Monthly Archives: May 2011

Pope sets theme for 45th World Day of Peace

VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2011 (VIS) – According to a communique issued today by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” is the theme that Benedict XVI has chosen for the 45th World Day of Peace this coming 1 January, 2012.

“The theme”, reads the text, “engages an urgent need in the world today: to listen to and enhance the important role of new generations in the realization of the common good, and in the affirmation of a just and peaceful social order where fundamental human rights can be fully expressed and realized”.

“In fact, there is a duty incumbent upon the present generation to prepare future ones, and creating for them the conditions that will allow these future generations to express freely and responsibly the urgency for a ‘new world’. The Church welcomes young people and sees them as the sign of an ever promising springtime, and holds out Jesus to them as the model of love who ‘makes all things new'”.

“Those responsible for public policy are called to work for the creation of institutions, laws, and environments of life that are permeated by a transcendent humanism that offers new generations opportunities to fully realize themselves (e.g. decent job, education etc.) and to build a civilization of fraternal love directed toward a more profound awareness of truth, freedom, of love, and of justice for all persons”.

“This, then, is the prophetic dimension of the theme chosen by the Holy Father in the path of the ‘pedagogy of peace’ indicated by John Paul II in 1985 (‘Peace and Youth Go Forward Together’), in 1979 (‘To Reach Peace, Teach Peace’), and in 2004 (‘An Ever Timely Commitment: Teaching Peace’)”.

“Young persons must labor for justice and peace in a complex and globalized world. It is therefore necessary to establish a new ‘pedagogical alliance’ among all those responsible for the education and formation of young people. The theme indicates an important area of concern in the teaching of Benedict XVI in his Messages for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, beginning with the need for the truth (2006: ‘In Truth, Peace’), followed with the reflections on human dignity (2007: ‘The Human Person: The Heart of Peace’), on the human family (2008: The Human Family: A Community of Peace’), on poverty (2009: ‘Fighting Poverty to Build Peace’), on the care for creation (2010: ‘If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation’), on religious freedom (2011: ‘Religious Freedom: The Path to Peace), and now talking to the minds and beating hearts of young people: ‘Educating Young People in Justice and Peace'”.

(Vatican Information Service)

From the Bishops’ Conference: John Jay College reports no single cause, predictor of Clergy Abuse

Clergy abuse consistent with social patterns at the time, says Karen Terry of John Jay
What we are doing works and we need to keep learning, says Bishop Cupich
Positive news cannot make us complacent, warns Diane Knight, Review Board chair

WASHINGTON (May 18, 2011)—A landmark study by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, which examined the causes and context of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church, concluded that there was no single cause or predictor of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The report added that that situational factors and opportunity to abuse played a significant role in the onset and continuation of abusive acts.

“The bulk of cases occurred decades ago,” said Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay’s principal investigator for the report. “The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time.” She also stated that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.” Terry also said that neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of the abuse, and that priest candidates who would later abuse could not be distinguished by psychological test data, developmental and sexual history data, intelligence data, or experience in priesthood. The development of human formation components of seminary preparation for priesthood is associated with the continued low levels of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States, she said.

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 report by a John Jay College research team was made public May 18 in Washington. Terry presented the report to Diane Knight, CMSW, Chair of the National Review Board, a group of lay Catholics who oversaw the project and to Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

The study also found that the initial, mid-1980s response of bishops to allegations of abuse was to concentrate on getting help for the priest-abusers. Despite the development by the mid-1990s of a comprehensive plan for response to victims and the harms of sexual abuse, diocesan implementation was not consistent or thorough at that time. Yet, the decrease in incidence of sexual abuse cases by clergy was more rapid than the overall societal patterns.

Knight, a social worker from Milwaukee, lauded the work of John Jay. “Through its extensive processes of data collection and statistical analyses,” she said, “the researchers found that the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is an historical problem.”

She added that “researchers also concluded that much of what has been implemented through the Charter is consistent with a model response to the prevention of child abuse. However, this in no way should lull us as a Church into complacency.”

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and has guided their response in dealing with sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Bishop Cupich found hope in the documented progress that shows that “what we are doing works” in addressing child sexual abuse. He said that the inability to predict individual sexual deviance “makes the safe environments programs valuable and necessary.” He added that “the Catholic Church has taken a position of zero tolerance of any cleric who would sexually abuse a child.”

“Such a position protects children,” he said. “But it also protects the tens of thousands of priests who have suffered greatly in this crisis, all the while quietly serving with honor and self-sacrifice every day of their lives.”

The way forward for the bishops must be marked by humility and partnerships with others, Bishop Cupich said. “The shame of failing our people will remain with us for a long time. It should. Its sting can keep us resolute in our commitments and humble so as to never forget the insight we came to nearly a decade ago in Dallas. We cannot do any of this on our own.”

The report can be found at http://www.usccb.org/mr/causes-and-context-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-in-the-united-states-1950-2010.pdf

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.

(US Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Guidelines in Cases of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clerics.

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2011 (VIS) – The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today published a circular letter intended to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

“Among the important responsibilities of the Diocesan Bishop in his task of assuring the common good of the faithful and, especially, the protection of children and of the young, is the duty he has to give an appropriate response to the cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics in his diocese. Such a response entails the development of procedures suitable for assisting the victims of such abuse, and also for educating the ecclesial community concerning the protection of minors. A response will also make provision for the implementation of the appropriate canon law, and, at the same time, allow for the requirements of civil law.

I. General considerations:

a) The victims of sexual abuse

The Church, in the person of the Bishop or his delegate, should be prepared to listen to the victims and their families, and to be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. In the course of his Apostolic trips our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has given an eminent model of this with his availability to meet with and listen to the victims of sexual abuse. In these encounters the Holy Father has focused his attention on the victims with words of compassion and support, as we read in his ‘Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland’ (n.6): ‘You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated’.

b) The protection of minors

In some countries programs of education and prevention have been begun within the Church in order to ensure ‘safe environments’ for minors. Such programs seek to help parents as well as those engaged in pastoral work and schools to recognize the signs of abuse and to take appropriate measures. These programs have often been seen as models in the commitment to eliminate cases of sexual abuse of minors in society today.

c) The formation of future priests and religious

In 2002, Pope John Paul II stated, ‘there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young’ (n. 3, ‘Address to the American Cardinals’, 23 April 2002). These words call to mind the specific responsibility of Bishops and Major Superiors and all those responsible for the formation of future priests and religious. The directions given in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis as well as the instructions of the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See take on an even greater importance in assuring a proper discernment of vocations as well as a healthy human and spiritual formation of candidates. In particular, candidates should be formed in an appreciation of chastity and celibacy, and the responsibility of the cleric for spiritual fatherhood. Formation should also assure that the candidates have an appreciation of the Church’s discipline in these matters. More specific directions can be integrated into the formation programs of seminaries and houses of formation through the respective Ratio institutionis sacerdotalis of each nation, Institute of Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life.

Particular attention, moreover, is to be given to the necessary exchange of information in regard to those candidates to priesthood or religious life who transfer from one seminary to another, between different dioceses, or between religious Institutes and dioceses.

d) Support of Priests

1. The bishop has the duty to treat all his priests as father and brother. With special attention, moreover, the bishop should care for the continuing formation of the clergy, especially in the first years after Ordination, promoting the importance of prayer and the mutual support of priestly fraternity. Priests are to be well informed of the damage done to victims of clerical sexual abuse. They should also be aware of their own responsibilities in this regard in both canon and civil law. They should as well be helped to recognize the potential signs of abuse perpetrated by anyone in relation to minors;

2. In dealing with cases of abuse which have been denounced to them the bishops are to follow as thoroughly as possible the discipline of canon and civil law, with respect for the rights of all parties;

3. The accused cleric is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven. Nonetheless the bishop is always able to limit the exercise of the cleric’s ministry until the accusations are clarified. If the case so warrants, whatever measures can be taken to rehabilitate the good name of a cleric wrongly accused should be done.

e) Cooperation with Civil Authority

Sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities. Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed. This collaboration, moreover, not only concerns cases of abuse committed by clerics, but also those cases which involve religious or lay persons who function in ecclesiastical structures.

II. A brief summary of the applicable canonical legislation concerning the delict of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by a cleric:

On 30 April 2001, Pope John Paul II promulgated the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela [SST], by which sexual abuse of a minor under 18 years of age committed by a cleric was included in the list of more grave crimes (delicta graviora) reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Prescription for this delict was fixed at 10 years beginning at the completion of the 18th year of the victim. The norm of the Motu Proprio applied both to Latin and Eastern clerics, as well as for diocesan and religious clergy.

In 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the CDF, obtained from Pope John Paul II the concession of some special faculties in order to provide greater flexibility in conducting penal processes for these more grave delicts. These measures included the use of the administrative penal process, and, in more serious cases, a request for dismissal from the clerical state ex officio. These faculties have now been incorporated in the revision of the Motu Proprio approved by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, on 21 May 2010. In the new norms prescription, in the case of abuse of minors, is set for 20 years calculated from the completion of the 18th year of age of the victim. In individual cases, the CDF is able to derogate from prescription when indicated. The canonical delict of acquisition, possession or distribution of pedopornography is also specified in this revised Motu Proprio.

The responsibility for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors belongs, in the first place, to Bishops or Major Superiors. If an accusation seems true the Bishop or Major Superior, or a delegate, ought to carry out the preliminary investigation in accord with CIC can. 1717, CCEO can. 1468, and SST art. 16.

If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defence, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims. In this regard, it should be noted that normally the imposition of a permanent penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, requires a penal judicial process. In accord with canon law (cf. CIC can. 1342) the Ordinary is not able to decree permanent penalties by extrajudicial decree. The matter must be referred to the CDF which will make the definitive judgement on the guilt of the cleric and his unsuitability for ministry, as well as the consequent imposition of a perpetual penalty (SST art. 21, ‘2).

The canonical measures applied in dealing with a cleric found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor are generally of two kinds: 1) measures which completely restrict public ministry or at least exclude the cleric from any contact with minors. These measures can be reinforced with a penal precept; 2) ecclesiastical penalties, among which the most grave is the dismissal from the clerical state.

In some cases, at the request of the cleric himself, a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy, can be given pro bono Ecclesiae.

The preliminary investigation, as well as the entire process, ought to be carried out with due respect for the privacy of the persons involved and due attention to their reputations.

Unless there are serious contrary indications, before a case is referred to the CDF, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation which has been made, and given the opportunity to respond to it. The prudence of the bishop will determine what information will be communicated to the accused in the course of the preliminary investigation.

It remains the duty of the Bishop or the Major Superior to provide for the common good by determining what precautionary measures of CIC can. 1722 and CCEO can. 1473 should be imposed. In accord with SST art. 19, this can be done once the preliminary investigation has been initiated.

Finally, it should be noted that, saving the approval of the Holy See, when a Conference of Bishops intends to give specific norms, such provisions must be understood as a complement to universal law and not replacing it. The particular provisions must therefore be in harmony with the CIC / CCEO as well as with the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (30 April 2001) as updated on 21 May 2010. In the event that a Conference would decide to establish binding norms it will be necessary to request the recognitio from the competent Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

III. Suggestions for Ordinaries on Procedures:

The Guidelines prepared by the Episcopal Conference ought to provide guidance to Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors in case they are informed of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics present in the territory of their jurisdiction. Such Guidelines, moreover, should take account of the following observations:

a.) the notion of ‘sexual abuse of minors’ should concur with the definition of article 6 of the Motu Proprio SST (‘the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years’), as well as with the interpretation and jurisprudence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while taking into account the civil law of the respective country;

b.) the person who reports the delict ought to be treated with respect. In the cases where sexual abuse is connected with another delict against the dignity of the sacrament of Penance (SST art. 4), the one reporting has the right to request that his or her name not be made known to the priest denounced (SST art. 24);

c.) ecclesiastical authority should commit itself to offering spiritual and psychological assistance to the victims;

d.) investigation of accusations is to be done with due respect for the principle of privacy and the good name of the persons involved;

e.) unless there are serious contrary indications, even in the course of the preliminary investigation, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation, and given the opportunity to respond to it.

f.) consultative bodies of review and discernment concerning individual cases, foreseen in some places, cannot substitute for the discernment and potestas regiminis of individual bishops;

g.) the Guidelines are to make allowance for the legislation of the country where the Conference is located, in particular regarding what pertains to the obligation of notifying civil authorities;

h.) during the course of the disciplinary or penal process the accused cleric should always be afforded a just and fit sustenance;

i.) the return of a cleric to public ministry is excluded if such ministry is a danger for minors or a cause of scandal for the community.

Conclusion

The Guidelines developed by Episcopal Conferences seek to protect minors and to help victims in finding assistance and reconciliation. They will also indicate that the responsibility for dealing with the delicts of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the Diocesan Bishop. Finally, the Guidelines will lead to a common orientation within each Episcopal Conference helping to better harmonize the resources of single Bishops in safeguarding minors.”

(From the Vatican Information Service)

Holy Father’s Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 15 May 2011, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, invites us to reflect on the theme: “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church”. Seventy years ago, Venerable Pius XII established the Pontifical Work of Priestly Vocations. Similar bodies, led by priests and members of the lay faithful, were subsequently established by Bishops in many dioceses as a response to the call of the Good Shepherd who, “when he saw the crowds, had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”, and went on to say: “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!” (Mt 9:36-38).

The work of carefully encouraging and supporting vocations finds a radiant source of inspiration in those places in the Gospel where Jesus calls his disciples to follow him and trains them with love and care. We should pay close attention to the way that Jesus called his closest associates to proclaim the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:9). In the first place, it is clear that the first thing he did was to pray for them: before calling them, Jesus spent the night alone in prayer, listening to the will of the Father (cf. Lk 6:12) in a spirit of interior detachment from mundane concerns. It is Jesus’ intimate conversation with the Father which results in the calling of his disciples. Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with the living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the “Lord of the harvest”, whether in parish communities, in Christian families or in groups specifically devoted to prayer for vocations.

At the beginning of his public life, the Lord called some fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). He revealed his messianic mission to them by the many “signs” which showed his love for humanity and the gift of the Father’s mercy. Through his words and his way of life he prepared them to carry on his saving work. Finally, knowing “that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father” (Jn 13:1), he entrusted to them the memorial of his death and resurrection, and before ascending into heaven he sent them out to the whole world with the command: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

It is a challenging and uplifting invitation that Jesus addresses to those to whom he says: “Follow me!”. He invites them to become his friends, to listen attentively to his word and to live with him. He teaches them complete commitment to God and to the extension of his kingdom in accordance with the law of the Gospel: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit ” (Jn 12:24). He invites them to leave behind their own narrow agenda and their notions of self-fulfilment in order to immerse themselves in another will, the will of God, and to be guided by it. He gives them an experience of fraternity, one born of that total openness to God (cf. Mt 12:49-50) which becomes the hallmark of the community of Jesus: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

It is no less challenging to follow Christ today. It means learning to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, growing close to him, listening to his word and encountering him in the sacraments; it means learning to conform our will to his. This requires a genuine school of formation for all those who would prepare themselves for the ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life under the guidance of the competent ecclesial authorities. The Lord does not fail to call people at every stage of life to share in his mission and to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life. The Church is “called to safeguard this gift, to esteem it and love it. She is responsible for the birth and development of priestly vocations” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, 41). Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by “other voices” and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations. It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable hem to feel the warmth of the whole community as they respond “yes” to God and the Church. I encourage them, in the same words which I addressed to those who have already chosen to enter the seminary: “You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity” (Letter to Seminarians, 18 October 2010).

It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations, helping children and young people in particular at every level of family, parish and associations – as Jesus did with his disciples – to grow into a genuine and affectionate friendship with the Lord, cultivated through personal and liturgical prayer; to grow in familiarity with the sacred Scriptures and thus to listen attentively and fruitfully to the word of God; to understand that entering into God’s will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepest truth about ourselves; and finally to be generous and fraternal in relationships with others, since it is only in being open to the love of God that we discover true joy and the fulfilment of our aspirations. “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church” means having the courage, through an attentive and suitable concern for vocations, to point out this challenging way of following Christ which, because it is so rich in meaning, is capable of engaging the whole of one’s life.

I address a particular word to you, my dear brother Bishops. To ensure the continuity and growth of your saving mission in Christ, you should “foster priestly and religious vocations as much as possible, and should take a special interest in missionary vocations” (Christus Dominus, 15). The Lord needs you to cooperate with him in ensuring that his call reaches the hearts of those whom he has chosen. Choose carefully those who work in the Diocesan Vocations Office, that valuable means for the promotion and organization of the pastoral care of vocations and the prayer which sustains it and guarantees its effectiveness. I would also remind you, dear brother Bishops, of the concern of the universal Church for an equitable distribution of priests in the world. Your openness to the needs of dioceses experiencing a dearth of vocations will become a blessing from God for your communities and a sign to the faithful of a priestly service that generously considers the needs of the entire Church.

The Second Vatican Council explicitly reminded us that “the duty of fostering vocations pertains to the whole Christian community, which should exercise it above all by a fully Christian life” (Optatam Totius, 2). I wish, then, to say a special word of acknowledgment and encouragement to those who work closely in various ways with the priests in their parishes. In particular, I turn to those who can offer a specific contribution to the pastoral care of vocations: to priests, families, catechists and leaders of parish groups. I ask priests to testify to their communion with their bishop and their fellow priests, and thus to provide a rich soil for the seeds of a priestly vocation. May families be “animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty” (Optatam Totius, 2) which is capable of helping children to welcome generously the call to priesthood and to religious life. May catechists and leaders of Catholic groups and ecclesial movements, convinced of their educational mission, seek to “guide the young people entrusted to them so that these will recognize and freely accept a divine vocation” (ibid.).

Dear brothers and sisters, your commitment to the promotion and care of vocations becomes most significant and pastorally effective when carried out in the unity of the Church and in the service of communion. For this reason, every moment in the life of the Church community – catechesis, formation meetings, liturgical prayer, pilgrimages – can be a precious opportunity for awakening in the People of God, and in particular in children and young people, a sense of belonging to the Church and of responsibility for answering the call to priesthood and to religious life by a free and informed decision.

The ability to foster vocations is a hallmark of the vitality of a local Church. With trust and perseverance let us invoke the aid of the Virgin Mary, that by the example of her own acceptance of God’s saving plan and her powerful intercession, every community will be more and more open to saying “yes” to the Lord who is constantly calling new labourers to his harvest. With this hope, I cordially impart to all my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 15 November 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Good Shepherd

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

When we think of the Good Shepherd, we often picture our Lord with his shepherd’s staff, leading his flock in an idyllic setting. However, in today’s Gospel, he says that he is the “sheep gate.” You would have to know a little bit about shepherding back in the days of Christ.

When night came, all of the shepherds would bring the sheep to one location, and they would all get mixed in together. One of the shepherds was chosen to the be guard, or the “gate.” He would physically lie down at the entrance to the area set off for the sheep. No one or no animals could pass through without having to go over him. It was a dangerous job, but one that was very necessary to protect the sheep from predatory animals or from those who would come and steal the sheep.

When Jesus talked of himself as being the sheep gate, he was emphasizing the fact that is here to protect us. He will not let anyone come to take us away, and he tries his best to make sure that we do not leave the flock.

In the morning, the shepherds would release the sheep from the area, and they would call or whistle to their own flock. The sheep would recognize their particular shepherd’s voice or whistle, and they would follow him. Let us keep our ears open for the voice of our Shepherd and follow him.

Also today, let us pray that the Lord will call many of our young people to be shepherds in the ministry. Let us pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The Concho Padre

English bishops bring back meatless Fridays

LONDON, MAY 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The bishops of England and Wales are re-establishing the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays as a penance to identify with Christ on the cross.

In the resolutions published from their spring plenary assembly, which concluded Thursday, the bishops announced the re-establishment of the practice, to go into effect Sept. 16.

“Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord,” a statement of resolutions from the assembly reminded. “The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.”

“The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity,” the statement announced.

The prelates added that it is “important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.”

“Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat,” the resolution stated.

The prelates said those who do not eat meat normally should abstain from some other food on Fridays.

The date for the re-establishment of meatless Fridays, Sept. 16, marks the anniversary of Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom last year.

“Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice,” the bishops’ statement concluded. “In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.”

(from zenit.org/english)

Great days in the life of a priest!

I think one of my favorite days each year is First Holy Communion!

Today I have the privilege of giving First Holy Communion to 22 of our youngsters, most of whom are 7- or 8-years old. This is always a happy occasion, for family and friends, for the parish, and especially for me.

It almost always makes me misty as I remember my own First Holy Communion at St. Mary’s Church in Manhasset, Long Island, New York. I can remember the seriousness and the solemnity of the occasion — Mass was in Latin back then. I remember that the importance of the day was strengthened by the presence of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Everyone in the family, and lots of close family friends, came out for the occasion. I hope it is the same today for our children here at the Cathedral.

The girls in their white dresses and veils, and the boys all dressed up, reminds us of the importance of this great sacrament and gift of God — the living presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. These little innocent ones make us all feel good as we watch them process into the Cathedral. Then, during the dialogue homily, we smile as we hear their simple answers to very important and complicated questions. Their unquestioning faith makes us think about our own faith and how we profess it, not only in word but in deed — how we live out our lives as Catholic Christians.

I pray for them on this special day, that they will remain close to Christ for the rest of their lives.

Blessings upon all of our first communicants and their families.

The Concho Padre

Congratulations!

Congratulations today to three of our seminarians who are graduating from Conception College Seminary in Missouri. Great jobs: Ryan Rojo, Adam Droll, and Thomas Shoes!

The Concho Padre

Philadelphia review board chairperson denounces Church policies on abuse investigations

The chairman of the review board that handled sex-abuse complaints for the Philadelphia archdiocese has issued a harsh critique of the procedures that led to a scathing grand-jury report earlier this year.

Ana Maria Catanzaro explains that the review board members were caught off guard by the grand-jury report, because their board had not received the same information that the grand jury obtains. Catanzaro writes in Commonweal that “the board was under the impression that we were reviewing every abuse allegation received by the archdiocese. Instead, we had been advised only about allegations previously determined by archdiocesan officials to have involved the sexual abuse of a minor—a determination we had been under the impression was ours to make.”

In her article, Catanzaro explains that Church officials operated on one definition of what would constitute sexual abuse, while prosecutors used another:

If the grand jury had interviewed us we would have explained our decision-making process. But what seems clear is that the grand jury’s standard for determining the credibility of allegations was different from the review board’s. Apparently relying on the Pennsylvania Crimes Code and the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, the grand jury considered a wide range of behaviors reportable offenses. The review board’s standard, in accord with the charge given to us in 2003 and at the insistence of archdiocesan canon lawyers, was the charter’s and norms’ problematic definition of sexual abuse.

Catanzaro questions the efficacy of the “Dallas Charter” standards governing Church responses to reports of abuse, citing a number of potential conflicts. The fundamental problem, she argues, is “clericalism”—the apparent assumption among clerics that they are not accountable to the laity or to civil society. That problem endures, she writes in her lengthy and thoughtful critique.

“Cardinal Rigali and his auxiliary bishops also failed miserably at being open and transparent,” Catanzaro says in reference to the situation in Philadelphia.

from CatholcCulture.org

Fog of Scandal article from Commonweal Magazine

Norms clarified for the celebration of the Latin (Tridentine) Mass

Here is the English text of the document “Universae Ecclesiae” released today at the Vatican by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, to clarify the use of the Roman Missal of 1962.

Universae Ecclesiae
by Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

I. Introduction

1. The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio on 7 July 2007, which came into effect on 14 September 2007, has made the richness of the Roman Liturgy more accessible to the Universal Church.

2. With this Motu Proprio, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a universal law for the Church, intended to establish new regulations for the use of the Roman Liturgy in effect in 1962.

3. The Holy Father, having recalled the concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs in caring for the Sacred Liturgy and in their recognition of liturgical books, reaffirms the traditional principle, recognised from time immemorial and necessary to be maintained into the future, that “each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi).”1

4. The Holy Father recalls also those Roman Pontiffs who, in a particular way, were notable in this task, specifically Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Pius V. The Holy Father stresses moreover that, among the sacred liturgical books, the Missale Romanum has enjoyed a particular prominence in history, and was kept up to date throughout the centuries until the time of Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently in 1970, following the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI approved for the Church of the Latin rite a new Missal, which was then translated into various languages. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of this Missal.

5. Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.

7. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was accompanied by a letter from the Holy Father to Bishops, with the same date as the Motu Proprio (7 July 2007). This letter gave further explanations regarding the appropriateness and the need for the Motu Proprio; it was a matter of overcoming a lacuna by providing new norms for the use of the Roman Liturgy of 1962. Such norms were needed particularly on account of the fact that, when the new Missal had been introduced under Pope Paul VI, it had not seemed necessary to issue guidelines regulating the use of the 1962 Liturgy. By reason of the increase in the number of those asking to be able to use the forma extraordinaria, it has become necessary to provide certain norms in this area.

Among the statements of the Holy Father was the following: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the Liturgy growth and progress are found, but not a rupture. What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.”2

8. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.3 The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church,4 and has the aim of:

a.) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b.) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c.) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

II. The Responsibilities of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

9. The Sovereign Pontiff has conferred upon the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei ordinary vicarious power for the matters within its competence, in a particular way for monitoring the observance and application of the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 12).

10. § 1. The Pontifical Commission exercises this power, beyond the faculties previously granted by Pope John Paul II and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, artt. 11-12), also by means of the power to decide upon recourses legitimately sent to it, as hierarchical Superior, against any possible singular administrative provision of an Ordinary which appears to be contrary to the Motu Proprio.

§ 2. The decrees by which the Pontifical Commission decides recourses may be challenged ad normam iuris before the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

11. After having received the approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will have the task of looking after future editions of liturgical texts pertaining to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

III. Specific Norms

12. Following upon the inquiry made among the Bishops of the world, and with the desire to guarantee the proper interpretation and the correct application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, by virtue of the authority granted to it and the faculties which it enjoys, issues this Instruction according to can. 34 of the Code of Canon Law.

The Competence of Diocesan Bishops

13. Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses5, always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.6 In cases of controversy or well-founded doubt about the celebration in the forma extraordinaria, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will adjudicate.

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The coetus fidelium (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 1)

15. A coetus fidelium (“group of the faithful”) can be said to be stabiliter existens (“existing in a stable manner”), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus (“group”) can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

16. In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

17. § 1. In deciding individual cases, the pastor or the rector, or the priest responsible for a church, is to be guided by his own prudence, motivated by pastoral zeal and a spirit of generous welcome.

§ 2. In cases of groups which are quite small, they may approach the Ordinary of the place to identify a church in which these faithful may be able to come together for such celebrations, in order to ensure easier participation and a more worthy celebration of the Holy Mass.

18. Even in sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage the possibility to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria is to be offered to groups of pilgrims who request it (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 3), if there is a qualified priest.

19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

Sacerdos idoneus (“Qualified Priest”) (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art 5 § 4)

20. With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus (“qualified”) to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

a.) Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law7 is to be considered idoneus (“qualified”) for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

b.) Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

c.) Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

21. Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin8 and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

23. The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors.

Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Discipline

24. The liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria are to be used as they are. All those who wish to celebrate according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite must know the pertinent rubrics and are obliged to follow them correctly.

25. New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal9, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.

26. As foreseen by article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular.

27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.

28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

Confirmation and Holy Orders

29. Permission to use the older formula for the rite of Confirmation was confirmed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 9 § 2). Therefore, in the forma extraordinaria, it is not necessary to use the newer formula of Pope Paul VI as found in the Ordo Confirmationis.

30. As regards tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum does not introduce any change in the discipline of the Code of Canon Law of 1983; consequently, in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical CommissionEcclesia Dei, one who has made solemn profession or who has been definitively incorporated into a clerical institute of apostolic life, becomes incardinated as a cleric in the institute or society upon ordination to the diaconate, in accordance with canon 266 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

Breviarium Romanum

32. Art. 9 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarium Romanum in effect in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.

The Sacred Triduum

33. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium (“group of faithful”), which follows the older liturgical tradition, can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.

The Rites of Religious Orders

34. The use of the liturgical books proper to the Religious Orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted.

Pontificale Romanum and the Rituale Romanum

35. The use of the Pontificale Romanum, the Rituale Romanum, as well as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum in effect in 1962, is permitted, in keeping with n. 28 of this Instruction, and always respecting n. 31 of the same Instruction.

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 8 April 2011, approved this present Instruction and ordered its publication.

Given at Rome, at the Offices of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, 30 April, 2011, on the memorial of Pope Saint Pius V.

William Cardinal LEVADA
President

Mons. Guido Pozzo
Secretary