U.S. bishops take part in weeklong retreat about clergy sex abuse crisis

By Carol Zimmermann (CNS)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Catholic bishops, including Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, took part in a closed-door retreat Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago to prayerfully consider ways to rebuild trust over the clergy sex abuse crisis.

U.S. bishops receive Communion during Mass in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary Jan. 3 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. The U.S. bishops are on retreat Jan. 2-8 at the seminary, suggested by Pope Francis in September, which comes as the bishops work to rebuild trust among the faithful as questions continue to revolve around their handling of clergy sex abuse. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“We are honored to welcome the bishops of the United States to Mundelein as they prayerfully unite to reflect on the urgent issues facing the Catholic Church today,” said Father John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary in a statement.
He said it was fitting that the bishops were gathered where “seminarians come from around the nation to be formed into the next generation of parish priests and hundreds of lay men and women are trained for parish service.” He added: “The people of God deserve servant-leaders who are holy, joyful and competent in their ministry.”
Mundelein Seminary is the major seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago and is the largest Catholic seminary in the United States. It currently has more than 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses across the country and around the world.
The structure of the retreat will emphasize quiet reflection, including silent meal times, and will offer daily Mass, time for personal and communal prayer before the Eucharist, vespers and an opportunity for confession. No ordinary business will be conducted.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, led the retreat with the theme, “the mission of the apostles and their successors.” This time of prayer came at the suggestion of Pope Francis and was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.
In a letter distributed to the bishops at the start of the gathering, Pope Francis said he was convinced their response to the “sins and crimes” of abuse and “the efforts made to deny or conceal them” must be found through “heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the word of God and to the pain of our people.”
“As we know,” he said, “the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore.”
Prior to the retreat’s start, Msgr. Jeffrey D. Burrill, associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS that more than 200 bishops were expected to attend. Active U.S. bishops number 271 and there are 185 retired bishops.
A few bishops have tweeted about the retreat and asked for prayers. Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, tweeted en route to the retreat: “Pray for us that our response to the call to holiness will be renewed and that we will be faithful shepherds according to the mind and heart of Christ and his apostolic Church.”
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan asked for prayers in his tweet, which described the retreat as means to “respond to important matters facing the Church. Our first reliance is upon the Lord’s grace (and) mercy. Without intense prayers for healing, guidance, in reparation, we will not be successful.”
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, tweeted praise for the opening remarks of Father Cantalamessa, which he said focused on the “need to choose the right priorities around which we can live our daily lives. Of course, a central priority is daily prayer.”
During the retreat, many Catholics were joining in prayer for its success.
The website of Mundelein Seminary encouraged people to “join our seminary community in an online prayer chain for the healing of the Catholic Church,” suggesting that Catholics pray the rosary, attend daily Mass, engage in an act of penitential sacrifice or simply offer the prayer posted on their website – https://bit.ly/2VrAlST – called “Prayer for the Healing of Our Church.”
St. Maximilian Kolbe Shrine, adjacent to the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Libertyville, Illinois, was conducting its usual 24-hour adoration during the bishops’ retreat with specific emphasis on praying for the bishops.
Its website urged Catholics who could not pray at the shrine to pray at their own parish adoration chapel that the bishops’ retreat would be “truly guided by the Holy Spirit.”
Conventual Franciscan Father Benedict La Volpe, the shrine’s rector, told Catholic News Service that the shrine, where perpetual adoration “has been nonstop since 1928” has had more participants since the bishops’ retreat began Jan. 2.
He stressed that abuse victims are always in the church’s prayers but during this time of retreat, there is an urgency to pray for the bishops, specifically, that they “understand what happened and what needs to happen.”
The priest, who was going to hear confessions during the retreat, said he hoped the bishops would take away from this gathering the importance of taking time to “pause, pray, reflect and convert.”

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim)

Lumen Christi Award winner has spent life as a religious serving poor

By Catholic News Service
CHICAGO – Sister Marie-Paule Willem, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, who has been serving the poor in the U.S. and around the world for more than 60 years, will receive the 2018-2019 Lumen Christi Award from Catholic Extension.
The Office of Hispanic Ministry from the Diocese of Jackson was recognized as a finalist for the award. The members of that office offer their heartfelt congratulations to Sister Willem.
“Working across many countries, Sister Willem believes strong families are the foundation of the church and society,” said the news release announcing the award Nov. 19.
The Lumen Christi Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Chicago-based national organization, which raises and distributes funds to support U.S. mission dioceses, many of which are rural, cover a large geographic area, and have limited personnel and pastoral resources.
The recipient is chosen for best demonstrating how the power of faith can transform lives and communities.
Sister Willem, who is 85 and speaks five languages, is currently in ministry in the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she serves women in detention and leads a growing parish along the U.S.-Mexico border as pastoral administrator.
Nominated by her bishop, Sister Willem was one of 47 nominees this year and one of eight finalists.As the Lumen Christi recipient, Sister Willem and her diocese will share in a $50,000 grant.

Sister Marie-Paule Willem, a Franciscan of Missionary of Mary, poses for a photo Aug. 27 in Dona Ana, N.M. She was awarded the 2018-2019 Lumen Christi Award by Catholic Extension for her missionary work in the United States. (CNS photo/Rich Kalonick courtesy Catholic Extension)

Born into a large, Catholic family in the city of Bruges, Belgium, Sister Willem has early memories of World War II and the Nazi invasion, fleeing with her family as the bombs fell around them. They were eventually liberated by Allied forces. At age 23, she joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, “who serve where the need is greatest and where no one else wants to go, among the poorest and most forgotten,” Catholic Extension said.
She ministered in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in the 1970s during times of military dictatorships and political upheaval.
“She was part of the church’s advocacy and social justice efforts to help the condemned, who were put in outdoor ‘corrals’ and left to starve. For her mission, she risked her life, received death threats and was ousted from the region,” the news release said.
Still wanting to work with the poor but knowing she could not return to Latin America, she found an opportunity in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
In 1980 Sister Willem joined her community in Roma, Texas, a border town, and became director of religious education for a parish. She led bilingual programs in catechesis for children and worked with incarcerated women at a detention center
She then moved to the Diocese of Las Cruces to serve migrant farmworkers and immigrants. At age 80, she became pastoral administrator at San Jose Mission Church in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, a mission church in a working-class neighborhood. It had only a handful of parishioners and no full-time pastor.
“When I arrived, it was so sad here,” Sister Willem recalled. “The buildings were falling apart, and no one seemed to care.”
She started walking around the neighborhood, telling people about the parish and asking what they needed.
She started building up the community and the church itself – the liturgy, the buildings, the ministries and the grounds, which are now full of gardens. The parish hall was recently remodeled, and the church received updating.
Today the parish has more than 200 active families; about 35 people attend Mass on Saturdays and nearly 100 on Sundays.
“Sister Marie-Paule has turned the parish around,” said parishioner Irma Chavez May. “The church was in bad shape, and few people came. It is beautiful now and so many attend Mass, it’s hard to find parking on Sunday.”
Added Irma’s husband, Robert: “She came with a vision, enthusiasm and a passion for the church. She has gotten everyone involved and keeps us connected. If she wasn’t here, this parish would likely have closed.”

Alabama archbishop releases names of clergy, religious accused of abuse

(Editor’s note: The Diocese of Jackson is reviewing records and will release a list of credibly accused priests in the spring of 2019)
By Catholic News Service
MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) – Saying that Jesus provides light for the church to overcome darkness, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile released the names of priests, deacons and religious brothers who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
In releasing the list Dec. 6, Archbishop Rodi apologized to victims of child sexual abuse as well as to parishioners throughout the southern Alabama archdiocese in a statement posted on the archdiocesan website, www.mobarch.org.
The names were included on two lists: one for archdiocesan clergy and the other for religious order clergy and religious men.
In the case of religious order clergy, he said, the list includes the names of all priests and brothers credibly accused, even if alleged incidents of abuse did not occur in the archdiocese.
The lists show that allegations were received from the 1950s through 2012. The most recent case involved a deacon of the archdiocese. All other incidents were reported no later than 1998.

Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala., is pictured in a 2012 photo. In releasing the Dec. 6 list of names of priests, deacons and religious brothers who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors, Bishop Rodi apologized to victims of child sexual abuse as well as to parishioners throughout the southern Alabama archdiocese. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

In all, 10 archdiocesan priests and one deacon were named as were 15 religious order priests and two religious brothers.
Archbishop Rodi said the allegations involved about 2 percent of the 457 archdiocesan clergy who have served since 1950. However, church officials were unable to determine how many religious order priests served in the archdiocese during the last seven decades because of incomplete records, he explained.
“I presume the percentage would be similar,” the archbishop’s statement said.
“As you will notice almost all of these acts of misconduct were many years ago. That is in no way to excuse the devastating harm of child abuse. The injury that sexual abuse of a minor inflicts lasts for many years,” the archbishop said.
“At the same time,” he added, “the fact that these horrible acts of misconduct are many years ago, reflects the commitment of the church to protect young people form abuse while they are involved in church ministries.”
The names have been forwarded to the offices of the Alabama attorney general and the Mobile County district attorney, the archbishop said.
“It is my prayer that this (release) will not re-traumatize anyone but will assist in the healing for which victims desperately long,” Archbishop Rodi’s statement said. “I also pray that it will help all the people of the church, and of the broader community, to know that the Archdiocese of Mobile is not allowing anyone to minister in our archdiocese who has credible accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.”

‘Holy Fire’ retreat ignites faith of middle schoolers from 10 dioceses

By Theresa Laurence
NASHVILLE, Tenn (CNS) – More than 1,800 Catholic middle school students and their chaperones from 10 dioceses danced and prayed their way through an interactive retreat event at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville, the largest of its kind ever staged in the diocese.
“I’m still in awe,” said Bill Staley, director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Nashville.
The daylong event Dec. 1, which included a mix of high-energy musicians and inspirational speakers, along with quiet moments for eucharistic adoration and prayer, was well-received by the youth, their parents and chaperones who attended.
Holy Fire, produced by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, is developed in collaboration with host dioceses, like Nashville as well as Chicago recently. Both events have been extremely well attended by thousands of young people.
“We had over 10 dioceses in all, including representatives from across Tennessee and three of four dioceses in Kentucky,” Staley told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese. Groups also traveled from Birmingham, Alabama, north Georgia and Evansville, Indiana.
“I feel really good to grow this event into something great,” said Staley, who is already thinking about hosting a two-day event next year.
“It was a great experience and we can’t wait to go back next year,” said Cindy Sabatino, director of religious education at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, who brought a group of 30 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to the event.
One of the high points of the day for Sabatino and her group was adoration. “Many of them had never experienced adoration like that” among such a large group of peers, she said. “They can be intimidated to pray in front of their peers,” she said, but here they were encouraged to let their guard down and “just be with the Lord” in the moment.
The entire experience of being with so many Catholic young people for a full day of Catholic musicians, speakers and prayer was new to many Holy Fire participants, young people and their parents alike, Staley said.
“Many parents joined for the whole day,” he said. “A lot of them didn’t have an experience like this (in their own childhood), which is a wonderful benefit of the program.”
Holy Fire is the newest evolutionary step in the Diocese of Nashville’s annual confirmation preparation for middle schoolers, and now reaches beyond the students preparing for the sacrament.

Father Andrew Bulso, a priest of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., carries the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament during Mass for about 1,800 middle school students and their chaperones at the Holy Fire retreat event Dec. 1 at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville. (CNS photo/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Partnering with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry enabled Nashville’s youth ministers to stage a much larger-scale event than they could have done alone, complete with professional sound and lighting designs, big screen video and multimedia presentations.
Holy Fire’s mission is “to set young people ablaze with the love of Christ and inspire them to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world, to embrace their baptism and engage with the relevant and powerful Gospel of Jesus.”
Speakers and performers from the day included: Joe Melendrez, Noelle Garcia, Dom Quaglia, Sarah Hart, the Cimorelli Sisters and the Sarah Kroger Band. Throughout the day, participants also had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, renew their baptismal promises, and talk with exhibitors, which included the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, among others.
Nashville Bishop J. Mark Spalding, who drove back to Nashville from Cincinnati just in time to make the closing remarks at the Holy Fire Mass, encouraged the young people to be examples pointing towards Christ, “to bring the love of Christ into your home and community.”
“I think the bishop’s message was very meaningful,” said Sabatino, encouraging the youth to go forth and have a positive influence. “He’s young, he’s motivated, he inspires the kids.”
Overall, Sabatino said, her group wasn’t sure what to expect going into the day, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Holy Fire “put them in a place where they could open their hearts to Jesus,” she said.

(Laurence is a staff writer for the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.)

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.