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Posted on 11/16/2018 08:06 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Oxford, Ohio, Nov 16, 2018 / 12:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A pro-life display at an Ohio university has been vandalized three times since it was erected Monday by the school’s pro-life organization.
Students for Life America at Miami University’s Oxford campus had constructed a Cemetery of Innocents – a memorial which stood with white crosses and several pro-life signs.
Set up on Nov. 12, the memorial was a reminder of the gravity of abortion in the U.S. One of the signs read “Each Cross Represents 10 Babies who Die by Abortion Each Day” and another sign advertised Project Rachel, a healing ministry for women after an abortion.
Students of the university are believed to have participated in the vandalism, which began on Monday night when the sign explaining the crosses’ significance was knocked down. The other sign was reportedly stolen.
President of Students for Life, Ellie Wittman, told the Miami Student that the group reported the act to the Miami University Police Department shortly after it happened.
“We can’t say we didn’t expect the vandalism, but we would hope our fellow students would respect our right to free speech,” she said.
The display was then vandalized again on Tuesday, but this time the crosses were also pulled from the ground and thrown into recycling bins. After it was reported to campus police again, the display was then torn down about an hour and a half later.
A pro-abortion banner was also hung Tuesday night near the Cemetery of Innocents. The Miami Student reported that the sign read “Each Cross Represents 10 Women who Made One of the Hardest Decisions of Their Lives.”
The individual or group behind the vandalism has not yet been identified. However, the university’s Dean of Students Kimberly Moore said the school condemned the act.
“Such destructive behavior is not acceptable in our community and we must all join together to condemn it in the strongest possible terms. All Miami University students and student organizations have the right to free speech,” she said in a public announcement, according to the Catholic Telegraph.
Sarah Wilhem, social chair of the university’s Students for Life chapter, was disappointed over the vandalism. She expressed hope for more respectful dialogue in the future, the Catholic Telegraph reported.
“Students for Life had hoped for a more civil response that sparked conversation. Instead our display was vandalized multiple times which does not align with Miami’s values and is completely unacceptable. I hope that in the future our community can have a more constructive dialogue,” she said.
Posted on 11/16/2018 02:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Columbus, Ohio, Nov 15, 2018 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ohio House has once again passed a pro-life bill that would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected.
“This bill basically says if there is a heartbeat you cannot abort. If there is a heartbeat, there is life…there is no debating that,” said Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, according to Dayton Daily News.
On Nov. 15, the heartbeat bill passed the House 58-35. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate before the legislative session ends in December.
If the bill becomes law, it would ban abortions at around six weeks, or once a baby’s heart beat is detected. It does not make an exception for incest or rape.
Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, pushed for an amendment which would mandate sex education in K-12 schools in Ohio. This amendment has been tabled.
The bill had originally passed in 2016, but was vetoed by Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). The recent vote in the House was two shy of the 60 votes it needs to override a potential veto.
Kasich has signed into law 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week ban; the heartbeat bill is the single one he has vetoed.
Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice have opposed the bill. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, said the bill would bring back dangerous methods of abortion procedures.
In the past, the bill was supported by pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List. However, Ohio Right to Life pushed back against the bill, noting that similar legislation in other states have been overturned by the courts.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in 2016 that the U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear appeals to those cases.
“Legal scholars believe that asking the Court to entertain a third heartbeat law at this time would cause irreparable harm to the pro-life movement,” he said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, abortions increased last year by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Out of the 20,893 abortions performed in 2017, the report stated, almost half of those were conducted after nine weeks of the pregnancy.
“Abortion is an assault on the family. Abortion is an assault on Ohio because it destroys the hearts and minds of women,” said state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, according to Dayton Daily News.
Posted on 11/16/2018 00:11 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Legislation could help advance religious freedom and human rights in China’s far western province of Xinjiang, say U.S. lawmakers concerned about the treatment of the region’s Uyghur minority.
“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said.
The bill will signal “that we will not tolerate Chinese government intrusions on American soil,” said the senator.
The bill calls for the immediate closure of reported internment camps in Xinjiang. It asks the FBI to report on harassment and intimidation of ethnic Uyghurs. It calls for the State Department to report on the scale and scope of the reported crackdown.
It also advocates the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf Religious Freedom Act, which ensures U.S. foreign policy commitments to international religious freedom. It calls for targeted sanctions to be considered against individual human rights abusers in Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party, and in state security.
Following a two-day review of China’s record in August, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has said that up to 1 million Uyghurs could be currently held against their will and without trial in extra-legal detention, on the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.
Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in the Senate on Nov. 14. U.S. Rep Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), introduced the House version of the bill with lead Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
“The internment of over a million Uighurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”
A high-tech security network has been set up in Xinjian, with many police checkpoints and surveillance cameras, the Washington Post reports.
On Nov. 6 China rejected a U.N. review that criticized its human rights record in Xinjian. It has repeatedly characterized the region as a place recovering from extremism, saying it is stabilizing the area with training centers that help train former extremists for employable skills.
Chinese officials have claimed that the criticism of its human rights record is “politically driven.” They have said Islamist militants and separatists are a serious threat in the far western Xinjiang province and charge that they plot attacks and create tension between the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority and the Han Chinese majority, Reuters has reported.
Several countries have asked China to allow independent U.N. observers into the region, without success.
Smith said the legislation gives the Trump administration “the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture, and language of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province.”
He said that U.S. businesses should be barred from “helping China create a high-tech police state” in the province.
“The situation in Xinjiang and China’s treatment of its Uighur Minority is beyond abhorrent,” added Menendez. “The President needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime.”
In addition to the U.S., several western countries have criticized the camps and called for them to be closed: the U.K., Canada, France and Germany.
On Oct. 10 the Congressional-Executive Commission on China emphasized what it called “the dire human rights situation inside China and the continued downward trajectory by virtually every measure,” since Xi Jinping came to power as general secretary of the Communist Party and now its president.
Rubio chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Smith is its co-chair. The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and rule of law developments in China.
Posted on 11/15/2018 23:34 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:34 pm (CNA).- I love CNA’s newsrooms.
In Denver, DC, and in Rome, our newsrooms are staffed with smart Catholics, telling interesting stories about the Church and the world. We have great conversations, vigorous debate, and occasionally we have candy taste-test tournaments.
For me, at least, it’s fun, inspiring, and informative to hang out in our newsrooms, with the journalists of Catholic News Agency.
We’ve launched a new podcast that aims to invite you into the conversation. Each episode of CNA Newsroom will give you a rundown of Catholic news, a conversation with one of CNA’s journalists going in-depth on a story or issue, and some commentary or analysis. Sometimes we’ll interview interesting or unusual people. Sometimes we’ll do narrative-style audio reporting. Sometime we’ll let our reporters Mary Rezac and Perry West argue over whether Parks and Rec is better than the Office. (It is.)
I’ll be your host, and usually I’ll be joined by one of CNA’s editors. Kate Veik is our executive producer, and she’s joined in production duties by Jonah McKeown. Our format might develop with time, because things in our newsroom often develop, and we want to bring you the best Catholic news podcast we can produce. We’ll look forward to your feedback and ideas.
Our first episode, which we released today, features reporting, interviews, and analysis from this week’s meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our website. I hope you’ll give it a listen, and let us know what you think.
Welcome to the CNA Newsroom.
Posted on 11/15/2018 22:44 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See face a class action lawsuit filed by six men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy during their childhoods. They are seeking financial damages as well as public contrition and reparation from the Church.
The 80-page suit filed Nov. 13 claims that the Vatican and the bishops knew about - and covered up for - the “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others at the hands of active members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives.
The suit opens by invoking two passages of Scripture: “(B)ut people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed,” and: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, expose them.”
Rather than protect the plaintiffs, the lawsuit says Church leaders protected and - “incredibly” - promoted the offenders.
These kinds of “wrongful actions, inaction, omissions, cover-up, deception, and concealment” create a “conspiracy of silence to their financial and reputational benefit and to Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ personal, mental, psychological, and financial detriment.” These actions are “ongoing and continuous” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. by four attorneys representing six individuals who lived in six different states at the time the abuse occurred - Iowa, California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It does not specifically detail the cases of abuse reportedly suffered by the individuals.
The attorneys who filed the suit are Mitchell Toups, Richard Coffman, Joe Whatley Jr., and Henry Quillen, who have previous experience with similar lawsuits on behalf of victims of clerical sex abuse.
Coffman, one of two attorneys on the case from Beaumont, Texas, told the Beaumont Enterprise that he has been watching the unfolding of the recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and felt the “time was right” to file this lawsuit.
“(S)omething needs to be done about this problem," he told the Enterprise.
"There's just a louder and louder outcry going on across the United States for the Catholic church to do something about this situation," Coffman added.
The lawsuit was filed during the autumn plenary assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore, during which the bishops voted down a proposal that would have “encouraged” the Vatican to “release soon” all documents related to the allegations of misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose case has been at the center of the abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S. that have unfolded over the past five months.
At the beginning of the meeting, president of the conference Cardinal Daniel DiNardo also announced a Vatican order that the bishops not vote on any proposed solutions to the abuse crisis until a meeting in Rome in February with other bishops' conferences, a move that the lawsuit said was merely “kicking the can down the road again.”
Several U.S. bishops expressed their disappointment with the order, and the sex abuse crisis still featured as a prominent point of discussion at the meeting, though no action was taken.
The suit also claims that the bishops and the Vatican violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, aimed at organized crime, because the bishops engaged in federal mail fraud and wire fraud in the cover-up of abuse. The Catholic Church in the U.S. is an “unincorporated association” and therefore qualifies as an organization that can be held to RICO standards, it states.
The plaintiffs are seeking “compensatory damages, economic damages, punitive damages, RICO treble damages, medical monitoring, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and court costs.”
They also seek relief that would compel the Vatican and the bishops to “comply with various state statutes requiring them to report the abusive Clergy to law enforcement or other responsible authorities, terminate the abusive Clergy, identify the abusive Clergy to the general public so that parents may protect their children going forward, release documents evidencing such Clergy abuse to achieve transparency, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper.”
Spokespersons for the USCCB have told several media outlets that the conference will not comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.
Posted on 11/15/2018 11:49 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Arlington, Va., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Virginia Catholics are praising the decision of a joint commission of the state legislature to take no action on a study on assisted suicide.
Last year, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) asked the Virginia state legislature to consider legalizing so-called “medical aid-in-dying” or physician-assisted suicide.
After receiving public comment, the Joint Commission on Health Care, which was tasked with studying the issue, voted 10-6 on November 7 to take no action on the issue.
“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington told the Arlington Catholic Herald.
“The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!” he added.
In a statement posted to the Virginia Catholic Conference website, director of the conference Jeff Caruso said that voters’ voices had been “heard loud and clear” on the issue.
“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you,” he said.
Of the 3,000 comments against assisted suicide received by the commission, about 2,000 of them them were submitted through the Catholic Conference, Caruso told the Arlington Catholic Herald.
“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that's the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” he said.
Caruso said it was “very significant” that the commission declined to take action on assisted suicide, because it is something that could be helpful in the continued fight against legalizing it in the future.
The vote included all of the commission’s Republicans, as well as one vote from a Democrat on the commission. One of the commissioners who voted against assisted suicide was a surgeon, another was a physician.
Del. Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg), who has experience as a surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.
“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”
The commission did pass several measures to improve health care in the state’s jails and prisons, including actions aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse.
Kory told the Virginia Mercury that she would not propose any assisted suicide legislation this year.
The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.
Posted on 11/15/2018 08:27 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Cambridge, Mass., Nov 15, 2018 / 12:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After Sex Week at Harvard University this year, the Catholic Student Association hosted a series of talks designed to offer insight on the Catholic understanding of sexuality.
Hosted Nov. 6-8, this was the first Catholic Sex Week the student organization had conducted. The events followed Harvard Sex Week on Oct. 28-Nov.4, which included discussions on polyamory, fetishes, and contraception.
Jack Clark, vice president of intellectual development for the Catholic Student Association, helped organize Catholic Sex Week, which he said was not a rebuttal to Harvard Sex Week but an opportunity for people to learn a different perspective on sexuality.
“After Harvard Sex Week, we kind of did a few events of our own just to get people talking, to present the Catholic view of sexuality,” Clark told CNA.
“I think the biggest goal was to educate ourselves and to a lesser extent the Harvard community on the reasoning and the belief behind the Catholic view on sex and sexuality.”
The event included three discussions – featuring as speakers Fr Patrick Fiorillo, the undergraduate chaplain; Steve and Helene Bowler, a Catholic married couple; and Dr. Janet Smith, the keynote speaker who also holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
At the talk on Tuesday, Fiorillo explained in detail some of the points in Humanae vitae, the landmark encyclical reaffirming Church teaching against contraception, which marked its 50th anniversary earlier this year.
On Wednesday, married couple Steve and Helene Bowler shared their personal experience transitioning from a failure to live out the Church’s teaching on contraception to an eventual cooperation with it. Clark said the family is sympathetic to the difficulty of this teaching, but emphasized the spiritual growth it has produced.
Smith spoke on Thursday about the topic “Why sex is complicated.” The discussion approached a general understanding of the Catholic teaching on sexuality and how it differed from a do-what-you-want attitude, said Clark.
“Dr. Smith’s talk was really emphasizing the role of sex and how it can’t be separated from real emotional intimacy, from procreation, from the family, and obviously, from a Catholic perspective, we look at men and women as complementary.”
The first two talks were held at the Catholic center and attracted about 30 people each. The third event was held on campus and welcomed 60 attendees. Jack was not sure if any non-Catholics attended the events, and said he did not yet know if the series would be repeated next year, but he said he sees the talks as a success.
“I don’t think there is a plan to set this up as an annual thing, but we certainly want to build on the moment that we created. I think people are talking about Catholic views on sexuality more than they have been… I am excited to see where that energy goes, whether it is reading groups or discussions or more talks.”
Posted on 11/15/2018 03:31 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Buffalo, N.Y., Nov 14, 2018 / 07:31 pm (CNA).- Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York has come under fire for reportedly spending an estimated $200,000 to renovate his new home - a former convent near St. Stanislaus Church.
Malone had announced in April that he would sell his bishop’s mansion to help pay for compensation for victims of sexual abuse in the diocese. He has since moved into his new residence with his priest assistant.
Internal diocesan documents and emails detailed the cost of the renovation, and were released in a Nov. 12 report from Charlie Specht of local news station WKBW. The estimated expenses include $22,000 for ramp access for handicapped visitors, $30,000 for landscaping, $7,200 to install WiFi, and $46,000 for a garage addition and a parking spot for staff.
Malone wrote in email released by WKBW that a visiting priest was “alarmed about my living in such a run down neighborhood” when Malone took him by the new residence.
“I wasn’t surprised by [the priest’s] reaction...no successor of mine would want to go there!” Malone wrote.
Publicly, however, Malone has told the press that he was looking forward to moving in, and said “it’s a good thing for me to be over there” in a neighborhood where “there are some encouraging signs.”
Last month, Siobhan O’Connor, former executive assistant to Malone, leaked internal diocesan documents to the local press. The documents purported to show that the diocese culled down a list of over 100 clergy accused of “criminal, abusive or inappropriate behavior” to a final, publicly released list of just 42 who were “removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry” due to allegations. This list was originally released in March.
The diocese has since added names of accused clergy to the list, bringing the total number acknowledged by the diocese to 78.
O’Connor reportedly suggested to Malone in March that he could live in the rectory of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo, taking up residence in a newly-vacated suite and allaying some of the additional costs of renovating the convent.
Malone thanked O’Connor for the idea at the time but said he needed the additional space for his “rather ample personal theological library” and his piano, and said he preferred to live in a residence that was solely his own, and not a parish rectory, WKBW reported.
According to additional emails, Malone requested that the convent be used solely as his residence, despite the fact that the building had been used for parish meetings, choir practices, and gatherings since the 1970s.
“I prize privacy above most everything,” Malone reportedly wrote. “I cannot live in a building that is used or meetings, or for anything other than my residence.”
Kathy Spangler, spokesperson for the diocese, responded to the situation in a statement to local media.
She said the rectory at the cathedral was “simply not suitable for the gatherings [the] bishop hosts and was therefore not considered,” and that the convent was chosen in order to “accommodate the many gatherings and events that a bishop hosts during the year.”
She said much of the expensive work was being done to make the building handicapped accessible, as well as other non-cosmetic improvements such as repairing air conditioning and bringing electrical systems up to code.
Spangler also said Malone would not have made the move to the convent if he were concerned for his safety in that neighborhood, and that the bishop “does not want to be alone.”
CNA reached out to the Diocese of Buffalo for further comment but did not receive a reply by press time.
Posted on 11/15/2018 01:03 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Acknowledging that he was disappointed by the Vatican's decision to block a vote on sex abuse reform measures, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Wednesday he nonetheless sees a hopeful future for the Church in the United States.
In the closing statement of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly Nov. 14, the president of the conference focused on the upcoming meeting of bishops’ conference presidents in Rome, and hopes that the discussions there among representatives of the global Church will assist with the continued “eradication” of sexual abuse in the Church.
DiNardo offered praise for the various abuse victim testimony and abuse experts throughout the week, saying that they had given him direction and “such good counsel in these last few days.”
In the wake of the allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, DiNardo reiterated how over the summer, the bishops committed themselves to three goals: an investigation of the claims against McCarrick, developing an easier way to report abuse, and developing a means of holding bishops accountable.
“We are on course to accomplish these goals,” DiNardo told the crowd of bishops.
“That is the direction you and the survivors of abuse have given me.”
DiNardo then proceeded to outline some of the “action steps” the bishops hope to take in the coming future. These include the creation of a process for complaints that are reported to a third-party compliance hotline, the completion of a proposal for a lay commission, and the creation of a national network of diocesan review boards and lay experts that will oversee metropolitans.
These steps represented a combination of some of the proposals that came up over the course of the week’s general assembly.
DiNardo also said that the bishops will look to finalize protocol and standards, and will be creating new guidelines for the release of list of names of priests who have substantiated claims of abuse. He also called for a “fair and timely” investigation of McCarrick and a publication of the results.
The bishops will be “committed to take the strongest possible action at the earliest possible moment,” he said. He looks forward to the February meeting, as he believes that working with the global Church will serve to make the Church in the United States even stronger.
“We must thus as bishops recommit to holiness and mission of the Church,” he said. He said that he is “confident” that along with Pope Francis, the Church will move forward “decisively” after this February’s meeting.
And despite Monday’s initial frustration, DiNardo said that the past three days were “a sign of hope for me, not a disappointment.”
Posted on 11/15/2018 00:38 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the United States resumed their open-floor discussion on the recent sexual abuse scandals facing the Church in America Wednesday morning. In addition to debating the best means of institutionally responding to the crisis, the specific case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was raised by several speakers.
Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville told the conference Nov. 14 that the allegations against McCarrick, and the scandal of his rise and fall, were not just affecting long-time Catholics. Many people in the process of entering the Church found themselves having the example of McCarrick throw at them by friends and family as evidence that they were entering an institution in crisis.
Stika said McCarrick, and the letters of former nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, were serving as “ammunition” to discourage people from entering the Church, and that many Catholics felt that bishops were only responding to the sexual abuse crisis when they were “forced to” by the media.
Several bishops spoke in favor of the USCCB acting as a body to speak out about McCarrick.
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth told the conference hall that “we end where we begin.”
“So much of the outrage we experience - and I think it's a rightful outrage - is prompted by the injustice that our people have experienced at the hands of predators, at the treatment of our seminarians and our priests who were entrusted to the care of former cardinal McCarrick, a trust that was not only violated, but was ignored by others who were responsible for paying attention.”
Olson observed that while Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the college of cardinals and sent him to a life of prayer and penance pending a canonical process, the USCCB had yet to respond as a body to the scandal caused by one of their own.
“He is an emeritus [bishop of a U.S. diocese] and as such he is supposed to be a welcome guest here. He is not welcome and we should say it,” Olson said. He also questioned if the bishops’ reliance on structural and procedural reform was overshadowing their need to act with moral authority.
“We have said the Holy See should let us get some new norms, get a process together. Do we use this process as means of avoiding our pastoral responsibilities?” Olson asked, suggesting that the conference needed to condemn not just McCarrick’s alleged behavior, but also Vigano’s call for the resignation of the pope, which he called an attack on the Petrine office.
Bishop Liam Cary of Baker also insisted that the conference needed to respond to the McCarrick scandal as a body, saying McCarrick had “grievously offended” not just his victims but all Catholics, priests, and bishops.
By abusing seminarians “successively, over decades” Cary said McCarrick had left a “shameful residue” on all the bishops, and that while other institutions had revoked honors previously bestowed on the former cardinal the USCCB had taken no action.
Cary cited the example of bodies, like the U.S. Senate, which could pass resolutions to censure its members as one way they could respond, but insisted that some kind of action was urgently needed.
“What are people to make of our silence?” he asked. “How do we lead our brother to the mercy of God if we leave unspoken the demands of his justice?”
Bishop Cary echoed Bishop Olson’s concern that McCarrick was still technically qualified as a welcome participant at the conference.
“If McCarrick were to come to this microphone would he be allowed to speak?” Cary asked, noting that there was no open microphone for his victims.
In addition to the specific problem of Archbishop McCarrick, the bishops also discussed how they could proceed more generally in the light of the Holy See’s intervention to prevent them from voting to adopt the proposed Standards for Episcopal Conduct or to create an independent special commission to investigate allegations against bishops.
Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange summed up the dilemma facing the conference.
“We cannot just sit back and do nothing,” he told the bishops. If a deliberative vote was not possible, he said, the bishops needed to at least take “some sort of consultative vote” to show that the American bishops were firmly resolved among themselves.
Bishop Robert Christian, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, expressed the frustrations of many bishops at the inability of the conference to act.
He pointed out that as several scandals broke over the summer “the leadership of this conference was blocked from either working in partnership with the Holy See or leaving it to us in the dioceses.”
Christian said that he was concerned by the Holy See’s intervention. He observed that it could take months for the Vatican to produce a final resolution after the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences in Rome. This could mean, he said, that the U.S. bishops could find it still “impossible” to act in March, or even June, of next year.
“It is all the more important to vote today as if we were voting on a policy,” he said, so that both the faithful and the Holy See could see the clear mind of the bishops.
Despite the support of many on the conference hall for the original proposal for an independent commission to receive and investigate allegations against bishops, a few bishops have suggested they would prefer to see a different system altogether.
Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah proposed that Rome should instead be asked to consider amending canon law to give metropolitan archbishops an expanded role and authority for dealing with allegations against bishops in their province. His proposal was echoed by Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock.
Hartmayer noted that it might be better for accusations against a bishop to be considered by “a jury of their peers” since, he said, “no one understands a bishop so much as another bishop.”
He also said that bishops owed each other the “courtesy” of listening “to one of our brothers who has misbehaved in some way.”
While the majority of the interventions from the floor were concerned with what direct action the conference could take, others were more reflective.
Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond gave a long and clearly personal reflection on the pain experienced by priests and laity alike in his former diocese, Washington.
Knestout said that he looked upon the current scandals on a continuum of previous crises, stretching back 50 years to the promulgation of Humanae vitae, saying that the rejection by many clergy of that document, and the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life and sexuality, had caused “one long crisis of leadership and teaching” in the Church.
Despite the clear and forceful calls by several bishops for some clear statement on the case of Archbishop McCarrick, when the bishops resumed their seats after breaking for lunch they voted down a resolution to “encourage” the Holy See to release whatever documents it could on McCarrick.
As they debated the minutiae of the resolution’s wording, the bishops found they could not even agree on the inclusion of the word “soon.”
After the defeat of the proposal, one bishop remarked to CNA that “we cannot seem to speak clearly, even when we want to agree.”