In the Vineyard :: December 7, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 23
News from National
What Are You Doing for Advent?
Hoping. Anticipating. Praying. Gathering. Worshiping. How have these or other aspects of Advent changed for you during this COVID-19 pandemic? What are you doing differently this Advent to maintain the spirit of the season? We can draw more closely together this Advent, even if we're not seeing others in person, by sharing our thoughts and plans with each other.
So, tell us how you're observing Advent this year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll publish excerpts from your emails in our twice monthly e-newsletter In the Vineyard and on our website at votf.org. Also, please let us know your name and hometown when you send your note.
May this Advent season bring you hope, peace, joy, and love.
Reparations to Be Paid to Abuse Victims and Survivors
As Reports Continue to Surface
Pittsburgh, Chicago, and several dioceses in Colorado are the latest in the long litany of places where reparations are now being paid to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
In Pittsburgh, more than $19 million was awarded, settling 224 claims of clergy sexual abuse after an announcement from the Kenneth Feinberg Group. The award marks the end of nearly two years of work for the firm, hired by the diocese to administer the compensation fund following the grand jury report of 2018. The report included details of 301 allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children against 99 priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese and 20 in the Greensburg Diocese. Many originated before 1990. Bishop David Zubik created the independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program in December of 2018 to respond to the allegations and “promote healing to survivors.” A total of 369 claims were entered, two were withdrawn, and 70 were found ineligible for compensation. Fifty-two claimants rejected the offers, and 21 declined to respond to the offers they were given. Payouts averaged around $86,000. The funds for this project came from insurance and previously held funds.
Some claimants chose to decline the offers, preferring to pursue court cases. Those who accepted the offers signed away future rights to sue, and some of those who accepted were also prevented by current statute of limitation laws preventing them from suing in the future due to the time that had elapsed.
Mediators in the Greensburg Diocese took personal statements from each survivor, and Pittsburgh lawyer Alan Perer, who represented about 75 survivors, said he thought “it was more humane to let the victims be heard and tell their story to someone,” rather than to the Pittsburgh mediators, who were dealing with significantly more cases but relied on written statements.
In Colorado, a second report on clerical sex abuse, compiled from nearly two years of investigations, identified nine additional priests who abused 46 children. Previously, the former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer identified 212 children over the course of an investigation that named by 52 priest abusers in the state of Colorado from 1950 to 1999. The Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program was created to allow “survivors of sexual abuse by a priest to take one more step on the path to healing and recovery” in February of 2019. The priests named in the reports will have their names removed from any honorary designations, from buildings to programs. The supplemental report found that none of the substantiated allegations involved abuse that occurred since 1999, although spotty record-keeping makes it challenging to know if any other abuses have occurred since. Only one of the 46 allegations recently announced was not reported to law enforcement, but 16 of the new victims were abused by priests already accused of sexual abuse at the time. This confirms a pattern of concealment and enabling: Abusive priests were transferred, their behavior was concealed and not documented, victims were silenced, and their abuse was not reported to law enforcement.
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced in a press release that it will pay $1.5 million in a settlement to a complainant alleging abuse by known violent sexually abusive former priest, Daniel McCormack. The total payments to children abused by McCormack is now more than $11 million. McCormack was sentenced to five years for abusing five young boys in 2007.
The plaintiff in this settlement was on a team at a Catholic elementary school where McCormack taught and coached. Before McCormack was eligible for parole, the state designated him as a sexually violent person and held him in a secure state facility upon his release, and in 2018, a judge ordered him to stay in custody indefinitely at a state facility for sex offenders. It is unclear if he remains in custody currently.
To read more about VOTF’s position on child protection, please see here.
For survivor support resources, please see here.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church. A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they've yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
- Setting the record straight on NCR and McCarrick coverage, By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church's first African American cardinal during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men -- and the only American -- elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday's ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News
- With ceremony at the Vatican, Wilton Gregory becomes 1st black American cardinal, By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio
Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com
Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse.” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
Pope Calls for Inclusion of People with Disabilities
On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis spoke out for the rights of Catholics with disabilities to receive the sacraments. The United Nations theme for the day was “Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” Pope Francis has previously spoken about the need for more inclusive parishes, but in a message published December 3, took this a step further. “Creating a fully accessible parish requires not only the removal of architectural barriers, but above all, helping parishioners to develop attitudes and acts of solidarity and service toward persons with disabilities and their families,” he said. He related a Gospel story about a house built on rock or on sand, referring to the rain, rivers, and winds that threaten the house as the “throwaway culture widespread in our time.” He called for all members of the parish community to be educated about disabilities and become familiar with “the use of inclusive pastoral tools.”
Pope Francis acknowledged that over the past 50 years, the Church and society have made progress recognizing the “dignity of each person” and promoting inclusion, but notes that cultural norms have not necessarily kept up, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Amplifying global inequities and particularly affecting the most vulnerable, the pandemic has emphasized that the world must change to better include those with disabilities to ensure that “no one, especially those in greatest difficulty, is left behind.”
He emphasized again that “our aim should be to speak no longer about ‘them’ but rather about ‘us’” and that greater efforts to provide disabled people with training and knowledge of theology and catechesis are necessary. He envisions a world in which disabled Catholics no longer feel as though “they exist without belonging and without participating.”
This vision for a more inclusive Church starts at the individual level, and is a thoughtful and important message to consider this Advent season.
Advent Retreat at Paulist Center in Boston, via Zoom
The Paulist Center invites you to "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord," an Advent retreat experience offered by local Paulist Father Tom Ryan on Tuesday, Dec. 15, from 7 to 8 p.m. Tom will reflect on Advent and our preparation for Christmas, with an opportunity for sharing and discussion.
Zoom Meeting ID: 971-6188-7174
Pope Francis' December Prayer Intention: A Life of Prayer
In a video message for his December prayer intention, Pope Francis speaks about the power of prayer to change reality and our hearts, and prays that, through a life of prayer, we may nourish our relationship with Jesus Christ.
To see the Pope’s video, click here.
Here is the text of his intention:
The heart of the Church’s mission is prayer.
Prayer is the key for us to be able to enter into dialogue with the Father.
Every time we read a short passage from the Gospel we hear Jesus speaking to us.
We have a conversation with Jesus.
We listen to Jesus and we reply.
And this is prayer.
By praying, we change reality.
And we change our hearts.
Our heart changes when we pray.
We can do many things, but without prayer, it does not work.
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.
In silence, everyone, each one in heartfelt prayer.
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, at Vineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.
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