran momento de ser católico (a) e Hispano (a), una iglesia renovada, que requiere de una conversión pastoral autentica.”
R: Hermana María Elena – El V Encuentro nacional fue como un nuevo Pentecostés para la Iglesia Católica de los Estados Unidos. Participar en el proceso del V Encuentro fue un momento de gracia, una caricia, un abrazo afectivo y una luz que se enciende en la oscuridad en medio de este momento difícil para la Iglesia.
Desde que subí al avión que me llevaría a Texas mi corazón empezó a palpitar de gozo, pues sería parte de un evento que marcaría la historia de la Iglesia y de la sociedad de los Estados Unidos. También vino a mi mente la gran responsabilidad que llevaba conmigo el ser delegada de la Diócesis, pues los que no pudieron ir esperaban de vuelta el mensaje recibido.
El haber vivido el proceso en las parroquias, en la diócesis, en la región y ahora la nación, me hizo contemplar en conjunto los retos, sueños, oportunidades, posibilidades y responsabilidades que tenemos como hispanos dentro de la sociedad y de la Iglesia. En el evento me tocó caminar en la procesión de entrada como representante de Jackson y la región V. Caminar por el pasillo escuchando los gritos de gozo cuando se anunciaba a cada grupo que representaba a la región me llenó emoción. Caminar entre alrededor de 3,200 participantes de toda la nación, de una gran gama de ministerios, experiencias, diócesis y regiones era maravilloso. Esto me llenó de orgullo por ser hispana y mexicana.
Los tres días del evento, fueron de trabajo por regiones, interregionales y finalmente por áreas de ministerios. Aún cuando los días estuvieron llenos de actividades, hubo fiesta, música, baile y mucha alegría. A la vez, hubo tiempo para reflexionar en nuestros retos, limitaciones, oportunidades y sueños.
En general, los obispos nos motivaron a ser protagonistas, a formarnos, a pasar de espectadores a tomar liderazgo, a ir en busca de los que se han alejado de la Iglesia por cualquier razón y a ser misioneros, testigos del amor de Dios.
La que resaltó muy fuerte fue la pastoral juvenil y la necesidad de los roles de liderazgo de la mujer diciendo “escúchenos, acompáñenos, fórmenos e inviertan económicamente en nosotros”, estamos listos para tomar puestos de responsabilidad en la estructura parroquial y diocesana, confíen en nosotros.
Al final de todo, me sentí motivada y confirmada con lo que dijo Carl Anderson (Caballero Supremo de los Caballeros de Colón) sobre la Virgen de Guadalupe: “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe está trabajando en la Iglesia de los Estados Unidos a través de la fe y las acciones de numerosos seguidores. Ella es muy relevante ahora, hay un milagro de Guadalupe hoy en este país” agregó
Yo creo la Virgen de Guadalupe, como lo hizo antes, nos va a unir como Iglesia Católica y como Continente Americano.
R: Padre Mc Andrew- Si bien las liturgias fueron hermosas, excelente música y había mucho que aprender, la parte más importante fue conocer gente de todo el país y escucharlos compartir historias de prueba, esperanza y fe. Fué genial ver a las nuevas generaciones de líderes con tanta energía. Los jóvenes en el V Encuentro energizaron el evento.
R: Bishop Kopacz- La comunidad latina ha crecido y evolucionado durante dos generaciones adicionales a través del nacimiento y la inmigración a casi el 40 por ciento de la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos. El enfoque del V Encuentro es el reconocimiento a los latinos, llamados a asumir un mayor liderazgo en la Iglesia. La creciente presencia de católicos latinos y católicos asiáticos en este momento en la Iglesia de los Estados Unidos inevitablemente transformará la complejidad del liderazgo en el futuro. El V Encuentro trata de hacer esta transformación más intencional. A pesar de las sombras que oscurecen la misión y la visión de la Iglesia, el Encuentro estuvo marcado por una alegría generalizada, un considerable ánimo (espíritu), un amor entusiasta por el Señor y la Santísima Madre y una esperanza para el futuro (sigue adelante). (De su columna del 26 de octubre)
La misión de ser discípulos misioneros fue resumida por el padre Eduardo de la Región XI con una frase que aprendió sobre hispanos / latinos: “Los misioneros pacíficos de Dios (pachangeros) son aquellos que se entregan, los que saben cómo dar la bienvenida y los que están contentos.

Synod groups focus on need for qualified accompaniment

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In their second round of reports to the Synod of Bishops, a number of working groups called for qualified and, in some way, supervised spiritual mentors or directors, recommended including more female figures from the Bible as examples and role models for young people, and praised having the inspiring input of young people during the gathering.
The second week of discussions centered on discernment, vocations and accompaniment, and the 14 working groups, which are divided by language, each came up with a number of suggestions, critiques and recommendations for the synod’s final document. The Vatican released the reports Oct. 16.
The working group English-A, which includes bishops from the United States, Australia, Ireland and England, said the synod “came alive” when young people gave their interventions, with one bishop in the group commenting, “I never realized a synod could be so much fun!”

Bishops and observers attend a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The group recommended the final document present “a clear definition of vocation,” keeping in mind it should be speaking not only to practicing Catholics, but also to the “nones.”
The group also suggested including in the final document “a distinct treatment of the response of Mary to God’s call” and seeing her as the “archetypal disciple.”
While recognizing the key role families, friends and schools play in accompanying young people on their faith journey, the English-A group emphasized the need for “trained mentors” who had proper formation as well as “accompaniment/supervision” themselves so they could be effective spiritual guides.
The English-B group proposed that young people be prompted to “connect with Jesus’ youth and understand their lives in its light,” for example, by recognizing how Jesus personally experienced many young people’s struggles, such as being a refugee, growing up in an “underprivileged household,” being misunderstood at times by family and unappreciated by others.
The English-C group praised the use in the synod working document of examples and people from the Bible as concrete reference points for young people, but questioned its inclusion of figures such as Joshua since he led an army of conquest and Esther, whose example “is also full of violence and trickery.”
In an effort to pinpoint what “true” accompaniment would look like, the group said:
– It must respect that discernment belongs to the person being accompanied, not the mentor, avoiding all forms of manipulation and well-intentioned, but “inappropriate” forms of mentorship.
– The final document should develop further “respect for the freedom and conscience of the person being accompanied.”
– Accompaniment needs “a climate of friendliness, trust and warmth,” without the mentor losing needed objectivity and the ability to offer “fraternal correction.”
The importance of formation for mentors and spiritual directors also received much discussion in the English-D group, which included bishops from Canada and the United States, such as Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles.
Even though one member of the group insisted “any baptized person can be an effective even powerful role model in the Christian life,” the group as a whole felt “the art of authentic spiritual mentorship requires specific training” and expertise.
Some in the group “warned that spiritual teachers too frequently devolve into gurus and encourage a cult of personality around themselves,” so “unmentored mentors” are not wanted or needed in the church.

Pope Francis blesses a synod observer before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The group noted “with a certain sadness that many prospective mentors today, especially in the West, are reluctant to enter into a relationship with a directee for fear that they might be accused of boundary violations.”
Group members also praised the use of biblical figures and their lives to help inspire young people, however, several young women in the group recommended the inclusion of more women “who cooperated mightily with the Lord,” such as Mary, Ruth, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail and Tabitha.
The French-A group said the spiritual accompaniment of an individual “does not do everything” and underlined the essential role of the family, peer groups and the community in “awakening” young people to God’s call and helping them live a virtuous life.
The French-B group requested that the final document cover the training of those who accompany or guide young people, because without the necessary skills, “the process is doomed to failure.”
They also addressed needing to reach out to single, unmarried people and reminding them that they, too, have a vocation, which ultimately is becoming an “adopted” child of the Father in Christ. “This is why it seems to us that we cannot say that people living alone do not have a vocation or that they refuse a vocation.”
The Spanish-A group highlighted:
– The need to reach out to young people who belong to gangs. “Their only love is that of the group and it is not easy to enter such closed environments nor is it easy for young people to get out of them.”
– Questions regarding the best ways to approach homosexuals, “who cannot be left out of our pastoral care,” and how pastors should respond to the issues of homosexual unions, surrogate motherhood, adoption by same-sex couples and other issues they believe are being promoted by international institutions.
– The large number of priests “who are waiting for the accompaniment of their bishops.”
The German-language group said one of the most important tasks all members of the church have is to show young people that they are loved simply because they exist and because of who they are, not because they are already good, capable, efficient or because they have certain qualities or are part of a group.
The Portuguese-language group said when it comes to sharing the faith, “we cannot reduce faith to a morality. The Christian proposal needs to be embodied in concrete experiences. It is necessary to return to the proposal of Jesus: ‘Come and see!'”
Concerning affection and sexuality, the church should begin with the basic Christian principles of the value of human life and the dignity of the body as a way to open dialogue with nonbelievers, the group said.
“The doctrine of the church in this field is beautiful and rich. It is necessary to present it with clarity, believing in the force of attraction contained therein and surpassing the vision of those who see it only as something rigid.”
The synod should also reflect on the vocation of those who remain single and those who are homosexual, it said. “It is not the mission of the church to respond to all particular realities, but it is her duty to care for, to accompany, to help the young person to give direction and direction to his or her own life, to help them to do good.”

(Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves.)

V Encuentro. Life experience for missionary disciples

JACKSON – The delegation representing the Diocese of Jackson at the V Encuentro’s national culmination returned home from Grapevine, Texas, with a new mission – to take all they learned and experienced and turn it into a plan of action for ministry at home.
Delegates from all over the country, selected after parish, diocesan and regional meetings, participated in the V Encuentro in September. Mississippi Catholic asked each delegate, as well as Father Michael McAndrew, CsSR, who attended with his order, to send us some thoughts on their experience.
Isamar Mazy – Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle:
“My experience was very nice seeing the church, in these difficult times, joining in prayer and the humility of bishops asking us to pray for them. I was impressed by the multitude of people, around 3,200 individuals from all over the United States.
On behalf of the CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council) Monsignor Constantino Barrera Morales and the Bishop of Sonsonate of El Salvador brought young people from Costa Rica and Brazil to listen our experiences. We had the pleasant presence of the Apostolic Nuncio commissioned by Pope Francis and his encouraging message was of great joy to us when he told we “are a people on march.”
Susana Becerril,
“Everything has helped me to learn urgent things that, maybe, I didn’t think necessary. I liked there was a talk for integration of the American with the Latin / Hispanic community. They pointed out that we are not guests of the church, we are the church, we have a voice, we have a right, but most of all we have the obligation to do something for those who need it most.”
Danna Johnson, Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish:
“Bishop Daniel Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, told us in his presentation that to accompany “there must be a desire to do so.
“Accompanying is presence, time, patience, listening, closed and contemplative gaze, it is our ‘Move and stop before the other person’ in the style of Jesus. This requires us to ‘uninstall our comfortable condition of viewers’ he told us. I return to my ordinary life with those words in my memory and heart.
“The faith of the poor is what saves us” Bishop Flores said.
How do those words speak to me in my life? The V Encuentro was an opening opportunity to see with new eyes the same needs – particularly those of the Hispanic people in the Catholic Church in the United States and here in Mississippi. There was much talk about the lack of spiritual attention (especially among young people), the obstacles to integration and the lack of comprehensive formation at all levels of church leadership.”
Sister María Elena Mendez, coordinator for Hispanic Ministry:
“The V Encuentro was like a new Pentecost for the Catholic Church of the United States. Participating in the process of the V Encuentro was a moment of grace, a caress, an emotional embrace and a light that is lit in the darkness in the middle of this difficult moment for the Church.

Delegates dance on stage Sept. 23 during the Fifth National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

“In general, the bishops motivated us to be protagonists, to form ourselves, to pass from spectators to take leadership, to go in search of those who have left the Church for any reason and to be missionaries, witnesses of the love of God.
“The one that stood out very strongly was the youth pastoral and the necessity of the roles of leadership of the women saying, ‘listen to us, join us, form us and invest economically in us, we are ready to take positions of responsibility in the parochial and diocesan structure… trust us.’
“At the end of, I felt motivated and confirmed by what Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said about the Virgin of Guadalupe: ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe is working in the Church of the United States through faith and the actions of numerous followers. She is very relevant now, there is a miracle of Guadalupe today in this country.”
Father Michael McAndrew, Redemptorist serving in the Delta:
“While the liturgies were beautiful, great music and there was much to learn, the most important part was meeting people from all over the nation and listening to them share stories of trial, hope and faith. The young people at the V Encuentro energized the event and challenged church leadership to be creative in reaching out to the next generation of leaders. I wish that more people could experience such energy in the church. Since I have been involved in Hispanic ministry for almost thirty years, it was great to see so many people from the many parts of this country whom I have met over the years. It was good to see those long time friends, but it was also great to see the new generations of leaders with such energy.

At Romero Mass: Saints risk all for love of Jesus

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.
Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints’ home countries – Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany – were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.
Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was “super happy” to be in Rome. “I don’t think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the ‘official’ canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive.”
Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism – including from within the church – but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.
The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.
“All these saints, in different contexts,” put the Gospel “into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind,” Pope Francis said in his homily.
The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints’ examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others.
And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside “structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world.”
Among those in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. “I’m really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old,” she told Catholic News Service.
“He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started,” Bonilla said. “The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!”
Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy – St. Paul VI’s hometown. Her local saint, she said, “brought great fresh air” to the church with the Second Vatican Council and “has something to say to us today,” particularly with his 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on human life and married love, especially its teaching about “the conception of life, the protection of life always.”
In his homily, Pope Francis said that “Jesus is radical.”
“He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart,” the pope said. “Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?”
Jesus, he said, “is not content with a ‘percentage of love.’ We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing” because “our heart is like a magnet – it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world’s treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself.”
“A leap forward in love,” he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape “complacency and self-indulgence.”
Without passionate love, he said, “we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled.”
(Contributing to this story were Carol Glatz, Junno Arocho Esteves and Melissa Vida.)

Next Encuentro phase: action by parishes, dioceses on ideas, priorities

By Norma Montenegro Flynn
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A Nearly 3,000 Hispanic ministry leaders, like Dominican Sister Judith Maldonado, have gone back to their parishes and dioceses to share the ideas and fruits of the conversations that took place at the Fifth National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.
And as that phase of the multiyear process reached completion, the next phase is aimed at putting into practice the lessons learned and bear fruits.
“This has been like a retreat, the message that we were given at the end is like you have the Holy Spirit, you have to take it with you and you have to be saints, produce fruits of love,” said Sister Maldonado, a member of the Dominican Sisters of the Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. Her order is involved with family ministry serving parishes in Maryland and Texas.
In the next few months, the leadership team of the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, will distribute a concluding document listing the main priorities and problems identified across 28 ministry areas; the document will assist dioceses, parishes and national structures in drafting their own pastoral plans according to their own realities and priorities.
The Encuentro’s team of accompaniment, or ENAVE, plans to continue providing support and tracking progress.
“We have achieved things that in some ways we never would have imagined would be possible,” Ken Johnson-Mondragon, V Encuentro’s director of research, told Catholic News Service. “Walls have come down, people have experienced really the joy that Pope Francis talks about.”
The V Encuentro process that began about four years ago has helped thousands of Hispanic ministry leaders engage in faith-filled dialogues among themselves and reach out to those on peripheries. Encuentro has also promoted collaborations within and across dioceses, which is known as ‘pastoral en conjunto,’ and has helped remove the “fear to speak up,” bringing the participants closer to their pastors and bishops, added Johnson-Mondragon.
The V Encuentro also identified and prepared at least 25,000 new Hispanic ministry leaders across the country, and about a third of the leaders engaged were youth and young adults. An estimated 100,000 individuals participated in the process and about 150,000 others were reached on the peripheries.
Another important gain is that the V Encuentro has captured the attention and support of the bishops nationwide. At the gathering, about 125 bishops — Hispanic and non-Hispanic — walked side by side with their diocesan delegations, and about 160 out of 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in the country were represented.
“The Hispanic church is asking for formation, they’re asking for support, they’re asking for direction, so it will be on the part of the bishops and pastors to provide that,” Bishop Oscar Cantu told CNS. Formerly head of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, he is now coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California.

What mostly surprised and pleased Bishop Cantu was the size of the gathering — with over 3,000 participants — and like many others, he was energized by the optimism and drive of the attendees.
The top three recommendations that rose up in the Encuentro process are: the need to develop pastoral plans for Hispanic ministry tailored according to the needs of each parish and diocese; the need of the parish community to help strengthen families; and to hire more Hispanic young adults in paid positions of leadership.
The 28 ministry areas addressed by the V Encuentro include those that reach out to youth, young adult, college campuses, immigrants, families, people with disabilities, and the incarcerated, as well as ministries in vocations, pro-life, faith formation and catechesis, justice and peace, and even care for the environment among others.
As a word of advice from Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, who has witnessed all the Encuentros, it is important to connect the previous Encuentros to the current one, while staying focused on the work at hand amid the challenges it might present. “We’re being called to a very special moment in time and we need to step up to the plate to make sure that we are on the side of the poor, on the side of those who can’t protect themselves.” Sister Pineda said.

‘God has not abandoned us,’ says survivor of clergy sex abuse

By Maria Wiering
ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — At a Holy Hour service Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Cathedral of St. Paul, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse told the congregation that God has not abandoned the church now.
“My fellow Catholics: During this abuse crisis, have any of you wondered where God is, and how he is feeling? I have,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that God has not abandoned us. In fact, I believe he is crying right along beside us.”
The abuse survivor, who wished not to be named publicly, was introduced by Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis only as “a vibrant defender of our church and of the faith.”
He spoke at the beginning of a “Holy Hour of Reparation and Prayers for Healing” held in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church. More than 700 people, including many families with young children and dozens of priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, attended the hourlong service. Archbishop Hebda presided over the liturgy along with Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens.
The liturgy included exposition of the Eucharist and the praying of the seven “penitential psalms” for healing for abuse victims and survivors and healing in the church. The service coincided with the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, a feast day that acknowledges Mary’s suffering during her son’s crucifixion and death.
In his homily, the archbishop asked for prayers for abuse survivors, “that through the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows, they might receive the healing that only Christ can bring, might recognize our sorrow and deep shame as sincere, and might contribute as they are able to the transformative change that we need as a local church.”
When the survivor addressed the congregation, he thanked Archbishop Hebda for leading the church through “very difficult times” and he thanked the archbishop and Bishop Cozzens for “tirelessly navigating the damaging effects” of abuse.
He also told the priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters and seminarians that they are on the front lines daily in helping people heal but he acknowledged they can also be misjudged for the deeds of those who have abused others.
The survivor said those who represent the church should be prepared for negative reactions, but they should also know how important it is to be “open, listening and striving to learn and understand what a victim of abuse feels like and how their lives were affected.”
Be willing to let victims express their anger and fear, he told them, and understand their difficulty in trusting others and sometimes God.
He also encouraged all Catholics to show compassion and patience with clergy abuse victims, and to understand that it may take decades for them – and the church – to heal. And to victims, he said, “words cannot begin to describe the feelings and effects of abuse that we have suffered.” 
While all abuse is evil, he said, “what is distinctive about clergy abuse is that it often affects one’s belief in God and our church.” He said that abuse, however, “does not have to destroy” a person’s life, and that “there is help from a God who loves us and is with us.”
When he finished his remarks, he and Archbishop Hebda embraced.
Claudith Washington, 72, said her belief in the power of prayer compelled her to attend the service.
“When I realized that there was an opportunity for us to gather as a huge community, I just couldn’t miss it,” she told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “It’s like, I’ve got to be there to beg for God’s mercy. I believe it will make a difference, I believe it will strengthen the archbishop, I believe it will clarify where we need to go to fix things. For me, it was a concrete action. We’ve been suffering so much, this is a concrete action. We can do something.”
The survivor’s question – where was God? – stuck with her. “My faith makes me know God is in everything we suffer every day,” said Washington, a parishioner of St. Richard in Richfield.
Hearing from an abuse survivor was “one of the best blessings” of the service for Cathedral parishioner Dorothy Kenney, because it made clergy sex abuse concrete.
Overall, the Holy Hour was “very prayerful, very peaceful and the people there, their hearts were really in it, and really asking Our Lady of Sorrows to heal our Church,” said Kenney, 88. “I could just feel that.”

(Wiering is editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

By Norma Montenegro Flynn
GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) – A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions were the highlights during the first day of the National Fifth Encuentro gathering taking place Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine.
With hearts full of excitement and joy, about 3,000 Hispanic ministry leaders cheered as they welcomed representatives for each of the 14 episcopal regions approaching the stage and carrying the same crosses and colorful banners that accompanied their gatherings during the multiyear process of discernment and consultation that began at their parishes. The crosses were placed on the stage by the bishops who served as chairs for each region.
The Diocese of Jackson’s delegation, led by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, had four members: Susana Becerril, Maria Isamar Mazy, Danna Johnson and Sister María Elena Méndez, MGSpS, one of the coordinators for Hispanic Ministry for the diocese.
Pope Francis captivated the audience with a video message that was received with a standing ovation.
“I see that the Fifth Encuentro is a concrete way for the church in the U.S. to respond to the challenge of going beyond what is comfortable, business as usual, and to become a leaven of communion for all those who seek a future of hope, especially young people and families that live in the peripheries of society,” the pontiff said.
He also urged them to continue the process of pastoral conversion at all levels through an encounter with one another centered in the adoration of Jesus Christ.
The gathering, also known as V Encuentro, brings under one roof about 2,700 diocesan representatives, 125 bishops from 159 dioceses and archdioceses across the country, and other members of Catholic organizations. During the four-day event, they continued the discernment process to develop a national pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the crowd and addressed the need for healing and accountability sparked by the clerical sex abuse scandal.
“As bishops, we have fallen short of what God expects of his shepherds. By this we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed, and from you, the people of God.” Cardinal DiNardo said.
He emphasized the efforts being made to support and accompany survivors in their healing and to implement stronger protections against sexual abuse.
“Amidst this darkness the Encuentro is a light that shines and illuminates the way forward. The enthusiasm, compassion, the love and the joy of the Encuentro process is a means of grace. A gift to us as we rebuild the church,” the cardinal told the Encuentro participants.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio led the evening prayer and asked for prayers for the victims of clerical sexual abuse.
“Let us pray to God for the victims of the crimes that led to this crisis. Do everything you can for the healing of all the victims of these abuses and pray also for the perpetrators and for us, your shepherds,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller said.
Remembering the nearly five decades of encuentros in the United States, Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, a theologian at Santa Clara University in California, called the Texas gathering a historic moment.
“We are the elders and the offspring of the sacred history woven with the many threads of the past and the present and looking toward the future,” she said. “We recall the past and how God has traveled with us throughout these many decades as Catholic Hispanics, Latinos.”
Sister Pineda has participated in all the encuentros since 1972, when the first Encuentro took place in Washington. During that very first gathering, priests, bishops and lay leaders proposed significant ways to attend to the pastoral needs of Hispanic Catholics.
In 1977, the second Encuentro also was held in Washington with the theme of “Pueblo the Dios en Marcha” (“People of God Going Forward”).

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, leads the opening prayer Sept. 20 during the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, in Grapevine, Texas. The Sept. 20-23 event is a gathering of more than 3,200 Hispanic Catholic leaders and about 125 bishops from across the country. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, blesses a cross that all delegates received Sept. 20 during the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, in Grapevine, Texas. The Sept. 20-23 event is a gathering of more than 3,200 Hispanic Catholic leaders and about 125 bishops from across the country. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

A delegate from Region 11 – California, Nevada and Hawaii – carries the Encuentro cross Sept. 20 at the start of the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, in Grapevine, Texas. The Sept. 20-23 event is a gathering of more than 3,200 Hispanic Catholic leaders and about 125 bishops from across the country. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Master of ceremonies Armando Cervantes, director of youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Orange, Calif., welcomes delegates Sept. 20 to the Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, in Grapevine, Texas. The Sept. 20-23 event is a gathering of more than 3,200 Hispanic Catholic leaders and about 125 bishops from across the country. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

“In my memory, it is like a Pentecost moment,” Sister Pineda recalled. That year about 1,200 Hispanic Catholic leaders reflected on issues such as evangelization, ministries, human rights, education and political responsibility.
Sister Pineda described it as a turning point in which they shared stories of joy, sorrow, neglect and hope. They were drawn together as a Hispanic community and became aware of the unique contributions they offered to society and the church. In turn, the church was motivated to respond more authentically to the needs of that growing community.
The third Encuentro, in 1985, focused on youth, the poor and human dignity, and led to the creation of a national pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry.
Encuentro 2000 embraced the many culturally diverse communities in the United States and the cultural and religious contributions that also enrich the church, Sister Pineda said.
Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth welcomed the participants, including international guests such as Archbishop Christophe Pierre; Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; and bishop-representatives from the Latin American bishops’ council, or CELAM, as well as from Canada, El Salvador and Mexico.
Through a process of missionary work, consultation, leadership development and community building, the Encuentro seeks to develop better ways in which the Catholic Church responds to Hispanic Catholics in parishes around the country and to strengthen them as leaders and missionary disciples.
Look for reflections from the local delegation in the next Mississippi Catholic.

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pledging to “heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us,” the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee Sept. 19 outlined actions to address the abuse crisis, including approving the establishment of a third-party confidential reporting system for claims of any abuse by bishops.
It also instructed the U.S. bishops’ canonical affairs committee to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of abuse of minors or adults.
It initiated the process of developing a code of conduct for bishops regarding sexual misconduct with a minor or adult or “negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.”

Having removed symbols of his office, his ring, miter, crosier and zucchetto, Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Va., lies prostrate during the Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14., at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. (CNS photo/Michael Mickle, The Catholic Virginian)

The committee also said it supported “a full investigation into the situation” surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, “including his alleged assaults on minors, priests and seminarians, as well as “any responses made to those allegations.”
The statement, released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, came out of the committee’s semiannual meeting held Sept. 11-12 at USCCB headquarters in Washington.
The Administrative Committee consists of the officers, chairmen and regional representatives of the USCCB. The committee, which meets in March and September, is the highest authority of the USCCB outside of the full body of bishops when they meet for their fall and spring general assemblies.
“This is only a beginning,” the committee said in its Sept. 19 statement. “Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice.
“We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable,” the committee said.
The committee acknowledged its members had assembled for their meeting in Washington at a “time of shame and sorrow.”
“Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the church as a whole,” the committee said. “They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others.
“They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers,” it continued. “For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.”
Full descriptions of the actions the committee took are as follows:
– Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop. It will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.
– Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.
– Initiated the process of developing a code of conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.
– Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. “Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.”
As the initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee asked all U.S. bishops “to join us in acts of prayer and penance.”
“This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward. ‘Be doers of the word and not hearers only,’” it said, quoting the Letter of James.
“In all of this,” no one – including the bishops – can “lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded,” it said.
“For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may reopen deep wounds. Support is available from the church and within the community,” it emphasized.
The committee reminded all in the church that victims assistance coordinators are available in every diocese to help victim-survivors and their families find resources.
Since the bishops first adopted “the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in 2002, the committee said, “hundreds of dedicated people … have been working with the church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.”
It said anyone who has been abused must “never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement.”
“If you don’t feel comfortable for any reason with the church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services,” the committee said. “With compassion and without judgment, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.”
The committee concluded: “Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his Aug. 20 letter to the people of God, ‘May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.’”

(Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher)