Magistrate denies motion to dismiss charges against plowshares activists

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal magistrate judge denied motions from seven longtime Catholic peacemakers to have charges dismissed on religious freedom grounds in connection with their April 2018 protest at an East Coast submarine base.
Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro of the Southern District of Georgia said in an April 26 ruling that the defendants, all Catholics, failed to show that the government violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In an 80-page ruling, Cheesbro determined that while the cause the activists espoused is legitimately religious and their faith is sincere, the 20-year prison term that the seven face was the government’s least coercive response to the protest.Bishop Joseph Kopacz testified on behalf of the protestors on Nov. 7 of last year.
Cheesbro said the faith-based activists could have pursued other means to carry out their protest against nuclear weapons on religious grounds rather than illegally entering the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.
Cheesbro also denied the defendants’ three other legal arguments for dismissal, saying that the federal government acted appropriately in charging them with conspiracy, destruction of property, depredation of government property and trespass in connection with the Kings Bay Plowshares action on the night of April 4-5, 2018.
Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans who is pro bono legal representative for the seven, told Catholic News Service April 29 that an appeal of Cheesbro’s decision would be filed with the U.S. District Court for Southern Georgia within 30 days of the ruling.
“We think he was at least half right, that our people are sincere, they were motivated by deep religious, Catholic faith and the opposition to nuclear weapons is a key part of Catholic faith,” Quigley said of Cheesbro’s ruling.
“We disagree with the idea that it’s appropriate that the least restrictive means for the government to address people’s religious belief is by exposing them to 20-plus years in prison. That’s going to be one of the key challenges we bring (in the appeal),” Quigley explained.
The defendants, all Catholics, include Elizabeth McAlister of Baltimore; Jesuit Father Steve Kelly of the Bay Area in California; Carmen Trotta of New York City; Clare Grady of Ithaca, New York; Martha Hennessy of New York, granddaughter of Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day; Mark Colville of New Haven, Connecticut; and Patrick O’Neill of Garner, North Carolina.
Father Kelly, McAlister and Colville remain jailed in Georgia, while the four others have been released on bond.
The protest marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and to “repent of the sin of white supremacy that oppresses and takes the lives of people of color here in the United States and throughout the world.”
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.
In their arguments, the activists sought dismissal of the charges on grounds that they were being selectively prosecuted, that the charges were “duplicitous and multiplicitous,” that the government failed to identify an offense under international and domestic law, and that they were being unlawfully prosecuted under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Seven Catholics who call themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares are seen April 4, 2018, before they entered the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia to protest nuclear weapons. They were arrested and charged with conspiracy, trespass, and destruction and depradation of property. Patrick O’Neill, second from left, Martha Hennessy, third from left, and Carmen Trotta, right, have been released on bond. The other four decided not to bond out and remain in a detention facility n Brunswick, Ga. (CNS photo/Kings Bay Plowshares) See KINGS-BAY-PLOWSHARES April 29, 2019.

Catholic officials pleased with new conscience protection rule

By Carol Zimmermanni
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The announcement of a new conscience protection rule May 2 protecting health care workers who object to abortion procedures on religious grounds was welcome news to U.S. Catholic bishops and the president of the Catholic Health Association.
President Donald Trump announced the rule at the White House Rose Garden during a speech on the National Day of Prayer.
“Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Trump said.
The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and enforced by that department’s Office of Civil Rights, is more than 400 pages long with specific guidelines requiring hospitals, clinics and universities that receive federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid to certify that they comply with laws protecting conscience rights regarding abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide.
Under the rule, medical workers or institutions would not have to provide, participate in or pay for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds.
“Laws prohibiting government funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office of Civil Rights in a May 2 statement.
“This rule ensures that health care entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life. Protecting conscience and religious freedom not only fosters greater diversity in health care, it’s the law,” he said.
Last year, the department of Health and Human Services received more than 1,300 complaints alleging discrimination in a health care setting based on religious beliefs or conscience issues.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a joint statement May 2 commending the adoption of these new regulations to ensure existing laws protecting conscience rights in health care are enforced and followed.
The statement said these laws have been policy for years, but “the previous administration did not fully enforce them and now they are increasingly being violated.”
The bishops said health care providers such as nurses and medical trainees “have been coerced into participating in the brutal act of abortion against their core beliefs, while churches and others who oppose abortion are being compelled by states like California to cover elective abortion – including late-term abortion – in their health plans.”
“We are grateful that this administration is taking seriously its duty to enforce these fundamental civil rights laws, and we look forward to swift action by HHS to remedy current violations in several states,” they added.
The bishops also pointed out that “conscience protection should not fluctuate as administrations change” and stressed that Congress should provide “permanent legislative relief through passage of the Conscience Protection Act.”
Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, said her organization “welcomes efforts to implement and enforce existing federal laws providing conscience protections.”
In a May 2 statement, she said the Catholic Health Association is currently reviewing the final regulation.
She stressed that “Catholic hospitals and long-term care facilities welcome and serve all persons in need of care. Our mission and our ethical standards in health care are rooted in and inseparable from the Catholic Church’s teachings about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. These are the source of both the work we do and the limits on what we will do,” she said.
“Every individual seeking health care is welcome and will be treated with dignity and respect in our facilities, “ she added.
Critics of the rule have argued that it will limit women’s health care access. The same day the rule was announced, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the Trump administration, saying the rule sacrificed patients’ health.
The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim)

NCEA convention offered financial and leadership tips with teaching ideas

By Joyce Duriga
CHICAGO, Ill (CNS) – Rocio Carballo came all the way from Belize to attend the National Catholic Education Conference April 23-25 at McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago. It was her seventh year attending the convention.
“In my first year, I thought it would be aimed only to teachers, but it’s more than that. I’ve appreciated the focus on leadership skills and financial oversight for people like me,” said Carballo, who is president of Sacred Heart College, a high school and junior high school with 1,550 students and 135 staff.
More than 9,000 educators and leaders from dioceses around the country and beyond, including representatives from the Diocese of Jackson, attended this year’s conference, along with 700 vendors. They took part in hundreds of sessions on topics focused on religion, technology, leadership, curriculum development, trauma, finances and prayer. There are 1.8 million students enrolled in Catholic schools across the country, according to the National Catholic Education Association.
Carballo said she is taking home information about both marketing Catholic schools and effectively using digital media in the classroom.
“I attended sessions that showed us how to retain our students and, most importantly, how to market our Catholic institutions and continue to uphold the institutional excellence,” she said.
The 25-year veteran educator said the convention liturgies were spiritually enriching.
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich celebrated the opening Mass April 23 with a choir of students from local Catholic schools. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, apostolic administrator of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the NCEA’s board chairman, celebrated Mass April 24 and Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Robert G. Casey celebrated the closing Mass.
Jeanine Ranzen, a teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace School in Madison, Wisconsin, said this year’s convention was one of the best she attended.
“It’s been very uplifting being here and being surrounded by 9,000 people who are on the same mission,” she said.
Ranzen, who grew up in St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago, was also encouraged by seeing so many young teachers in attendance.
“The young teachers have a lot of passion for what they are doing. We want to have good teachers to continue the mission,” she said.
Next year’s conference will take place in Baltimore April 14-16.

(Duriga is editor of Chicago Catholic, archdiocesan newspaper of Chicago.)

Video game may have role in Notre Dame Cathedral’s reconstruction

By Adele Chapline Smith
NEW YORK (CNS) – When Paris’ Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire, the world held its collective breath. The spire fell, and the wooden roof was reduced to ash, but the holy relics were saved, and the interior preserved from the worst ravages of fire. Now more than $1 billion has been raised to restore Notre Dame, and a video game may prove to be the structure’s saving grace.
Ironically, the franchise to which this particular title belongs, “Assassin’s Creed,” is traditionally known for its anti-Christian sentiment.
The saga of “Assassin’s Creed” charts a centuries-long struggle between two rival organizations, the Templars and the Assassins. The Templars seek to bring peace to the world through absolute control. The Assassins, with whom gamers are meant to sympathize, believe, by contrast, that “nothing is true, everything is permitted.”
That’s obviously a credo wholly incompatible with Catholic theology. So it’s no surprise that the Assassins are often depicted in conflict with the church.
In 2014, Ubisoft released “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” which sees the two factions struggling for power during the French Revolution. From the start, “Unity” received immense praise for its accuracy in depicting 1700s Paris — and especially, the detail in its depiction of the renowned cathedral.
Publishing giant Ubisoft is headquartered in Paris and has generously donated over $500,000 and pledged its virtual rendition of Notre Dame and its research from “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” to the restoration team. In addition, it made the game free to PC players for a week.
Assistant art director at Ubisoft Montreal, Caroline Miousse, spent two years working on the modeling of the cathedral. In 2014, Miousse told Destructoid that “you really need to be sure that you’re recreating (Notre Dame) as accurately as possible because it’s so well known.”
The video game is not completely faithful to the Notre Dame of the period, however. Some of the cathedral’s art is protected under copyright, and so could not be shown. At the request of players, moreover, Miousse added the familiar spire to the game, despite the fact that this was an anachronism.
In reality, the original spire was removed in 1786, three years before the outbreak of the Revolution. The replacement that collapsed in the conflagration was of 19th-century vintage.
“Assassin’s Creed: Unity” is a breathtaking work of art and the years spent on Notre Dame are visible as gamers scale the great building. Production coordinator Maxime Durand aptly said in an interview with Fast Company that “history in our games is not just a setting or empty buildings on a Hollywood back lot.”
Academic advisers were also brought in as consultants, including University of Quebec professor Laurent Turcot, to assist with both the game’s events and its environment. While historical incidents are subject to interpretation, the layout of the city itself is not.
Turcot sought out ways to recreate 18th-century Paris — no easy task since many neighborhoods of the city were radically altered in the mid-19th century at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III and under the supervision of Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann. Turcot made use of architectural archives, paintings and engravings. All this was done in the name of historical authenticity.
That insistence on adhering to reality will be immensely beneficial as restoration plans for the cathedral move forward. Notre Dame helped shape “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” and now the game will get to return the favor – both to cathedral and to Paris as a whole.

(Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.)

WHO guidelines on kids’ screen time provide more ammo for parents

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Parents must feel at times it’s a losing battle keeping screens out of their children’s hands, much less away from their eyes.
Seemingly out of the blue, however, the U.N.’s World Health Organization issued guidelines April 24 on screen time for young children. The upshot: No screen time for babies under a year old, and no more than one hour a day for children under age 5.
The guidelines may come as a relief for parents. They echo recommendations issued by a group no less prestigious than the WHO, but not as influential: the American Academy of Pediatrics. For children under 18 months of age, the only screen time the organization approves of is video chats. For children under 2, only “high-quality programming” should be watched — and with a parent, so children can understand what they’re seeing.
The WHO guidelines were not issued in a vacuum. For babies, WHO recommend they spend at least 30 minutes a day on their stomachs, and for the under-5 set, the WHO guidelines call for three hours daily of physical activity. This combats sedentary habits that all too easily lead to obesity.
“Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, in an April 24 statement.
“Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and well-being, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” said Dr. Fiona Bull, WHO program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, in her own April 24 statement.
It’s still one thing for experts to advise something, and another for people to heed it.
“Sometimes, I think the public health community is a little tentative about putting out advice that might be hard for parents to swallow,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, in an April 29 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from Boston, adding that he thought the WHO guidelines were “fantastic.”
“We need to deliver some tough medicine to parents, even if it’s not what they want to hear,” Golin said.
He acknowledged, though, that it’s not entirely parents’ fault. “We live in a culture that makes it very, very hard for parents to limit screen time. Screens are falsely marketed as being educational,” Golin said. In effect, he added, they become “short-term babysitters.”
Just because the WHO guidelines extend only to age 5 “doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of work to be done on 6-and-overs,” Golin said. “The more kids use screens early, the more they’ll use them in later life,” which then cuts down on their capacity to “play creatively, to work through their own boredom. They just can’t always say, ‘Mom or Dad, I’m bored,’ or they’ll never develop those inner resources.”
There are enough reasons to cut down on screen usage. “Media multitasking is exacerbating ADHD,” Rogers told CNS. There are also plenty of ways to find alternatives to being continuously connected. The website has far more than a week’s worth of ideas in English, Spanish and, now, French to stay screen-free.
“Faith leaders are not necessarily saying much or aware of the screen time issues that are pulling children apart,” Rogers said. However, the Children’s Screen Time Action Network is planning an interdenominational webinar for late summer called “An Interfaith Conversation About Screen Time.”

(Pattison is media editor for Catholic News Service.)

Victim assistance coordinators comfort in a behind-the-scenes ministry

Editor’s note: April is National Child Abuse Awareness month. Both editions of Mississippi Catholic will be dedicated to the issue. It includes local and national perspective on abuse and abuse prevention including stories from a Catholic News Service special series: Children at Risk.

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Their work begins with a phone call.
Whether the call is from someone who is angry, embarrassed, unsure of what to do or needs a friendly ear, diocesan and eparchial victim assistance coordinators are the face of the church’s response to victims of sexual abuse by a church worker – clergy or otherwise.
It’s a line of work that is public in one sense but not all that well known in another. While their names often appear in parish bulletins, the faithful aren’t always sure of the role they play in the life of the church.
Most importantly though, coordinators told Catholic News Service, theirs is a ministry built on compassion, created to show that the Catholic Church wants to help people in their recovery and reconciliation after an appalling violation of their human dignity.
“It’s about listening and communicating and identifying needs,” Kathleen Chastain, victim services coordinator in the Office of Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, said of her work.
“There are calls now and then where people are just angry and venting, but the vast majority are people who are trying to find the way to reconciliation,” said Frank Moncher, a clinical psychologist who is victim assistance coordinator in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. “They’re hurt, they’re wounded. They’re obviously upset about the way things were handled in the past. But here they are looking for a way of finding peace.”
For Heather Banis, a clinical psychologist who is victim assistance coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the idea of ministry is foremost in her work.
“My sense is that this is doing the right thing. When we couple what we do for healing with what we do for prevention, I feel like we’re moving steadily to a safe and more authentic response in regard to prevention and recovery needs,” she said.
The position of victim assistance coordinator was established in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002. Article 2 of the charter states that “dioceses/eparchies are to have a competent person or person to coordinate assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who report having been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other church personnel.”
Deacon Bernard Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB, said all 197 U.S. dioceses and eparchies have such a coordinator in place.
“In some cases, these are actually diocesan employees. In some cases, they are using an outside third party like Catholic Charities or a local mental health agency to provide these services. But there is someone they (survivors) can connect with, that can accompany the survivor victim on their journey toward healing,” Deacon Nojadera said.
The Diocese of Jackson’s victim’s assistance coordinator, Valerie McClellan, is a licenced counselor who heads up the Solomon Counseling Center. She and her staff are trained in trauma therapy for both children and adults or refer a victim for other appropriate treatment.
Victim assistance programs are meant to show that the church cares about abuse victims, he added.
“Opening transparency is a big thing that needs to be carried out. Victim assistance coordinators are one way that that’s being carried out. They’re communicating that they’re promising to protect, promising to heal,” he said. “The victim assistance coordinator is one of the ways that the church is doing that, one of the ways of helping the bishops keep that promise of transparency.”
Banis, Chastain and Moncher know that when a victim reaches out to their office, it is a high bar to get over. Victims may have self-doubt, serious unmet mental health needs or skepticism that the church really will help. No matter the situation, they credited survivor victims for taking an important step.
“Somebody on their first call, it may be very unsettling. It’s not easy. It’s hard to do. There’s a lot of anxiety about that,” said Banis, who has been in her role since 2016 and has worked with the Los Angeles Archdiocese assisting with abuse claims for a decade.
Chastain, a onetime business consultant whose work in abuse awareness and prevention at her parish led to her appointment as coordinator, has been in the position for three years. She works side-by-side with an independent ombudsman in determining a survivor victim’s needs. The ombudsman is charged with understanding the facts of the allegation while Chastain’s role is to support the victim.
“We could accompany them to the police for a statement and pulling in any professional counselor or spiritual adviser. Sometimes it’s sitting with the bishop. And it’s figuring out what it is that they need to help them on their journey,” Chastain said.
“For the most part, the victims are very grateful (for what we do),” she added.
Moncher, in his position for six months, said he has found that most of the survivors who call the office are “people of strong faith.”
“They’ve been asked, ‘Why haven’t you given up on the church?’ Their answers have been, ‘It’s the people who made the mistake. The church is still the church,’” he said.
Such deep faith in the church has been inspiring for the coordinators. They said that while survivor victims want justice from the church, they also desire to stay connected with the broader Catholic community, the body of Christ.
In some cases, the coordinator’s office regularly convenes support groups of survivor victims. In Arlington, the gatherings differ from meeting to meeting. One may offer advice on healing and the next may be a holy hour of prayer and reflection.
“The benefit of the group is fighting against the isolation that they feel when they’re going through this, Moncher said.
Banis keeps a list of survivors whom she can contact to air ideas for outreach and programs for support. “We are doing our best to stay relevant and authentic in these efforts,” she told CNS.
The coordinators agreed that the entire church has a role in helping abuse survivors achieve healing and reconciliation and working to help perpetrators face the harm they have committed.
“We’re the body of Christ together and that we as a community can heal together if we recognize each and every member and hold those who have harmed accountable in a reconciliatory manner,” Chastain said. “And we need to believe and validate and support and care for these survivors, who, even if they’ve left the church, are a part of our community.”
Banis closed by offering advice to those who criticize survivor victims for waiting years to report their abuse.
“I want people to take a moment to think about what it would be like to be a child and to have heard from their parents that this person (abuser) is one of the most respected persons you will ever meet and a representative of God,” Banis said. “To be harmed by that person, perhaps threatened by that person or perhaps in some way made to feel complicit is a powerful deterrent to a small child who is afraid, who has been frightened and is afraid of what could happen next and who has been told not to be expected to be believed.
“This is something that changes people’s lives. It changes what they feel about themselves, their families and certainly how they feel about God.”
She continued, “I want to caution people before we’re quick to judge and dismiss and ask, ‘Why now?’ Just remember what it’s like to be 6 or 7 years old or 12 or 13 years old and to be caught up in something you cannot possibly understand. I just feel like we need to have more compassion.”
Banis added, “It’s a community effort to live up to our responsibilities to make the healing begin.”

(Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski)

“The place to start is the upholding the primacy of the sacrament of baptism.”

By Catholic News Service
(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz’ chrism Mass homily can be found on page 3 of this issue.)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A number of Catholic bishops referenced the clergy sexual abuse scandal during local chrism Masses in calling for a renewal of the priesthood and greater partnership in serving the church among ordained priests and the laity, whose priesthood of service is guaranteed by baptism.
Each diocese celebrates a chrism Mass to bless the oils used in sacraments and long-standing prayer rituals throughout the year. Priests also renew their vows of service to God and the church at the Mass.
A chrism Mass traditionally is celebrated the morning of Holy Thursday, but it can be moved to another day to accommodate the needs of a local diocese. In the Diocese of Jackson, it is on the Tuesday of Holy Week.
Citing Pope Francis’ letter to U.S. bishops as they met in retreat in January to pray and reflect on their role as ordained clergy, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, said the pontiff called for a “new ecclesial season.”
The retreat was planned in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis that rose anew in 2018, in part around questions about how some prelates handled abuse allegations.
“(The pope’s) words to the bishops are also a good instruction for every priest: ‘What is being asked of us today is a new presence in the world, conformed to the cross of Christ, one that takes concrete shape in service to the men and women of our time,'” Archbishop Etienne said.
The new ecclesial season, the archbishop said at the April 10 Mass, can be found in the way Jesus encountered people, engaging them in the “reality and messiness of their lives.”
“He invited them to a fuller experience of life, by entering a personal relationship with him, inviting them to follow him, and asking that they make a free gift of their life to others,” he said.
The chrism Mass serves to raise awareness and renew the fundamental belief that “despite worldly distractions and allurements, suffering, persecution, even death by martyrdom – no matter what the Christian endures – fidelity to Christ gains us the ultimate victory,” Archbishop Etienne told the congregation gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage.
He described the new ecclesial season as one in which all members of the church accompany each other on their pilgrimage of faith. The new season, he continued “is about a great partnership between all members of the church” and requires growth in love and unity that emerges from a closer relationship with Jesus while putting individual faith and gifts “at the service of the broader community.”
In Reno, Nevada, Bishop Randolph R. Calvo reminded the priests at the chrism Mass April 11 at St. Rose of Lima Church that their renewal of their commitment to carry out the sacred duties of priesthood was a recognition of the importance of service and ministry to others.
Such a renewal, he explained, was to be taken against the backdrop of the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has “shaken” the Catholic Church and “called into question among many faithful Catholics their trust in their priests and bishops” and even the church institution itself.
Acknowledging that priests have suffered from “this scandal,” Bishop Calvo said “the crimes of our confreres have left them feeling humiliated, sad and vulnerable. The perception that bishops have not advanced far in appropriately handling abuse cases make them angry and frustrated.”
Still, he said, the scripture readings from the Mass, including the Gospel’s reference of Isaiah 61 can offer hope to a saddened church.
“They tell of the Anointed One who declares that God has sent him to proclaim glad tidings to the lowly, to heal and uplift, to free and console, to bestow the oil of gladness,” Bishop Calvo said. “He is Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One. We turn to him, our hope and salvation, and stand ready with you to receive the oil of gladness.”
The people to whom Jesus has been sent are responsible to “rebuild and restore” the church, he told the congregation. “That’s our mandate. … The place to start is the upholding the primacy of the sacrament of baptism.”
Bishop Calvo said the priesthood of the church involves both the ordained and “all the baptized, the entire church.”
He also took on clericalism, which he described as “placing the clergy as an elite class and raising the sacrament of holy orders above the sacrament of baptism in importance.”
The bishop called baptism the most important of sacraments and said all the baptized are anointed with chrism to share in Christ’s mission of creating a just society for all.
He called for clericalism to be “dealt with” because it puts priests “on a dangerous pedestal.”
“Priests need respect and affirmation as all of us do, but clericalism is different,” Bishop Calvo told the congregation
“The clergy sexual abuse scandal has pushed priests off the pedestal. But let’s go further. Why don’t we just smash the pedestal of clericalism to bits,” he said, explaining that doing so would “rebuild and restore the ordained ministry or priests.”
In Arlington, Virginia, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in his April 18 chrism Mass homily called to mind the words of the day’s responsorial psalm: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”
“Yet some may ask how is that possible in light of the challenging times we have faced in our church and continue to face at this very moment,” he said. “As a diocese, we can readily point to many instances we have that enable us to sing of the goodness of the Lord. We are about to welcome hundreds of individuals who will be fully initiated into our Catholic Church at Easter.
“We were so inspired to see countless numbers of people celebrate God’s mercy in the sacrament of penance throughout Lent. We are uplifted by the example of our young people.”
Within the chrism Mass, Bishop Burbidge said, the church does not ask the bishop to renew his promises of ordination.
“But in light of the fact that in recent months the trust of the bishops have somewhat been eroded, I want to make my promises known and be held accountable for them,” he said. “I promise to be a more perfect image of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, the teacher and servant of all. I promise to encourage and stand by my brother priests in every way possible, to love them and our seminarians as a spiritual father.”
“I will continue to the best of my ability to teach the truth and the joy of the Gospel with fidelity and constancy,” he continued. “I will continue to work daily for the protection of children and the vulnerable, and with the appropriate transparency and necessary collaboration, that work will always be a priority. I will also continue in every way possible to support victims and survivors and be with them in their time of need.”
Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik told the priests of the diocese that Jesus “is counting on you and me, just as he counted on the exhausted apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“We are here in this place and at this time because of them. They passed on the faith to us,” he said in his chrism Mass homily April 18. “And trust what can and will happen through us as we pass on the faith to others. Many, many more will come to learn, love, and live Jesus through you, through me. And how can that happen?”
“Jesus teaches us all by his example. Stay the course. Be men of prayer. Trust in him. Be men of hope. Build the kingdom of God,” Bishop Zubik continued.
He acknowledged that he and many of his brother priests are experiencing “emotions as raw” as what the first apostles experienced, but he said they all must “renew our yes to Jesus, right here, right now … help to build up the church as the body of Christ.”
The bishop added: “With Jesus as our model, our foundation, and our high priest, no fatigue, no tiredness, no exhaustion can ever take our eyes off the task or rob our hearts from preaching the Word or celebrating the sacraments or serving our people. You already know that! You are doing that so valiantly, so faithfully. … Nothing is impossible with God.”

(Contributing to this story was Elizabeth A. Elliott in Arlington.)

Leadership conference gathers Child Protection teams from across America

By Carl Peters and Maureen Smith
CHERRY HILL, New Jersey – The 14th annual Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference, held March 24-27 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, drew 210 representatives from archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States, including Vickie Carollo, the Coordinator for the Office of Child Protection for the Diocese of Jackson. The large majority of the group were women, but their professional backgrounds varied. They included social workers, psychotherapists, educators and others.

Pat Ciarrochi, retired CBS news anchor, seated with Ken Gavin, chief communications officer, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, speaks on the role of the media during the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill. Diocese of Jackson Child Protection Coordinator Vickie Carollo is seated in the front row. (Photo by Maria Toci D’Antonio, Catholic Star Herlad.)

Like most professional conventions, the three-day conference was designed to let participants update and sharpen their skills, enjoy camaraderie with their peers, and boost morale. But the title of the first day’s last presentation was an indication of the difficult challenge these workers face: “Keeping Our Faith When Exposed to the Worst Things That Happen in Our Church.”
Unlike the average Catholics in the pews, or even other church workers, who have found their faith tested by news stories about clergy abuse, the individuals who gathered in Cherry Hill have jobs that are a direct result of the church’s worst scandal in modern times. Furthermore, while they are employees of the institutional church, their primary responsibility is to those who have been wronged by it, and to do their best to prevent the same mistakes in the future.
That complex task was illustrated by Robert Crawford, a licensed counselor with a practice in South Jersey who has worked with sexual offenders for more than 15 years. A strong advocate for the church, he spoke with gratitude about a diocesan priest and a religious brother who were strong influences on him and good role models. Echoing many church leaders, he asserted that homosexuality and celibacy are not causes of abuse, and that abuse extends far beyond the Catholic Church.
The most likely place for anyone to come face to face with an abuser or a victim is at the dinner table at Thanksgiving, he said. The family, he said, can be either the most dangerous place for a child or the best prevention against being victimized. Crawford’s topic was “The Pathway from Priest to Predator,” and he noted that predators manipulate children with a false sense of intimacy they are often missing at home. Church leaders, he argued, cannot think of a serial predator as a “priest with a problem;” he is, instead, “a pedophile who happens to be a priest or religious.”
The scarcity of new accusations against clergy does not mean the problem of childhood sexual abuse is over, Crawford said, citing the increasing presence of child pornography on the internet. “You are five clicks away from the most deviant thing you can imagine,” he said.
Carollo said the gathering provided “a wealth of education in child abuse and awareness and renewed her energy for her difficult job. “The only thing standing between a predator and a child is us. We have to be vigilant,” said Carollo. “The diocese (of Jackson) has and will continue to hold fast to our commitment to protecting children and young people,” she added.
Some of the other topics at the conference were “Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome,” presented by therapist Dr. Karen Ann Owen Jimenez; “The Role of the Media,” by Pat Ciarrochi, retired CBS news anchor, and Ken Gavin, chief communications officer, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; and “Healing the Ravaged Soul,” by Sue McGrath, an author and spiritual director. Bishop Dennis Sullivan greeted the participants during the conference’s opening reception, and in a welcoming message observed that it coincided with the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which provided the Marian theme, “Full of Grace.” “Who better than Mary, the Mother of our Lord, to be with you, to encourage you and to inspire you as you work to protect the children entrusted into your care?”
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark celebrated Mass on the second day. The event was hosted by the Diocese of Camden in association with the archdioceses of Philadelphia and Newark, the dioceses of Metuchen, Paterson and Trenton; and the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic.
Rod J. Herrera, director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, Diocese of Camden, and one of the principal organizers of the event, noted that attendance for this conference was higher than for any of the previous 13 conferences.
“I think that has to do not only with Philadelphia as a draw but also because of the current environment we are all faced with,” he said. “We pray for each other and we pray for our church. I want to thank our Blessed Mother for her grace and guiding and inspiring the speakers at this conference.”

(Most of this story was excerpted with permission from the Catholic Star Herald, the newspaper for the Catholic Diocese of Camden.)

Vigilance by parents with their children called key to safe internet use

By Eleanor Kennelly Gaetan
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In his internet safety presentations at schools, Justin Gaertner emphasizes that safety “comes back to parents and kids being vigilant.”
“If you see something, say something,” he tells his audiences.
Wounded in war while serving in Afghanistan as a Marine veteran, Gaertner works with the Department of Homeland Security, pursuing predators who collect and trade child pornography – more accurately termed, child sexual abuse imagery – on the internet.
“We all have to be very careful,” Gaertner told Catholic News Service.
One resource for guidance on internet safety is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, runs the website with tip sheets and guidance tailored for various audiences. The site is one of more than a dozen sites with child safety resources the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection lists at
For parents, NCMEC suggests the best way to protect your children is to actually engage with them in accessing things online: offer to play the games they like, ask them to show you what platforms they use, discuss being respectful online and never responding to sexual questions or requests for pictures.
“Your kids might not tell you everything but ask anyway,” the center says. “Regular conversations about safety can go a long way in increasing trust and communication.”
The site tells parents: “No technology, no piece of software, no parental control is ever a substitute for active and involved parenting. The most effecting internet safety tool is you!”
Launched in 2013 by the USCCB’s Department of Communications and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Faith and Safety website has a variety of resources, including reviews of mobile apps; ways to address issues faced by children online, such as bullying; and resources to educate parents on protecting their home networks.
It also features regular columns by leading Catholic and Orthodox figures on connecting faith and technology, as well as news updates, how-to guides and video content.
“All safety – especially mobile and online safety – begins at home,” the site’s homepage says. “The habits you exhibit about technology use in your home will be the same habits your children learn. … Model the behavior you yourself expect from your children.”

Societal shifts seen in acknowledging sex abuse, finding ways to address it

By Julie Asher
WASHINGTON – In her 25 years of working with sexual trauma issues, Eileen Dombo said, “our culture has shifted” in terms of believing people more readily when they come forward about being abused and being more “aware of the signs of sex abuse, signs the child is being groomed.”
“We have a greater capacity to be open to the belief that an adult can harm a child in this way, when for too many years culturally we haven’t been able to believe,” said Dombo, an associate professor in the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

This logo goes with stories in a Catholic News Service series on the scope of child sex abuse in the United States. (CNS illustration/Todd Habiger, The Leaven)

Still, “child sex abuse is a massively big problem in our culture,” she told Catholic News Service. “It crosses all kinds of stratifications – socioeconomic, race, religion, ethnicity.”
About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to Darkness to Light. Dombo called such numbers “staggering.”
And despite the fact sex abuse victims are believed more now than in the past, a lot of this abuse still goes unreported, she said.
“Sometimes the child does tell an adult and they are not believed, and the response to the initial disclosure can silence someone for decades,” Dombo explained, “even if they try to tell in a child’s way – not concretely, but say, ‘This person makes me uncomfortable, or ‘I don’t want to be around them or don’t want to go to that place’ – if they are not asked to provide more clarity, they feel shut down.”
Or in other cases, “they disclose and they are not believed because the person (the abuser) is so beloved or powerful or an authority figure,” she added.
“One of the greatest things that can be done” to address abuse “is empowering a child with the language, the knowledge and the tools to spot someone – or tell a trusted adult – when someone is making them uncomfortable,” said Dombo, who specializes in working with trauma survivors.
She also applauded the many safe environment programs and the training that exist now to help children understand “good touches and bad touches” and how to talk to adults about what makes them uncomfortable as well as teaching adults how to respond when a child comes forward with such a concern.
Melissa Grady, like Dombo, is at Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service, where she is an associate professor and chair of the school’s clinical concentration. Her area of research is in working with those who have committed sexual offenses.
Grady stated that many in this field “have really pushed for sexual abuse to be considered a public health problem.” Using this approach, she said, “prevention efforts should be oriented around using levels of prevention as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control: primary, secondary and tertiary.”
She said primary prevention would take a universal approach by providing interventions to everyone, including providing age-appropriate sex education, reinforcing it with more information as they age, which includes making sure they understand consent. Grady added that such programs should take place beginning in preschool and be continued through the university level.
Grady stated that secondary prevention efforts seek to intervene with those who are identified as “at risk.” For sexual abuse prevention, it would mean ensuring that those who have been abused get services, and also provide interventions to those who show sexualized behaviors at a young age or other concerning behaviors. Today “there is much more awareness that these kids need immediate help and intervention,” she said.
Tertiary prevention involves providing interventions to those who have already abused in order to prevent them from doing it again in the future. This would mean, she said, that “we need to provide competent and effective practices to those who have offended to reduce their risk of ever committing another crime.”
Grady stated that there are numerous theories regarding what leads someone to sexually abuse another, but there is not a clear answer.
“We do know that this population has experienced significant trauma, not just in number, but also a wide variety of traumatic experiences,” she said. “These include surviving sexual abuse, physical abuse, physical and/or emotional neglect, and various types of family dysfunction. What we are unclear about is how such abuse histories contribute to subsequent offending.”
She went on to say that we need more research on what factors lead someone to commit such crimes and how to provide effective treatment that addresses both their own victimization as well as their offending behaviors to ensure that they never commit such a crime again.
Grady also shared, however, that among the numerous facts that are misunderstood about this population, is that while there are certainly some individuals who repeatedly re-offend, “ they actually have one of the lowest recidivism rates of any criminal population.”
“However, we need more resources to learn about how to make those rates even lower and to implement effective interventions strategies focused on prevention so that no one should have to experience these crimes,” she said.
Dombo similarly told CNS that “the vast majority of people who are sexually abused” do not become abusers.
“However, you have to ask the question what would lead someone to do this to a child?” she said. Like Grady, she said many have had some form of trauma in their lives and that there is no one reason why someone would abuse a child. Some suffer from sociopathy; some may simply have a disregard for social mores; for some it is “a crime of opportunity.” For still others, Dombo said, it could be a crime related “to personal issues of power” – they feel powerless in their own lives so abusing someone is a way to have power over someone.
The damage sexual abuse does to children can be wide-ranging, so the sooner an abuse victim gets supportive help in family therapy or from other trained professionals the better, Dombo said.
Abuse can impact children’s “self-esteem, their beliefs, their view of themselves in the world, their ability to trust others (and) develop trusting relationships the rest of childhood and in adulthood,” she explained. It can affect coping behaviors, create educational problems and behavioral problems, she continued; victims can have difficulty with their peers, become aggressive, can be targeted as ‘a problem child.’”
In adolescence, abuse victims might turn to drugs or alcohol, cause self-injury, act out sexually, have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide, suffer anxiety, depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder, Dombo said, and many common mental health issues “stem from untreated abuse.”
“The one thing we have been trying to do as social workers, educators and researchers is make sure all the services people come in touch with – drug counseling, mental health, etc. – are trauma-informed, meaning if they have the sense the person is a trauma survivor, we create a space that allows the potential for disclosure,” Dombo told CNS.
In addition, Grady feels that prevention efforts should absolutely include teaching people how to keep from becoming victims, but they also should include helping children learn to express themselves without “resorting to any kind of violence. Children need to learn how to regulate their behaviors and emotions, and to “cognitively process” challenging situations, as well as how to be empathetic and kind.”
“We need to address prevention by helping children to learn simultaneously – how do you keep yourself safe from others while learning to manage yourself?” she added.
Dombo sees strides being made in addressing child sex abuse “in terms of the culture’s willingness to see that we have a problem and not deny this is a massive problem.”
Asked about the Catholic Church’s response to abuse, “we have a systemic response,” she said, referring to the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and the protocols it spells out.
The church is taking responsibility “for keeping all God’s children safe from harm” and “starting to dismantle” structures that have led to abuse, Dombo said.
“No other institution has undertaken a public study of sexual abuse and, as a result, there are no comparable data to those collected and reported by the Catholic Church,” said the John Jay report issued in May 2011 on “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.”
“Other organizations should follow suit and examine the extent of sexual abuse within their groups to better understand the extent of the problem and the situations in which sexual abuse takes place,” it said.
The study was mandated by the U.S. bishops’ charter and was commissioned by their independent lay-run National Review Board. Conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, it provides a framework for understanding not only the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests but the sexual victimization of children in any institution.
“Only with such an understanding can effective prevention policies be articulated and implemented,” the report said. “While some sexual abuse will always occur, knowledge and understanding of this kind of exploitation of minors can limit the opportunities for abuse while also helping to identify abuse situations as early as possible.”

(Editor’s Note: The full John Jay study can be found at
Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher)