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After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Greg Erlandson

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the growing sexual abuse crisis in the United States.

"I myself am filled with hope," he said, "but I also realize all these things might take purpose and time."

The cardinal spoke following a noon meeting Sept. 13 at the Vatican. Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was joined in his meeting with the pope by: Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB; and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

"The Holy Father is the important figure for us in this," Cardinal DiNardo said. "He sees the problem all over the church and throughout the world."

While the cardinal did not want to discuss the specifics of the private meeting beyond a statement released by the U.S. bishops, he did describe the encounter as "very, very fruitful."

"It was lengthy, and we shared a lot of thoughts and ideas together," the cardinal told Catholic News Service, "so I found the meeting very good from that point of view."

"The pope is well informed," the cardinal said, "and he's also very, very attentive to what has happened to abuse victims in the church in the United States."

It had been a whirlwind week for the cardinal. He arrived in Rome Sept. 12 following a meeting with the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee, which consists of conference officers, regional representatives and the chairs of all the conference committees. Its task was to set the agenda for the November general assembly in Baltimore of all of the country's bishops.

Cardinal DiNardo described the Administrative Committee meeting as "sober."

"I thought there was a good deal of unity of the bishops on where we need to go" and on the fact that "we have to move into action" in terms of addressing the abuse crisis, he said. The cardinal said the bishops must be "united in purpose on solutions."

Cardinal DiNardo originally announced Aug. 16 that he was requesting a meeting with Pope Francis. The request followed the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania dioceses and the announcement of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington.

In his statement Aug. 16, Cardinal DiNardo said the USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints."

When asked about the three priorities after the meeting with the pope, the cardinal said: "I think we can make movement on those things. I think we have to do it step by step."

Since Aug. 1, Cardinal DiNardo has issued five statements responding to various aspects of the sexual abuse crisis and has called for greater transparency and accountability in the church, particularly on the part of the bishops.

When asked what role there could be for Catholic media, he said they "have to tell the truth, and they have to tell the truth in a way that is very balanced." Acknowledging the anger and even "rage" among some commentators, he said the task of Catholic media is "speaking the truth, but never forgetting the role of charity."

When asked where he finds hope during the current wave of scandals and controversy, he said, "Our trust is in the Lord."

"Even the pope today mentioned the cross, that you need to ' be crucified with the Lord -- that's the only way you can deal with this, go through it. You have to listen to other people, and you hope that in that shared vision of mission, of cooperating together, you grow in hope."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

U.S. bishops tell pope abuse scandal 'lacerated' the church

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The leaders of the U.S. bishops' conference said they shared with Pope Francis how the church in the United States has been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse."

"He listened very deeply from the heart," said a statement released after the meeting Sept. 13.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met the pope at the Vatican along with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference.

The USCCB statement described the encounter as "a lengthy, fruitful and good exchange," but did not enter into details about what was discussed or whether any concrete measures were taken or promised.

"We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps," the statement said.

Cardinal DiNardo originally announced that he was requesting a meeting with Pope Francis last Aug. 16. The request followed the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse cases in six Pennsylvania dioceses and the announcement of credible allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington. Two dioceses also had announced allegations of inappropriate contact between Archbishop McCarrick and seminarians, resulting in settlements totaling more than $100,000.

In his Aug. 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo said that the USCCB Executive Committee had established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints."

The U.S. bishops specifically requested the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation into questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. Opening a new process for reporting complaints against bishops and the more effective resolution of such complaints also would require the support and involvement of the Vatican, since only the pope has the authority to discipline or remove bishops.

Following allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and that those sanctions had been ignored by Pope Francis, Cardinal DiNardo issued another statement Aug. 27 reiterating his call "for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long."

Archbishop Vigano's statement "brings particular focus and urgency to this examination," the cardinal's statement said. "The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic Church is "elitist and clericalist," Pope Francis told Jesuits in Ireland in August.

"There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal -- think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States -- has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God," the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin.

As is customary when the pope meets Jesuits during a foreign trip, a transcript of his remarks to the 63 Jesuits he met in Ireland was published by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica after the pope had approved the text; it was released Sept. 13.

Pope Francis met the Jesuits in Dublin immediately after meeting eight people who had survived abuse at the hands of priests or in schools, mother and baby homes or other institutions operated by the church or Catholic religious orders.

"I didn't know that in Ireland there were also cases where unmarried women had their children taken away from them," the pope told the Jesuits, referring to the practice at many homes for unwed mothers. "Hearing this particularly touched my heart," he said.

Pope Francis asked the Jesuits for "special help: help the church in Ireland put an end to this. And what do I mean by put an end to it? I don't mean simply turn the page, but seek out a cure, reparation, all that is necessary to heal the wounds and give life back to so many people."

The root of the problem, he said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes foster "every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience."

In confronting abuse and the church culture that allows it to fester, Pope Francis told the Jesuits, "Courage! Be courageous!"

"This is a special mission for you: clean this up, change consciences, do not be afraid to call things by their name," he told the group.

One of the Jesuits asked the pope for concrete examples of what they should be doing.

"We have to denounce the cases we know about," the pope responded. "And sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience as I said before. The abuse of power exists. Who among us does not know an authoritarian bishop? Forever in the church there have been authoritarian bishops and religious superiors. And authoritarianism is clericalism."

Speaking and acting decisively and with authority -- for example, in giving a priest an assignment -- is not the same thing as authoritarianism, he said. "We need to defeat authoritarianism," but rediscover the virtue of obedience when being sent in mission.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mark Clatterbuck, courtesy Lancaster Against Pipel

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights are being violated by the construction and pending use of a natural gas pipeline on its land.

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ are rooting their legal argument in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying that their "deeply held religious convictions about the sacredness of Earth" would be violated once the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline becomes operational.

An attorney for the sisters in Columbia, Pennsylvania, contends that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit erred in allowing provisions of the Natural Gas Act that govern pipeline construction to supersede the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA.

"We think the 3rd Circuit turned it (RFRA) on its head to apply the Natural Gas Act to RFRA rather than RFRA control the Natural Gas Act," attorney Dwight Yoder told Catholic News Service.

The Adorers announced their decision to petition the high court during a news conference Sept. 7 on their property adjacent to the already-constructed underground pipeline.

In July, a three-judge appeals court panel agreed with a lower court ruling that the congregation had not made their religious objections known during the federal administrative process that led to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of the 183-mile pipeline project.

Yoder said that forcing the Adorers to make such arguments during administrative hearings on the project would have placed an unnecessary burden on them under the law.

He said RFRA provides no provision for individuals to "proactively" inform a federal agency or federal employee to comply with the law. To do so "is absurd in our opinion," he said.

Instead, he said, federal agencies are compelled under the law to ensure that RFRA's protections are enforced foremost.

Sister Bernice Klostermann, a member of the congregation who has been involved in challenging the pipeline, told CNS that the order's claims are important in a country in which religious freedom is a cherished value.

"The previous court cases just seemed like there was something not quite right," she said. "As Americans, of course, we have a right to appeal. We want to do what we can to see if we can right this."

The Adorers have long held that allowing construction through their land would run contrary to the congregation's Land Ethic. Adopted in 2005, the document upholds the sacredness of creation, reverences the earth as a "sanctuary where all life is protected" and treasures the earth's beauty and sustenance that must be protected for future generations.

Sister Klostermann said that the pipeline violates the congregation's Land Ethic because leaks of natural gas undoubtedly will occur, polluting the land and air.

"We are really collaborators with God. It's not like creation happened way, way long ago. Creation is a process. God created man and we are right here creating alongside of him. We are co-creators and stewards of the land," she said.

Oklahoma-based Williams Partners, through its subsidiary Transco, has completed pipeline construction. Transco petitioned FERC Aug. 24 to allow it to become operational.

In an Aug. 31 letter to FERC, Yoder called on the agency to stop Transco from operating the pipeline until the Adorers have exhausted their legal appeals.

Yoder also reminded the agency that the 3rd Circuit panel "left open the possibility that the Adorers could pursue a claim for damages arising out of FERC's and Transco's violation of the Adorers' rights under RFRA."

In addition to announcing their Supreme Court petition, the Adorers said at the news conference that they planned to install a solar farm alongside the pipeline. They called the step an act of "resistance" that "would bear witness to clean, sustainable, earth-friendly energy sources."

As part of their plan to stop the pipeline, the Adorers have collaborated with local activists, including the grass-roots Lancaster Against Pipelines. The organization built a symbolic chapel adjacent to the pipeline route where the sisters and local residents have prayed, reflected and discussed actions to block the massive project.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said.

"True love is true freedom: It detaches from possession, rebuilds relationships, it knows how to welcome and value the neighbor, it transforms every struggle into a joyous gift and makes communion possible," the pope said Sept. 12 during his weekly general audience.

Before addressing thousands of men, women and children, the pope made his way around St. Peter's Square and greeted excited pilgrims lined up along the popemobile route.

While making his rounds, the pope abruptly ordered his driver to stop. He made his way to two disabled children and blessed them. The mother of one of the children, overcome with emotion, reverently kissed Pope Francis' hand before he boarded the popemobile.  

Continuing his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, the pope reflected on the Third Commandment, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day."

The commandment to rest on the Sabbath was linked to the memory of Israel's freedom from slavery in Egypt, he said, because slaves "by definition cannot rest."

"There are many types of slavery, both exterior and interior," the pope said. "There are external constraints such as lives sequestered by violence and other types of injustice. There are also interior prisons that are, for example, psychological blocks, complexes, limitations and more."

Recalling the lives of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van Thuan, both of whom "turned dark oppressions into places of light," the pope said their example proved that people who are physically or mentally imprisoned "can remain free."

Nevertheless, he also warned that slavery to one's ego can tie men and women down "more than a prison, more than a panic attack and more than any sort of imposition."

The pope explained that the "deadly sins," such as greed, lust, gluttony and sloth can turn people into slaves of their own passions, while others such as anger ruin relationships and envy can sicken a person like a disease.

"Some writers say that envy turns the body and soul yellow, just like when a person who has hepatitis turns yellow," he said. "The souls of envious people are yellow because they can never have the freshness of a healthy soul."

Pope Francis said that through his death and resurrection, Christ overcame "the slavery of our heart with his love and salvation" and guides Christians toward true freedom where every person "can find rest in mercy and freedom in truth."

"True love frees us even in prison, even if we are weak and limited," Pope Francis said. "This is the freedom that we receive from our redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.