Edict opens Sister Thea Bowman’s cause

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz read the edict to open the cause for canonization for Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, Servant of God, at a Sunday, Nov. 18, Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. The church was packed with people who loved Sister Thea and can’t wait to see her become a saint.
Days before the Mass, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously voted in support of the cause moving forward during their general assembly in Baltimore. Sister Bowman, a Mississippi native and the only African-American member of her order, the Wisconsin-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was a widely known speaker, evangelizer and singer until she died of cancer in 1990 at age 52. She even made a presentation at the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in 1989, moving some prelates to tears.

Some of the songs she sang at that bishop’s meeting took center stage at the Mass. Phyllis Lewis-Hale, a professor from Jackson State University sang “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” as a prelude to the Mass and brought the congregation to its feet with “We Shall Overcome” after communion. Everyone in the church spontaneously joined hands and swayed as they sang with Lewis-Hale – much like the bishops did in 1989.
Lewis-Hale teaches opera and traditional voice classes, but also teaches classes in Negro Spirituals. “Those spirituals go across denominations – they are cultural so I have known these songs all my life,” she said. She believes people can find comfort and support during these times if they “go back to the soothing comforting words of spirituals,” she added. She said she was honored to be a part of the celebration. “I am glad Sister Thea has been given this recognition and this honor and I hope this can come to fulfillment.”
Members of the choir from Sister Thea’s home parish of Canton Holy Child Jesus offered “Be Encouraged” during communion. Bernadette Otto-Russell, one of the singers, first sang in Sister Thea’s choir when she was in the third grade. “This was awesome. This is an enjoyable and memorable moment – I’m getting full just thinking about it. I think the people that know Sister Thea – they know who she is and they will always cherish her and also her memories. She will never die,” said Otto-Russell, adding that it was a joy and an honor to sing for her childhood teacher.
Carolyn Brooks and her mother Jean Brooks came from out of town to attend the Mass. When the younger Brooks attended Christ the King School she met Sister Thea. Brooks called her an inspiration both in her childhood and today. Jean Brooks called the Mass “inspirational,” adding that “we need the spirit from this service in this day and age.”
The postulator, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi and his assistant, Nina Bartulica, sat in the front pew with representatives from Sister Thea’s religious community, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Eileen McKenzie, president; Sister Marla Lang and Sister Helen Elsbernd, both classmates of Sister Thea and Sister Dorothy Kundinger, Sister Thea’s assistant during her illness.
“She was my sister and my friend,” said Sister Kundinger, who was all smiles after the Mass, greeting friends and enjoying the moment.
A delegation of students from Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in Jackson handed out prayer cards after Mass. The students were thrilled to be a part of this historic moment for their school’s namesake. Sixth-grader Alexander Mason said he and his fellow students know the story of her life and have learned many lessons from Sister Thea’s mantra that she wanted to live until she died. “She taught me to always have perseverance and that I should never give up – even if I am close to death, I should keep on pushing myself to try,” said Mason.
In his homily Bishop Kopacz quoted the old testament reading for the day from the Book of Daniel “The wise shall shine like the splendor of the firmament. Those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” He spoke of Sister Thea’s wisdom and joy and holiness, saying that today “her holiness shines upon us.”

(The Diocese of Jackson has launched a website detailing Sister Thea’s life and the cause for canonization, sistertheabowman.com.)

Estándares de responsabilidad para obispos de USCCB

Por Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE (CNS) – Una serie de estándares de responsabilidad episcopal para los obispos se presentó formalmente el 13 de noviembre en Baltimore, en la reunión general de otoño de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU( USCCB, por sus siglas en ingles).

BALTIMORE – El obispo George V. Murry de Youngstown, Ohio, escucha el 12 de noviembre durante la asamblea general de otoño de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos en Baltimore. El obispo pidió a sus hermanos obispos que hicieran “un esfuerzo extra, dar un paso adicional para comunicarle a la gente que nosotros escuchamos lo que ellos tienen que decir”. (Foto CNS-Bob Roller)

Pero los estándares propuestos no se votaron pues el interés en discutirlos durante la sesión pública de la reunión del 14 de noviembre fue bajo. La intervención del Vaticano, anunciada cuando comenzó la reunión de la USCCB el 12 de noviembre, solicitó que los obispos no aprobaran ningún elemento de sus propuestas para fortalecer sus políticas sobre el abuso sexual por parte del clero, hasta que puedan ser revisados, para verificar su conformidad con el derecho canónico después de la reunión de febrero del Vaticano con los presidentes de las conferencias de obispos de todo el mundo.
“En nuestras diócesis, ya existen códigos de conducta”, dijo el cardenal Joseph W. Tobin de Newark, Nueva Jersey, presidente del Comité de Clero, Vida Consagrada y Vocaciones de la USCCB, el 13 de noviembre. “A la luz de eso, el enfoque se convirtió en cómo construir políticas adicionales y mejores prácticas para hacernos responsables “.
El obispo Steven R. Biegler de la Diócesis de Cheyenne, Wyoming, fue el único obispo que ofreció comentarios sobre los estándares propuestos. El obispo Biegler dijo que había experimentado de parte de feligreses, miembros de las fuerzas del orden público y de la comunidad legal que habían sido “muy críticos conmigo”, y agregaron que sienten “favoritismo hacia la persona que está en el poder … que luego evita a las víctimas”.
En los estándares hay un reconocimiento para que cada obispo firme “Como obispo, estoy llamado a imitar a Cristo, el Buen Pastor, lo más cerca posible, especialmente a su humildad. Estoy llamado a estar en medio de mi gente como uno que sirve”, y dice. “Por lo tanto, es mi compromiso solemne seguir estos Estándares de conducta episcopal y explorar continuamente e involucrar medios adicionales que protejan al pueblo de Dios y permitan que el Evangelio sea predicado con integridad”, y continua “Pido a todos los fieles que me apoyen en este compromiso y que recen por mí. El poder, el prestigio y los honores no pueden ser los deseos de un obispo; más bien, debe hacer lo correcto y lo que llevará a otros a la salvación”, dicen los estándares propuestos. “Los efectos del abuso de poder, especialmente en asuntos sexuales, han salido a la luz cada vez más. Reconocemos que algunos obispos no han logrado detener dicho abuso, o responder adecuadamente a tales afirmaciones, por lo que han hecho o han dejado de hacer”
“En nuestros códigos de conducta, si no están ya claramente establecidos, dejaremos en claro que el código se aplica al obispo de la diócesis o eparquía”, dicen los estándares propuestos. Agrega: “Los principios y estándares de la ‘Carta para la protección de niños y jóvenes’ se aplican a los obispos, a los sacerdotes y diáconos”.
Los estándares comprometen a los obispos a “continuar acercándose a las víctimas / sobrevivientes del abuso sexual del clero y a sus familias en apoyo de su bienestar espiritual y emocional. Al darnos cuenta de que es posible que no siempre seamos los más adecuados para ofrecer dicha atención, haremos todo lo posible para ayudar a las víctimas / sobrevivientes a encontrar el cuidado y la curación que necesitan “. La mala conducta sexual con un adulto por parte de un obispo dice el documento propuesto, “es gravemente pecaminosa; también podría ser un crimen canónico o civil. … los pecados contra el Sexto Mandamiento atentan contra la dignidad de una persona y no tienen absolutamente ningún lugar en la vida de un ministro, especialmente uno que es un obispo.”
“No puede haber una ‘doble vida’, no ‘circunstancias especiales’, no ‘una vida secreta’ que libere a un obispo de practicar la castidad. El obispo está llamado a la castidad y la continencia”, agrega.

Bishop Kopacz tells court Plowshares action is rooted in Catholic teaching

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The seven Catholic peacemakers who entered a naval base to symbolically dismantle nuclear weapons-armed submarines acted from the primacy of conscience rooted in their faith, the bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, told a Georgia court.
Testifying as an expert witness on behalf of the Kings Bay Plowshares activists, Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz said their actions were consistent with long-standing Catholic teaching about the sinfulness of nuclear weapons.
The bishop took the stand during a Nov. 7 hearing before Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Georgia. The hearing was scheduled to present evidence explaining why the seven longtime activists entered Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay April 4.
The defendants include Elizabeth McAlister, 78, of Baltimore; Jesuit Father Steve Kelly, 69, of the Bay Area in California; Carmen Trotta, 55, of New York City; Clare Grady, 50, of Ithaca, New York; Martha Hennessy, 62, of New York, granddaughter of Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day; Mark Colville, 55, of New Haven, Connecticut; and Patrick O’Neill, 61, of Garner, North Carolina.
The defendants are seeking to have federal charges of conspiracy, trespass, and destruction and depredation of property dismissed under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They have argued in court filings that their action is protected under the law.
The seven entered the submarine base, the East Coast home of the Trident nuclear submarine, and during approximately two hours placed crime scene tape and spilled blood at different locales while posting an “indictment” charging the military with crimes against peace, citing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Navy’s fleet of Trident submarines carries about half of the U.S. active strategic nuclear warheads, according to military experts.
Bishop Kopacz cited the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 1983 pastoral letter on peace and nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response,” during his testimony.
He said the document allowed for the temporary possession of nuclear weapons only as a step toward disarmament, and that after more than 30 years that goal has not been achieved.
He described the seven as a “spiritual special ops team” working to make a change.
A day prior to his testimony, Bishop Kopacz told Catholic News Service he was supportive of such actions to rid the world of nuclear weapons although he would find it difficult to take such a step himself.
“I believe in what they do. I believe what they’ve done is a courageous witness and very prophetic,” he said.
The court also heard from Jeannine Hill Fletcher, professor of theology at Fordham University. She discussed papal encyclicals and the documents from the Second Vatican Council that “condemn” the use of nuclear weapons. She also addressed why actions of conscience, such as those of the defendants, are important in modern-day society.
Grady told CNS Nov. 8 that on the stand she explained her family’s background and the long history of work for peace and justice extending from their Catholic faith.
Protesting nuclear weapons, she said she told the court, was a natural extension of her faith practice and that her conscience guided her to act for peace.
“For me there’s a geography to our faith, and what I experienced in that courtroom was a Catholic revival because of our choice to act in a certain geography, the geography of the courtroom and all that is the Gospel. You could feel the energy from all of that,” she said of the hearing.
Father Kelly, who remained jailed, testified that the actions of the group amounted to preaching God’s word that nuclear weapons are “sinful.” He said the world faced a crisis because of the presence of such weapons.
Near the end of the daylong hearing, federal prosecutors called the commanding officer of the naval base to the stand. Capt. Brian Lepine described the importance of maintaining tight security at the base and the danger posed by anyone illegal entering the base perimeter.
After more than eight hours of testimony, Cheesbro said the hearing would be continued on a date still to be determined.

(Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski)

Bishops give go-ahead to diocese’s Sister Thea Bowman sainthood effort

By Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE (CNS) – The U.S. bishops gave their assent to the canonization effort launched for Sister Thea Bowman by the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi.
The assent, on a voice vote, came Nov. 14, the third day of their fall general meeting in Baltimore. The “canonical consultation” with the body of U.S. bishops is a step in the Catholic Church’s process toward declaring a person a saint.
Sister Bowman, a Mississippi native and the only African-American member of her order, the Wisconsin-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was a widely known speaker, evangelizer and singer until she died of cancer in 1990 at age 52. She even made a presentation at the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in 1989, moving some prelates to tears.
“The faithful in, and well beyond, the Diocese of Jackson,” have asked for her canonization process to begin, said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson, who became bishop of the diocese in 2014. “Even well before I arrived in Jackson, the requests were coming in.”
Sister Bowman, Bishop Kopacz said, was “an ambassador of Jesus Christ and an apostle of reconciliation,” adding she was “singing, teaching and inspiring until the very end.”
He noted that “the church embraced Sister Thea from her early years, but there were times when she felt like a motherless child.” It never deterred her, though, Bishop Kopacz said. “We pray that Sister Thea’s voice will be a beacon of hope” to victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Bishop Kopacz liberally sprinkled his remarks with quotes from Sister Bowman.
“We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we make peace, when we share the good news of God within our hearts,” she once said. “We celebrate the presence and proclamation of the word made flesh. It is never an escape from reality,” she also said.
At another point, Sister Bowman told her audience, “Go! There is a song that will never be sung unless you sing it. … Go tell the world, go preach the Gospel, go tell the good news.”
Sister Bowman was a trailblazer in almost every role: first African-American religious sister from Canton, Mississippi; the first to head an office of intercultural awareness; and the first African-American woman to address the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Sister Bowman led the Jackson Diocese’s Office of Intercultural Awareness, taught at several Catholic high schools and colleges, and was a faculty member of the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans.
She took her message across the nation, speaking at church gatherings and conventions, making 100 speaking engagements a year, but spreading cancer slowed her. Music was especially important to her. She would gather or bring a choir with her and often burst into song during her presentations.
In addition to her writings, her music also resulted in two recordings, “Sister Thea: Songs of My People” and “Round the Glory Manger: Christmas Songs and Spirituals.”
When Sister Bowman spoke at the U.S. bishops’ meeting in June 1989, less than a year before her death from bone cancer and confined to a wheelchair, she was blunt. She told the bishops that people had told her black expressions of music and worship were “un-Catholic.”
Sister Bowman disputed that notion, pointing out that the church universal included people of all races and cultures and she challenged the bishops to find ways to consult those of other cultures when making decisions. She told them they were obligated to better understand and integrate not just black Catholics, but people of all cultural backgrounds.
Catholic News Service reported that her remarks “brought tears to the eyes of many bishops and observers.” She also sang to them and, at the end, had them all link hands and join her in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, who served as bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1985 to 1992, said Nov. 14 that Catholics in his former diocese “really revere Sister Thea and I’m really glad to see this coming to fruition.”
By the mid-1990s, Catholic schools in Jackson, Mississippi, Gary, Indiana, East St. Louis, Illinois, and Port Arthur, Texas, opened bearing Sister Bowman’s name.
She also was the focus of books, including 1993’s “Thea Bowman: Shooting Star – Selected Writings and Speeches,” 2008’s “This Little Light: Lessons in Living From Sister Thea Bowman,” and 2010’s “Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman.”
Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, observing the 20th anniversary of Sister Bowman’s death in 2010, said he believes the late nun is a saint. Though not officially canonized, “Sister Thea is canonized in the hearts of all who knew and loved her,” he said.

(Coverage of the planned Nov. 18 Mass at the Cathedral will appear in the next edition.)

Bishops overwhelmingly approve pastoral against racism

By Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE (CNS) – The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a pastoral letter against racism Nov. 14 during their fall general meeting at Baltimore.
The document, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” passed 241-3 with one abstention. It required a two-thirds vote by all bishops, or 183 votes, for passage.
“Despite many promising strides made in our country, the ugly cancer of racism still infects our nation,” the pastoral letter 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,” it adds.
Bishops speaking on the pastoral gave clear consent to the letter’s message.
“This statement is very important and very timely,” said Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. He appreciated that the letter took note of the racism suffered by African-Americans and Native Americans, “two pieces of our national history that we have not reconciled.”
“This will be a great, fruitful document for discussion,” said Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, in whose diocese the violence-laden “Unite the Right” rally was held last year. Bishop Knestout added the diocese has already conducted listening sessions on racism.
Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, what he called “ground zero for the civil rights movement,” said the pastoral’s message is needed, as the civil rights movement “began 60 years ago and we’re still working on achieving the goals in this document.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said he was grateful for the pastoral’s declaration that “an attack against the dignity of the human person is an attack the dignity of life itself.”

A protester is seen near the Capitol in Washington May 21 during a demonstration to demand elected officials take immediate steps to confront systemic racism. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See CAMPAIGN-CATHOLICS-CAPITOL May 22, 2018.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said the letter will be welcome among Native Americans, who populate 11 missions in the diocese, African-Americans in Arizona – “I think we were the last of the 50 states to be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday,” he noted – and Hispanics, who make up 80 percent of all diocesan Catholics under age 20.
“This is very important for our people and our youth to know the history of racism,” he added.
Bishop Shelton T. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, said an electronic copy of “Open Wide Our Hearts” would be posted “somewhat immediately,” with a print version available around Thanksgiving.
“Also, there will be resources available immediately” now that the pastoral letter has been approved, including Catholic school resources for kindergarten through 12th grade,

added the bishop, who also is chair of the bishops’ Subcommittee on African American Affairs.
“‘Open Wide Our Hearts’ conveys the bishops’ grave concern about the rise of racist attitudes in society,” Bishop Fabre said Nov. 13, when the pastoral was put on the floor of the bishops’ meeting. It also “offers practical suggestions for individuals, families and communities,” he said.
“Every racist act – every such comment, every joke, every disparaging look as a reaction to the color of skin, ethnicity or place of origin – is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God,” it adds.
“Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices, and African-Americans for suspected criminal activity. There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees.”
“Personal sin is freely chosen,” a notion that would seem to include racism, said retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Nov. 13, but “social sin is collective blindness. There is sin as deed and sin as illness. It’s a pervasive illness that runs through a culture.” Bishop Fabre responded that the proposed letter refers to institutional and structural racism.
An amendment from Bishop Ramirez to include this language in the pastoral was accepted by the bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which guided the document’s preparation.
Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, Texas, said Nov. 13 the pastoral “gives us a wonderful opportunity to educate, to convert,” adding that, given recent incidents, the document should give “consideration to our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Bishop Fabre replied that while anti-Semitism is mentioned in the document, future materials will focus on anti-Semitism.
A proposed amendment to the pastoral to include the Confederate battle flag in the pastoral alongside nooses and swastikas as symbols of hatred was rejected by the committee.
“Nooses and swastikas are widely recognized signs of hatred, the committee commented, but “while for many the Confederate flag is also a sign of hatred and segregation, some still claim it as a sign of heritage.”

Standards for bishop accountability discussed at USCCB meeting

(Editor’s Note: This issue contains coverage of the key issues discussed at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall meeting in Baltimore.)
By Mark Pattison
BALTIMORE – A series of standards of episcopal accountability for bishops was formally unveiled Nov. 13 at the fall general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, but with the proposed standards not going to be voted on, interest in discussing them during the meeting’s public session Nov. 14 was low.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson, Miss., speaks about the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman Nov. 14 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See BISHOPS-THEA-BOWMAN-CAUSE Nov. 14, 2018.

The Vatican’s intervention, announced when the USCCB meeting began Nov. 12, asked that the bishops not approve any elements of their proposals to strength its policies on clergy sex abuse until they can be reviewed for their conformity to canon law and after the February meeting at the Vatican for presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide.
“In our dioceses, there already exist codes of conduct,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Nov. 13. “In light of that, the focus became on how to build additional policy and best practices to hold ourselves accountable.”
Bishop Steven R. Biegler of the statewide Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, was the only bishop to offer any commentary on the proposed standards.
Bishop Biegler said he had experienced parishioners and members of law enforcement and the legal community who have been “very critical of me,” adding they sense “favoritism toward the person who’s in power … which then shuns the victims.”
He added, “It’s not a theory that I have, it’s an experience I have. It’s a dynamic that if we don’t address it someplace …,” Bishop Biegler said, his voice trailing. “For reform in the church, it needs to be more than canon law. For reform in our lives as bishops, it needs to be more than canon law.”
The bishop, whose amendments were not accepted by the committee, noted the contradictory sense of responsibility. “I feel that we’ve failed to work with our co-responsibility with the laypeople,” yet “the bishop at the end of the day has to steer the ship,” he said. “We cannot dismiss ourselves of that responsibility.”
Cardinal Tobin told Bishop Biegler, “I thought that your content could distract from the other content in the draft,” but “I will take it home with me and read it for my own spiritual life.”
There are seven standards, which deal with: diocesan and eparchial codes of conduct; protection of children and young people; sexual misconduct with an adult by a bishop; sexual harassment of an adult by a bishop; responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors, or of sexual misconduct with or harassment of adults by priests or deacons; reporting and resolving complaints against bishops; and further commitments to ensure integrity.
There also is an acknowledgment for each bishop to sign, according to a copy of the proposed standards obtained by Catholic News Service.
“As a bishop, I am called to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd, as closely as possible – especially his humility. I am called to be in the midst of my people as one who serves,” it says. “Therefore, it is my solemn pledge to follow these Standards of Episcopal Conduct and to explore continually and engage additional means that will protect the people of God and allow the Gospel to be preached with integrity.”
The acknowledgment concludes: “I ask that all the faithful hold me to this pledge and to pray for me.”
“Power, prestige and honors cannot be the desires of a bishop; rather, he must do what is right and what will lead others to salvation,” the proposed standards say. “The effects of the abuse of power, especially in sexual matters, have come more and more to light. We acknowledge that some bishops have failed to stop such abuse, or to respond properly to such claims, by what they have done or failed to do.”
“In our codes of conduct, if not already clearly stated, we will make clear that the code applies to the bishop of the diocese or eparchy,” the proposed standards say.
It adds, “The principles and standards of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ apply to bishops as well as to priests and deacons.”
The standards commit bishops to “continue to reach out to the victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families in support of their spiritual and emotional well-being. Realizing that we might not always be the best suited to offer such care, we will make every effort to help victims/survivors find the care and healing they need.”
Sexual misconduct with an adult by a bishop, the proposed document says, “is gravely sinful; it could also be a canonical or civil crime. … sins against the Sixth Commandment strike at the very dignity of a person and have absolutely no place in the life of a minister, most especially one who is a bishop.
“There can be no ‘double life,’ no ‘special circumstances,’ no ‘secret life’ that frees a bishop from practicing chastity. The bishop is called to chastity and continence,” it adds. Bishops would pledge to “set and maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries in all our relationships – professional and personal.”
Similarly, “sexual harassment by a bishop is completely incompatible with his role as a servant for Christ and others, as well as the basic respect and dignity one person owes another,” the proposed standards say. “We will not engage in sexual harassment of any person. “We will not tolerate the sexual harassment of any person by others serving the church.”
In the realm of abuse allegations, it says, “Every bishop has the moral duty to see that people are protected and treated justly by those who minister in the name of the church.”
When it comes to reporting and resolving complaints about bishops, it says, “If a bishop is accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, the accused bishop is obliged to inform the apostolic nuncio. If a bishop has been named in a civil or criminal complaint regarding sexual misconduct with or harassment of an adult, he is likewise obliged to inform the apostolic directly.” This would also apply if he becomes aware of sexual misconduct or harassment by another bishop.
“The bishops will engage in regular periodic training in the best practices of management and human resources,” the standards say.
When it comes to proposing priest candidates for the office of bishop,” it adds, “we bishops will recommit ourselves to the highest standards by recommending only priests who are truly suitable for the episcopacy.”
Should the standards come up for a vote, they would require a yes vote from two-thirds of USCCB membership.

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.)