Loiola XXI

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Editorial de National catholic reporter: qué hacer en adelante sobre la pederastia en la iglesia

Editorial: It’s time to choose the painful path of purification

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People light candles during an Aug. 20 vigil to protest sexual abuse in the Chilean Catholic church outside the Santiago cathedral. (CNS/Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

The Catholic community has arrived at a point in its history so seared by raw reality that we are all left with nothing to lean against or hide behind. Our leaders, drained of authority and credibility, can only follow as we move beyond overburdened expressions, beyond even the content of our normal prayers. We grasp for some new psalm of lamentation to fit this horrid moment and search for a new way to live as a Catholic community.

The scandal of children sexually abused by priests whose acts were covered up by bishops has been in the public eye in gruesome detail for more than 30 years. The Pennsylvania grand jury report, for instance, was not the first nor was it worse in detail than others were. Why it should spark the public conscience and the outrage of Catholics as it has doesn’t matter. A new moment is upon us.

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The papacy of Francis, so promising of needed reform, stands at an inflection point. Either he handles this crisis with effective, wide-ranging and concrete actions, or his tenure will go down as a disappointing failure.

Most important, the current moment must lead to a radical reform of Catholic clerical culture and the meaning of ordination itself. If we cannot begin this challenging work, we should at least have the honesty to say that a monstrous evil has prevailed and that we no longer understand what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ.

Change must come from the top. In the United States, it must be initiated by the nation’s Conference of Catholic Bishops. Globally, we look to Pope Francis, whose humble example and goodness have changed the culture of the papacy in dramatic ways, to acknowledge the precipice and guide us as a united church away from it.

We do appreciate, as well as any on the outside can, the difficulties and dangers Francis faces. Powerful forces in the church have been trying to sabotage his papacy from the earliest days. The latest came in the form of a letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a disgruntled former nuncio to the United States. His correspondence is disjointed and riddled with inaccuracies and unsubstantiated allegations that Francis knew about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians and children years ago.

The gloves are clearly off, the internecine fighting has gone public and the enemies of Francis are, without conscience or nuance, seizing this moment of turmoil as an opportunity to undermine his papacy. We question whether their commitment to keep children safe is genuine and worry that the noise surrounding Viganò’s letter will serve only to distract from real and necessary reform.

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Cartoonist Joe Heller depicts the more than 1,000 people who say they were abused by some 301 priests in Pennsylvania, many whom are now dead. (CNS/Joe Heller)

‘The playbook’

Reporting on the crisis appeared in these pages in 1985, and here and in other publications for 17 years before the upheaval in Boston galvanized public attention. The U.S. bishops dismissed multiple serious and detailed warnings. Early on, they opted for what has become known as “the playbook”: engaging a legal strategy that often sought to intimidate victims, paid huge sums for silence and hid the crimes of their priests. They regularly transferred sick and dangerous clerics to other parishes, dioceses and even to other countries without disclosing the potential for problems. Their sense of pastoral responsibility was narrowed to the interests of the clergy and the reputation of the clerical culture.

The history is significant because any path into the future must consider the mistakes of the past. It must be acknowledged that the emergence of the sex abuse crisis spanned most of the reign of St. Pope John Paul II. Revelations of abuse and cover-up accumulated almost monthly during his long pontificate, and he provided the model for the hierarchy’s approach to the growing scandal. Not once did he meet with victims. While decrying abuse, he did nothing to require accountability from his bishops, most of whom he appointed. He refused to listen to the few who dared warn him.

One of John Paul’s examples of “heroic priesthood” was Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, who molested youngsters in his schools and fathered at least two children by different women. John Paul, who once referred to Maciel as “an efficacious guide to youth,” blocked adjudication of a case against the notorious pedophile. He repeatedly ignored detailed and persuasive accounts from accomplished men who had left the order because of Maciel’s abuse.

Given the ethos of the current era, John Paul would be a certain target for discipline. There is clearly a danger in rushing someone to sainthood.

Church leaders have been slow to acknowledge the implications of the failure of the clerical culture, that clubby, secretive, all-male construct whose members often exercised extreme control over the lives of the faithful. It is beyond time to do a deep examination of the damning record, and John Paul II stands in the middle of it.

Steps toward reform

The fact is that Francis is the first pope to aggressively sanction credibly accused bishops and to apologize for failing to believe and act in Chile before he decided to seek mass resignations and meet with Chilean victims on their terms. Now he must continue to buck the headwinds, first by making the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors a priority in the Vatican.

While progress has been reported among the individual working groups of the commission, the body still has no teeth. At the very least, the pope must insist that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith respect and work with the requests that come out of the sex abuse commission so that it not only asks questions but also is able to issue workable recommendations.

In addition, Francis needs to institute a new dicastery to deal with clergy sex abuse in all of its forms and manifestations, including bishops who cover up the evil. Such an agency must engage outside experts of significant enough stature and accomplishment that they will withstand pressures from other elements of the Curia to compromise their work.

The church also needs a blue-ribbon international group of experts charged with investigating, across a range of disciplines, the clergy culture, how it developed to this stage and what changes are necessary. This has to be an exhaustive study of the growth of the culture, of seminaries and formation programs, and all of the encrustations and presumptions of privilege and power that have accrued over centuries. In order to understand what needs to change in the future, the church must understand how the clergy culture arrived at a point where its leaders could turn their backs on children who had been sexually savaged to protect their predators and the culture they inhabit.

The enemies of Francis are, without conscience or nuance, seizing this moment of turmoil as an opportunity to undermine his papacy. We question their commitment to keep children safe.

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While the crime of sex abuse knows no international boundaries, the current crisis is — once again — centered in the United States. McCarrick was a top prelate in this nation. The Pennsylvania grand jury investigated six U.S. dioceses. And Viganò chose to express his revenge through two conservative news outlets based in the United States.

Therefore, the U.S. church is ground zero in this war and it is up to the leaders of that church to step forward and take control of the brain bleed before it does irreparable damage.

First and foremost, we call for a national inquiry into every diocese across the 50 states. This investigation must be led by a body that is independent of the church and includes a strong representation of laity, especially women, and non-Catholics. We in this church need, finally, a full and national accounting of what has happened and who was responsible — for any crime and any cover-up — in at least the last century.

We also call on the U.S. bishops to mandate that every diocese make public a list of credibly accused priests and deacons and their parish assignments. It’s time for this level of transparency so that all parishioners can start to regain a trust in their faith institution.

Moreover, we want to see the abolition of confidentiality agreements that force the silence of sex abuse victims. That means dissolving the non-disclosure agreements already in place, unless, for some reason, victims ask to keep them in place.

Finally, we urge the bishops, the leaders of this church, to refuse and refute the argument rising from those who claim that homosexuality in the priesthood is at the root of the sex abuse problem. The fact — and studies have established the fact — is that the assault of children within the church structure is no more the product of gay culture than the assault of children within families, where most of it occurs, is a product of heterosexual culture. The problem is a sickness, and the most egregious offense to the Catholic community was the bishops’ deliberate strategy to cover up these unfathomable crimes.

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Catholic school teachers in Washington protest against Cardinal Donald Wuerl at a back-to-school Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Aug. 28. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Telling the whole truth

The path to purification will be painful and embarrassing, but the culture must begin the process of reform quickly and in earnest. If there is any substance behind the recent spate of episcopal apologies and remorse for this “moral catastrophe,” they will finally begin an orderly process of truth-telling, something this page has urged for decades.

Rather than wait for the inevitable next round of shocking revelations, bishops should appoint respected legal and law-enforcement experts to comb the files and make complete, dispassionate disclosure of the abuse that has occurred and the money that has been spent over decades to buy victims’ silence. Telling the whole truth is the essential first step in any attempt to restore trust.

We corporately stand at the point of decision one always faces when acknowledging consequential and, in this case, public sin: Do we move into the pain of purification or do we continue to feint and equivocate, living in constant fear of the next revelation?

Choosing the path of purification will lead us to the deepest part of the sacramental life we claim is the reality that binds us. It will lead us through the heart of the Gospel where we meet the Jesus of infinite mercy and forgiveness. But first, the examination and the confession of the truth.

We know how to do this.

This story appeared in the Sept 7-20, 2018 print issue under the headline: Let us choose painful path of purification .


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Campaña de National Catholic reporter, semanario USA

Dear Reader,

I remember well the decision to hold NCR’s first webathon. I was on the phone with our then-publisher and editor-in-chief Joe Feuerherd. Phone calls with Joe were the conversational equivalent of a double espresso: He would throw out a dozen ideas in as many minutes. That morning, we were strategizing about NCR’s website, which was still pretty new, and fretting about the costs associated with it. We decided to try a webathon, and if memory serves, the fundraising goal was pulled out of thin air.

I remember one other thing about that first webathon: NCR’s readers were so generous we blew past our goal by a considerable margin.

This year, the webathon has been rechristened the Spring Fund Drive, but the impulse remains the same: We need your help. Many, many people read NCR on the web, but they don’t pay for it. All of our web content is free, and it always has been. We are determined to try and avoid the pay walls other sites have set up to help defray the expense of running a news website. We again turn to you, our generous readers, to help pay for the content you came to the site looking for this very day.

Like most jobs related to the Catholic Church, we journalists do not come to our vocation to get rich. Your gifts are used to make sure Joshua J. McElwee is on the papal plane, to send Heidi Schlumpf and me to the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to afford the subscriptions to other news and news photo services, to run the server and keep the lights on at our home office.

This year, we have a new way for you to help: Become an NCR member. We have launched a membership model in the hopes of building a long-term relationship with many donors, to stabilize NCR’s financial future in a fast-changing and very competitive media environment.

Last year, I moved back to Connecticut. In 2004, I lived in Connecticut for eight months working on a campaign. There were two great local newspapers in our district that have since been bought out by chains, and they are great no more. I don’t imagine that NCR would be bought by a chain, but those once-great newspapers were sold because they could no longer survive on their own. Don’t let that happen to NCR.

One of the great things about being back in Connecticut is I get to bring out-of-town guests on a tour of the Mark Twain House. In the foyer of the information center they have a large picture of the great one with the quote, “a pen warmed-up in Hell.” It is a phrase to inspire a columnist, no? So, if you enjoyed my blistering review of Ross Douthat’s book, or my takedown last week of House Speaker Paul Ryan, or my jousts with the Francis-haters, we need you to become a member so that NCR will always be able to publish those columns written with a pen warmed-up in Hell. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Michael Sean Winters
Political Columnist


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Francisco y la causa de la paz, por Thomas Reese.

paz

National Catholic Reporter

Francis the peacemaker
Thomas Reese  |  Jan. 31, 2014Faith and Justice
Much attention has been given to the pope’s concern for the poor, which was reflected in his choice of Francis as his papal name. But as Pope Francis explained to journaliststhree days after his election, he also chose the name Francis because St. Francis of Assisi is “the man of peace. … He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace.”
What kind of peacemaker will Pope Francis be?First, we must acknowledge that Pope Francis comes to the international stage with no training and little experience. He was educated as a chemist before entering the seminary, where his training was heavy on literature, philosophy and theology.But to think of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as a hick totally ignorant of the world outside Argentina would be a mistake. As a Jesuit, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and especially as a cardinal, he traveled to international meetings where he met people of different cultures and political circumstances. He listened and learned. Living and working in Argentina under Juan Perón, a military dictatorship, the Guerra de las Malvinas (aka the Falkland War), and Argentina’s transition to democracy was also an education in itself.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio frequently spoke about capitalism and globalization, but not issues of war and peace. Although Rabbi Abraham Skorka wrote at length about the Arab-Israeli conflict in the book he and Bergoglio wrote, On Heaven and Earth, Bergoglio stuck to generalities. “War must never be the path to resolution” of conflicts, he said. He encouraged putting oneself in another’s place to see things from their perspective. Rather than seeking agreement on everything, he proposed “that we walk together in a reconciled diversity.”

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Yet now that he is pope, Pope Francis is thrust on the international stage. He has already met with presidents and prime ministers. He will meet with President Barack Obama on March 27 and will make a trip to the Middle East in May.

As a novice diplomat, Pope Francis has so far made all the right moves. To help him on international issues, he appointed an experienced Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, as secretary of state. The Vatican secretary of state, who is more like a prime minister than a foreign minister, is the pope’s closest collaborator in dealing with governments. He and the pope are assisted by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican foreign minister, who heads a foreign office and a trained diplomatic corps in nunciatures or embassies in almost every country in the world.

While other parts of the Vatican Curia have routinely come under criticism, the Vatican foreign service is judged by other diplomats to be highly competent in its relations with states. (Its role in the selection of bishops is separate question).

New to the field of international relations, Pope Francis can rely heavily on these diplomats for prudent and expert advice. He can also stick to long-established policies of the Holy See on international issues. During the 20th century, for example, it was a strong supporter of the League of Nations, the United Nations, and other multinational efforts for peace.

How has this worked out in his first 10 months in office?

One of Francis’ first international initiatives was his opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria. This should not have surprised anyone because both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI opposed U.S. military intervention in Iraq. But Francis added his own special flair to his opposition by calling in September for a day of prayer and fasting for peace. Under pressure from home and abroad, Obama backed away from direct military intervention.

The pope’s concern reaches out to countries around the world where there is conflict and large numbers of refugees. He has spoken out for reconciliation and peace in Mali, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Iraq, Korea, Ukraine, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and the Holy Land.

Evangelii Gaudium

Granted his concern for the poor and his negative view of libertarian capitalism, it is not surprising that the pope sees justice and peace going hand in hand. In his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis laid out his belief that one of the principal causes of violence is inequality:

  • “Until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence.”
  • “Without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.”
  • When a society — whether local, national or global — is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility.”
  • “Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve.”

In short, unless we deal with inequality, Francis believes violence will keep recurring, no matter how much military might we use trying to suppress it.

World Day of Peace message

At the beginning of each year, the pope has two opportunities to lay out his vision for international peace, first in his message for the World Day of Peace (Jan. 1) and then in his talk to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See in Rome.

Many American women groaned when they saw the title of the pope’s World Day of Peace message: “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace.” For all the expertise the Vatican has on international issues, it is a male-dominated organization with little sensitivity to the things that will set off contemporary women. ” ‘Fraternity’ is not only noninclusive, it underscores ‘the old boys club,’ ” says Sr. Mary Ann Hinsdale, associate professor of theology at Boston College. “This is not trivial.”

But once we get beyond the word “fraternity,” we see the document’s emphasis on the need for “fellowship with others” that “enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.” This is the foundation for peace and a prerequisite for fighting poverty. On the other hand, a globalization of indifference “makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.”

He appeals to those “who sow violence and death by force of arms” to see the other not as an enemy to be beaten but as a brother or sister. “Nevertheless, as long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities,” he writes. “For this reason, I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non-proliferation of arms and for disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament.”

But international agreements and laws, while necessary and desirable, are not sufficient to bring peace. “A conversion of hearts is needed which would permit everyone to recognize in the other a brother or sister to care for, and to work together with, in building a fulfilling life for all.” Centuries-long antagonisms based on tribal and religious differences will not disappear because of a treaty or aid program. Conversion of hearts is essential. This requires dialogue aimed at mutual understanding and respect.

Talk to diplomats

Finally, in his Jan. 13 address to diplomats in Rome, he decried “the scenes of destruction and death which we have witnessed in the past year … How much pain and desperation are caused by self-centeredness which gradually takes the form of envy, selfishness, competition and the thirst for power and money!”

In a sweeping review of trouble spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he noted:

  • “Ongoing political problems in Lebanon, where a climate of renewed cooperation between the different components of civil society and the political powers is essential for avoiding the further hostilities which would undermine the stability of the country.”
  • “Egypt, with its need to regain social harmony.”
  • “Iraq, which struggles to attain the peace and stability for which it hopes.”
  • “The exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa.”
  • Nigeria, where “violence persists, and much innocent blood continues to be spilt.”
  • “The Central African Republic, where much suffering has been caused as a result of the country’s tensions, which have frequently led to devastation and death.”
  • Refugees “from famine, violence and oppression, particularly in the Horn of Africa and in the Great Lakes Region.”
  • The Korean peninsula, on which “I wish to implore from God the gift of reconciliation.”
  • Asia, “where growing attitudes of prejudice, for allegedly religious reasons, are tending to deprive Christians of their liberties and to jeopardize civil coexistence.”

Despite this, he believes that “the final, definitive word belongs to the Prince of Peace, who changes ‘swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks’ (cf. Is 2:4), transforming selfishness into self-giving and revenge into forgiveness.”

Francis sees a robust role for the international community in building peace. He endorsed the Geneva II conference on Syria and negotiations between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — on the nuclear issue. He called for respect for humanitarian law. “It is unacceptable that unarmed civilians, especially children, become targets,” he said. “I also encourage all parties to promote and ensure in every way possible the provision of urgently-needed aid” to refugees and at-risk populations.

He sees threats to peace in many parts of the world, but “everywhere, the way to resolve open questions must be that of diplomacy and dialogue.” Quoting Pope Benedict XV from 100 years ago during World War I, Francis urged leaders to make “the moral force of law” prevail over the “material force of arms” in order to end “needless carnage.”

What is needed, he said, is courage “to go beyond the surface of the conflict” and to consider others in their deepest dignity so unity will prevail over conflict and it will be “possible to build communion amid disagreement.”

Looking back to the enthusiasm of World Youth Day in Brazil, Francis saw hope in the young. What is needed, he said, “is a shared commitment to favoring a culture of encounter, for only those able to reach out to others are capable of bearing fruit, creating bonds of communion, radiating joy and being peacemakers.”

“Christians are called to give witness to God’s love and mercy,” he said. “We must never cease to do good, even when it is difficult and demanding, and when we endure acts of intolerance if not genuine persecution.” He promised that the “Catholic Church will continue to assure her presence and cooperation, working generously to help people in every possible way and, above all, to rebuild a climate of reconciliation and of peace among all groups in society.”

“How many divisions does the pope have?” asked a cynical Josef Stalin. The pope cannot use the Swiss Guard to enforce his foreign policy goals. Nor does he have other instruments of foreign policy: foreign aid, trade and investments. But he does have a bully pulpit and a vision for peace and reconciliation. If the world is willing to listen, progress can be made on the difficult project of building peace.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address istreesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

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