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Bishops approve third-party reporting system; to be in place by May 31

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A nationwide third-party system for receiving confidential reports of "certain complaints" against bishops took a step closer to being implemented during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a series of three votes June 12, the bishops voted overwhelmingly to authorize the implementation of a system that would allow people to make reports through a toll-free telephone number as well as online.

The system, which would be operated by an outside vendor contracted by the USCCB, would be in place no later than May 31, 2020, under the proposal accepted by the bishops.

The plan met with widespread support during a 35-minute discussion on the second day of the spring assembly. The full body of bishops voted on three separate measures governing the implementation of the system.

Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary, presented the proposal to the assembly at the request of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, conference president.

Picarello said the reporting system would fall in line with the requirements of Pope Francis' "motu proprio" "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), issued in May. Among its mandates, the document requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish "one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports." It set June 1, 2020, as a deadline.

All reports would be funneled through a central receiving hub, which would then be responsible for sending allegations to the appropriate metropolitan, or archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province and to the papal nunciature in Washington, Picarello explained. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans.

The metropolitans will be responsible for reporting any allegation to local law enforcement authorities as the first step toward investigating a claim.

In response to a question from a bishop, Picarello said reports of alleged abuse or complaints about how cases are handled by a bishop will continue to be taken by individual dioceses and eparchies.

Some dioceses already have reporting systems in place. The May 31 deadline was set to allow those systems and each metropolitan to align procedures to be able to accept the reports from the nationwide hotline, Picarello said.

Although the deadline for implementation is nearly one year away, Picarello added, the USCCB hopes the full system can be in place sooner.

"I can assure the Executive Committee along with the Administrative Committee, we want this thing done as quickly as possible," Cardinal DiNardo told the assembly. "But we want to make sure the metropolitans are in on this, and we can only go as fast as the metropolitans can go on this."

The first vote concerned putting a nationwide reporting system in place; it passed 205-16, with three abstentions.

In the second vote, the bishops agreed that the USCCB executive and administrative committees would develop a more detailed proposal regarding how the system would operate. It passed 200-21, with two abstentions.

Details and cost estimates would be reviewed in September by the bishops' Administrative Committee, which includes the officers and the chairmen of the various conference committees.

The same committee in November -- prior to the bishops' fall general assembly -- would then review scripts and other relevant details after the selection of a vendor. The Executive Committee would continue to oversee implementation of the program.

The final vote -- passing 220-4 with 1 abstention -- committed the bishops to having the reporting system operational by May 31.

The proposal also calls for the online segment to contain a link that could be posted on any diocesan or eparchial website as well as the USCCB website.

Bishop Robert D. Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, said publicizing the phone and online reporting system will be key. "The last thing we want is to be accused of not being transparent of a system we are setting up," he said.

Cardinal DiNardo said the reporting system as well as follow-up on how well it is working will be subject to review in three years, as called for under "Vos estis lux mundi."

Pope Francis' document is a new universal church law that safeguards members from abuse and holds its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

The Executive Committee presented a proposal for a third-party reporting system to receive complaints against bishops to the Administrative Committee in September. After being accepted, the plan was initially among a series of steps to respond to the ongoing sexual abuse crisis that was to be voted on during the USCCB's general assembly last fall.

However, those votes were postponed at the request of the Vatican until after Pope Francis convened a meeting of the presidents of bishops' conferences around the world to discuss a unified response to the crisis.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope advances sainthood causes for U.S. priest, Spanish martyrs

IMAGE: CNS/Archdiocese of Chicago

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Father Augustus Tolton, who was the first African American diocesan priest in the United States and founder of the first black Catholic parish in Chicago.

Signing decrees issued by the Congregation for Saints' Causes June 11, Pope Francis also formally recognized the martyrdom of three Catholic laywomen who were nurses for the Red Cross and were killed during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War.

The decree for Father Tolton's cause recognizes that he lived a life of heroic virtue.

Father Tolton had been born into slavery in 1854 on a plantation near Brush Creek, Missouri. After his father left to try to join the Union Army during the Civil War, his mother fled with her three children by rowing them across the Mississippi River and settling in Quincy in the free state of Illinois.

There, he was encouraged to discern his vocation to the priesthood by the Franciscan priests who taught him at St. Francis College, now Quincy University. However, he was denied access to seminaries in the United States after repeated requests, so he pursued his education in Rome at what is now the Pontifical Urbanian University.

He was ordained for the Propaganda Fidei Congregation in 1886, expecting to become a missionary in Africa. Instead, he was sent to be a missionary in his own country and returned to Quincy, where he served for three years before going to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1889.

Despite rampant racism and discrimination, he became one of the city's most popular pastors, attracting members of both white and black Catholic communities. He spearheaded the building of St. Monica Church for black Catholics and worked tirelessly for his congregation in Chicago, even to the point of exhaustion. On July 9, 1897, he died of heatstroke on a Chicago street at the age of 43.

He was known for persevering against all odds in pursuit of his calling and quietly devoted himself to his people, despite great difficulties and setbacks.

Pope Francis also formally recognized the martyrdom of Maria Pilar Gullon Yturriaga, Octavia Iglesias Blanco and Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez, members of Catholic Action who volunteered to serve wounded soldiers on the Asturian front in northern Spain.

The women refused to leave the wounded unattended even though the area was about to come under the control of populist fighters. All the patients, the doctor and chaplain were killed, and the three nurses were assaulted, raped and shot on Oct. 28, 1936. Gullon, Iglesias and Perez-Monteserin were 25, 41 and 23 years old, respectively.

The pope also signed decrees attesting to the heroic virtues lived by six servants of God -- three men and three women. Among them were:

-- Mother Rosario Arroyo, a distant relative of the former Filipino President Gloria Arroyo, lived from 1884 to 1957 and founded the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines.

-- Felice Tantardini, known as "God's blacksmith," was an Italian lay missionary for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Born in 1898, he spent 70 years serving in Myanmar, where he died in 1991 at the age of 93. He worked as a catechist and helped build churches, schools, parish houses, hospitals, seminaries, orphanages, convents and bridges.  

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Unity is first sign of true Christian witness, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church gives an authentic witness of God's love for all men and women only when it fosters the grace of unity and communion, Pope Francis said.

Unity is part of "the DNA of the Christian community," the pope said June 12 during his weekly general audience.

The gift of unity, he said, "allows us not to fear diversity, not to attach ourselves to things and gifts," but "to become martyrs, luminous witnesses of God who lives and works in history."

"We, too, need to rediscover the beauty of giving witness to the Risen Lord, going beyond self-referential attitudes, renouncing the desire to stifle God's gifts and not yielding to mediocrity," he said.

Despite the sweltering Roman heat, thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square for the audience, which began with Pope Francis circling the square in the popemobile, occasionally stopping to greet pilgrims and even comfort a crying child.

In his main talk, the pope continued his new series on the Acts of the Apostles, looking specifically at the apostles who, after the Resurrection, "prepare to receive God's power -- not passively but by consolidating communion between them."

Before ultimately taking his own life, Judas' separation from Christ and the apostles began with his attachment to money and losing sight of the importance of self-giving "until he allowed the virus of pride to infect his mind and heart, transforming him from a friend into an enemy."

Judas "stopped belonging to the heart to Jesus and placed himself outside of communion with him and his companions. He stopped being a disciple and placed himself above the master," the pope explained.

Nevertheless, unlike Judas who "preferred death to life" and created a "wound in the body of the community," the 11 apostles choose "life and blessing."

Pope Francis said that by discerning together to find a suitable replacement, the apostles gave "a sign that communion overcomes divisions, isolation and the mentality that absolutizes the private space."

"The Twelve manifest in the Acts of the Apostles the Lord's style," the pope said. "They are the accredited witnesses of Christ's work of salvation and do not manifest to the world their presumed perfection but rather, through the grace of unity, reveal another one who now lives in a new way in the midst of his people: our Lord Jesus."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Cesareo repeats call for greater lay involvement as church tackles abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo offered the U.S. bishops meeting in Baltimore a series of recommendations that he said will strengthen the church's response to the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.

The recommendations made June 11 during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore included a call for a greater role for laity in investigating allegations of abuse or reaction to reports of abuse against bishops.

Cesareo also said National Review Board members recommend a thorough review of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and a revision in the audit process regarding diocesan implementation of the charter, which governs the church's response to clergy abuse allegations.

Strong measures are necessary to show that while progress has been made since the charter's adoption in 2002, the bishops would demonstrate that they are serious in their response to clergy abuse in response to the mistrust and serious questions laypeople still harbor.

"My hope is that they will seriously consider the recommendations we made on the four action items come to recognize that the proposals that we've made are only going to strengthen their response," Cesareo told Catholic News Service after his address.

"It's not meant to undermine their authority but in reality strengthen their position in dealing with the questions around this issue as opposed to a challenge to their authority or position. That's not the intent. The intent is how can we together work on this issue to put you, as the leaders, in the best possible position to effectively and definitively deal with this," he said.

Cesareo stressed to the bishops the need to carry out what Pope Benedict XVI described as the laity's co-responsibility to help build the church.

He told CNS that co-responsibility means "together we can have a role to play for the well-being of the church."

Cesareo also admitted that he has used strong and firm language in delivering the review board's recommendations "to show the urgency of the situation and that we can't just keep pushing this down the road."

In his address to the assembly, Cesareo called on the bishops to improve the audit of dioceses to ensure their compliance with the charter so that it is "more thorough and independent." He said the audit is a means for the bishops to establish their credibility with laypeople.

A working group, composed of three members of the bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and three lay members of the National Review Board, has been discussing a framework for improving the audit, he said. The focus has been on allowing the outside contractor that is hired by the USCCB to conduct the audit to be more independent and flexible in its work, he said.

Cesareo recommended that changes in the audit process occur as soon as possible so they can be implemented in the next audit cycle beginning in 2021.

"A strengthened audit would provide a means for improving your dioceses' existing methods to protect and heal," Cesareo said. "Virtually all your dioceses, including those where problems came to light under the microscope of the media and attorney generals, have easily passed the audit for years since the bar currently is so low. Now is the time to raise the bar on compliance to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated."

Cesareo also recommended that the charter "should be revised immediately to explicitly include bishops and demand for greater accountability."

While such a revision has been suggested to the bishops in the past, Cesareo said the time has come for a proposal to be addressed. Among the changes he recommended include the reporting of all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to diocesan review boards; the need for review boards to meet annually to assist with diocesan policy reviews; consideration of continual supervision and monitoring of offenders who have not been laicized; and the start of parish audits.

"Despite ongoing challenges, positive momentum has been evident in the church since the initial approval of the charter and the audit," Cesareo added. "Any delay in revising the charter or implementing an enhanced audit would not only put children at risk, but could signal a step backward in the church's efforts."

The review board chairman cited Pope Francis "motu proprio" regarding the bishops' plan to adopt new standards to govern their own accountability on handling abuse claims.

The document, titled "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), is a new universal law from the pope to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. The U.S. bishops will vote on directives for implementing this church law later during the spring assembly.

Cesareo said the article 13 of the document allows that the bishops of a province may include qualified persons, including laity, to be part of the investigation of a bishop who has had a claim filed against him.

"The NRB urges that this must be the case in the United States through the establishment of an ad hoc lay commission, either on the national or local level," he said.

He said such lay involvement would "restore the trust of the faithful in the bishops and even in the Holy See's own processes for holding bishops' accountable."

The pope's new juridical instrument calls for a "public, stable and easily accessible" reporting system for allegations; clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families; timeliness and thoroughness of investigations; whistleblower protection for those making allegations; and the use of "proven experts from among the laity"; and the oversight of the metropolitan (archbishop) for such investigations in his province. The U.S. Catholic Church has 32 metropolitans.

However, Cesareo said that the metropolitan archbishop "should not be the sole gatekeeper of allegations that come forward" because it could lead to "mishandling of an allegation."

"You have a great opportunity," he said, "to lead by example and help show dioceses and episcopal conferences around the world not only how important it is for lay involvement to ensure greater accountability and transparency, but also how laity and the episcopacy can be co-responsible for the church's well-being."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican bank reports decreased profits in 2018

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, made a profit of 17.5 million euros (about US$19.8 million) in 2018, just over half the profit reported in the previous year, according to its annual report.

The bank, which had made a profit of 31.9 million euros in 2017, said the decrease was due "to the strong turbulence of the markets throughout the year and the persistence of interest rates which are still very low."

The institute held assets worth 5 billion euros (US$5.6 billion) at year's end, which included deposits and investments from close to 15,000 clients -- mostly Catholic religious orders around the world, Vatican offices and employees, and Catholic clergy.

In a statement released by the Vatican June 11, the institute said it continued to provide financial services to the Catholic Church present in the whole world and Vatican City State.

According to the report, the bank's assets are worth 637 million euros (US$721 million), placing its tier 1 capital ratio -- which measures the bank's financial strength -- at 86.4 percent compared to 68.3 percent in 2017. The increased ratio, the bank said, "is a testament of its elevated solvency and its low-risk profile."

Additionally, the bank refined its screening process for financial investments to ensure that it is "consistent with Catholic ethics by selecting only companies that carry out activities that are in accordance with the social doctrine of the church."

The Vatican bank, the statement said, continues "to make investments aimed at fostering development in poorer countries while respecting choices that are consistent with establishing a sustainable future for future generations."

The IOR, which is the Italian acronym for the Institute for the Works of Religion, said that it also "contributed to the implementation of numerous charitable and social activities, both through donations of a financial nature and through reduced-rate or gratuitous leases for the use of its own real estate to entities for social purposes."

Before the report's release, the 2018 financial statements were audited by the firm Deloitte & Touche and were reviewed by the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the institute's work, the press release said.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Christians are called to serve, not use others, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians who use others, rather than serve others, greatly harm the church, Pope Francis said.

Christ's instructions to his disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons" are the path to "a life of service" that all Christians are called to follow, the pope said June 11 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"Christian life is for service," the pope said. "It is very sad to see Christians who, at the start of their conversion or their awareness of being Christians, serve, are open to serving, serve the people of God and then end up using the people of God. This does so much harm, so much harm to the people of God. The vocation is to 'serve,' not to 'use.'"

In his homily, the pope said that while Christ's instruction to give freely what has been given freely is for everyone, it is meant especially "for us shepherds of the church."

Members of the clergy who "do business with the grace of God," the pope warned, cause a lot damage to others and especially to themselves and their own spiritual lives when they attempt "to bribe the Lord."

"This relationship of gratuitousness with God is what will help us have it with others, both in our Christian witness and in Christian service and in the pastoral life of those who are shepherds of the people of God," he said.

Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus entrusts the apostles with the mission of proclaiming that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" and to do so "without cost," the pope said that salvation "cannot be purchased; it is given freely."

The only thing God asks for, he added, is "that our heart be opened."

"When we say, 'Our Father' and pray, we open our hearts so that this gratuitousness may come. There is no relationship with God outside of gratuitousness," the pope said.

Christians who fast, do penance or a novena to obtain "something spiritual or a grace" must be aware that the purpose of self-denial or prayer "is not to pay for the grace, to acquire the grace" but a means "to widen your heart so that grace may come," he said.

"Grace is free," Pope Francis said. "May our life of holiness be this widening of the heart so that God's gratuitousness -- the graces of God that are there and that he wants to give freely -- may reach our hearts."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Former NBA referee makes spiritual call to be permanent deacon

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia

By Lou Baldwin

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- If 30 years ago anyone told Steve Javie he would become a permanent deacon, he probably would have said, "No way."

Sure, he came from a solid Catholic family with Mass every Sunday, confession every two weeks need it or not, and his uncle Msgr. Anthony Jaworowski was one of the most respected priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but all of that was ancient history as far as Javie was concerned.

Sports was really in his blood. His dad, Stan Javie, was an NFL football referee who worked four Super Bowls. Steve played baseball, football and basketball at La Salle College High School, outside of Philadelphia, and at Philadelphia's Temple University he continued with baseball, which was his first love.

After getting his degree in business administration, Javie signed on as a pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system, but his dreams of baseball stardom were cut short after one year because of an arm injury.

In college, he'd done some refereeing and umpiring to pick up a little money, which he then considered making his career. He first worked as baseball umpire but ultimately switched to basketball, which from an officiating standpoint has more action.

After five years officiating in the Continental Basketball Association, Javie was hired by the NBA in 1986, and he remained there for the rest of his 20-plus-year career. Now, although he is retired, he provides commentary on NBA officiating during telecasts of games on ESPN.

His job required a lot of travel and that was how he met his wife, Mary-ellen Kennedy, who worked at Philadelphia International Airport.

After one date, he suggested they go to Sunday Mass and brunch and on their way to the restaurant, he told Mary-ellen he didn't get much out of the service.

She looked at him and asked, "What did you put into it?"

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"There's a lot things you could do," she said. "Have you anyone you could pray for while you're sitting there?"

That got him thinking and it got him going back to Mass on a regular basis. The couple married in less than a year.

Javie went through a rough patch in 1999 when he was one of 15 referees to be accused of tax evasion, in his case over the value of frequent-flyer miles. His worries about that got him going to Mass every day and even though he was the only one to be acquitted on all charges, the daily Mass habit stuck.

For more than 10 years, he and his wife have belonged to St. Andrew Parish in Newtown, where Steve belongs to a "small" men's faith-sharing group with about 50-60 men in it, and he loves it.

When he retired from the NBA in 2011, he said he was looking for a way to give more time serving the Lord. "It was the Holy Spirit -- the word 'deacon' just popped into my head," he told CatholicPhilly.com, the news outlet of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He went to his pastor, Msgr. Michael Picard, who advised him to go for it.

On June 8, Javie joined six other men who were ordained as deacons for the Philadelphia Archdiocese at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. He is looking forward to ministry, especially to men, telling them, "it's OK to go make money, but you also have to go to church and love Jesus."

One other thing. People associate basketball referees with that whistle they like to blow. Now-Deacon Javie still carries his whistle every day, mostly in memory a dear friend who did the same thing.

And because parish meetings can get pretty contentious at times, he might even need to use it.

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Baldwin writes for CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

 

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Gender ideology is opposed to faith, reason, Vatican office says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic schools must help parents teach young people that biological sex and gender are naturally fixed at birth and part of God's plan for creation, said the Congregation for Catholic Education.

In a document published June 10, the congregation said the Catholic Church and those proposing a looser definition of gender can find common ground in "a laudable desire to combat all expressions of unjust discrimination," in educating children to respect all people "in their peculiarity and difference," in respecting the "equal dignity of men and women" and in promoting respect for "the values of femininity."

And while great care must be taken to respect and provide care for persons who "live situations of sexual indeterminacy," those who teach in the name of the Catholic Church must help young people understand that being created male and masculine or female and feminine is part of God's plan for them.

The document, "Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education," was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the education congregation, and Archbishop Angelo Zani, congregation secretary.

The document recognized a distinction between "the ideology of gender," which it said tries to present its theories as "absolute and unquestionable," and the whole field of scientific research on gender, which attempts to understand the ways sexual difference is lived out in different cultures.

While claiming to promote individual freedom and respect for the rights of each person, the document said, those who see gender as a personal choice or discovery unconnected to biological sex are, in fact, promoting a vision of the human person that is "opposed to faith and right reason."

"The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one's personhood," the document said. "It is one of its modes of being, of manifesting itself, communicating with others, and of feeling, expressing and living human love."

The document insisted that modern gender ideology and the idea that one chooses or discovers his or her gender go against nature by arguing that "the only thing that matters in personal relationships is the affection between the individuals involved, irrespective of sexual difference or procreation, which would be seen as irrelevant in the formation of families."

The theories, it said, deny "the reciprocity and complementarity of male-female relations" as well as "the procreative end of sexuality."

"This has led to calls for public recognition of the right to choose one's gender, and of a plurality of new types of unions, in direct contradiction of the model of marriage as being between one man and one woman, which is portrayed as a vestige of patriarchal societies," it said.

When the "physiological complementarity of male-female sexual difference" is removed, it said, procreation is no longer a natural process. Instead, recourse must be taken to in vitro fertilization or surrogacy with the risk of "the reduction of the baby to an object in the hands of science and technology."

The education congregation insisted that "Catholic educators need to be sufficiently prepared regarding the intricacies of the various questions that gender theory brings up and be fully informed about both current and proposed legislation in their respective jurisdictions, aided by persons who are qualified in this area, in a way that is balanced and dialogue-orientated."

 

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Holy Spirit 'brings order to our frenzy,' pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world of conflict and division and a culture of insult, people need to live filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the only one capable of bringing harmony and unity to diversity, Pope Francis said.

"Those who live by the Spirit ... bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict," he said during a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Square.

"Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism" with a smile, he said during his homily at the Mass June 9.

"In today's world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to be 100 years old and those who cannot even be born," and there are those who, the more they use social media, the less social they become, he said.

"We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as church, as God's people and as a human family," he said.

"There is always a temptation to build 'nests,' to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect: How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something," the pope said.

It has become "fashionable" to hurl "adjectives" and insults at people in what has become "a culture of adjectives," which forgets the person or thing beneath the surface and responds to differing opinions with insults, he said.

"Later we realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life," he added.

With today's "frenzied pace of life," he said, people are pulled in too many directions, running the risk of "nervous exhaustion" and reacting badly to everything.

"We then look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive."

"But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: He brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope," he said.

The Holy Spirit doesn't make life easier, nor does he sweep every problem or hardship away. He makes Jesus live in those hearts that open up to him, "raising us up from within," and makes people realize "that we are beloved children" of a tender, loving God.

"Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings," the pope said.

The Holy Spirit is a "specialist in creating diversity, richness" while also bringing harmony and unity to this diversity; "Only he can do these two things."

On June 8, the vigil of Pentecost, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome.

He asked that people open their hearts and listen to the cries of others.

"To be able to hear the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us 'descend,' come down from our positions" or pedestals and be with the people to hear their cry for salvation -- a cry the Lord hears, "but we usually don't."

"It is not about explaining things" in an academic and intellectual or political and ideological manner, he added, saying it upset him "when I see a church that believes it is faithful to the Lord by renewing itself when it seeks purely functional paths, paths that do not come from the Spirit of God."

A church that cannot "come down" from above and have its eyes, ears and heart open among the people is not being guided by the Holy Spirit, he said.

The Spirit turns things upside down, not to make people start over from the very beginning, but to take up a new path, a new way of seeing, hearing and living, he said.

People are asked to look for God's plan and serve him by serving others, he said.

 

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Bishops urged to pass 'effective' policies on accountability, transparency

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ralph Alswang, courtesy Leadership Roundtable

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the bishops gather in Baltimore starting June 11, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said he's "hopeful we will have some progress made in moving the football" on the church's response to the abuse crisis by approving several proposals to hold the bishops accountable.

"I think the recent new norms from Holy Father will make it more possible, but I am waiting to see and I will be fully involved in the debate," he told Catholic News Service June 7.

The centerpiece of the bishops' agenda will be four action items dealing with the investigation of abuse claims against bishops themselves or accusations they have been negligent in handling or covering up cases of wayward priests and other church workers.

These proposals were before the bishops at the fall general assembly last November, but the Vatican requested they delay action on them until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.

The norms Bishop McKnight referenced are contained in Pope Francis' "motu proprio," released May 9 and in effect as of June 1. The document, titled "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), is a new universal law from the pope to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. The U.S. bishops will vote on directives for implementing this church law.

The full texts of the pope's "motu proprio" and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," as well as the new reforms to be discussed in Baltimore, are available on a new website the USCCB launched June 7: www.usccbprevention.org.

The pope's new juridical instrument calls for a "public, stable and easily accessible" reporting system for allegations; clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families; timeliness and thoroughness of investigations; whistleblower protection for those making allegations; and the use of "proven experts from among the laity"; and the oversight of the metropolitan (archbishop) for such investigations in his province. The U.S. Catholic Church has 32 metropolitans.

Under each archdiocese are dioceses, also called suffragan sees, for which a metropolitan is responsible.

"For me the critical element in the effort to respond to the crisis is the necessity of lay involvement," Bishop McKnight told CNS. "I am grateful the document allows for the metropolitan to use lay experts."

Just as dioceses have a lay board to assess allegations against priests and other church workers, the same lay-led review is needed for bishops for two reasons, Bishop McKnight said. "First, for transparency to build credibility in the process so people know it is not just miters and collars but mothers and fathers (looking at these allegations) as well."

"Second, as a bishop myself, if there was ever a false allegation made against me, I would want an independent lay assessment of the investigation to build credibility (in the finding) that the claim is not credible."

Two other prelates interviewed by CNS ahead of the bishops' spring assembly, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, also strongly emphasized the need for lay involvement in reviewing claims against bishops.

"I cannot imagine there not being a majority of lay involvement," Bishop Weisenburger said June 7. "The current model of diocesan review boards owes a substantial part of their success to the fact that they are lay-led and lay-driven. That fact is not lost on any bishop."

In the Tucson Diocese, "we have had tremendous success in working with our Diocesan Review Board," he noted.

"I feel certain that my brother bishops will strive to create regional lists of experts that are composed in majority of lay experts in the fields of law, law enforcement, psychology, education, canon law and social work," Bishop Weisenburger added.

Said Archbishop Sample: "Clearly the cry for more lay involvement is not just among laity but priests and bishops (too). ... For my part, I will do everything I can -- and I am just one bishop among many -- to ensure that there will be an adequate role for the laity to be involved in these investigations within these church processes. The 'motu proprio' certainly opens the door (to this)."

"Quite honestly I hope this is one of the areas we can strengthen. ... I hope we will be able to enshrine within our own (structures) an active and significant role for the laity," he said.

Going into the assembly, "my hopes and expectations are optimistic," the archbishop added, "I wouldn't say super-high but I'm very optimistic the bishops will be able to complete next week what we tried to begin at our November meeting in light of the new 'motu proprio,' (which is) further guidance on what we should be doing to take responsibility for this crisis in the church and respond to it."

"I hope that there will be some good modifications and amendments to the documents" he said, to strengthen them especially with regard to "transparency and accountability, the two words that resonate most with me right now going into this meeting."

The bishops must have effective protocols that enable them to hold each accountable, which is "really what Christ asks of us as shepherds of the church," Archbishop Sample said. "We also need accountability before the people of God."

As for the proposal for metropolitan oversight, the archbishop said that as metropolitan himself, he takes this charge "extremely seriously."

"I think the Holy Father's intention in the 'motu proprio' he issued is that the church use her own structures which are already in place to really address these issues in a significant way, and the role of the metropolitan archbishops is a grave responsibility," he said.

Since the November meeting, when the metropolitan "option" surfaced, "I've given it a lot of reflection and I'm overwhelmed a little bit to receive this responsibility ... and I pledge that I will do everything I can do to ensure there is full accountability in my realm of influence," Archbishop Sample said.

"To the eyes of some it looks like the bishops are investigating themselves again and that this is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place," he remarked.

However, it is important for people "to know and understand" that "using the church's own structures is what the Holy Father intends," he explained, and the church's way of dealing with allegations -- "within the church law and structures" -- is carried out "without any prejudice" to civil authorities doing their own investigation.

"Both of these tracks have to run parallel, because in the end the church still has to deal with the status" of its own members, he said. "We need our own structure to deal with them" but this does not "hamper" what civil authorities must do on these abuse cases.

Bishop Weisenburger called the metropolitan option "an excellent model."

"On the one hand it's true to our history, who we are as a hierarchic church," he said. "On the other hand, it's a somewhat new adaptation which I think will allow general principles of investigation to be applied in a healthy local manner. The time limits related to the various steps are especially helpful as it prevents a critical investigation from being delayed."

When he looks at his region, whose metropolitan is the archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he said: "I trust that we have a wealth of experts who could come together and undertake an investigation in a timely and professional manner. I think something good for the church is unfolding before us."

Last fall, when the Vatican asked the bishops' to postpone voting on these critical abuse protocols, many felt the church was just stalling on the need to address issues of the hierarchy's accountability, but Bishop Weisenburger feels "the November delay proved beneficial."

"There was tremendous pressure for the bishops to create an immediate response to the situation -- I felt that pressure myself -- but in retrospect I'm not sure we make the best decisions when we move that fast," he told CNS. "I think the Vatican summit helped clarify some of the critical issues. I now think it's time for the U.S. bishops to come to a consensus on a procedure that can be undertaken easily when a report needs to be made about an allegation against a bishop."

Bishop McKnight told CNS the laity in his diocese have given him "a consistent message" about the abuse scandal in listening sessions he has held, both this spring in preparation for his "ad limina" report to Rome and last fall ahead of the bishops' November meeting: That message is to "get it all out now," rather than this piecemeal approach to revelations about abuse, past or present.

One of his big questions about the McCarrick scandal, he said, is why haven't members of the hierarchy "who were knowledgeable and complicit in his promotion" just come forward on their own and take responsibility?

"This does not require an investigation or special adjustment of canon law," Bishop McKnight said. "I understand and feel the frustration of the laity."

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Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.