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Rosica apologizes for plagiarism

Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2019 / 11:14 pm (CNA).- A long-time Vatican spokesman has admitted to passing off the writing of others as his own, and apologized for plagiarizing.

“What I’ve done is wrong, and I am sorry about that. I don’t know how else to say it,” Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, told the National Post Feb. 22.

Rosica, a long-serving English language press aide at the Vatican Press Office, and the CEO of Canada’s Salt+Light Television network, was reported by Life Site News Feb. 15 to have plagiarized sections of text in several lectures and op-eds from a variety of writers, among them priests, theologians, journalists, and at least two cardinals.

Subsequent reports found widespread plagiarism in essays, speeches, and op-eds by Rosica, dating back more than a decade. Plagiarized sections in some texts ran beyond even one paragraph.

Rosica told the National Post that he had passed off the work of others as his his own because his notes were disorganized, and because he relied on material prepared by interns.

“I realize I relied too much on compiled notes,” Rosica told the National Post, adding that his plagiarism was inadvertent and not malicious. He explained that “it could have been cut and paste,” apparently meaning that he had mistakenly included passages of text written by others in his texts without remembering to attribute them.

“I realize the seriousness of this and I regret this very much … I will be very vigilant in future,” he said.

Rosica is a member of the governing board at the Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College, to whom he told the National Post he planned to apologize. I will apologize that this came to light, and it’s wrong, and it’s not going to happen again,” Rosica said.

The college’s board chairman said in statement that the university takes the matter very seriously, and intends “to address the matter internally going forward.”

Rosica, a member of the Congregation of St. Basil, oversaw Toronto’s 2002 World Youth Day, and is currently assisting with the Vatican’s global summit on child sexual abuse.


Cardinal Cupich lays out framework for bishops' accountability

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The Church needs to establish a new rules and standards for the accountability of bishops regarding sex abuse and its mishandling, the Archbishop of Chicago said Friday at the Vatican.

“We must move to establish robust laws and structures regarding the accountability of bishops precisely to supply with a new soul the institutional reality of the Church’s discipline on sexual abuse,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said Feb. 22.

In his speech at the Meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences on Safeguarding of Minors,  Cupich stated that the Church needs to assume the role of a loving mother to her children in working to end the sexual abuse crisis, and how acting in a synodal, collegiate manner will result in much good.

Cupich laid out what he believes will be an effective framework for his brother bishops, with an increased number of responsibilities for metropolitan archbishops, to ensure accountability in combating the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church.

“My aim is to offer a framework that is in keeping with our ecclesiological and canonical traditions in order to spark conversations among ourselves, knowing that there are differences in culture, civil and canonical laws and other factors that need to be considered,” said Cupich, who added that he felt as though “decisive action” needed to be taken “without delay.”

Cupich said he believes each episcopal conference, province, or diocese should “collegially establish” a standard for the investigation of a bishop for potential misconduct or cover-up, and that the process of creating these standards should involve both lay experts and the use of a metropolitan archbishop.

“All mechanisms for reporting allegations of abuse or mishandling of abuse cases against a bishop should be transparent and well-known to the faithful,” said Cupich, adding that a direct line of contact to report abuse allegations to either an apostolic nuncio or metropolitan should be established.

The cardinal said he thought it would be useful for episcopal conferences to adopt a set of procedural steps that would both mesh with the traditions of the Church, and also “fulfill modern needs” for the identification and investigation of misconduct by bishops.

These procedures and norms need to include compassion for those who report abuse and their families, which includes providing access to counseling and other support at the expense of the diocese, as well as all reports of offenses being made public. A person who reports abuse should not fear any sort of discrimination or retaliation for their report, said Cupich, and he suggested that “due attention” be given to the involvement of laypersons who are experts in the process.

The role of the metropolitan archbishop should be increased, suggested Cupich, and the metropolitan should be able to recommend “precautionary measures” to dioceses with accused bishops, and the metropolitan should be free to request an authorization from the Holy See to investigate an allegation of abuse against a bishop.

“After the metropolitan receives authorization, he should gather all relevant information expeditiously, in collaboration with lay experts, to ensure the professional and rapid execution of the investigation,” which Cupich advised should be concluded promptly. A common fund could be established at different levels in order to pay for these new investigation techniques, said Cupich.

After the investigation, Cupich said the metropolitan archbishop would forward all information gathered to the Holy See, where the pope would then proceed to make a final decision in the ensuing penal process.

These new frameworks will require “steadfast trust and openness in identifying with the aid of everyone in the Church, and with due regard for the diverse cultures and the universality of our Church.”

In order for these changes to happen, Cupich said, the bishops need to adopt what he termed a “synodal vision” that is “rooted in discernment, conversion and reform at every level.” The Church, he explained, has a sacred bond with her members, much like the bond between a parent and child.

“The Church must truly be Pieta; broken in suffering, consoling in enveloping love, constant in pointing to the divine tenderness of God amidst the pangs of desolation in those who have been crushed by clergy abuse.”

O'Malley defends 'zero tolerance' approach to abusive priests

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinals and clergy participating in the Vatican’s sex abuse summit expressed conflicting views on the use of the term “zero tolerance” Friday, with some claiming that “zero tolerance” is an American concept with a legalistic focus.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, one of the pope’s primary advisors on sexual abuse, said he knows that “there is a lot of resistance to using the terminology” of zero-tolerance at the summit because some believe it sounds “secular.” But, the cardinal insisted that the principle was “clearly articulated” by Pope St. John Paul II.

“There is no place in ministry for someone who harms a child and that has to be a line in the sand. That is something that is so important for all of us,” O’Malley said at a Vatican press conference Feb. 22.

Father Federico Lombardi, acting moderator at the Vatican sex abuse summit, told the press he does not use the term “zero tolerance” when he writes about the protection of minors because its definition is limited compared to what Vatican meeting has set out to accomplish.

“‘Zero tolerance’ … clearly refers to a very limited aspect of the problem we are confronting because the entire dimension of the pastoral care for victims, accompaniment, the selection of members of the clergy, prevention in parishes and in our activities, the definition of zero tolerance does not cover these aspects. It refers to one way of punitive action against criminals,” Lombardi said.

“This is very important fundamental part, but it is one part of the entire area of the protection of minors, which I think is much broader than ‘zero tolerance,’” he continued.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta supported the notion of “zero tolerance,” saying that “we cannot allow anyone in ministry” who might harm the young, but stated that “the prudential approach is not primarily a criminal approach -- I’m not going to remove someone from ministry to punish them, but to protect the flock.”

Scicluna added that “those who don’t like the notion of ‘zero tolerance’ … don’t know what this means.”

“This is a principle already stated very clearly by John Paul II in his 23 April 2002 and this is what is to fuel every decision from the prudential and pastoral standpoint. It has a fundamental principle if the person is removed to spend a life of prayer and repentance,” he said.

O’Malley explained that in the United States’ Dallas Charter for the Protection of Minors “the commitment was no one could continue in ministry after having harmed a child,” and that he would “advocate for that everywhere.”

Others focused on “zero tolerance” as “an American and Canadian” concept. Lombardi said at the press conference, “As Cardinal O’Malley says, to the Americans, the Canadians, it means something very specific. Anybody who has committed a serious offence they cannot remain in ministry, well I agree, but when I talk about protection of minors, I am talking about a lot of other things as well.”

While O’Malley advanced the idea of an application of the American model of protection of minors elsewhere, Cupich warned against becoming “imperialists” from “the United States or from the Western world” in dealing with different areas of the world that do “not have the experience of talking about these very intimate personal issues in a public way.”

In response  to a question about the difficulty of cultural diversity in the meeting of the world’s bishops, Cupich added that “this is what synodality is about -- it is walking together with each other, but also maybe learning from their experience and their own culture that there are some things that we could improve on given the richness of their own culture.”

The second day of the the Vatican abuse summit focused on the theme of “accountability,” which included discussion of “zero tolerance.”

Sex abuse victims on the sidelines of the Vatican summit have been calling for “zero tolerance” for sex abuse for both abuses and bishops who cover-up abuse. Some survivors’ organizations, such as Ending Clergy Abuse, specified that for them “zero-tolerance” meant “laicization” for such bishops and abuser priests.

O’Malley explained that within current U.S. protocols, the specific promise of “zero tolerance” is that abuser priests will be removed from ministry in all cases.

“The conclusion wasn’t automatically that they would be laicized...and that if they were elderly or sickly that they would have prayer or penance. And some religious communities thought it was better to maintain that person within the community to be able to monitor them for the safety of children,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley also said that he has been told that the Holy See’s investigation on the American church’s handling of abuser Theodore McCarrick will be released “in the not too distant future.”

Scicluna also expressed a desire to someday release statistics from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on clerical abuse, and said that he had already spoken with Cardinal Luis Ladaria about the matter.

O’Malley clarified that the 21 reflection points given out to bishops on the first day of the summit were a compilation of points submitted by the bishops. “It wasn’t coming from [Pope Francis] himself.

On day two of the submit, Pope Francis circulated the United Nations’ document on the rights of a child among the presidents of bishops conferences gathered for the meeting.

Cardinal O’Malley said “there is a moral obligation to share this information with the civil authorities for the safety of children. I think that the terrible crisis that we have experienced in the USA is precisely because for so long these crimes were not being reported so reporting to me is a big part of the way forward and for the protection of children.”


Cardinal Gracias emphasizes collegiality to address sex abuse

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2019 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay called Friday for the “entire Church” to “act decisively to prevent abuse from occurring in the future and to do whatever possible to foster healing for victims.”

Calling the abuse suffered at the hands of those in the Church “a profound betrayal of trust,” he offered practical solutions mainly focused on fostering better communication on all levels of the Church’s hierarchy during a Feb. 22 speech at the Vatican.

“As serious as the direct abuse of children and vulnerable adults is, the indirect damage inflicted by those with directive responsibility within the Church can be worse by re-victimising those who have already suffered abuse,” the cardinal noted.

Gracias is one of the principal organizers of a Vatican summit taking place this week to address the sexual abuse of minors, which features the presidents of national bishops’ conferences worldwide.

Gracias himself admitted to the BBC Feb. 21 that he could have better handled sexual abuse allegations that were brought to him in the past, after several Indian victims of sexual abuse told the BBC that Gracias failed to respond quickly or offer support to victims.

Gracias said the way to address the crisis must involve the “regional, national, local-diocesan, and even parochial levels,” which all must work together to create binding measures and decisions. He noted a recent meeting of the bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example of the bishops of a nation coming together in a collegial manner to address national challenges.

“No bishop should say to himself, ‘I face these problems and challenges alone,’” Gracias underscored, speaking of the concepts of collegiality and synodality.

“Because we belong to the college of bishops in union with the Holy Father, we all share accountability and responsibility. Collegiality is an essential context for addressing wounds of abuse inflicted on victims and on the Church at large.”

Gracias cited a passage from Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution on the Church, which teaches that individual bishops are “obliged by Christ's institution and command to be solicitous for the whole Church.” He also noted that further development of “intercultural competences” and intercultural communication will help with effective decision making.

“The point is clear,” Gracias said.

“No bishop may say to himself, ‘This problem of abuse in the Church does not concern me, because things are different in my part of the world.’ We are each responsible for the whole Church. We hold accountability and responsibility together. We extend our concern beyond our local Church to embrace all the Churches with which we are in communion.”

Gracias pointed out that a culture of silence among bishops, unwilling to admit to mistakes and to engage other bishops in open conversation and point out “problematic behavior,” has contributed to the abuse crisis. He encouraged the cultivation of a culture of fraternal correction, where bishops are able to correct each other without offending the other, while also recognizing “criticism from a brother as an opportunity to better fulfil our tasks.”

He also called for better communication between bishops' conferences and Rome.

“We can always only take responsibility for something insofar as we are allowed to do so, and the more responsibility we are granted, the better we can serve our own flock,” he said.

Gracias highlighted three main themes for his brother bishops to reflect on: justice, healing, and pilgrimage.

“The sexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable people not only breaks divine and ecclesiastical law, it is also public criminal behaviour,” he said.

“The Church does not only live in an isolated world of its own making...Those who are guilty of criminal behaviour are justly accountable to civil authority for that behaviour.”

Although the Church is not an agent of the state, he said, the Church recognises the legitimate authority of civil law and the state and cooperates with civil authorities to bring justice to survivors. This is only possible if bishops and local Churches can work together to build an appropriate relationship with the state.

Healing for victims requires “clear, transparent, and consistent communication” from the Church as well, Gracias said, beginning with “a respectful outreach and an honest acknowledgement of their pain and hurt.”

“Although this would seem to be obvious, it has not always been communicated,” he said.

“Ignoring or minimising what victims have experienced only exacerbates their pain and delays their healing. Within a collegial Church, we can summon each other to attentiveness and
compassion that enable us to make this outreach and acknowledgement.”

Once the hurt has been acknowledged, the Church can offer to help victims heal with the help of “professional counselling to support groups of peers” or other means, and can then implement measures to prevent abuse in the future.

“Our Holy Father has wisely and correctly said that abuse is a human problem. It is not, of course, limited to the Church. In fact, it is a pervasive and sad reality across all sectors of life. Out of this particularly challenging moment in the life of the Church, we – again in a collegial context – can draw on and develop resources which can be of great service to a larger world.”

Finally, the cardinal reflected on the pilgrim nature of the Church, noting that “we know that we have not yet arrived at our destination,” and “we are a community that is called to continuous repentance and continuous discernment.”

“We must repent – and do so together, collegially – because along the way we have failed. We need to seek pardon. We must also be in a process of continuous discernment. In other words, together or collegially, we need to watch, wait, observe, and discover the direction that God is giving us in the circumstances of our lives,” Gracias said.

The cardinal concluded by reminding his brother bishops that undertaking these tasks is not their mission alone, but that these actions “are the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“So, let the last word be Veni, Sancte Spiritus, veni,” he concluded.

Analysis: In spite of itself, Vatican abuse summit may still do some good

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2019 / 12:32 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s abuse summit this week will not solve the problems plaguing the Catholic Church in the U.S.

In fact, it doesn’t aim to.

The summit was called by Pope Francis in September, shortly after he was accused of ignoring reports about the predatory behavior of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

But from the beginning, Pope Francis and meeting organizers have been disinclined to include in the summit's schedule any discussion of the issues the Church in the U.S. faces.

Conference organizers, including Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich, have insisted even this week that the summit will not discuss predatory homosexual behavior.
In a Feb. 22 press conference, Archbishop Charles Scicluna went so far as to acknowledge a reporter’s point that homosexual behavior in seminaries fosters a culture of cover-up, before he said, curtly, that “this has nothing to do with the sexual abuse of minors.”

Scicluna said this despite McCarrick’s coercion of both vulnerable seminarians and teenaged boys, and despite the fact that most clerical abuse of minors in the West has targeted post-pubescent boys.

In fact, the first reported victim of McCarrick was 16 and 17 at the time he was abused.

Is it possible to focus discussion so myopically and insistently on child sexual abuse as to ignore the idea that sexually abusing a 17-year-old might have something to do with sexual immorality among adults?

Will Catholics accept the presupposition that those who sexually abuse 17-year-olds have an entire different moral or psychological pathology than those who sexually abuse 18-year-olds, or who coerce them into the veneer of consent against the backdrop of an extraordinary power imbalance?

Those ideas, many Catholics will conclude, simply belie credibility.

The summit will also not discuss in-depth the need for mechanisms of accountability for negligent or malfeasant bishops, despite the fact that McCarrick’s behavior went unchecked even after it was reported multiple times, and the fact that several U.S. bishops now face charges of negligence or misconduct.

While Cupich gave a presentation on some approaches to procedural investigations, he presented only the plan that would vest investigative responsibility for bishops only in their archbishops, though lay experts, including the National Review Board in the U.S., have supported alternative proposals.

His address did not mention the potential for metropolitans to incur significant legal liability through the so-called “metropolitan model,” though this is a point of considerable importance with regard to the Church in the U.S.

Critics of the summit charge that the pope called this meeting mostly as a diversion from the accusations of negligence he’s faced personally, stemming from his handling of accused prelates in the U.S., South America, and Europe. The pope still faces questions about his handling of the cases of Chile’s Bishop Juan Barros, McCarrick, Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, whom Francis promoted despite evidence of serious sexual malfeasance, among others.

But even if the narrow focus of this meeting is intended to change the topic of global conversation, this week’s abuse summit can still do some real good for children around the world. There is a serious need for safeguarding policies in most of the developing world, and introducing them in the Church may catalyze their more widespread adoption.

But by design, the Vatican summit won’t answer the issues embroiling local churches in the U.S. And Catholics are especially frustrated because when U.S. bishops attempted to vote on a reform package in November, they were stopped by the Vatican, and advised to wait until after this week’s meeting. Now some bishops wonder what, exactly, they were supposed to be waiting for.

Real reform in the diocese of the U.S., it is becoming clear, will depend a great deal on local bishops making local changes in their local churches. Last month, the Archbishop of Baltimore announced a comprehensive whistleblower policy for his diocese, rather than wait for one to be introduced nationally. Other bishops can follow suit.

In response to the crisis, they can also develop more exacting local norms for screening seminary candidates, take up new approaches to leadership of their priests and lay employees, and they can commit to making themselves accountable to independent lay leaders.

The work of the Church continues in this country, even amid the crisis it faces. Catholic schools continue to educate millions of students, many of them poor. Catholic charities continue to serve the homeless, the undocumented, and the unseen. Catholic hospitals continue to treat the uninsured. And Catholic parishes continue striving to love the unloved- those whom Pope Francis says live on the “existential peripheries” of our society. The Church does all this in service to the Gospel it professes. But to continue to do so with credibility, the sexual abuse crisis must be addressed.

Neither the Vatican nor the national bishops’ conference has yet acted decisively to address the full scope of the crisis. And this week, the Vatican seems to have demonstrated key components of the crisis. But local bishops can, and without waiting for anyone else to act. Some have already begun that work, and the rest may soon be convinced to join them.


Women of Catholic Worker Movement on prayerful pilgrimage for abuse summit

Rome, Italy, Feb 22, 2019 / 05:02 am (CNA).- American women from the Catholic Worker Movement are in Rome this week to pray for the Vatican’s sexual abuse summit in emulation of Dorothy Day’s Roman pilgrimage to fast and pray for peace.

“We've all been very deeply grieved by the sex abuse crisis, and the crisis it has created for the entire Church,” Catholic Worker Movement leader Johanna Berrigan told CNA Feb. 21.

“It just dawned on us that this would be an important time to be in Rome, to bear witness to the suffering Church that we care deeply about and … we wanted to address ways for reform,” she said.

Through her involvement in the Catholic Worker Movement, a group dedicated to aiding and advocating for the poor, Berrigan co-founded the Catholic Worker Free Clinic for homeless and uninsured adults in Philadelphia in 1991 and opened another medical clinic in Haiti in 2005.

Berrigan, along with six other women, decided in November that they wanted to be in Rome as the summit was happening to pray and to give a voice to women, mothers, and lay people in the Vatican’s discussion of the issue.

“When we first heard about it, it was strictly bishops that were invited, we have since learned that there has been some lay involvement,” Berrigan explained.

Three of the nine official speakers at the Vatican sex abuse summit Feb. 21 - 24 are women, one of whom is a religious sister from Nigeria, Sister Veronica Openibo.

On the first day of the summit, the women were invited for a surprise visit to the US Embassy to the Holy See, where they met with Ambassador Callista Gingrich to discuss their perspective on the sex abuse crisis.

The seven Catholic Worker Movement women on pilgrimage meet each day to decide which historic churches they should visit to pray for the summit.

“We have an example in Dorothy Day, our foundress, who came to Rome in another significant point in the Church's history and she and a delegation of women came on pilgrimage to fast and pray for the Church to recognize 'conscientious objection,' and really calling for an end to nuclear weapons. So we have that in our history,” Berrigan said.

Dorothy Day, whose cause for canonization has been opened, founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin in 1933, starting soup kitchens, farm communities, and a Catholic newspaper. She dedicated her life to aiding and advocating for the poor and leading a life characterized by voluntary poverty and works of mercy.

During their time in Rome, the Catholic Worker Movement women attended a sex abuse survivors’ vigil sponsored by Ending Clergy Abuse Feb. 21 in solidarity with victims.

At the vigil, the women called for justice for survivors and an end to clericalism, as well as truth, reconciliation and healing for the entire Church.

“We care deeply about this Church, we are very, very grateful that Pope Francis has called this summit. It seems to be a step forward,” Berrigan said.

“The world is watching ... people of all faiths are watching to see what the outcome of [this summit] is going to be,” she said.

Tagle: Confront the 'stench of filth' caused by abuse

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2019 / 05:30 pm (CNA).- An expert on abuse prevention offered “practical suggestions” to participants at a Vatican summit on child sexual abuse on Thursday, while two cardinals encouraged bishops to work together to support victims of clerical abuse.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told the Vatican’s Meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences on Safeguarding of Minors that bishops should make know that Catholics have both “the duty and the right” to report any sort of clerical sexual misconduct or abuse to Church officials.

Scicluna advised that the contact information for Church leaders be made publicly available and easy to access. He called for the establishment of protocols governing how the Church handles abuse, and he encouraged Church leaders to cooperate with civil authorities and other experts on abuse.

“It is important that every allegation is investigated with the help of experts and that the investigation is concluded without unnecessary delay,” he said. He also noted that the practice of establishing review boards and safeguarding commissions has “proved to be beneficial” in areas where this is commonplace.

It can be helpful for bishops to work together and share their experiences in how they have dealt with their priests being accused of abuse, explained Scicluna.

“As shepherds of the Lord’s flock we should not underestimate the need to confront ourselves with the deep wounds inflicted on victims of sex abuse by members of the clergy,” he said, and said that bishops need to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Christ carry the cross, by assisting abuse victims who carry the cross of their abuse.

Scicluna, a canon lawyer, also called for just canonical processes that respect the rights of accused clerics.

“The essence of a just process requires that the accused is presented with all arguments and evidence against him; that the accused is given the full benefit of the right of presenting his defense; that judgement is given based on the facts of the case and the law applicable to the case; that a reasoned judgement or decision is communicated in writing to the accused and that the accused enjoy a remedy against a judgement or decision that aggrieves him,” said Scicluna.

A canonical penal process can have three results, explained Scicluna: one in which the accused is guilty; one in which neither the guilt nor innocence of the accused can be proven; or one in which the accused is exonerated.

While the guilty and innocent verdicts are relatively easy for a bishop to digest, a verdict of decisio dismissoria, where the guilt of the accused is unclear, can be problematic for bishops to deal with, Scicluna explained. In these situations, particularly when a claim of abuse is credible but not proven, a bishop or religious superior should exercise prudence, and consult with experts in deciding what to do next. Whatever step is taken, Scicluna said, it should be guaranteed that children and young people will be kept safe.

“An essential aspect of the exercise of stewardship in these cases is the proper interface with civil jurisdiction,” said Scicluna.

Misconduct that rises to a criminal level must be reported to state authorities, who can proceed to investigate the claim and punish the crime or award damages to victims. Bishops should be aware, he explained, that the conclusion of a criminal investigation and a canonical penal process may be different, and that there are different standards of evidence in these systems, as well as different statutes of limitations.

Working with civil authorities can help better safeguard children, he explained. Scicluna cited the example of a priest accused of possessing child pornography as a situation in which civil authorities are likely better equipped to investigate and charge someone than a Church official.

Scicluna encouraged his brother bishops to focus their efforts on preventing sexual abuse, which he said is achieved through a more thorough screening process of candidates for seminary, particularly on the topics of celibacy and chastity.

“A just and balanced understanding of the demands of priestly celibacy and chastity should be underpinned by a profound and healthy formation in human freedom and sound moral doctrine,” said Scicluna. Those studying to be priests need to “nurture and grow in that spiritual fatherhood” that should be their motivation for their work in ministry.

Bishops and religious superiors should also embrace a sense of spiritual fatherhood, he said, through the priests they lead. A good bishop will lead by example, and will follow abuse protocols and codes of conduct.

“Above all, the ordinary is responsible in guaranteeing and promoting the personal, physical, mental and spiritual well-being of his priests.”

Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Manila said in his Thursday address that bishops need to better understand the wounds caused by clerical sexual abuse, adding that he fears that bishops have “found the stench of filth inflicted on children and vulnerable people (they) were supposed to protect” to be “too strong to endure.”

Tagle drew inspiration from the Gospel story where Thomas doubts that Jesus has resurrected, and has to touch the wounds of Christ before he can proclaim that the Lord is his God. The action of touching Christ’s wounds was “fundamental to the act and confession of faith.”

Like Thomas, Tagle thinks that the bishops need to be “constantly in touch with the wounds of humanity,” which they can do by confronting the abuse crisis, their failings, and by providing assistance to those who are hurting.

“Our people need us to draw close to their wounds and acknowledge our faults if we are to give authentic and credible witness to our faith in the Resurrection,” said Tagle. He encouraged people to discard any fears of being wounded and to instead “draw close to the wounds of our people.”

Tagle argued that a two-pronged approach for both justice for those who were abused, as well as forgiveness for abusers is the best way for the Church to move forward in confronting the abuse crisis. He said it is not necessary to think in “either/or” terms, but rather, he advocates for a mentality of “both/and.”

“Regarding victims, we need to help them express their deep hearts and to heal from them,” said Tagle. “Regarding the perpetrators, we need to serve justice, help them to face the truth without rationalization, and at the same time not neglect their inner world, their own wounds.”

Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez of Bogota condemned a culture of clericalism as the “deeper root” of the abuse crisis. Clericalism, he said, is a force that converts ministry “into a means to impose force, to violate the conscience and the bodies of the weakest.”

Clericalism, said Gómez, has led to “serious errors of authority” and has exacerbated the abuse crisis in the Church. Bishops are “hardly ever aware” that clericalism underlies their ministry, he said, and there must be an effort to “unmask” this mentality and bring about positive changes.

Bishops are responsible for increasing their own awareness that they are dependent upon each other, and that the Church and her bishops have failed in the past in their response to abuse.

“We often proceed like the hirelings, who, on seeing the wolf coming, flee and leave the flock unprotected,” said Gómez. “Fleeing,” he said, took the form of ignoring claims of abuse, failing to assist survivors of abuse, or attempting to silence survivors with monetary settlements. This “clerical mentality” places the Church above both justice and the suffering experienced by those who were abused, he explained.

In order to effectively protect the vulnerable, Gómez called for both a unified front among the bishops, as well as a “Code of Conduct” for bishops that provides a framework for the best way to handle allegations of abuse by members of the clergy.

“Its obligatory nature will be a guarantee that we all act in unison and in the right direction, since it gives us clear norms to control our conduct and provides concrete suggestions for the necessary corrective measures,” he said, and also pointed out that this code of conduct would be “a concrete way of strengthening the communion that is born of episcopal collegiality.”


Suy niệm Lời Chúa: Chúa Nhật 7 TN - C (+Video)

Sn. Lời Chúa: Chúa Nhật 7 TN - C (+Video)
Tin Mừng hôm nay, Chúa Giêsu dạy về sự tha thứ, tha thứ cho cả kẻ thù: "Các con hãy yêu kẻ thù, hãy làm ơn, hãy chúc phúc, hãy cầu nguyện cho họ" (Lc 6,27).

Tha thứ là việc rất khó, cần ơn Chúa giúp. Ước gì chúng ta hãy khiêm tốn nài xin Chúa giúp. Mỗi khi gặp ai làm hại mình, hãy nhớ Chúa Giêsu trên Thánh Giá đã thưa: "Lạy Cha, xin tha cho họ vì họ không biết việc họ làm" (Lc 23,34). Mỗi khi đọc Kinh Lạy Cha, chúng ta hãy để ý câu xin tha nợ chúng con như chúng con cũng tha kẻ có nợ chúng con.


Lc 6,27-38

"Vì anh em đong bằng đấu nào, thì Thiên Chúa sẽ đong lại cho anh em bằng đấu ấy"
(Lc 6,38).

Tin Mừng hôm nay, Chúa Giêsu dạy về sự tha thứ, tha thứ cho cả kẻ thù: "Các con hãy yêu kẻ thù, hãy làm ơn, hãy chúc phúc, hãy cầu nguyện cho họ" (Lc 6,27).

Phải xác định ngay rằng kẻ thù ở đây là những người thù ghét làm hại chúng ta chứ không phải là những kẻ chúng ta thù ghét họ, vì các môn đệ của Chúa không được phép thù ghét ai.
Đứng trước kẻ thù ghét làm hại ta, ta thường có ba thái độ: thù ghét lại, hay tha thứ, hoặc làm ơn và muốn điều tốt cho họ.

Trả thù là chuyện thường tình của bản tính tự nhiên của con người. Hầu như ai cũng xử sự như thế. Ngay chính bản thân mỗi người, ai cũng đều có khuynh hướng đó. Lý do là vì bản năng sinh tồn đòi hỏi, vì tự ái thúc đẩy. Nếu không trả thù sẽ bị người khác chê cười là hèn nhát, không công bằng, sòng phẳng: vì mắt phải đền mắt, răng phải thế răng! Trong thực tế khi trả thù, thường người ta sẽ đi quá sự công bằng rất xa: không phải mắt đền mắt mà mắt có thể phải đền mạng, không phải răng thế răng, mà răng có thể phải thế bằng chân, bằng tay, v.v... Chúa Giêsu dạy: Hãy tha thứ, hãy làm ơn. Ai cũng biết lấy oán báo oán chỉ tăng thêm hận thù. Chỉ có tình thương tha thứ mới dập tắt được hận thù mà thôi. Tuy nhiên, vì tự ái, vì muốn đòi sự công bình, mà người ta luôn theo đuổi trả thù.

Thái độ thứ hai là tha thứ. Khi bị người khác làm hại, mà không trả thù lại thì đã là cao thượng, là bác ái lắm rồi. Đavid bị vua Saul truy nã để giết hại, nay có cơ hội để trả thù thế mà Đavid không dám vì sợ Chúa: không dám giết người đã được Chúa xức dầu làm vua Israel, chỉ cảnh cáo bằng cách lấy chiếc giáo và bình nước. Việc làm của Đavid được người đời ca ngợi là quảng đại, độ lượng. Chắc Đavid đã phải chiến đấu với bản năng muốn báo thù cách quyết liệt lắm mới chiến thắng được sự báo thù như  thế.
Tuy nhiên, Chúa Giêsu còn đòi những ai tin Chúa phải vươn cao hơn nữa, đó là không những không báo thù mà còn làm ơn, còn muốn sự tốt lành cho kẻ làm hại mình nữa. Mẫu gương mà Chúa Giêsu nêu ra cho chúng ta noi theo là chính Thiên Chúa, Đấng nhân hậu với cả phường vô ân và quân độc ác. "Ngài cho mặt trời mọc lên soi sáng kẻ xấu cũng như kẻ tốt và cho mưa xuống trên người công chính cũng như kẻ bất lương" (Mt 5,45).

Cụ thể hơn cả là chính Chúa Giêsu khi hấp hối trên Thánh Giá đã xin Chúa Cha tha thứ cho những kẻ giết hại mình.
Chắc chắn việc tha thứ và hơn nữa, làm ơn cho kẻ làm hại mình là một điều rất khó, nếu không có ơn Chúa giúp. Tuy nhiên, chúng ta cũng luôn phải xác tín rằng Chúa không bao giờ dạy chúng ta làm một điều mà Chúa biết rõ chúng ta không có khả năng để làm. Trong cuộc đời các thánh, chúng ta thấy biết bao người đã noi gương Chúa Giêsu tha thứ cho kẻ làm hại mình.

Thánh Stêphanô phó tế tử đạo tiên khởi, khi đang bị người biệt phái và luật sĩ ném đá chết đã xin Chúa tha cho kẻ đã giết mình. Thánh Giuse Đặng Đình Viên linh mục tử đạo đã hiền từ nói với hai người đến xin lỗi cha vì đã tố cáo chỗ cha ẩn nấp rằng: Cha đã tha thứ cho các con rồi. Thánh câu họ Emmanuel Lê Văn Phụng đã dặn con trai trước khi chết rằng hãy tha thứ, đừng tìm cách báo thù những người đã tố cáo cha. Và gần chúng ta nhất là Đức cố Giáo hoàng Gioan Phaolô II. Ngày 13/5/1981, Ngài đã bị Mahomet Ali Agca ám sát tại quảng trường Thánh Phêrô. Tháng 1-1984, Đức Giáo Hoàng đã đến tận nhà tù Rebibbia ở Rôma để tha thứ cho Ali Agca. Trong suốt 21 phút, ngài đã trò chuyện với Agca, âu yếm nắm lấy đôi bàn tay mà trước đó 3 năm đã nắm chặt khẩu súng để quyết tâm bắn chết ngài.

Tha thứ là việc rất khó, cần ơn Chúa giúp. Ước gì chúng ta hãy khiêm tốn nài xin Chúa giúp. Mỗi khi gặp ai làm hại mình, hãy nhớ Chúa Giêsu trên Thánh Giá đã thưa: "Lạy Cha, xin tha cho họ vì họ không biết việc họ làm" (Lc 23,34). Mỗi khi đọc Kinh Lạy Cha, chúng ta hãy để ý câu xin tha nợ chúng con như chúng con cũng tha kẻ có nợ chúng con. Ước gì trong năm "Sống đạo hôm nay" chúng ta cố gắng sống trọn vẹn luật yêu thương tha thứ của Chúa hơn.

Lạy Chúa,
Xin cho con quả tim của Chúa.
Để mặc lấy tâm tình bao dung tha thứ,
Vượt qua mọi hờn oán nhỏ nhen,

Mọi trả thù ti tiện,
Không một biến cố nào làm xáo trộn,
Không một đam mê nào khuấy động hồn con.
Xin cho con đừng quá vui khi thành công,

Cũng đừng quá bối rối khi gặp lời chỉ trích.
Xin cho quả tim con đủ lớn
Để yêu người con không ưa.
Xin cho vòng tay con luôn rộng mở
Để có thể ôm cả những người thù ghét con. Amen.

Polish sex abuse victims meet Pope Francis, release abuse report

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2019 / 02:16 pm (CNA).- A Polish delegation of sex abuse victims and advocates met Pope Francis Wednesday, and presented the pope with a report documenting alleged clergy sexual abuse cases and cover-up throughout their country.

“It was a very powerful moment for … [the] victims in Poland to see this gesture,” Anna Frankowska, a board member of the Have No Fear foundation, told CNA Feb. 21.

The pope met a delegation from Have No Fear, a Polish organization that hosts support groups for sex abuse victims, after his General Audience Feb. 20, and Francis silently kissed the founder’s hand.

“We recognize that is a very symbolic gesture, but it is not enough. We are demanding specific action,” Frankowska said.

The Polish group presented the pope with a Spanish copy of a report published this week documenting alleged “violations of civil and canon law by Polish bishops in the context of priests who engaged in sexual abuse of minors,” and said that Pope Francis “confirmed that he would read it.”

The report documents more than 20 cases of clergy sexual abuse and the responses by their respective Polish bishops. Unlike recent reports of clergy abuse in the United States, the documented cases are not from the 1960s-80s, but only come from the last three decades.

In the report, Have No Fear accuses 24 former and current Polish bishops of having protected or transferred child-abusing priests.

“Since 2005, the Catholic Church has been particularly involved in efforts to protect children and young people against sexual abuse by clerics,” a Polish bishops' conference document states.

At least 11 of the cases listed in the report occurred after 2005, and four are alleged to have taken place as recently as 2011-2012.

In one case, a priest who had been convicted and sentenced to prison in the United States for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2005, was deported to Poland, where he served as a parish priest working with young people beginning in 2009, and worked as a religious educator in a middle school.

The priest, Father Roman Kramek, testified to U.S. police that “he had intercourse as a therapeutic tool in order to help the girl forget an earlier rape,” according to the report.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was notified of the case nearly ten years later, in October 2018, and Kramek continues to serve as a parish priest in Poland, according to Have No Fear.

The Polish bishops' conference responded to the report by “strongly and decisively condemn[ing] all sexual abuse of minors in the Church and in society as a whole.”

“In the Catholic Church, every believer can present his case to the Holy Father as the Supreme Pastor. The Holy See, on the other hand, has the opportunity to evaluate and verify reported cases,” Polish bishops’ spokesman Father Pawel Rytel-Andianik told CNA.

“According to the Church and civil law, there is the principle of presumed innocence of a person until the contrary is proven,” he said, adding that various dioceses in Poland were already claiming misinformation in the report.

Recently, the Polish bishops' conference took additional steps to further develop prevention programs and meet with victims.

In August 2018, diocesan bishops in Poland decided to develop a prevention program for every Polish diocese against crimes of sexual abuse of children.

A Child Protection Center was established in 2014 to provide “training and educational activities in the psychological, pedagogical and spiritual fields related to the sexual abuse of minors and the preparation and development of prevention programs and examples of good practice for various pastoral, formative and educational environments in order to help them create safe environments for children and adolescents.”

Have No Fear was founded in 2013 and became affiliated with the international network Ending Clergy Abuse in 2016. The group updates a “Map of Clerical Abuse in Poland” online, which maps out 384 victims, 85 convicted perpetrators, and 95 instances of abuse reported by victims.

In the past year, the organization delivered a letter to Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezo requesting the establishment of an independent committee to analyze the scale of clerical sex abuse in Poland, abolish the statute of limitations for such offenses, hold accountable perpetrators and their superiors who conceal abuse, and provide victims of abuse with full access to the files of their canon law proceedings.

“We look in particular to the situation in Chile, where the pope dismissed bishops. We think that the situation in Poland is quite similar to the situation in Chile, and the time to act is now,” Frankowska told CNA.

Last May all of the bishops of Chile presented Pope Francis with written resignations following a CDF investigation into episcopal cover-up of the sexual abuse of Father Fernando Karadima.

“We believe that we are still years behind other jurisdictions,” she continued. “For a long time victims were ostracized or were afraid to speak out. Things are slowly changing.”

Suy niệm Lời Chúa: Thứ Bảy Tuần 6 TN - Năm lẻ (+ video)

Sn. Lời Chúa: Thứ Bảy Tuần 6 TN (+ video)
Chúa Giêsu biến hình để cho các môn đệ thấy hình ảnh vốn có của Ngài

Chúa Giêsu biến hình để cho các môn đệ thấy hình ảnh vốn có của Ngài. Chúng ta cũng thường biến hình, nhưng biến từ hình ảnh Thiên Chúa mới tạo dựng, thành hình ảnh méo mó xấu xa vì tội lỗi. Chính vì thế mà chúng ta phải cố gắng rà lại cuộc sống của mình và làm cho cuộc sống mỗi ngày tốt hơn.

Mc 9,2-13

"Đây là Con Ta yêu dấu, hãy vâng nghe lời Người."

(Mc 9,7)

1. Chúa Giêsu biến hình để cho các môn đệ thấy hình ảnh vốn có của Ngài.

Chúng ta cũng thường biến hình, nhưng biến từ hình ảnh Thiên Chúa mới tạo dựng, thành hình ảnh méo mó xấu xa vì tội lỗi.

Léonard de Vinci là một họa sĩ trứ danh vào thế kỷ XVI, quê ở gần thành Florence nước Ý. Lần kia cha bề trên tu viện Sancta Maria delle Grazie nhờ họa sĩ vẽ cho ngài một bức ảnh lớn "Chúa Giêsu đang dùng bữa tiệc ly với 12 tông đồ", để trang trí tại phòng ăn. Theo ý cha bề trên, các nhân vật trong bức ảnh phải vẽ theo hình dạng của người địa phương. Chính vì thế họa sĩ phải đi tìm người làm kiểu mẫu để vẽ hình Chúa Giêsu trước hết. Hôm ấy, ngày lễ bổn mạng nhà thờ Milan, khi vào dự thánh lễ, họa sĩ thấy một thanh niên đang giúp lễ. Thanh niên này chừng độ 18 tuổi, mặc áo dòng trắng, người cao và gầy. Tóc quăn như sóng dợn. Mặt mũi vui tươi, biểu lộ một tâm hồn trong trắng. Hai con mắt sáng sủa hiền từ với nụ cười duyên dáng luôn nở trên môi. Lễ xong, họa sĩ Léonard liền vào phòng thánh gặp chàng thanh niên mà hỏi:
- Tên em là gì?
Chàng thanh niên mỉm cười trả lời:
- Thưa ông, tên tôi là Pietro Bandinelli, tôi đang học la-tinh với cha sở, để sau vào chủng viện làm linh mục.
Họa sĩ đã  nhờ thanh niên này ngồi làm kiểu mẫu để vẽ hình Chúa Giêsu. Khi vẽ xong, ai cũng phải khen ngợi là hình giống Chúa Giêsu, rất đẹp và sống động. Sau ba năm trổ tài, họa sĩ vẽ xong mười một tông đồ khác. Chỉ còn thiếu mỗi hình Giuda. Họa sĩ đã vào các nhà tù, tìm gặp các phạm nhân để làm kiểu mẫu, nhưng không tìm được ai xứng hợp. Lần kia, tình cờ đang đi trong một ngõ hẻm, thì gặp một người đàn ông say rượu, đang đi thất thểu, ngã tới ngã lui. Mặt mũi còm cõi hốc hác, tóc tai rối bời. Họa sĩ Léonard de Vinci liền kéo giấy và lấy bút để vẽ người này làm hình Giuda. Vẽ xong, họa sĩ Léonard hỏi người say rượu:
- Anh tên là gì?
Người đó trả lời
- Tên tôi là Pietro Bandinelli...
Nghe vậy họa sĩ Léonard giật mình, hỏi thêm:
- Có phải trước đây 3 năm, anh đã giúp lễ trong nhà thờ thành Milan không?
Người say rượu trả lời:
- Thưa phải.

Lúc ấy họa sĩ Léonard thở dài kêu lên: "Ôi con người chóng thay đổi dường nào? Người mà trước đây 3 năm, tôi đã dùng làm kiểu mẫu vẽ hình Chúa Giêsu, thì cũng con người ấy, hôm nay tôi lại dùng để làm kiểu mẫu vẽ hình Giuda phản bội" (Cổ tích tạp chí trang 21).

Có lẽ chúng ta chưa đến mức độ như thế, nhưng nhìn lại và so sánh với hình ảnh của Chúa Giêsu nơi mỗi người chúng ta có lẽ nhiều lúc chúng ta cũng phải giật mình!

2. Chính vì thế mà chúng ta phải cố gắng rà lại cuộc sống của mình và làm cho cuộc sống mỗi ngày tốt hơn.

Cha Laminfgal là một linh mục rất nổi tiếng trong việc giáo dục thanh thiếu niên bụi đời. Một lần nọ, có cậu bé mới tám tuổi đã phạm tội giết cả cha mẹ và cướp nhà băng. Cảnh sát đã nhiều lần bắt em, nhưng không thể bỏ tù vì em quá nhỏ, phải 12 tuổi mới bị giam tù được. Cảnh sát đành bó tay không biết làm sao, nhưng nếu thả em ra, em lại tiếp tục làm những điều gian ác khác. Sau cùng, họ gọi điện thoại cho cha Lamingal xin ngài nhận em trong trường của ngài. Không chút do dự, cha trả lời:
- Được, cứ đem em tới đây.
Chính em sau này đã kể lại:
- Hôm ấy, em được cảnh sát đem xe chở tới trường của cha Lamingal, dọc đường em tự nhủ, nếu đến nơi mà cha mở miệng nói thương em, em sẽ giết ngài ngay tại chỗ.
Đến cửa phòng cha, cảnh sát đứng ngoài gõ cửa. Từ trong phòng, cha mở cửa cho họ vào. Vừa thấy em, cha vui vẻ nói:
- Ồ, cậu bé này là ai đây?
- Thưa cha, David.
- Đúng, đúng lắm. Con là David, cả trường đang đợi con đấy. Cha mừng vì con đã tới. Có lẽ con cũng thích đi quanh trường một vòng xem các lớp học, nơi làm việc, phòng ăn, phòng ngủ và bạn bè. Đây là Henry. Henry sẽ dẫn con đi xem trường và nếu con muốn, con có thể chọn một nghề mà con ưa thích. Nhưng chưa có gì phải vội đâu, con cứ thong thả, lát nữa cha sẻ nói chuyện với con sau.

Và David kể tiếp:
Cha Lamingal chỉ nói với em có bấy nhiêu thôi, không thêm bớt chút nào nữa. Nhưng thật ra, sau mấy phút gặp gỡ cha lúc đó cũng đủ để đổi thay toàn bộ cuộc đời em.
David thú nhận, đó lần đầu tiên em nhìn thẳng vào mắt một người. Người ấy không nói là người ấy thương em, nhưng qua ánh mắt, người ấy nói với em rằng: "Con là đứa trẻ tốt. Con không phải là đứa trẻ xấu xa và phạm nhiều tội ác".

Và từ ngày đó, em nhất quyết thay đổi đời sống để càng ngày càng trở nên tốt hơn.
Lạy Chúa, xin biến con, để con được trở nên giống Chúa hơn. Amen.