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Pope Francis admits mistake in approving lenient sanctions against priest abuser

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of “zero tolerance” toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis address the commission this week and called Cardinal O’Malley a “prophet” in the church who has come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.(CNS /Paul Haring)

Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon.

“Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness,” he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.

Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.

The Catholic Church has been “late” in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to “swim against the tide” because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.

“When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late,” he said. “I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late.”

“Perhaps,” he said, “the old practice of moving people” from one place to another and not fully facing the problem “lulled consciences to sleep.”

But, he said, “prophets in the church,” including Cardinal O’Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.

Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added.

Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are “grave” and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem, it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested.

However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the “many cases that do not proceed” with the backlog.

Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese.

He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor “is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse” for an appeal. “If there is proof. End of story,” the pope said; the sentence “is definitive.”

And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator.

The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from “a sickness.”

The pope told the commission he has been learning “on the job” better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended.

Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned “it’s a terrible sickness: that requires a different approach.

     

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

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Vatican commission launches child protection website

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VATICAN CITY — The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has launched a beta version of its website in English and has included its template for local guidelines on preventing sexual abuse, resources for a day of prayer for the victims and survivors as well as a mailing address to contact commission members.

The website — www.protectionofminors.va — eventually will include versions in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French, the commission said in a statement Dec. 6.

Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals identified the protection of children and young adults as one of the church’s priority needs and suggested in December 2013 that he create a commission to advise him and assist dioceses and religious orders around the world in drawing up guidelines, handling accusations and ministering to victims and survivors.

Pope Francis named the first members three months later and appointed as president Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

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Cardinal O’Malley urges Senate to defund Planned Parenthood

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WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee Aug. 3 urged U.S. senators to take the federal money that goes to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and instead fund women’s health care providers that do not promote abortion.

“It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation’s largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year,” said Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley (CNS file?Reuters) (

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley (CNS file?Reuters) (

“This concern has rightly grown in recent years,” he wrote in a letter to the senators.

“The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more intact organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans,” he said.

The cardinal is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

He urged senators to support S. 1881, a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. His letter followed the release in mid-July of videos of the organization’s officials filmed undercover by a nonprofit California-based organization called the Center for Medical Progress.

In two videos, top Planned Parenthood physicians describe how abortions are carried out to best salvage fetal tissue and organs for researchers and described a range of prices paid for different body parts.

A third video was of an interview with a technician talking about harvesting fetal body parts and included graphic footage. A fourth video was about to be released until Los Angeles Superior Court July 28 issued an order blocking its release.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million of its $1.3 billion annual budget from federal and state programs. According to 2013 data, the latest available, Planned Parenthood says abortions represent 3 percent of the total services its facilities provide.

On Capitol Hill, a number of Republicans in the House and Senate have called for an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Several states also have launched investigations into the organization.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement said that “allegations that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true.” She later apologized for “the tone” the physicians used in describing abortion procedures and also argued the videos had been heavily edited to distort the truth.

In his letter, Cardinal O’Malley added: “The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

It was reported that Senate Democrats voted to block S. 1881 on Aug. 3 but that Republicans plan introduce a motion to reconsider it in September.

 

 

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Pope OKs plan to investigate, judge bishops who fail to act on abuse

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved new procedures for the Vatican to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse.

The procedures will include a new “judicial section” within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that has a papal mandate to “judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors,” the Vatican said in a written statement June 10.

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The announcement came at the end of a series of consultations the pope had with his international Council of Cardinals, which met at the Vatican June 8-10.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, a member of the so-called C9 group of cardinal advisers and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, presented to the council and the pope a number of proposals for greater accountability of bishops in dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse.

Originally prepared by the protection commission, the proposals were later expanded and given unanimous approval by the Council of Cardinals and the pope June 8, the Vatican said.

While the Code of Canon Law already stipulates that bishops hold certain responsibilities, there had been no permanent system or trained staff to deal with reporting, evaluating and judging claims that a bishop had failed to fulfill his responsibilities linked to handling suspected and known cases of sex abuse, said a source familiar with the discussion.

Previously, the Congregation of Bishops would send out a different ad hoc group to investigate each case, the source added.

Now a specific “procedure is defined for how to deal with these cases,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

The new process also means people who want to make a claim, and anyone can do so, will know more clearly whom to go to if a serious crime of negligence is suspected, the source told Catholic News Service.

Cardinal O’Malley gave the council and Pope Francis a full report about the proposed procedures, but the Vatican released only a list of the “five specific proposals made to the Holy Father,” which subsequently received his full approval and can be considered to have gone into effect.

The Vatican statement said the three Curia offices that have oversight of the world’s bishops, the congregations for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples and for Eastern Churches, were now authorized “to receive and investigate complaints of the episcopal abuse of office.”

“There is the duty to report all complaints to the appropriate congregation,” it said.

The pope mandated the doctrinal congregation be in charge of judicial procedures regarding charges of “abuse of office” and that it establish a special section with the proper staff and resources to carry out its work.

The pope was to appoint a secretary of the new judicial section and to authorize the appointment of the personnel needed for “penal processes regarding the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy.”

The pope still would have to approve the removal of a bishop from office if he was found by the tribunal to have been negligent in his duties, Father Lombardi said.

The new procedures will be reviewed in five years and may be amended, the statement said.

 

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Sex abuse panel members discuss Chilean bishop’s appointment with cardinal

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Four lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met with one of Pope Francis’ top cardinal advisers at the Vatican April 12 to voice their concerns about the appointment of a Chilean bishop, accused of covering up for an abusive priest.

The four said in a written statement the same day that Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who is also the protection commission’s president, “agreed to present their concerns to the Holy Father” about the nomination of Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno, Chile.

The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was known to have committed sexual abuse. Bishop Barros, however, denied having had knowledge of Father Fernando Karadima’s criminal behavior, prior to news about the abuse in the press.

Commission member Marie Collins from Ireland expressed her satisfaction with their discussion at the Vatican, posting on her Twitter feed April 13 that she was “heading home after a good meeting” with Cardinal O’Malley.

The three other members of the 17-person commission at the 30-minute meeting included Peter Saunders, Dr. Catherine Bonnet and Baroness Sheila Hollins. Collins and Saunders are both survivors of clerical sex abuse.

“Although we are not charged with dealing with individual cases, the protection of minors is our primary concern,” the four members said in their statement. “The process of appointing bishops who are committed to and have an understanding of child protection is of paramount importance.”

Bishops, they said, must be able to “enact effective policies” on sex abuse and “carefully monitor compliance.”

The commission members had scheduled their meeting with Cardinal O’Malley to coincide with his arrival in Rome for another weeklong session of the nine-member Council of Cardinals, set to start April 13.

 

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Senate blocks bill that aimed at reversing Hobby Lobby ruling

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A woman walks toward a Hobby Lobby store in Phoenix. CNS/Nancy Wiechec

A woman walks toward a Hobby Lobby store in Phoenix. CNS/Nancy Wiechec

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate July 16 voted to block consideration of a bill aimed at reversing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and forcing businesses to provide contraceptive coverage for employees even if they object to it on religious grounds.

Known as the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014,” or S. 2578, the measure was co-written by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado. Murray introduced the bill July 9. The 56-43 vote fell four short of the 60 needed to move ahead on the bill.

“While the outcome of today’s vote is a relief, it is sobering to think that more than half the members of the U.S. Senate, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, would vote for a bill whose purpose is to reduce the religious freedom of their fellow Americans,” said Jayd Henricks, director of government relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We need more respect for religious freedom in our nation, not less,” he said in a statement.

In a July 14 letter to U.S. senators, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, chairman of the Committee on Pro-life Activities, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, urged the lawmakers to oppose the measure.

They said it had the potential to affect “all existing federal protections of conscience and religious freedom” when it comes to health care mandates, telling senators: “Though cast as a response to the Supreme Court’s narrow decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the bill ranges far beyond that decision. … We oppose the bill and urge you to reject it.”

On June 30, the Supreme Court, citing the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, ruled that closely held for-profit companies cannot be forced to abide by the federal Health and Human Service’s mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, elective sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees free of charge if the individual or families that own these businesses have religious objections to the mandate.

Murray and Udall said their bill was “consistent with congressional intent” in RFRA, but Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori said that the measure’s “operative provisions explicitly forbid application if RFRA whenever the federal government wishes to override the religious freedom rights of Americans regarding health coverage.”

After the July 16 vote, Udall said the Democratic Party would continue to contest a ruling that says “a boss’ beliefs can supersede a woman’s rights to health care benefits that she has earned.”

S. 2578 would have kept in place the Obama administration’s exemption from the HHS mandate for houses of worship and some other employers who fit its criteria for that exemption. It also would have kept intact the accommodation for nonexempt employers.

Under that accommodation, organizations self-certify that their religious objections entitle them to an exemption from the mandate and direct a third-party, in most cases the company that manages their health care plan, to provide the objectionable coverage.

But several Catholic and other religious employers who are not exempt and have sued over the mandate argue the exemption is too narrowly drawn and the accommodation itself still involves them in coverage they morally oppose.

In their letter, Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori wrote: “In short, the bill does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it would call that commitment into question. Nor does it show a genuine commitment to expanded health coverage, as it would pressure many Americans of faith to stop providing or purchasing health coverage altogether.”

A companion bill was introduced in the House July 9 by Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise Slaughter and Jerry Nadler, who are both from New York. As of July 17, no vote on the measure had been scheduled yet.

 

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Q&A: Cardinal O’Malley calls pope’s impact on church ‘amazing”

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Catholic News Service

BOSTON — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley spoke to The Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper, March 4 about the impact Pope Francis has had on the Catholic Church and the world since his March 13, 2013, election. The interview was conducted at his residence at the Cathedral the Holy Cross in Boston.

Q: How would you characterize the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate?

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley gestures during a March 4 interview at his residence, the rectory of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Cardinal O’Malley said with his “refreshing style” and accessibility, Pope Francis’ impact on the world is “amazing.” (CNS photo/Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot)

A: For many people it has been a year of surprises. The Holy Father has such a refreshing style and a desire to be close to people and accessible. He is even accessible in the way he expresses himself. He has made quite an impact on the world. I don’t remember any other pope whose daily homily was followed so assiduously by so many around the globe. Before, we used to think that the Holy Father’s travel and linguistic abilities were the way he communicated, but this man communicates without leaving home and without saying anything except in Italian. It is amazing.

Q: You recently saw Pope Benedict at the Feb. 22 consistory. A year ago, the whole world was wondering what it would be like to have two living popes. What were your thoughts at the time, and what do think now?

A: It is the same as having a bishop emeritus in the diocese. It is a delicate position; the retired bishop cannot interfere, but he can be supportive and helpful. Obviously, I think that is what we are experiencing with Pope Benedict, who has publicly said that his task is going to be to pray for the church and he is leading a very contemplative existence. And yet, he is still alive and it is wonderful when he participates in some of these more public events; just as in any diocese when the former bishop is invited back to be present for the chrism Mass or some other diocesan celebration.

Q: Some are describing this papacy as a kind of break with the past, rather than continuity with a different style. How would you describe this papacy compared to the previous papacies?

A: In my lifetime every papacy has been very different from the one that went before. As a child, it was Pius XII and he was an aristocrat, very ascetic. He sort of exuded holiness and there was a great reverence and awe about his person. But he ate alone; he was very isolated. Suddenly there comes John XXIII who was entirely different. He had a great sense of humor, he was always joking, was very close to people, came from peasant stock. Even physically, he looked so different. And then we had Paul VI who was in many ways a more modern pope. He began to travel. And then of course John Paul II whose papacy had such a profound influence on the situation in the world, changed the Iron Curtain. The Holy Father became present personally to millions and millions of Catholics. So each pope has been very, very different.

Obviously this is the first pope from Latin America. His whole pastoral experience has been much different from that of European bishops and he certainly brings a freshness and excitement to the task. But, when you look at the history of the church, we have had popes who have been so different one from another and even as I say, in modern history. Each one brings his own gifts and we have been so blessed by the presence of popes who have been holy men, very wise men, very pastoral men, and whose leadership has been a very positive thing in the life of the church. This has not always been the case in our 2000 year history, but certainly in modern history we been blessed by the popes that we have had.

Q: At last year’s consistory right before the conclave, then-Cardinal Bergoglio spoke about his views on the current state of the Catholic Church. Those themes have characterized his first year as Pope Francis. One of them was how the church needs to come out of herself and go to the peripheries, geographical and existential. Why is this emphasis important today?

A: There is always a danger of the church retreating to the sacristy and abdicating our responsibility to do precisely what Jesus tells us to do, make disciples of all nations, to leave behind the 99 and go in search of the one lost sheep. The Lord in the Gospels is always reaching out to people on the periphery; the lame, the blind, the halt, the tax collector, the prostitute, the foreigner and the Lord brings them center stage. So, the Holy Father is simply reminding us that this is what the Gospel is about, that these people on the periphery become the protagonists of Jesus’s ministry and they need to be the object of our love and our pastoral care.

Q: Another topic the pope spoke about was the danger of spiritual worldliness in the Catholic Church that may require a push for reform. How do you see that playing out now?

A: Well, the Holy Father is concerned about careerism in the church and he is constantly reminding people that the Holy Father is not a monarch surrounded by a court, but is a bishop of the community of faith and that is the perspective that he wants to communicate and for people to embrace. His decision to live at the Domus Sanctae Marthae is certainly not because the apartments in the apostolic palace are so luxurious, but because he does not want to be isolated. He wants to be part of the community and be connected to people. For him, the culture of encounter is what the church needs to be about and he is certainly modeling that for us in so many ways.

Q: Regarding that reform, you were appointed to the Holy Father’s “G-8” Council of Cardinals last April and recently returned from Rome, where you attended the third meeting of the council. Why do you think reforming the Roman Curia is such an important issue?

A: The Roman Curia is not a very large organization, but it is the only organization that the Holy Father has to help him perform his ministry. Obviously, he wants the Curia to be at the service of the universal church and to do that there needs to be greater efficiency, transparency, collaboration among the different departments, or dicasteries as they are called, and a greater focus on collegiality, involvement with bishops around the world and the local churches. I think the Holy Father feels a very strong mandate because prior to the conclave it is something the cardinals spoke about so much.

Of course, it all took place within the context of Vatileaks and all the other problems that have surfaced about the Vatican bank. These situations should never exist and the Holy Father is striving to make a Curia that will be more pastoral and will be at the service of the entire church and be able to communicate that vision and enthusiasm for the joy of the Gospel that he is always preaching about. He is also concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people in the Curia. He wants them to feel that they are there not just for a job, but they are part of a mission and that mission comes from Christ. To be able to carry it out we need to attend to our own interior life so that we have a sense of vocation and that we are being led by God’s grace to seek God’s will and to embrace it joyfully and generously in our lives.

Q: Beyond the ongoing work to reform “Pastor Bonus” (Blessed John Paul’s 1988 apostolic constitution on the structure and responsibilities of the Curia), so far two main outcomes from the group have been announced: a commission to work on child abuse prevention worldwide and the creation of a new economy secretariat to oversee Vatican finances. Can you comment on their importance?

A: The focus of the commission will be child protection. In other words, to make sure that all of the practices of the church are geared towards creating safe environments and having in place practices that will help; not just how to respond in cases of abuse, but how to avoid it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, particularly when it is something as tragic as child abuse. The Holy Father is very committed to a policy of no tolerance and is anxious to have this commission formed to be able to work with the bishops’ conferences who have been asked to develop clear guidelines and policies around this whole area of child protection. We are very edified by how many people have already volunteered to be a part of this.

Q: The other development was the creation of this new Economy Secretariat headed by Cardinal Pell….

A: I think it is very, very important. There were two commissions working very hard. The former commission of Benedict XVI that was looking at the bank and now the commission the Holy Father has had looking at the overall financial picture of the Vatican. It is a question of stewardship, of trying to make sure the church’s resources, which are limited, are used for the mission of the church, for the works of mercy, the care of the poor, for works of evangelization. We want to avoid any waste and to make sure that there is great transparency so that people have trust that when they make a donation to the church will be used for the purposes for which it has been entrusted to the church.

Cardinal Pell is an extraordinary individual; he is a man of great, great energy and vision and determination. He has been involved in many of these issues in the Holy See for a long time so he has an understanding of the challenges. It was very generous of him to be willing to sacrifice his own ministry in the Archdiocese of Sydney to come to Rome and dedicate himself to this very important work. I told the Holy Father that the job was very difficult; it requires a rugby player.

Q: One of the perceptions about this papacy is that the pope is going to change church teaching. What is your reaction to that?

A: I like the phrase that someone said, that he is not changing the lyrics but only the melody. Sometimes the church’s message was perhaps too harshly presented to people and out of context. He is trying to show us the whole context of the demands of discipleship. The whole context is in the context of God’s love and mercy and desire to accompany us and to forgive us when we fall and to help us overcome our weaknesses and to have a sense of connectedness to the Lord and to one another.

Q: But there is a widespread opinion that changes are going to take place not only on style but on substance, for instance, on the current norms for divorced and remarried Catholics. Would you comment on that perception?

A: Obviously, when it comes to the church’s teaching on the permanence of marriage, there is no way to change that. Now, the Holy Father and many people would obviously like to see a possibility for people to reconnect with the sacraments. Many of the cardinals were insistent that we must look for better ways to do annulments in a way that can be done with greater expediency. But this is certainly something that will be talked about and discussed at the upcoming synods. Regardless of whatever happens, the church’s teaching on the permanence of marriage is not something that can ever be changed.

Q: The pope has made some high profile statements on homosexuality and pro-life issues that people are seeing as a change in direction. What is your perspective on what the pope has said and on how it is being interpreted across the Catholic Church and society at large?

A: The church’s teachings, particularly when they are demanding on people’s lives, often are rejected out of hand. I think, as I said before, the Holy Father is trying to give us the context in which we live those teachings. That context is one of living God’s love and his mercy and to be instruments of mercy in the world, helping people find the strength to live a life of discipleship that cannot be lived alone but in community. The Holy Father talks about the art of accompaniment and the culture of encounter and in our culture, which is so individualistic, the demands of the Gospel of course become impossible. When a person becomes truly part of a community of faith and begins to experience the joy of the Gospel the Holy Father is always speaking about, they experience God’s love in their life; then what before seemed impossible and unreasonable suddenly becomes feasible and begins to make sense.

Q: The Holy Father’s first trip outside the Vatican was to the Italian island of Lampedusa where he spoke about the plight of immigrants. Do you think that his emphasis on immigration will have an impact on the U.S. immigration debate?

A: I hope so. The Holy Father talked about the globalization of indifference and we cannot be indifferent to human suffering. We cannot pretend that people are not trying to get into Europe and into the United States; they are trying to escape some horrific economic or political situations to be able to have a better life for their children. I remember when I was bishop in Florida, there were boats arriving, rafts really, and small boats arriving from Cuba and Haiti to Florida and after the Red Mass we were having breakfast with the governor, who was Jeb Bush at the time, and I said to him, “You know Mr. Bush, if the O’Malleys and the Bushes were in Haiti now, they’d be building a boat.”

The other thing is that, as I always say, Europe would love to have our problems. The immigrants who come here, their children will be Americans. Despite the xenophobia and some of the problems we have, we are a nation of immigrants and people do assimilate into this country and they have brought such energy and such a work ethic and family values and other wonderful things that have redounded to the strength and glory of this country. To pretend that somehow immigration is bad for us is nonsense.

Q: The pope has spoken of the church as a field hospital. What do you think is the role of the church as society becomes more secularized?

A: I see it, particularly in the United States, as moving away from being a cultural Catholicism, a tribal Catholicism where if you were Italian, Polish or Irish, you automatically received all the sacraments and went to church and so forth. And now it is becoming much more intentional, depending much more on the individual. This will mean a new kind of evangelization that will be much more focused on meeting each individual and personally inviting them and mentoring them in the life of faith. We can no longer depend on cultural background to be enough. Where that is as a starting point, that’s wonderful, but the personal conversion to the Lord and the experience of his love and grace in our lives and a sense of community is all very important. Obviously a priest cannot do this on his own. The new evangelization is going to depend very much on an army of lay people feeling responsible for their church and for them to be messengers of the good news to their families, their neighbors and the community at large.

Q: The past year has been full of very important moments. What do you anticipate moving forward?

A: It is hard to forecast but obviously the enthusiasm that the Holy Father’s simplicity, joy and accessibility has created, not just in our own Catholic community, but in the larger society, is something that I think has been helpful to the world. Even the situation in Syria where the Holy Father called for prayer and a solution was found. It was a very moving thing; we are reminded that when we all come together in faith and hope and put our trust in the Lord and when we invoke his guidance and blessing on our endeavors that wonderful things can happen.

Enrique is the editor of The Pilot, newspaper of the Boston archdiocese.

 

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Cardinals back post-abortion healing project

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — Signaling the importance they gave to the topic, three U.S. cardinals offered a briefing Nov. 14 on efforts to expand and strengthen the church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel.

Cardinals Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington reported on the work of Project Rachel during the first day of the Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.

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