31 March 2010

Child Abuse and the head of the CDF's response - Outstanding

The New York Times and Pope Benedict XVI:
how it looks to an American in the Vatican

By Cardinal William J. Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In our melting pot of peoples, languages and backgrounds, Americans are not noted as examples of “high” culture. But we can take pride as a rule in our passion for fairness. In the Vatican where I currently work, my colleagues – whether fellow cardinals at meetings or officials in my office – come from many different countries, continents and cultures. As I write this response today (March 26, 2010) I have had to admit to them that I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.

I say this because today’s Times presents both a lengthy article by Laurie Goodstein, a senior columnist, headlined “Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest,” and an accompanying editorial entitled “The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal,” in which the editors call the Goodstein article a disturbing report (emphasis in original) as a basis for their own charges against the Pope. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.

In her lead paragraph, Goodstein relies on what she describes as “newly unearthed files” to point out what the Vatican (i.e. then Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) did not do – “defrock Fr. Murphy.” Breaking news, apparently. Only after eight paragraphs of purple prose does Goodstein reveal that Fr. Murphy, who criminally abused as many as 200 deaf children while working at a school in the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 1950 to 1974, “not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims.”

But in paragraph 13, commenting on a statement of Fr. Lombardi (the Vatican spokesman) that Church law does not prohibit anyone from reporting cases of abuse to civil authorities, Goodstein writes, “He did not address why that had never happened in this case.” Did she forget, or did her editors not read, what she wrote in paragraph nine about Murphy getting “a pass from the police and prosecutors”? By her own account it seems clear that criminal authorities had been notified, most probably by the victims and their families.

Goodstein’s account bounces back and forth as if there were not some 20 plus years intervening between reports in the 1960 and 70’s to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and local police, and Archbishop Weakland’s appeal for help to the Vatican in 1996. Why? Because the point of the article is not about failures on the part of church and civil authorities to act properly at the time. I, for one, looking back at this report agree that Fr. Murphy deserved to be dismissed from the clerical state for his egregious criminal behavior, which would normally have resulted from a canonical trial.

The point of Goodstein’s article, however, is to attribute the failure to accomplish this dismissal to Pope Benedict, instead of to diocesan decisions at the time. She uses the technique of repeating the many escalating charges and accusations from various sources (not least from her own newspaper), and tries to use these “newly unearthed files” as the basis for accusing the pope of leniency and inaction in this case and presumably in others.

It seems to me, on the other hand, that we owe Pope Benedict a great debt of gratitude for introducing the procedures that have helped the Church to take action in the face of the scandal of priestly sexual abuse of minors. These efforts began when the Pope served as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued after he was elected Pope. That the Times has published a series of articles in which the important contribution he has made – especially in the development and implementation of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, the Motu proprio issued by Pope John Paul II in 2001 – is ignored, seems to me to warrant the charge of lack of fairness which should be the hallmark of any reputable newspaper.

Let me tell you what I think a fair reading of the Milwaukee case would seem to indicate. The reasons why church and civil authorities took no action in the 1960’s and 70’s is apparently not contained in these “newly emerged files.” Nor does the Times seem interested in finding out why. But what does emerge is this: after almost 20 years as Archbishop, Weakland wrote to the Congregation asking for help in dealing with this terrible case of serial abuse. The Congregation approved his decision to undertake a canonical trial, since the case involved solicitation in confession – one of the graviora delicta (most grave crimes) for which the Congregation had responsibility to investigate and take appropriate action.

Only when it learned that Murphy was dying did the Congregation suggest to Weakland that the canonical trial be suspended, since it would involve a lengthy process of taking testimony from a number of deaf victims from prior decades, as well as from the accused priest. Instead it proposed measures to ensure that appropriate restrictions on his ministry be taken. Goodstein infers that this action implies “leniency” toward a priest guilty of heinous crimes. My interpretation would be that the Congregation realized that the complex canonical process would be useless if the priest were dying. Indeed, I have recently received an unsolicited letter from the judicial vicar who was presiding judge in the canonical trial telling me that he never received any communication about suspending the trial, and would not have agreed to it. But Fr. Murphy had died in the meantime. As a believer, I have no doubt that Murphy will face the One who judges both the living and the dead.

Goodstein also refers to what she calls “other accusations” about the reassignment of a priest who had previously abused a child/children in another diocese by the Archdiocese of Munich. But the Archdiocese has repeatedly explained that the responsible Vicar General, Mons. Gruber, admitted his mistake in making that assignment. It is anachronistic for Goodstein and the Times to imply that the knowledge about sexual abuse that we have in 2010 should have somehow been intuited by those in authority in 1980. It is not difficult for me to think that Professor Ratzinger, appointed as Archbishop of Munich in 1977, would have done as most new bishops do: allow those already in place in an administration of 400 or 500 people to do the jobs assigned to them.

As I look back on my own personal history as a priest and bishop, I can say that in 1980 I had never heard of any accusation of such sexual abuse by a priest. It was only in 1985, as an Auxiliary Bishop attending a meeting of our U.S. Bishops’ Conference where data on this matter was presented, that I became aware of some of the issues. In 1986, when I was appointed Archbishop in Portland, I began to deal personally with accusations of the crime of sexual abuse, and although my “learning curve” was rapid, it was also limited by the particular cases called to my attention.

Here are a few things I have learned since that time: many child victims are reluctant to report incidents of sexual abuse by clergy. When they come forward as adults, the most frequent reason they give is not to ask for punishment of the priest, but to make the bishop and personnel director aware so that other children can be spared the trauma that they have experienced.

In dealing with priests, I learned that many priests, when confronted with accusations from the past, spontaneously admitted their guilt. On the other hand, I also learned that denial is not uncommon. I have found that even programs of residential therapy have not succeeded in breaking through such denial in some cases. Even professional therapists did not arrive at a clear diagnosis in some of these cases; often their recommendations were too vague to be helpful. On the other hand, therapists have been very helpful to victims in dealing with the long-range effects of their childhood abuse. In both Portland and San Francisco where I dealt with issues of sexual abuse, the dioceses always made funds available (often through diocesan insurance coverage) for therapy to victims of sexual abuse.

From the point of view of ecclesiastical procedures, the explosion of the sexual abuse question in the United States led to the adoption, at a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Dallas in 2002, of a “Charter for the Protection of Minors from Sexual Abuse.” This Charter provides for uniform guidelines on reporting sexual abuse, on structures of accountability (Boards involving clergy, religious and laity, including experts), reports to a national Board, and education programs for parishes and schools in raising awareness and prevention of sexual abuse of children. In a number of other countries similar programs have been adopted by Church authorities: one of the first was adopted by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in response to the Nolan Report made by a high-level commission of independent experts in 2001.

It was only in 2001, with the publication of Pope John Paul II’s Motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (SST), that responsibility for guiding the Catholic Church’s response to the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clerics was assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This papal document was prepared for Pope John Paul II under the guidance of Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Contrary to some media reports, SST did not remove the local bishop’s responsibility for acting in cases of reported sexual abuse of minors by clerics. Nor was it, as some have theorized, part of a plot from on high to interfere with civil jurisdiction in such cases. Instead, SST directs bishops to report credible allegations of abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is able to provide a service to the bishops to ensure that cases are handled properly, in accord with applicable ecclesiastical law.

Here are some of the advances made by this new Church legislation (SST). It has allowed for a streamlined administrative process in arriving at a judgment, thus reserving the more formal process of a canonical trial to more complex cases. This has been of particular advantage in missionary and small dioceses that do not have a strong complement of well-trained canon lawyers. It provides for erecting inter-diocesan tribunals to assist small dioceses. The Congregation has faculties allowing it derogate from the prescription of a crime (statute of limitations) in order to permit justice to be done even for “historical” cases. Moreover, SST has amended canon law in cases of sexual abuse to adjust the age of a minor to 18 to correspond with the civil law in many countries today. It provides a point of reference for bishops and religious superiors to obtain uniform advice about handling priests’ cases. Perhaps most of all, it has designated cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics as graviora delicta: most grave crimes, like the crimes against the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance perennially assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This in itself has shown the seriousness with which today’s Church undertakes its responsibility to assist bishops and religious superiors to prevent these crimes from happening in the future, and to punish them when they happen. Here is a legacy of Pope Benedict that greatly facilitates the work of the Congregation which I now have the privilege to lead, to the benefit of the entire Church.

After the Dallas Charter in 2002, I was appointed (at the time as Archbishop of San Francisco) to a team of four bishops to seek approval of the Holy See for the “Essential Norms” that the American Bishops developed to allow us to deal with abuse questions. Because these norms intersected with existing canon law, they required approval before being implemented as particular law for our country. Under the chairmanship of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and currently President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, our team worked with Vatican canonical experts at several meetings. We found in Cardinal Ratzinger, and in the experts he assigned to meet with us, a sympathetic understanding of the problems we faced as American bishops. Largely through his guidance we were able to bring our work to a successful conclusion.

The Times editorial wonders “how Vatican officials did not draw the lessons of the grueling scandal in the United States, where more than 700 priests were dismissed over a three-year period.” I can assure the Times that the Vatican in reality did not then and does not now ignore those lessons. But the Times editorial goes on to show the usual bias: “But then we read Laurie Goodstein’s disturbing report . . .about how the pope, while he was still a cardinal, was personally warned about a priest … But church leaders chose to protect the church instead of children. The report illuminated the kind of behavior the church was willing to excuse to avoid scandal.” Excuse me, editors. Even the Goodstein article, based on “newly unearthed files,” places the words about protecting the Church from scandal on the lips of Archbishop Weakland, not the pope. It is just this kind of anachronistic conflation that I think warrants my accusation that the Times, in rushing to a guilty verdict, lacks fairness in its coverage of Pope Benedict.

As a full-time member of the Roman Curia, the governing structure that carries out the Holy See’s tasks, I do not have time to deal with the Times’s subsequent almost daily articles by Rachel Donadio and others, much less with Maureen Dowd’s silly parroting of Goodstein’s “disturbing report.” But about a man with and for whom I have the privilege of working, as his “successor” Prefect, a pope whose encyclicals on love and hope and economic virtue have both surprised us and made us think, whose weekly catecheses and Holy Week homilies inspire us, and yes, whose pro-active work to help the Church deal effectively with the sexual abuse of minors continues to enable us today, I ask the Times to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on.

H/T Whispers in the Loggia

30 March 2010

Deepening faith through art.

I'm really impressed and encouraged that His Grace the Archbishop of Westminster is using modern media to bring the Good News to us all. Very much in keeping with Pope Benedict's lead in these matters. Of course, as you know, I'm also a fan of using art as a means of enabling us to deepen our faith.

Watch for yourself, and enjoy...

Holy Week through Art from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

29 March 2010

Do you know Pope Benedict XVI?

Some have asked about the music so here is the blurb from the youtube website:

Stop-motion video that shows who is Pope Benedict XVI in a fresh way. He is one of the biggest minds nowadays and has the ability to talk about deep issues in an easy-to-understand way. He is closer to the young people than it could seem at first sight.

Song: "Ottoman"
by Vampire Weekend

H/t auntie joanna writes

27 March 2010

The Church and Child Abuse

Lent Palm Sunday Yr C

If you listen to Thought for the Day; this morning you would have heard Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, talk of two types of silence: the prayerful silence of Mass and the destructive silence of child abuse cover ups. On the radio Ms Pepinster said:

Accusation upon accusation has led to an unprecedented apology from Pope Benedict to the people of Ireland in which he expressed shame and remorse for what has happened.

But for many it was still not enough.

...Catholics attending Mass on Palm Sunday will hear Luke’s Gospel story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. As the crowd shouts in acclaim, the Pharisees tell him to silence his followers. But Christ says: “I tell you, if these keep silence the very stones will cry out”.

Now it seems as if the very stones are crying out about child abuse. The damaging silence has been swept aside; the truth must be spoken.

My brothers and sisters in Christ: we face our darkest hour; we walk now with Christ to face our crucifixion. It will be a painful journey and there will be times when we doubt. Be not like the Apostles who left Christ to face his pain, his suffering and his humiliation alone. Rather, be like the centurion who saw “a great and good man”, be like Joseph of Arimathaea who “had not consented to what others had planned and carried out” and above all, be like the women who “took note of the tomb”, who “prepared spices and ointments” and who were the first to witness the resurrection.

My brothers and sisters, as the wolves circle and seek to crucify the Church, stand strong in your Faith, stay true to your love and know that you will overcome!

H/t to Ruth Gledhill for the Thought for the Day text. Thought for the day, here, at approx. 48 minutes into the programme.

This is what it means to be Catholic

E F pastor emeritus has an intriguing tale from everyday life over on his blog. Please take the time to go visit and see how you can help/support, but meanwhile here is an extract...

It all started about a year ago, when I was enrolled in a “Communication: Access to Power” course. When the facilitator asked us what we were hoping to get out of this weekend, people stood up and shared things like how they wanted to have richer communications with loved ones, and hoped to discover how to minimize the conflicts with co-workers in the office.

We were all dying to know why the small Irish American nun in the back of the room was here, and a hush came over the nondescript conference room as she approached the podium.

“My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd; call me Sister Mary Beth,” she said in a tone that barely registered above a whisper.

This was a person clearly uneasy in the spotlight, her pale blue eyes darting nervously around the room without looking at any one person. “I am a Filippini nun and I’m trying to improve my negotiation skills.”

The comment cocked many an eyebrow in the room. Was this really some boardroom brawler in disguise, a titan of industry who would redden the knuckles of Donald Trump with a ruler until he begged for mercy?

The instructor, sharing our amusement, used a slightly patronizing inflection to ask, “Sister, what do you negotiate?”

“I negotiate for the welfare of children,” she replied, a small, content smile escaping her lips. “My mission work takes me down to the bus stations of Brazil.

“Parents bring their little children down to the terminal so that visitors can rent them for sexual purposes. Some of these poor boys and girls aren’t even 10 years old, yet working their children as prostitutes is the only means of support the family has.”

“A group of us nuns visit the bus terminal and outbid the travelers. We pay the parents what they would make for an afternoon of the little child’s time. We then take the boy or girl and play with them or buy them ice cream.

“So, I decided to take this course so that I can improve my negotiation skills and spend less money in my dealings so that I have more cash to reach more children.”

Lenten Psalms & Thoughts...

The Lord will guard us,
as a shepherd guards his flock.

26 March 2010

It is good to be back, is it not?

Welcome back, Jackie.
More here.

Rainbow over Coventry

(Rainbow over Larne, not Coventry!)

"See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth." God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings. As the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant that I have established between God and all living beings - all mortal creatures that are on earth." God told Noah: "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all mortal creatures that are on earth." (Gen. 9:9-17)

Just a few minutes ago there was the most stunning rainbow over Coventry. Probably one of the best I have seen in years. Thanks, God, for reminding us of your wonder!

25 March 2010


25 March – Annunciation (Acies Mass)

"Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt.” According to John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae he borrowed the motto, Totus Tuus, from the Marian consecrating prayer as found in the book True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis de Montfort. The late Pope took this for his apostolic motto. Upon reading the works of St Louis, John Paul recalled “"Then I understood that I could not exclude the Lord's Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God."

Today, and especially today for all Legionaries of Mary, we will be more familiar with the English consecration to our Blessed Queen and Mother: “We are all yours, our Queen, our Mother, and all that we have is yours”. We can approach this annual consecration to Mary, both individually and collectively, as merely an annual devotion which we have to do to stay an active member of the Legion of Mary, or we can see it for what it is: a complete and total life changing moment. There is no going back from this moment.

Consecration is very familiar to us. We know what it means, to dedicate ourselves solemnly and this is what we are doing. We are dedicating ourselves to Christ through Mary. To consecrate, however, also means to make holy, to make sacred, to hallow. This we are more familiar with in terms of consecrating people. We once talked of consecrating a Bishop, though now more correctly termed ordaining, we are familiar and admire those consecrated virgins amongst us and, of course, we consecrate the gifts to become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Here in lies the key to what we are about to undertake in both our individual and collective consecration. Like the body of Christ will never return to mere bread so we can never return to what we were before this Mass began. When we come forward and present ourselves, our total selves, then we will be given the great task that is ours alone. It is not, however, a task which is accomplished alone. No, it is accomplished with Mary and through this Legion which she patronises. Without the kind and gracious love of Mary, we are nothing. We have no meaning and there is no making holy, no consecrating of our lives. We are utterly dependent upon our Queen and Mother, and we are united through her to her beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Today, of all days, we recall the single act which brought about the means of our salvation. Fiat. Let it be done according to your Word. For a single moment – allow yourself to imagine the world if Mary had said ‘no’. For a single second, perhaps, dwell upon how miserable would be our lives without Mary’s ‘yes’ and trust me when I say – you’d be running, nay sprinting, toward the Vexillum and screaming out in desperation your consecration. Yet our consecration has nothing to do with fear of the ‘what if’ and everything to do with love. We are compelled silently in reverence and awe to approach Mary and share in her eternal yes, yes, yes. I love you Jesus, my love above all things, and all that I have is yours. I am ready to give my life to you. Take me as I am, transform me, let your will be done and let me declare before you and your blessed mother that I will never be the same again from this moment forth!

If, after contemplating now the enormity and eternal act you are about to undertake in your own consecration or you doubt your ability or willingness to take this path, then place yourself into the heart of Mary and listen to the words of the Angel: “the Holy Spirit will come upon you”. You are not alone, be brave, trust in the Lord and say Yes. Totus Tuus.

Legion of Mary

Whilst I'm sure that I am likely to be teaching others to suck eggs, it may be helpful to know that you can access the Legion of Mary handbook, here. This evening I am celebrating Mass for the Legion, locally, with the annual Acies. The Acies is the great central annual function of the Legion. The legion handbook notes:

Bearing in mind the importance of devotion to Mary in the Legion system, each year there shall be a consecration of legionaries to Our Lady. The consecration - which shall comprise both an individual and a collective consecration - will take place on the 25 March or on a day close thereto, and will be known as the Acies.

The Latin word, meaning as it does an army ranged in battle array, is appropriate to a ceremony in which the legionaries as a body assemble to renew their fealty to Mary, Queen of the Legion, and from her to receive strength and blessing for yet another year's battle with the forces of evil.

Mass fits the bill.

It's Super Priest!

H/t - The Crescat...

24 March 2010


has an inspiring blog over on Love Undefiled titled 'Finding and sustaining good catechesis' which you can read here. It has, perhaps, caught my attention since I'm giving a talk on the Gospel according to St Luke this evening at the inaugural meeting of the catechists association. Please pray for its success (the association, not my talk). As a foretaste of Robert's post, here is a passage:

The twentieth century saw the proliferation of new ecclesial communities, born and nourished out of the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Many of these communities have seen the close collaboration and commitment of both clergy and lay people to create new faith communities. Priests and lay people have worked together to provide a new springtime in the Church, fostering new universities, cultural centres and educational initiatives. Yet few of these new ecclesial communities have ever flourished in England and Wales. At present, the Church in England and Wales has 7 seminaries in 3 countries for a small number of seminarians training for Priesthood. These seminaries would be full with the provision of clear and articulate catechesis, nourished by a stronger Catholic identity and sense of spirituality. The collaboration of priests, seminarians and lay people in creating a new culture of catechesis will help found a clearer Catholic identity in an age of secularism and doubt. Resources spent on training lay people to learn more about their faith will ultimately pay multiple dividends and continue to do so in future generations. The role of the Priest is indispensible in the Catholic Church, but Newman's vision of a well formed laity is also essential to the provision of a Catechesis that will help pass on faith to future generations.

22 March 2010

St Nicholas Owen and Harvington Hall

On 22nd March we remember St Nicholas Owen, the Jesuit who was martyred at the start of the 17th Century. Nicholas Owen is remembered, other than his martyrdom, for his outstanding skills at building priest-holes. One such home to come under his craftsmanship was Harvington Hall, located within the archdiocese of Birmingham. Their website, here, records:

The priest-holes were built in the time of Humphrey Pakington, when it was high treason for a Catholic priest to be in England.

The hiding places at Harvington are the finest surviving series in England, and four of them, all sited round the Great Staircase, show the trademarks of the master builder of such places, Nicholas Owen, who was at work from 1588 onwards.

Owen was servant to Fr Henry Garnet, the Jesuit superior in England, who during the 1590s built up a network of houses throughout the country to which incoming priests could be directed and where they could find disguises, chapels and priest holes. The centre of this operation for Worcestershire and the Welsh Marches was Hindlip House, the home of Humphrey's friend Thomas Habington, where the Jesuit Edward Oldcorne arrived in 1590. It was there that Garnet, Owen and Oldcorne were all captured in 1606, just after the Gunpowder Plot. Owen was starved out of one of his own hides on the fourth day of a twelve day search, during which he and a companion, Ralph Ashley, had nothing to eat but one apple between them. He died under torture in the Tower; Garnet, Oldcorne and Ashley were all hanged, drawn and quartered. Although Hindlip was demolished in 1814, descriptions of the hides there show a striking similarity to those that survive at Harvington. That is unlikely to be an accident.

I'm told that they do excellent homemade cakes at Harvington, though I have yet to taste any. Over the years it's been my pleasure to visit Harvington on not less that four occasions. Each visit the baker has, sadly, not been present. Ah, it was ever such. Pray one day I may get to enjoy the cakes, but meanwhile I remain satisfied to have witnessed to Nichols Owen's great skill.

I was amused to read of the connection with Blessed Edward Oldcorne and Nicholas Owen: It is my understanding that a certain priest who ministers, from time to time, at a school under the patronage of Oldcorne was stuck, recently, in one of Owen's priest-holes at Harvington. It seems we priests are growing in girth if not sanctity! I can testify, however, that my learned colleague is most certainly diminishing in girth through his Lenten observance, and undoubtedly flourishing in sanctity at the same time.

What an heroic saint for our times. St Nicholas Owen - pray for us.

Da chwardd

Now it is not certain but the title to this post should read 'A Good Laugh'. Rather than use the services of a Swansea local authority man, I used the 'free online English to Welsh translator' available here.

The BBC are reporting the above sign, which has been translated from English to Welsh but following a mix up the sign is incorrect. As they say: The English is clear enough to lorry drivers - but the Welsh reads "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

Also amusing was the line:

• In 2006, a shared-faith school in Wrexham removed a sign which translated the Welsh for staff as "wooden stave".

I was wondering if this applied to all the wooden staves regardless of personal faith?

There are several Welsh speakers who read this blog. Is it correct to talk of Da chwardd?

21 March 2010

Congratulations Gary

H/t to Fr Peter and many congratulation to Gary Buckby on his ordination to the Diaconate, today.

God bless you, Gary.

20 March 2010

Pope to the Victims of Abuse

As a sign of my deep concern I have written a Pastoral Letter dealing with this painful situation. I will sign it on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family and Patron of the universal Church, and send it soon after. I ask all of you to read it for yourselves, with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal.

To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

19 March 2010

Ven. John Henry Card. Newman

Peter Jennings reports on the press conference held at St Chad's in Birmingham in regard to the Pope coming to beatify Newman. Peter writes:

Local flavour and colour, but not specific detail about the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Midlands was given during a relaxed 45-minute press conference, chaired by Peter Jennings, Press Secretary to Archbishop Bernard Longley and the Archdiocese of Birmingham, at Cathedral House, Birmingham, on Friday 19 March, the Feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church.

I'm not sure what exactly the 'local flavour and colour' is, but he does report:

An estimated 250,000 pilgrims and more than 4,000 members of the media from all over the world are likely to attend the two-hour ceremony that will be followed by Pope Benedict XVI reciting the Angelus, as he does in public every Sunday at noon.

They will be expecting something, so I guess we better start flavouring and colouring!

More on the Papal Visit website here.

You can also see the press interest here from Central News, including Fr Tim, the PP where the Pope will visit. Watch from about 14 minutes into the program.

Midlands Today are running it in their news broadcast, here, and you can see from approximately 13 minutes into the show.

What do priests do all day?

Some really good photographs of a chaplain on The Crescat... weblog. Go check 'em out. If you have a little look around at the Lenten art blogs, too, you'll find one or two of Caravaggio's work.

Happy Feast

Wishing everyone the very best of the feast day in honour of St Joseph.
Patron of the Universal Church.
Ensure you have a great feast and a respite in this penitential season.
Enjoy whatever you do.

Given the difficulties the Church is currently facing, not least in these Islands, perhaps you will enjoin the following:

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son.

18 March 2010

Picture Post

Thank you to godzdogz for this great picture. I'm thinking "Pope supports British Army on surprise visit to forces overseas".

17 March 2010

St Patrick

Happy St Patrick's Day to all of our Irish readers, all those with Irish blood and, of course, all those who are named after the great saint. Patrick's trinitarian contribuition is so important to us, and here are two short paragraph's from website's:

According to legend, Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain about God. The shamrock, which looks like clover, has three leaves on each stem. Saint Patrick told the people that the shamrock was like the idea of the Trinity – that in the one God there are three divine beings: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so Saint Patrick’s use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise.

Legend has it that St. Patrick was responsible for ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes; but more importantly, it is said that Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol to explain the Trinity to Unbelievers, i.e., how God is One God in Three Persons. Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge his hearers, "Is it one leaf or three?" "It is both one leaf and three," was their reply. "And so it is with God," he would conclude. Of course, doctrines such as the Trinity or the Divinity of Jesus Christ can only be received by willing hearts, who have committed themselves to obey whatever the Spirit reveals from the Scriptures. St. Patrick, no doubt, was careful not to confuse pagan idolaters with the idea of Polytheism, i.e., the false notion that there are many separate gods; but, his dependence upon the Holy Spirit to give him the illustration of the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity, gave him success in preaching the Gospel. Thank God for the testimony of Patrick of Ireland!

16 March 2010

It's official - the Pope's coming to town...

The news is all over the place, of course, but nonetheless it's exciting to know His Holiness is going to come say hello. Find out more on the website that is dedicated to the visit, here.

Official Preparation Prayer

God of truth and love,
your Son, Jesus Christ, stands as the light
to all who seek you with a sincere heart.
As we strive with your grace
to be faithful in word and deed,
may we reflect the kindly light of Christ
and offer a witness of hope and peace to all.
We pray for Pope Benedict
and look forward with joy
to his forthcoming visit to our countries.
May he be a witness to the unity and hope
which is your will for all people.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.

Our Lady, Mother of the Church — pray for us.
St Andrew — pray for us.
St George — pray for us.
St David — pray for us.

A picture paints ...

15 March 2010

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI is a scholar and a statesman. As a gifted academic, he has written many books pointing people towards the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith and towards an encounter with Christ. As a Bishop he has been a guardian of the flock entrusted to his care with diligence, prudence and loving concern. As Pope, he has produced wonderful writings on love, hope and truth, travelled around the world despite his age and health. He has shown countless acts of charity towards thousands of people, carried his ministry out to the greatest degree of professionalism and continues to teach and preach the Gospel. This is why I think he is a remarkable man. Despite the many attempts to blight his ministry, he continues to serve. Viva el papa!

Just in recent days I have been quite saddened and traumatised, not that I want to over dramatise my feelings, about the net which seems to be encircling Pope Benedict. Specifically, I am talking about the whole issue of allegations of sex abuse emerging in the German Church and it seemed almost inevitable that journalists would seek to find the smoking gun indicating Cardinal Ratzinger in some way.

Now the issue, for me at any rate, is not that I think the Pope is above such allegations/investigations, rather it highlights the devastating and sickening effects which occur as a result of not only the abuse but also the failure to allow the light of Christ to shine into the darkest of corners. It occurs to me, as it no doubt has to many before me, that we simply have to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the hour of our need and be open to to His prompting. Sometimes that means it is uncomfortable. Pope Benedict himself encouraged the German Bishops to "continue with consistency on the path undertaken to obtain complete and rapid clarity", because he clearly has faith in the love of God.

The words in the opening paragraph, from Robert Colquhoun on Love Undefiled, offer some hope in this difficult hour.


Related Posts with Thumbnails