Catholic News Service

Top stories selected throughout each day from Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service provides news from the U.S., Rome and around the world in both English and Spanish, in written coverage, images and video reporting.
  1. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Dennis Sadowski

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he was leaving the bishops' fall general assembly Nov. 14 more hopeful than when the meeting began two days earlier.

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in remarks closing the assembly that his hope was primarily grounded in Christ as well as realizing that the body of bishops was on the road to implementing protocols to boost the accountability of bishops to laypeople and survivors of clergy sex abuse.

    As the meeting started, Cardinal DiNardo expressed disappointment because the Vatican had asked that no vote be taken on several protocols governing bishops that he had hoped would be accepted during the three-day meeting.

    The instruction came from the Congregation for Bishops, citing the upcoming February meeting of the presidents of the bishops' conferences around the world to address clergy sex abuse and to ensure that the proposals were in line with canon law.

    The cardinal also pledged to the pope the "loyalty and devotion" of the conference "in these difficult days."

    "I am sure that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, the conversation that the global church will have in February will help us eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from our church," Cardinal DiNardo said. "It will make our local efforts more global and the global perspective will help us here."

    In addition, the cardinal said, the hours of conversation involving bishops, eparchs, clergy abuse survivors and invited speakers throughout the assembly "have given me direction and consensus" and will serve as a "springboard for action."

    As the USCCB developed a plan to respond to difficult news regarding clergy abuse over the summer, Cardinal DiNardo said conference leadership set three goals, among them fully investigating the circumstances surrounding reports that Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick had allegedly abused minors and seminarians.

    Other goals, he said, included making it easier to report abuse and misconduct by bishops and developing means whereby bishops could be held more accountable for their actions and ensuring any plan was independent of the bishops, duly authorized by the church and had substantial lay involvement.

    He said the assembly showed that the USCCB was on "course to accomplish these goals."

    Progress also was made to establish a way for people to report complaints against bishops through a third-party hotline and that proposals for a national lay commission and a national network involving existing diocesan review boards will be developed, he said.

    The cardinal also expressed hope that standards of accountability for bishops and a protocol for bishops removed from ministry also would be completed.

    "We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment," Cardinal DiNardo said. "We will do so in communion with the universal church. Moving forward in concert with the church around the world will make the church in the United States stronger and will make the global church stronger."

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  2. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Dennis Sadowski

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops Nov. 14 defeated a resolution to encourage the Vatican to release all documents related to the investigation of allegations of misconduct by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.

    The resolution went down by a vote of 137-83 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.

    Bishop Earl A. Boyea Jr. of Lansing, Michigan, proposed the resolution. After a 30-minute discussion, the bishops decided to let the Vatican's investigation proceed without urging any further action.

    The resolution was introduced Nov. 14 after three days of discussion during the fall meeting that focused on the response of the full body of bishops to the clergy abuse allegations within the U.S. church.

    The bishops have been under pressure from parishioners and priests in their dioceses to take some type of public action to show they are serious about their response to clergy sex abuse.

    The vote came after a plan to adopt a series of more forceful actions designed to increase the accountability of bishops that had to be put aside at the request of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, opened the assembly with news of Vatican notification and that votes on the proposals would not be taken during the meeting. He said the letter asked that any action on the proposed steps be delayed until after the upcoming February meeting of the presidents of bishops' conferences from around the world called by Pope Francis to address clergy sex abuse and the need to ensure that the proposals are in line with canon law.

    USCCB leadership in September developed proposals for standards of episcopal accountability and the formation of a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the standards. Bishops discussed particular aspects of the proposals as well as amendments to them.

    After its introduction, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, read from an Oct. 6 Vatican communique announcing the Holy See's plan to investigate the circumstances surrounding Archbishop McCarrick's rise from a priest in Archdiocese of New York to become a member of the College of Cardinals while he served as archbishop of Washington.

    Reports emerged in June and July that Archbishop McCarrick allegedly sexually abused minors decades ago and seminarians more recently children. Pope Francis accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals in July and assigned him to a life or prayer and penance. The former cardinal has denied the allegations.

    Momentum seemed to build throughout the final two days of conference for the assembly to take some sort of action as the bishops had earlier intended. By midday Nov. 14 calls from bishops to vote on at least limited versions of the proposals became more numerous and vocal.

    Several bishops said in public discussions throughout the assembly that Catholics in parishes in their dioceses had expected the conference to take serious steps to address the abuse crisis and that Vatican's letter on delaying votes led to rising anger among some parishioners that another opportunity to act was being bypassed.

    Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Boise, Idaho, was among the bishops who encouraged the assembly to take some action to assure the faithful that they wanted to remedy the rift that has developed between parishioners and the U.S. hierarchy.

    He also said that action was necessary because not stepping up would be harmful to promulgating the pastoral letter on racism and the advancement of the sainthood cause of Sister Thea Bowman -- both were approved Nov. 14 -- as people would dismiss whatever the bishops had to say.

    The most pointed comments in a second day of discussions on possible actions were aimed at Archbishop McCarrick. In comments critical of a fellow prelate that are almost never heard in public, several bishops called for the USCCB as a body to take public action against fallen archbishop.

    Bishop Liam S. Cary of Baker, Oregon, charged that Archbishop McCarrick's alleged actions had damaged "eucharistic unity and apostolic integrity."

    "Archbishop McCarrick has grievously offended the faithful Catholics of the United States, to say nothing of the multiple victims he has offended. He's offended the priests who have served faithfully. But he has offended us as bishops, as bishops, in a unique and important way," Bishop Cary said.

    In a call to the assembly to reaffirm its support for Pope Francis, Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, said that the conference could not remain silent in response to charges by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former papal nuncio to the U.S., that the pope had known about Archbishop McCarrick's alleged abuse and failed to act.

    "The Holy Father requires our collaboration," Bishop Olson said. "We have cited the Vigano letter, some of us more formally than others. Yet not one of us, not this body, have repudiated his call for the resignation of the chair of Peter. Not one of us."

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    Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

     

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  3. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Mark Pattison

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a pastoral letter against racism Nov. 14 during their fall general meeting at Baltimore.

    The document, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism," passed 241-3 with one abstention. It required a two-thirds vote by all bishops, or 183 votes, for passage.

    "Despite many promising strides made in our country, the ugly cancer of racism still infects our nation," the pastoral letter says. "Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love," it adds.

    Bishops speaking on the pastoral gave clear consent to the letter's message.

    "This statement is very important and very timely," said Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. He appreciated that the letter took note of the racism suffered by African-Americans and Native Americans, "two pieces of our national history that we have not reconciled."

    "This will be a great, fruitful document for discussion," said Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, in whose diocese the violence-laden "Unite the Right" rally was held last year. Bishop Knestout added the diocese has already conducted listening sessions on racism.

    Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, what he called "ground zero for the civil rights movement," said the pastoral's message is needed, as the civil rights movement "began 60 years ago and we're still working on achieving the goals in this document."

    Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said he was grateful for the pastoral's declaration that "an attack against the dignity of the human person is an attack the dignity of life itself."

    Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said the letter will be welcome among Native Americans, who populate 11 missions in the diocese, African-Americans in Arizona -- "I think we were the last of the 50 states to be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday," he noted -- and Hispanics, who make up 80 percent of all diocesan Catholics under age 20.

    "This is very important for our people and our youth to know the history of racism," he added.

    Bishop Shelton T. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, said an electronic copy of "Open Wide Our Hearts" would be posted "somewhat immediately," with a print version available around Thanksgiving.

    "Also, there will be resources available immediately" now that the pastoral letter has been approved, including Catholic school resources for kindergarten through 12th grade, added the bishop, who also is chair of the bishops' Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

    "'Open Wide Our Hearts' conveys the bishops' grave concern about the rise of racist attitudes in society," Bishop Fabre said Nov. 13, when the pastoral was put on the floor of the bishops' meeting. It also "offers practical suggestions for individuals, families and communities," he said.

    "Every racist act -- every such comment, every joke, every disparaging look as a reaction to the color of skin, ethnicity or place of origin -- is a failure to acknowledge another person as a brother or sister, created in the image of God," it adds.

    "Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices, and African-Americans for suspected criminal activity. There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear against foreigners, immigrants and refugees."

    "Personal sin is freely chosen," a notion that would seem to include racism, said retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Nov. 13, but "social sin is collective blindness. There is sin as deed and sin as illness. It's a pervasive illness that runs through a culture." Bishop Fabre responded that the proposed letter refers to institutional and structural racism.

    An amendment from Bishop Ramirez to include this language in the pastoral was accepted by the bishops' Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which guided the document's preparation.

    Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, Texas, said Nov. 13 the pastoral "gives us a wonderful opportunity to educate, to convert," adding that, given recent incidents, the document should give "consideration to our Jewish brothers and sisters." Bishop Fabre replied that while anti-Semitism is mentioned in the document, future materials will focus on anti-Semitism.

    A proposed amendment to the pastoral to include the Confederate battle flag in the pastoral alongside nooses and swastikas as symbols of hatred was rejected by the committee.

    "Nooses and swastikas are widely recognized signs of hatred, the committee commented, but "while for many the Confederate flag is also a sign of hatred and segregation, some still claim it as a sign of heritage."

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  4. IMAGE: CNS photo/Jesuit Father B. Reynolds

    By Cindy Wooden

    ROME (CNS) -- Plans are underway for a solemn opening in February of the sainthood cause of Father Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983.

    Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, the current superior, informed Jesuits Nov. 14 that the cause "has been set in motion in the Vicariate of Rome, the place of his death" and that "from now on, therefore, he is considered a 'Servant of God.'"

    In July, during a meeting in Spain, Father Sosa told Jesuits and lay collaborators that the serious work of preparation had begun. That preparation included compiling all of Father Arrupe's writings and seeking eyewitnesses who could attest to his holiness.

    More than 100 witnesses -- mainly from Spain, Japan and Italy -- are expected to testify, Father Sosa said. In addition, two commissions already have begun reviewing all Father Arrupe's published works and "many unpublished documents written by or about Father Arrupe and the socio-ecclesial context in which he lived."

    Father Sosa, in his November letter, said that assuming the Vatican and the bishops in and around Rome pose no objections, "the session formally opening the cause will take place at the Basilica of St. John Lateran" in Rome Feb. 5, 2019, the 28th anniversary of Father Arrupe's death.

    "Eloquent and even moving postulatory letters received from all over the world confirm that his reputation for holiness is recognized in different sectors of the church," Father Sosa said. "This reputation of holiness is spontaneous, continuous and enduring."

    Father Arrupe's work to help Jesuits rediscover the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and "the method of personal discernment and discernment in common" helped the Jesuits renew their life, "their consecration and vows, community and mission," Father Sosa said.

     

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  5. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Carol Zimmermann

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A group that has been advising the U.S. bishops for 50 years on multiple issues chose to speak to the bishops in Baltimore Nov. 13 on just one issue: the clergy sexual abuse crisis itself and ways to move forward from it.

    "We are facing painful times as a church," Father David Whitestone, chair of the bishops' National Advisory Council, told the bishops at their fall general assembly. This sense weighed heavily upon the council members during their September gathering, he noted.

    "The depth of anger, pain and disappointment expressed by members of the NAC cannot begin to be expressed adequately in words," he said.

    The priest, who is pastor of St. Leo the Great in Fairfax, Virginia, in the Arlington Diocese, noted that progress has been made since the bishops developed the 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," but he stressed that more needs to be done. "We can never become complacent. We must recommit to the ongoing care of all victims in their healing."

    "Wounds inflicted, even many years ago, are no less real because of the passing of time nor are the demands of justice less urgent," he said.

    Father Whitestone said the depth of the anger expressed by NAC members in the current church climate is "also an expression of our love for the church."

    He said the abuse crisis has done great harm to the faith of many Catholics, particularly as it has come to light that the crisis is more than just sexual abuse committed by priests but predatory behavior of bishops against seminarians. The priest said Catholics should demand more of the clergy, deacons, priests and bishops than that they simply not break civil laws.

    The response to this crisis needs to be more than issuing statements of regret and even establishing new mechanisms and procedures, he said, stressing instead that there should be a "new and radical recommitment to personal and institutional purification" and true repentance of past sins and facing consequences of these sins.

    Members of the NAC did not vote on any other issues facing bishops as way of saying: "There is no single issue more pressing as a church than the crisis we are now facing."

    All 35 voting members of the committee attending the September meeting agreed that the current scandal is of such urgency and importance that it must be the highest priory for the bishops' fall assembly to begin to restore trust and credibility.

    Retired Army Col. Anita Raines, an NAC board member, said the group approved of some action items the bishops were only discussing at the assembly and now not voting on as per a request from the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops.

    In particular, the advisory group supports the development of third-party system that would obtain confidential reports of abuse by bishops, Raines said, as well as the development of a code of conduct for bishops; an audit of U.S. seminaries to investigate possible patterns of misuse of power; establishment of special commission for review of complaints against bishops; and an independent investigation of allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal-archbishop of Washington.

    Father Whitestone stressed that while the advisory group recognizes the significance of this scandal in the church it also knows that the church is "more than this crisis" and has a mission to continue to preach the Gospel.

    He said Catholics have gone through a range of emotions as this crisis has unfolded but those committed to the church want to help it move forward.

    "The bishops needn't bear the burden of setting the course of the way forward alone." He said the lay faithful want to help and urged the bishops to let them.

    "We as a church will move forward," he added.

    The speakers received an extended standing ovation from the bishops.

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    Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

     

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  6. IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

    By Carol Glatz

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Lying or being inauthentic is seriously wrong because it hinders or harms human relationships, Pope Francis said.

    "Where there are lies, there is no love, one cannot have love," he said Nov. 14 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

    To live a life "of inauthentic communication is serious because it obstructs relationships and, therefore, it obstructs love," he said.

    The pope continued his series of talks on the Ten Commandments, focusing on the command, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," which, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, forbids misrepresenting the truth.

    "We are always communicating," whether with words, gestures, one's behavior and even by being silent or absent, the pope said. People communicate by who they are and what they do as well as by what they say, which means people are always at a crossroads, "perched" between telling the truth or lies.  

    "But what does the truth mean?" he asked.

    It is not enough to be sincere, he said, because someone could be sincere about a mistaken belief, and it is not enough to be precise because someone could hide the full meaning of a situation behind a barrage of insignificant details.

    Sometimes, he said, people think that revealing other people's personal business and confidential information is fine also because, "I only told the truth."

    Gossip, however, destroys communion by being indiscreet and inconsiderate, the pope said.

    The tongue is like a knife, he said, and "gossip kills," destroying people and their reputation.

    "So then, what is the truth?" he asked.

    The ultimate model of truth is Jesus, who came into the world "to testify to the truth." As he told Pontius Pilate, "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice," according to the Gospel of John (18:37).

    To follow Jesus is to live "in the Spirit of truth" and bear witness to God's truth, merciful love and fidelity, he said.

    "Every person affirms or negates this truth with their every act -- from minor everyday situations to more serious choices," the pope said, so people need to ask themselves whether they are upright and truthful in their words and deeds, "or am I more or less a liar disguised as truth?"

    "Christians are not exceptional men and women. But they are children of the heavenly Father, who is good, who does not disappoint and who puts in our heart the love for our brothers and sisters," he said.

    "This truth is not spoken so much with a speech. It is a way of being, a way of living and you see it in every single deed," he said.

    "To not bear false witness means to live like children of God who never ever refutes" or contradicts himself, and never tells lies, he said.

    It is living in a way that every deed reveals "the great truth that God is the Father and that you can trust in him," he said. God "loves me, he loves us and (from that) springs my truth, to be truthful and not deceitful."

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  7. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Julie Asher

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Vatican request that the U.S. bishops postpone voting on several proposals to address abuse was a disappointment but they "quickly took a deep breath" and realized they could still have a productive discussion about the measures, said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

    "It's a big thing and I don't mind telling you... that from what I've heard my brothers say, there was a sense of disappointment and we can't deny that," the cardinal said in a Nov. 13 interview with host Msgr. Jim Vlaun during "Conversation with Cardinal Dolan" on SiriusXM's Catholic Channel.

    "I think there was a momentum going, and we looked forward to a fruitful week, and now there's a little frustration," the cardinal told the priest, who is president and CEO of Telecare Television of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York.

    "However, I think the bishops quickly took a deep breath and said, 'Wait a minute, that's still doesn't keep us from talking about it," Cardinal Dolan continued. "That still doesn't keep us from giving Cardinal DiNardo a sound sense of direction as to where we should go and almost to deputize him to bring that to Rome at the February meeting."

    He was referring to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who announced the Vatican's request as the bishops' Nov. 12-14 annual meeting opened in Baltimore.

    The Congregation for Bishops requested that no vote be taken on proposals such as standards of episcopal accountability and conduct and the formation of a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the standards.

    They are among steps developed by the USCCB Administrative Committee in September in response to the firestorm that has emerged since June over how the bishops handled reports of wayward priests.

    Cardinal Dolan told Msgr. Vlaun that, am despite the vote delay, he felt the bishops' discussion on the proposals would still be "pretty productive."

    "I think we bishops in the United States keep reminding ourselves, 'Whoa, wait a minute, we are Catholic. We are members of the church universal and we are a small segment of the church universal,'" the cardinal said. "We know here in the United States, this is not just a Catholic problem. We're talking about the sexual abuse of minors. It is a problem in every religion, every organization, every family, every institution, every school."

    "It is not just a Catholic problem.... Nor is it just an American problem. Now, we know that it's throughout the world," Cardinal Dolan added. "So I think what the Holy Father is saying, 'Wait a minute, we don't want you to get too far ahead here. We appreciate what you're doing in the United States, but we want you to be part of the universal discussion.'"

    He added that he feels the Vatican made its request out of a " benevolent desire" that Cardinal DiNardo "come with an open mind" to the February meeting, instead of with "things already decided" by the U.S. bishops.

    In Rome, in response to questions about the request the bishops delay voting, Catholic News Service was told the Congregation for Bishops "is working to ensure the best evaluation and accompaniment of the questions raised by the American episcopacy." Father Massimo Cassola replied to CNS on behalf of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the congregation.

    Andrea Tornielli, a respected Vatican reporter, wrote Nov. 13 on the Vatican Insider website that "a Vatican source involved in the matter" told him: "It is wrong to think the Holy See does not share the objective of the U.S. bishops to have effective instruments for combating the phenomenon of the abuse of minors and to establish firm points regarding the responsibility of bishops themselves. The motive for asking for a postponement (of the vote) should not be considered putting on the brakes, but an invitation to better evaluate the proposed texts, including in view of the meeting in February of all the presidents of the bishops' conferences of the world with the pope dedicated to the struggle against abuse."

    Tornielli reported that the Vatican believed the proposal on standards of accountability for bishops "goes beyond both civil and canon law" and the Vatican raised concerns "regarding the generic nature of some passages; it could occur that a bishop does not know he is violating these standards of behavior but in the future could be brought before a national commission called to judge him."

    "Another problem," Tornielli said, "regards some incoherence between the contents of the document regarding the national commission on the responsibility of bishops and the Code of Canon Law. In the draft given to the Vatican, the commission is described as a nonprofit institution without having a juridical and canonical figure, but it is able to exercise a power of judgment on bishops."

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    Cindy Wooden in Rome contributed to this story.

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  8. IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register

    By Emily Rosenthal

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened a Day of Prayer at the Fall Bishops General Assembly Nov. 12, John McKeon was the first to walk a path along Aliceanna Street outside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, just after 9 a.m.

    Along with his wife, Karen Greklek, he made the journey from New York to show his concern with a simple poster board sign and matching pins that read "REPENT RESIGN."

    "I don't think the church would miss a beat if they all resigned," McKeon said, calling for a collective resignation similar to that of the bishops of Chile. "There are many ways to serve the Lord -- they don't have to be a bishop."

    Even if Pope Francis does not accept the resignations of every bishop, he said, the gesture would show remorse.

    "I'm here because of my faith," said McKeon, a parishioner of St. Mary-Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Mount Vernon, New York. "I want the Catholic Church to be what it should be, not what it is."

    Leaders from BishopAccountability.org organized a morning news conference, where they and victim-survivors of abuse denounced the Vatican's request for the U.S. bishops to delay any vote on two proposals they were to discuss at the assembly regarding their response to the clergy sex abuse scandals.

    The Vatican -- via the Congregation for Bishops -- asked the U.S. bishops to delay any vote until after a February meeting with the pope and presidents of the bishops' conferences around the world that will focus on addressing clergy abuse. The bishops were informed of the request just as the general meeting was being called to order.

    Action "absolutely cannot wait," said Peter Isely, a spokesperson for Ending Clergy Abuse and founding member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, who was the first to speak at the news conference. "There's no reason to wait. ' It's well overdue; it's time to stand up and do something."

    Isely, a victim-survivor of abuse in Wisconsin, said the bishops "need to deliver" at their Nov. 12-14 fall general assembly.

    "They cannot walk out of this conference without delivering anything," he said.

    Isely still considers himself Catholic because he believes there is a possibility that there will be change.

    "I don't know what a post-abuse church will look like, but that's one I want to be a part of," he said. "I still do believe out of ' the voice of that suffering (by abuse victims and survivors) will come the real spiritual reform of this church."

    Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, and Terence McKiernan, the organization's president, pointed to Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a good example of an accountable bishop. Bishop Biegler strongly supports an ongoing investigation into abuse allegations against retired Cheyenne Bishop Joseph H. Hart, now 87; some claims date to when the retired prelate headed the diocese (1978-2001).

    McKiernan told the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Baltimore Archdiocese, that releasing the names of accused and continuously updating those lists are steps in the right direction of attaining accountability. The Archdiocese of Baltimore was one of the first in the country to publish such a list in 2002, with updates to the list in the years since.

    "We know survivors who can't go into a church," McKiernan said, adding that, as a researcher, he cannot walk away. "This has actually made my faith stronger and more important.

    The news conference also heard from Shaun Dougherty, a victim-survivor from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It was Dougherty's first time protesting outside the bishops' assembly. He said throughout his entire adult life, some members of the conference covered up clergy sexual abuse.

    "This time, if they're going to do it again, they're going to do it with me standing here," Dougherty said. "I will not cower again."

    One of nine children and raised in a "very, very" Catholic household, Dougherty said he stopped practicing his faith as a teenager as a direct result of the abuse he encountered.

    "I wholeheartedly struggle with faith," he said. "If they (bishops) want me to believe in God, they should probably do something to show me that they believe in God."

    Dougherty last encountered clergy sexual abuse in 1983 but said "the mental torment and torture has lasted every day since that time."

    His family knows about the abuse, and most have since left the Catholic Church. He still has two brothers and a sister who actively practice the Catholic faith, and he acknowledged that the personal choice lies with the individual.

    "The Catholic faithful and the Catholic hierarchy -- in order to get me to go back (to the church) -- would have to act the way they taught me to act in Catholic school," Dougherty said. "Until then, I don't believe in anything."

    Fewer than 10 people participated in the protests outside the conference hotel on the first day of the fall meeting.

    Some protests of and demonstrations in support of the general assembly began over the weekend. A group of priests, seminarians and lay faithful walked nearly 50 miles from Emmitsburg to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore Nov. 9-11 in penance and prayer.

    Just before those pilgrims participated in 4:30 p.m. Mass Nov. 11, a paper was taped to the door of the basilica listing "5 Theses" by a group of the same name. They called for full transparency, survivors' voices, simple living, women in church leadership and praying for a reformed church.

    Members also placed the theses in the collection basket with two pennies -- their "two cents" -- attached. Liz McCloskey, one of the leaders of 5 Theses, said the pennies paralleled the day's reading from the Gospel of Mark.

    "The Gospel for the day is the widow's mite," McCloskey told Catholic News Service. "This is a drop in the bucket. This is a huge institution that's been around for 2,000 years and is slow to change.

    "There is a feeling of powerlessness or not influencing the church, yet Jesus said those two cents are of value," she said. "My hope is that this is a contribution that's valued and is heard."

    As a 5 p.m. Mass for the bishops began inside the hotel, about 40 protesters gathered outside.

    Among them were the Women of the New Testament, a group from St. Ignatius in Baltimore that formed after the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

    "When (the report) came out, we figured we had to do something," said Marian D'Anna, a member of the group.

    Anne Haddad, a leader of the Women of the New Testament, said St. Ignatius has been inclusive since she became a parishioner in 1994, and that women have been encouraged to be active in the church.

    Haddad said they support the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, but they especially want to bring focus to their larger goal of allowing the ordination of women.

    "We believe that it's absolutely ludicrous to not ordain women," Haddad said, adding the group believes women should be able to attain that level of scholarship and authority. "I, and many other women, will leave the church (if there is no change)."

    Ordaining women would be a show of total equality, not just for the U.S. church, but for the church throughout the world, she added.

    Elizabeth Brown traveled from her parish, St. Pius X in Bowie in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington, to voice her desire for transparency among the bishops and more power for the laity in positions of power.

    "I'm a practicing Catholic who wants to see the church address this and come out better," Brown said. "They've made a start, but they have not done enough to fully address the problem."

    The vigil, organized by SNAP, included speeches from victim-survivors. The first names and last initials of some of those related to the clergy sexual abuse crisis who committed suicide or died from overdoses were read.

    Nearly 30 protesters then walked in a circle, each holding a flashlight to shine light on a photograph of a victim.

    - - -

    Rosenthal is a staff writer at the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Dennis Sadowski of Catholic News Service contributed to this article.

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  9. IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

    By Carol Glatz

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As workers were getting St. Peter's Square ready for this year's Nativity scene, nearby a large mobile health care facility was set up and running to serve the city's homeless and poor.

    About two dozen men and a few women were sitting or standing in a spacious area, quietly waiting their turn or filling out basic paperwork before being called for their free checkups.

    Doctors volunteering from Rome hospitals or other health clinics and nurses from the Italian Red Cross took shifts running laboratory tests and seeing patients from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

    For the second time, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization organized the free health care initiative in conjunction with Pope Francis' celebration of the World Day of the Poor, which was to be celebrated Nov. 18. But this year, the clinic offered extended morning and evening hours. Anyone in need could find general and specialist care, including cardiology, dermatology, gynecology and ophthalmology.

    Roberta Capparella, a Red Cross nurse, told reporters Nov. 13 that she and many others took part in last year's initiative and found it "very gratifying."

    She said they were so happy to hear Pope Francis wanted to offer the free health services again this year that they jumped at the chance to serve again.

    "Just by being here all day, volunteers realize that they aren't giving of themselves, but that they are receiving" from the people they serve, she said.

    The World Day of the Poor -- marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- focuses this year on a verse from Psalm 34, "This poor one cried out and the Lord heard."

    The commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to give Christians a chance to follow Christ's example and concretely share a moment of love, hope and respect together with those in need in one's community, the pope said in his message for the day, published in mid-June.

    Local churches, associations and institutions were again asked to create initiatives that foster moments of real encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.

    The pope was to celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 18 with the poor and volunteers, and he was scheduled to have lunch afterward with about 3,000 people in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall. Other volunteer groups and schools were also set to offer free meals throughout the city.

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  10. IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

    By Greg Erlandson

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Seasoned bishop watchers know that just about every fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a surprise. Sometimes it's an election result. Sometimes it is the debate you never expected. Sometimes it's that there's no debate.

    But the first day of the 2018 fall meeting was one that caught just about everyone in the room flat-footed. Right on the eve of what looked to be a decisive meeting of the U.S. bishops in dealing with sexual abuse within their own ranks, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops asked them not to vote on two of the key proposals that were to be put before them.

    When Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, made the announcement within the opening minutes of the meeting, the entire room -- bishops, staff and journalists -- were gobsmacked.

    This, after all, was the meeting when the bishops were going to get their own house in order following the latest wave of sex abuse stories -- Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the subsequent flood of subpoenas and investigations and self-published lists of priest offenders.

    The McCarrick scandal in particular raised questions about who knew what and when. It also highlighted the fact that even when adults were involved, there could be harassment and abuse of power. In an Aug. 16 statement, Cardinal DiNardo called for "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."

    Following meetings in Rome, some of the early requests by the U.S. -- particularly for an apostolic visitation to investigate the questions surrounding the McCarrick scandal -- were rejected or modified by Rome. Likewise, a request by Pope Francis that the fall meeting become a weeklong retreat for the U.S. bishops was rejected as logistically impractical, and plans were made for such a retreat in January in Chicago.

    What is not clear is how much of the discussion and planning by the U.S. bishops involved Rome. By the eve of the November meeting, the U.S. bishops were planning to ask for votes by the entire conference on three key issues:

    -- A proposal for "Standards of Episcopal Conduct."

    -- A proposal to establish a special commission for review of complaints against bishops for violations of the "Standards of Episcopal Conduct."

    -- And a protocol regarding restrictions on bishops who were removed from or resigned their office due to sexual abuse of minors, sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, or grave negligence in office.

    In addition, there was to be a report on a third-party reporting system that would allow victims or those knowledgeable of abusive situations regarding bishops to report such cases confidentially.

    According to Cardinal DiNardo's announcement, word was received Nov. 11 that the Vatican was asking the conference to delay their vote because of the previously announced meeting at the Vatican of the presidents of all the world's bishops' conferences to discuss the abuse crisis in February.

    In his remarks, Cardinal DiNardo expressed his disappointment at this request, which threw the planned agenda for the four-day meeting into disarray.

    Theories abound about what happened and why, ranging from the darkly conspiratorial to the surmise that Rome simply did not want the U.S. bishops to get too far ahead of the Vatican on the very sensitive issues involving the disciplining of bishops. Such discipline in church law is normally the prerogative of the pope himself.

    One observer said that the U.S. bishops' sense of urgency -- inspired in part by the anger of many lay Catholics and their priests -- clashed with the more cautious way that Rome would approach any issue with such far-reaching implications.

    What will be the implications of this sudden twist is still unknown. Protesters and bishops alike may now see Rome as the obstructionist, and the growing pressure on Pope Francis will continue. Ironically, this may take some heat off the U.S. bishops, at least temporarily, but is unlikely to help Rome-U.S. relations.

    Critics of the proposed action items also may be relieved, since there were those who viewed the proposals as opening the door for other conferences to make similarly unilateral changes in areas of discipline or doctrine.

    Perhaps most frustrated are those bishops -- many of them appointees after 2002 -- who want to open their archives, name priests credibly accused, and forthrightly address issues of accountability and transparency.

    Following the announcement of the delay, the bishops of the Missouri province released a letter originally written Oct. 6. It expressed support for the proposals suggested by Cardinal DiNardo but added: "We fear these measures will not be enough in either substance or timeliness to meet the demands that this pastoral crisis presents."

    Delay is inevitable, however. And now the bishops have the rest of their meeting to decide what, if anything, they are still able to do.

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