Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

Release of Deposition by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Today the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released documents related to how they responded to the evil of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.  One of the documents they released was my deposition from this past February that was part of their on-going bankruptcy proceeding.  I thought you might like to see the statement I issued today, as well as read the full deposition.

“I welcome today’s voluntary release of documents by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that contain information and details related to sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee responded to it.  I am especially grateful that my deposition of February 2013, given as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is one of the documents being released.

Responding to victim-survivors, taking action against priest-abusers, and working to implement policies to protect children, were some of the most difficult, challenging, and moving events of the 6 ½ years that I served as Archbishop of Milwaukee.  One of the principles that guided me during that time was the need for transparency and openness, which is why I not only welcomed the deposition as a chance to go on-the-record with how we responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis during my years in Milwaukee, but also encouraged that it be released.

Unfortunately, we have already seen how the release of these documents will cause some to raise old and discredited attacks – like priest-abusers having been “paid” to apply for laicization, (like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on) or  that establishing a perpetual care fund from money belonging to cemeteries and designated for that purpose – as required by state law and mandated by the archdiocesan finance council – was an attempt to shield it from the bankruptcy proceedings.  While certain groups can be counted-upon to take certain statements or events out of context, the documents released show plainly that the bishops have been faithful to the promises made over a decade ago: permanent removal from ministry of any priest who abused a minor; complete cooperation with law enforcement officials; and, strict child-safety requirements.

The sexual abuse of minors is a crime and it is a sin.  The Church must remain rigorous in our response when an allegation of abuse is received, and ever-vigilant in maintaining our safeguards to do all that we can to see that children are protected.  It is my hope that the release of these documents will also help to show how the Catholic Church in the United States has become a leader in dealing with the society-wide scourge of sexual abuse, and help other groups and organizations who are also seeking combat this evil.”

A Call to Counter Cultural Witness

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Sad . . . worrisome . . . but hardly surprising.

That’s how I answered another concerned person who asked my sentiments about Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the redefinition of marriage.

Sad, because the ominous erosion of the pivotal institution of society and civilization — marriage – has been accelerated.  Yes, the decision could have been more troublesome, but it’s still somber.

The understanding of marriage as the lifelong, faithful, loving union of one man and one woman, as a husband and a wife become a mom and dad to their babies, and bring about a family, is a given in the human heart, a constant in history, flowing from what philosophers term the natural law, a definition embedded in reasoned reflection on the human person, antedating any government, written law, or religion.

To protect and foster that union has been the driving force of civilization.  Sure, it’s been under pressure from the start – by, for instance, cheating on one’s spouse, abandoning spouse and children, lack of selfless love, or divorce, just to mention a few threats — but culture has always understood that such pressures could not prevail, and that this ancient institution had to be cherished if the human community were to flourish.  Governments then have a duty to enact and defend laws that protect this special relationship, in order to promote the common good of all.

For those of us who believe in God, things get even better, because this God has revealed that this foundational relationship of marriage is a mirror of the way God loves us!  In other words, God loves us like a wife loves her husband, like a husband loves his wife.  Since God’s love for us is forever, faithful, and fruitful (bringing life), so is marriage!

The creator elevated this natural understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, faithful and forever, giving us new life in babies, to a supernatural level, as Jesus taught.

In recent decades, this fundamental relationship of marriage has been under dramatic pressure:  no-fault, easy divorce; living together like a husband and wife before marriage, or even for years without the formal bond; glorification of promiscuity; and even same-sex “marriage.”

In the face of each threat, people of faith, and thoughtful, reflective people of no faith at all, have expressed genuine concern that the ordinary, intended, given definition of marriage was almost becoming the exception.  People of faith have tried — not always successfully, I admit — to do this in a non-judgmental, calm way.  In other words, we discourage divorce, without harshly judging those who have to suffer through it; we oppose same-sex “marriage” while never condemning those with same-sex attraction (a bigotry God also abhors); we consider adultery wrong, while forgiving adulterers.  In other words, we’re pro-marriage, not anti-anyone.  Thus, while we highly respect the Supreme Court, we find very troubling the statement that one’s defense of marriage as historically and naturally understood to be based only on bigotry.  The justices have the responsibility to interpret law, not the motives of honest citizens.

We love many people:  our parents and siblings, our good friends.  But we don’t marry them.  Marriage is about love, yes, but a unique love that procreates children.

This past Wednesday, marriage as classically defined, naturally understood, and historically defended, took a big hit.  That makes us sad.

We’re also worried, because those of us who will continue to hold to the definition of marriage consonant with reason, nature, tradition, and faith, might now be coerced to accept, promote, and allow what we find so sad and ominous.  We’ll be told to “keep our oppressive, bigoted, medieval, outmoded” opinions to ourselves.  If we want to hand those “opinions” on to our children, teach them to our people, behave in accord with them, and exercise the duties of our faith publicly — to serve, teach, heal — we’re worried we’ll be harassed.

We’re worried enough to ask, now just who is doing the imposing?  We’ve been stereotyped as imposing our strange “view” of marriage upon others.  We worry, because now the highest court in our land has undermined the definition of marriage, and imposed a new definition on everyone else.

We also worry about an apparent understanding of government that considers itself able to exercise such power.  If I remember my American Studies courses correctly, the wisdom of our founders, as we’ll celebrate Thursday, was that they viewed government as a human construct to protect and defend mediating institutions such as family, marriage, and faith, not to change or tamper with them!  Kings claimed a “divine right” to alter the natural order, and our founders rebelled against that claim.

So, as one commentator observed, “The government can talk and issue rulings all it wants, but nobody can change the very definition of marriage.”

Sad, worried, but hardly surprised.  I confess that I won a $5 bet last week, as I had wagered months ago that the Supreme Court would follow this rush.  The powerful engine to redefine marriage left the station about a decade ago.  Somberly, we’ve come to realize that, once Hollywood, the entertainment industry, college professors, the society and editorial pages of our big urban newspapers, the sit-coms, movies, and talk shows get behind something, get out of the way.

What becomes normative, then, is not natural law but the polls, not the Constitution but the “correct,” not the Bible but the blogs and the TV, not the Church but the chic.

No surprise . . .

What to do?  We can get mad, bitter, angry, and harsh.  Forget it.  That’s hardly decent, and it’s counterproductive.

We could “circle the wagons” and retreat from a culture that more and more finds our values toxic and wants to stifle us.  Don’t go there.  We’re to engage the culture, not run from it.

We could long for the “good old days,” and wring our hands about these awful modern times.  Of course, the older you get, the more you realize there were no good old days, and that our job is “to make pasta with the dough we got,” to work and live honorably and justly in the here and now.

We better start with ourselves, because, a good chunk of people of faith, even among our own Catholic people, do not share this sense of sadness and worry over Wednesday’s decisions.  Part of the New Evangelization is to present the timeless teachings of our faith – - like true marriage – - in a cogent, coherent, fresh way, re-convincing our people.

We remind ourselves of what Blessed John Paul II called our duty to be counter cultural:  that our beliefs are often at odds with contemporary trends, but that this reality only encourages us to live them out more heroically.  True freedom is not the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought.

We recover a sense of faithful citizenship, and, as loyal American citizens, continue to explore every method of reversing this sad and worrisome decision, reminding our elected officials and magistrates that the rights of conscience and religious freedom are not government favors or concessions, but flow from the very nature and dignity of the human person.

And, we never give up hope.  The witness given by our husbands and wives, moms and dads, to faithful, life giving, lifelong love is more cherished and essential than ever.  These days, the vocation of a man and woman, united forever in faithful love, leading to babies and families, is as potent a sign as celibacy is for priests!

Besides, “the truth shall set us free!”  That always gives us encouragement, and trumps worry and sadness, right?

A blessed Independence Day!

Pilgrims, immigrants, ancestors…Americans!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

WASP’s (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants) call them pilgrims, those brave men and women who sought sanctuary on our shores at Plymouth Rock, and we have an entire national feast to celebrate their arrival every November, Thanksgiving.

Our culture calls them immigrants, folks who have come to America from the start in the noble search for freedom, justice, peace, and a better life.

We Catholics usually call them “Mom,” “Dad,”  “Grandma,” “Grandpa” and “fellow parishioner,” as we are proudly part of a Church called Catholic, which means, “universal,” or, as James Joyce described, “Here comes everybody!”

Thus, from the beginning, the Catholic community has been vigorously pro-immigrant, for a number of good reasons.

For one, because they  – - the immigrants – - are us!  We are welcoming to them because our grandparents were immigrants!  We’re glad America opened the door to earlier generations.  Now it’s our turn.  With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the bay it’s especially hard, to be a Catholic in New York, and not be pro-immigrant.

Two, we Catholics are vigorous in promoting a fair and open immigration policy because of our faith, which teaches that every person, no matter where they’re from, is a child of God, made in His image and likeness, and deserving of dignity and respect.  No one deserves to live in the shadows, in a divided family, fearing deportation, because of harsh policies.

Three, we urge immigration reform because we are loyal Americans, who recognize that a fair, measured welcome to immigrants and refugees has always strengthened our beloved nation, hardly weakened it.

Thus do we watch closely the current efforts to reform an immigration policy that everyone acknowledges to be deeply flawed.  We’re grateful to our political leaders who have bravely worked together for this reform – - including our own Senator Schumer – - and for the broad coalition of religious leaders who are with us on this one.

Our Statue of Liberty looks so good in our harbor; let’s not make her blush in embarrassment by failing to bring this noble cause to pass!

Spring and Easter Renewal

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York column, I wrote about the Easter season and renewing our faith.

Here is an excerpt:

Easter blessings!

I’m all for celebrating! We prepared for Easter with forty days of intense prayer, penance, and charity during Lent.

How about celebrating now for forty days—until Ascension Thursday—come to think of it, for fifty days—until Pentecost Sunday?

These ninety days—forty days of union with the suffering and death of Jesus during Lent, plus forty days of Easter joy, plus ten more days until Pentecost—are classic days of renewal for us who follow Jesus.

Even nature cooperates, as this grand season of the Church calendar takes place against the backdrop of the cold, dark, and dreary days of winter giving way to the warm, bright, vibrant days of spring.

You can read my whole column here.

Fair Coverage

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My gratitude goes out to Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review for her piece regarding my time in Milwaukee:

This week, before his departure for Rome for the last day of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent conclave, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan spoke under oath about his previous assignment in Milwaukee…

Cardinal Dolan, who began meeting with victims of abuse immediately after his appointment to Milwaukee, doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with anyone who has made excuses for sins and crimes of the past. And yet the narrative this week insinuates that the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is “dogged” by questions about his concern for children, suggesting implication in hundreds of cases, which is simply not so.

You can read more here.

It’s About Jesus

Monday, February 25th, 2013

“But why didn’t he say anything about his reasons for stepping down, or his plans for the future, or any personal reflections about his own legacy?”  asked the journalist after Mass yesterday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

This reporter had gotten up early to watch the last Sunday Angelus address Pope Benedict XVI would ever give, to 100,000 people in Saint Peter’s Square at noon in Rome.  He had spoken of Lent, the Transfiguration of Jesus (the gospel for Sunday), and prayer.

“Because,” I replied, trying to provide an answer to the journalist’s fair-enough inquiry, “Popes don’t talk about themselves.  They are really no longer themselves!  That’s why they change their name.  They take literally what Saint Paul wrote, that “I live now – - no, not I – - Christ lives in me.”  They speak not of themselves but of Jesus.  That’s why!”

“And you,” the reporter courteously persisted, “you didn’t say a word about your plans, your departure for Rome, your thoughts or observations.  We got here to cover your 10:15 a.m. Mass, and you only mentioned the Pope in one prayer, and didn’t say anything personal.”

“Same reason,” I responded.  “The Mass is about Jesus, not about me.”

That could be the most profound lesson this great professor-pontiff has taught the world.  His heroic and humble decision of a week ago to step-down from the Chair of Saint Peter is a lesson:  in the end, when all is said and done, it’s not about office, prominence, prestige, prerogatives.  It’s not about me at all: it’s all about Jesus and His Church.

Tomorrow, though, I do leave New York for Rome.  I take you with me.  When I have the privilege of bidding farewell to the Holy Father this Thursday, the day he leaves, I’ll tell him that we – - you and me – - love him, pray with and for him, and thank him.

I’ll miss you.  Sure, this will be awesome for me.  But, I really like being your archbishop.  And I’ll be eager to get back home to you.  Besides, I can get a good bowl of pasta here in New York, too.

Please God, I’ll be home by Palm Sunday.  Not a day will go by that I will not think of you here with love, prayer and gratitude. If I’m in Rome longer, please send peanut butter.  You can’t get it there.

The New York Post Celebrates Catholic Schools

Monday, January 28th, 2013

As we begin National Catholic Schools Week, I’d like to share with you a wonderful editorial published by the New York Post today on our beloved Catholic schools.

In short, the Big Apple’s Catholic schools are doing the job so many public schools are failing to do, and doing it at a much lower cost. Here’s just one comparison: The average cost per pupil for an elementary student in a Catholic school is $6,800 per year. By contrast, taxpayers pay $6,900 just to bus a kid to public school.

Plainly, the 105,398 students in our Catholic schools (about 10 percent of the public-school population) benefit mightily from the education they receive. This, after all, is a system that boasts two alums on the Supreme Court: Justices Antonin Scalia (Xavier Prep in Manhattan) and Sonia Sotomayor (Blessed Sacrament and Cardinal Spellman in The Bronx).

The Catholic schools are also a bargain for New York taxpayers. Multiply those 105,000 students by the city’s average spending per pupil, and the savings easily hit $2 billion a year.

Read the rest here.

The Church: Our Shelter in the Storm

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

An ecumenical council, or a papal encyclical, could not have given a better definition of the Church than the one given last week by a tearful woman on Breezy Point.

She was being interviewed by a TV reporter, standing over the rubble of her leveled home, one of more than 100 homes in this small Queens community that were destroyed by fire in the middle of Superstorm Sandy last week.  All around her, nothing of her former cherished neighborhood was standing.

In response to the reporter’s question, between sobs, she recounted her experience of that awful night.  As the winds, waves, and drapes of fire came upon her, she obviously fled her little home, looking for safety.  But, she could hardly see!  The gale, the lashing rain, the smoke, the flames . . . !  And there were no familiar landmarks, because all of them were blown away.  She stumbled desperately, calling for help, her voice muted by the roar of Sandy.  Her fear was she’d walk right into the ocean, so disoriented was she, so groping for some security.

Let her finish the “narrow escape”:

“Finally, I looked up, and I was in front of the parish church.  Now I knew where I was!  Now I felt safe!  Now I was home!  The doors were open, the candles were lit, my neighbors were there, Monsignor Curran was there . . . thank God!  I would be okay . . . “

That’s the Church . . . come on in . . . we all need safety in a storm . . . we all need a “home” when our own is gone . . .

HHS mandate’s coercive nature is fact

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The following article originally appeared a couple of weeks ago while I was in Rome. Though it’s a little old I thought you might like to see what my brother bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, has written.

During the Oct. 11 debate, Vice President Joseph Biden looked into the camera and emphatically said: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

…Why would Vice President Biden look the American people in the eye and say something that is clearly not true? It is difficult to believe that the vice president does not understand the HHS mandates and what they require from religious institutions. If this were so, it certainly reflects poorly on his competency.

Of course, the only other explanation is that he purposely misled the American people. Congressman Ryan asked the vice president a very pertinent question. If the rights of institutions are not being threatened, then why are Catholic dioceses, hospitals and colleges suing the federal government in 14 different jurisdictions on this very matter? Unfortunately, the vice president did not answer the question and the moderator of the debate failed to press him on this matter.

Read the rest here.

Insight from Professor Robert George

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Here’s an interview by National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez with Professor Robert George of Princeton on marriage:

The institution of marriage has already been deeply wounded by divorce at nearly plague levels, widespread non-marital sexual cohabitation, and other damaging factors. To redefine it out of existence in law is to make it much more difficult to restore a sound understanding of marriage on which a healthy marriage culture can be rebuilt for the good of all. It is to sacrifice the needs of the poor, who are hurt the most when a sound public understanding of marriage and sexual morality collapses. It is to give up on the truth that children need both a father and mother, and benefit from the security of their love for each other.

You can read the rest here.