President of U.S. Bishops' Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address "Moral Catastrophe"
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement after a series of meetings with members of the USCCB's Executive Committee and other bishops. The following statement includes three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican. A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.
Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:
"Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report. Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.
The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.
We have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.
The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
Allow me to briefly elaborate on the goals and criteria that we have identified.
The first goal is a full investigation of questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians, and others who are vulnerable in the future. We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.
The second goal is to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier. Our 2002 "Statement of Episcopal Commitment" does not make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops. We need to update this document. We also need to develop and widely promote reliable third-party reporting mechanisms. Such tools already exist in many dioceses and in the public sector and we are already examining specific options.
The third goal is to advocate for better procedures to resolve complaints against bishops. For example, the canonical procedures that follow a complaint will be studied with an eye toward concrete proposals to make them more prompt, fair, and transparent and to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process.
We will pursue these goals according to three criteria.
The first criterion is genuine independence. Any mechanism for addressing any complaint against a bishop must be free from bias or undue influence by a bishop. Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation, or from skewing their resolution.
The second criterion relates to authority in the Church. Because only the Pope has authority to discipline or remove bishops, we will assure that our measures will both respect that authority and protect the vulnerable from the abuse of ecclesial power.
Our third criterion is substantial involvement of the laity. Lay people bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.
Finally, I apologize and humbly ask your forgiveness for what my brother bishops and I have done and failed to do. Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick or the many abuses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else), we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership. The result was that scores of beloved children of God were abandoned to face an abuse of power alone. This is a moral catastrophe. It is also part of this catastrophe that so many faithful priests who are pursuing holiness and serving with integrity are tainted by this failure.
We firmly resolve, with the help of God's grace, never to repeat it. I have no illusions about the degree to which trust in the bishops has been damaged by these past sins and failures. It will take work to rebuild that trust. What I have outlined here is only the beginning; other steps will follow. I will keep you informed of our progress toward these goals.
Let me ask you to hold us to all of these resolutions. Let me also ask you to pray for us, that we will take this time to reflect, repent, and recommit ourselves to holiness of life and to conform our lives even more to Christ, the Good Shepherd."
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. Dinardo, Executive Committee, clergy sex abuse, Pennsylvania, grand jury report, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, laity, experts, Vatican, transparency, accountability.
President of U.S. Bishops' Conference and Committee Chairman Response to Pennsylvania Grand Jury ReportWASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is hosting a series of meetings this week responding to the broader issue of safe environments within the Church. An update will be offered upon their conclusion.
In response to today's Pennsylvania grand jury report, Cardinal DiNardo joins Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, in issuing the following joint statement. Bishop Doherty is Chairman for the USCCB's Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The full statement follows:
"The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades. We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse. As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.
We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank. The USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the office of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen.
The Pennsylvania grand jury report covers a span of more than 70 years. In 2002 the U.S. Catholic bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse. This Charter was revised and updated in 2011 and again in 2018. We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone. All policies and procedures regarding training and background check requirements are made publicly available by dioceses and eparchies.
We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in God's loving presence as the Church pledges to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice."
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, Pennsylvania, Grand Jury Report, sexual abuse, clergyman, U.S. bishops, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, prevention, accompaniment, accountability, justice.
WASHINGTON—Following the publication of the revised section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the change and echoed the call to end the death penalty in the United States.
The full statement follows:
"Today, we welcome the Holy Father's decision to revise the Catechism and its explanation of the Church's teaching on the death penalty. All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, and the dignity bestowed on them by the Creator cannot be extinguished, even by grave sin, such that all persons, from conception until natural death possess inalienable dignity and value that points to their origin as sons and daughters of God. The new section in the Catechism is consistent with the statements of Pope Francis' teaching on the death penalty, including his 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, as well as the statements of his predecessors. Pope Benedict the XVI urged 'the attention of society's leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty,' and Pope St. John Paul II observed that 'Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this."
"For decades the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for the end of the death penalty in the United States. As the revised Catechism states, 'more effective systems of detention…which ensure the due protection of citizens' exist, ones that also maintain the human dignity of all. It is our hope that today's announcement will bring new attention to this critical issue, and speed along the end of this practice, which, as Pope Francis has said in the light of the Gospel, is 'inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.'"
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pope Francis, Catechism, death penalty, inalienable dignity, U.S. Congress, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II
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President of U.S. Bishops Conference Issues Statement on Course of Action Responding to Moral Failures on Part of Church Leaders
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement noting the steps the U.S. Bishops Conference will take in addressing the failures of the Church in protecting the people of God.
Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:
"The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people's lives and represent grave moral failures of judgement on the part of Church leaders.
These failures raise serious questions. Why weren't these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn't this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?
Archbishop McCarrick will rightly face the judgement of a canonical process at the Holy See regarding the allegations against him, but there are also steps we should be taking as the Church here in the United States. Having prayed about this, I have convened the USCCB Executive Committee. This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our General Assembly in November. All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB. This work will take some time but allow me to stress these four points immediately.
First, I encourage my brother bishops as they stand ready in our local dioceses to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the Church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them.
Second, I would urge anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the Church to come forward. Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement.
Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick's conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.
Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.
Let us pray for God's wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul's instruction: 'Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect' (Romans 12:2)."
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, USCCB Executive Committee, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, moral failure, seminaries, human dignity, canonical process, Holy See, General Assembly
Mary Pat Donoghue Named as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
WASHINGTON—Mary Pat Donoghue has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Monsignor Brian Bransfield, USCCB Secretary General, made the appointment, which will take effect August 13, 2018.
Over her 28 years of service to Catholic education, Ms. Donoghue is perhaps best known for her tenure as Principal of St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she led the effort to move the parish school from near failure to a now-thriving and growing institution. Before then, she served as a Vice Principal and as a teacher in the classroom; since then, she has consulted nationwide with superintendents, pastors, and principals, sharing her experience in teacher formation and supervision, curriculum implementation, and financial stability, in conjunction with the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.
"In all of her endeavors, Mary Pat has brought a strong enthusiasm for the special role of Catholic education in the evangelical mission of the Church," said Msgr. Bransfield. "I am grateful to her for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Conference."
"I am humbled and honored to support the vital work of our bishops in the area of Catholic education," said Ms. Donoghue, "and to support diocesan leaders in fulfilling the Church's beautiful vision for the formation of our young people."
Mary Pat holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, and a Master's in Education Administration from Trinity University, Washington, D.C. A native of the Washington, DC area, Mary Pat currently resides in Silver Spring, MD.
For more information on the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/index.cfm.
If you would like a photo image of Ms. Donoghue, please contact email@example.com.
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Secretariat of Catholic Education, Mary Pat Donoghue, Monsignor Brian Bransfield, Catholic education