• 2018 CCAA

    The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal has begun. This year’s themes are “We, though many, are one body in Christ”

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  • TOTUS TUUS 2018

    Parish registration for the Totus Tuus program is now open. Totus Tuus (Latin for Totally Yours) named after St. John

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Ordination will be live Aug. 22

By the Register

Salina — The Aug. 22 ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Gerald “Jerry” Vincke will be streamed live on the diocesan social media and website.

The ordination, which begins at 2 p.m. in Sacred Heart Cathedral, will be filmed by a Wichita production company, and shown on EWTN at a future, to be announced, date. The ordination will not be broadcast live on EWTN because events from the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland were already scheduled to be broadcast. 

The public is invited to Vespers (evening prayer) with Bishop-elect Jerry and the clergy of the Salina Diocese.  The evening will begin with prayer at 7 p.m., and be followed with a light reception.  All are invited to attend.  The bishop's ordination and installation Aug. 22 is, however, by invitation only and not open to the public, due to limited seating.

To view the live feed, visit the diocese’s website at http:\\salinadiocese.org.

All events surrounding and including the ordination are by invitation only, due to limited seating.

What you will see:

  • The new bishop will be presented his miter — the tall, pointed ceremonial cap that bishops and the pope wear. 
  • The bishop also will be presented his crosier, the pastoral staff that he uses during formal liturgies. It is symbolic of a shepherd’s staff, indicating that he is the pastor of the entire diocese and that its priests are an extension of his ministry. The word “pastor” is Latin for “shepherd.” 

Meet the new bishop:

  • The public will have an opportunity to meet Bishop Vincke at special prayer services. That service will be at  3:00 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria.

This prayer service will be held on Sunday, but is NOT a Mass and will not fulfil a Catholic’s Sunday Mass obligation.

Father Loren Werth, 87, served diocese for 62 years

The Register

Manhattan — In an overflowing church, surrounded by family, brother priests, community members, parishioners and friends, the life of Father Loren Werth, who was a priest for the Salina Diocese for 62 years, was celebrated.

Father Werth, 87, died July 30, 2018.  The Funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 3 at St. Thomas More Church in Manhattan — the church where he was the founding pastor.  Diocesan Administrator Father Frank Coady was the principal celebrant at the Funeral Mass, and noted the following day was the feast of St. John Vianney.  “He was a priest not particularly known for his intellectual acumen,” Father Coady said. “(St. John Vianney) struggled in the seminary with his subjects, but he was such a deeply  human man that he connected with people. People stood in line for hours to go to confession to that priest.”

Father Coady said like St. John Vianney, Father Werth was deeply human and connected with a variety of people in his parishes and communities.  “It isn’t what you know when you are ordained that matters,” he said. “It’s what you do after that.”  Father Coady said when Father Werth was a seminarian from 1946-1956, the seminaries were not accredited institutions as they are today.  “He continued to read, he was faithful to going to continuing education, to retreats and to listening to tapes,” Father Coady said. “He kept himself up on theology and the Church.” 

Father Coady said sometimes Father Werth would joke about ‘getting my GED’ so he would have a formal degree.  Yet he loved to discuss the faith.  “Most recently, I remember he was the last two times he wanted to talk, it was about the decreasing numbers in the Church,” Father Coady said. “That bothered him deeply. He wanted to talk about ‘What did we do wrong that caused this?’ And ‘What can we do now to improve the situation?’ I don’t know that we came up with answers, but we talked about it.”

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Catholic Charities fundraiser celebrates collaborations

The Register

Salina — Supporters of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas were greeted with a surprise guest when they gathered July 22 for the annual fundraiser at the Salina Country Club.  Bishop-elect Jerry Vincke mingled with the crowd prior to the event, greeting attendees.  “Having the Bishop-elect there really brought an extra element of excitement,” said Michelle Martin, Executive Director of Catholic Charities. “Everyone I spoke to was delighted to meet him.”


The 13th annual fundraiser, which had a $100,000 matching challenge, hit the match. Final numbers are still preliminary, but Martin estimates to the event raised more than $312,000.  “We helped over $300,000 in services last year for rent, utilities (and additional financial assistance),” Martin said during her address during the meal. “That doesn’t include counseling or immigration, or any of the staff’s time. This is where (the money raised) goes — to help the individuals.” 

Catholic Charities serves the poor across the diocese’s 31 counties in northwest Kansas. Yet Kevin Carrico, who emceed the event, reminded the crowd of one important thing.  “This event is not about setting records,” he said, adding the morning’s homily from his home parish flowed nicely into the fundraiser. “(The homily) was about prayer and action. We all pray, but tonight is an example of action. I’m thrilled you’re all here to act.”

Martin said the 17 types of services provided at Catholic Charities focus on stabilizing two areas: families and finances.  “Financial problems are often the No. 1 concern of families,” she said. “That goes hand in hand with family strengthening.”  Last year, 6,500 services were provided to individuals across northwest Kansas.  “We minister to everyone that comes into our doors that is qualified for services,” Martin said. “We don’t just help Catholics.”

She explained those living in poverty often work at minimum wage jobs. If they add one dependent, they are considered below the poverty line.  “Most of the people we serve are one paycheck away or one incident away or one new family member away from becoming underneath the poverty statistics,” Martin said. 

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Fourth generation baptized in St. Boniface Church, Vincent

The Register

Vincent — Quietly standing guard over the rolling hills of eastern Ellis County, St. Boniface Church in Vincent has been the site of numerous celebrations in its 111-year history. One of the most recent milestones to be witnessed by the parishioners in the simple country church was the baptism of Wyatt Merle Bliss in early July. 

While every baptism is a joyous occasion, Wyatt’s family had an additional reason to celebrate as his July 8 reception of the sacrament marked the fourth generation of the Huser family to be welcomed into the Catholic Church in the St. Boniface parish. The son of Taylor and Kasandra (Huser) Bliss, Wyatt joins his mother, his maternal grandfather Kevin Huser, and his maternal great-grandfather Leon Huser, in the list of the many family members who have been baptized in the parish with Kasandra.

“We honestly didn’t even realize it until that day when we were taking the picture of the four generations,” said Kasandra. “My dad said, ‘Hey! Do you realize the four of us were all baptized here?’ ”  Leon was baptized at St. Boniface in 1943. Kevin’s reception of the sacrament followed 23 years later in 1966, and Kasandra was welcomed into the Church in 1991.

The Bliss family now lives in western Ellis County, near Ellis, but Kasandra’s heritage as a parishioner of St. Boniface led the couple to decide to have Wyatt baptized in Vincent.  “This little church has been so successful over the years despite being small, so having four generations of our family baptized here was pretty special,” she said. 

Considering the mobile nature of today’s society, particularly the migration of people away from rural areas, having four generations of a family celebrate a sacrament in the same parish might seem unusual. However, in many of the towns in western Kansas, familial legacies in the Catholic parishes are common. 

Father John Schmeidler, OFM Cap., Pastor of St. Boniface Catholic Church and the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria, performed Wyatt’s baptism and agreed that there is something exceptional in the small rural parishes in the western part of the Salina Diocese as well as the role the sacraments play in the lives of the faithful in this area.  “There is a uniqueness here that has helped these parishes form communities,” he said. “They take pride in those communities.  “There is a sense that these people will stand with each other and support each other. Baptism is the entry into that community.”

New generations of western Kansas families, like the Husers, Blisses and many others, continue to carry those communities forward. Wyatt and all the newly baptized can rely on the rich Catholic heritage of those families and the broader communities to strengthen them along their journey of faith in the years to come.

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Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters videoBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The report begins dramatically, imploring its readers: "We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this." Plain and simple, at least 1,000 children identified in the investigation were raped in Catholic places of worship, in schools, and in diocesan owned vehicles, and were "groomed" through diocesan programs and retreats so they could be molested, wrote members of a 23-person grand jury who heard those accounts over a period of almost two years of an investigation of clergy sex abuse said to have taken place in six dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania over 70 years. Their findings were unveiled Aug. 14. In almost 1,400 pages, they describe graphic accounts of the abuse they say happened in the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie. They detail accounts they heard of boys and girls whose genitals were touched, who were raped or made to perform a variety of sex acts. The report says one priest molested five girls in a family. In some cases the report details, girls became pregnant after being raped. One priest was "rendered irregular" after helping arrange an abortion for a minor he impregnated and mentions a letter that followed from church officials that "seemed to exclusively address the procurement of the abortion with little concern that (the priest) had impregnated a child." Some cases were worse than others, the report said, when detailing a case involving a boy who was given holy water by a priest to wash out his mouth after he had the boy perform a sex act. Most of the children were teens and some were preteens, according to the report.    What is depicted comes from internal documents made available by dioceses, from testimony of those who offered it, "and, on over a dozen occasions, the priests themselves appeared before us. Most of them admitted what they had done," the report says. When the children or their families reported what happened, "all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all," the report says. "The bishops weren't just aware of what was going on; they were immersed in it. And they went to great lengths to keep it secret. The secrecy helped spread the disease," the report said. Most of the crimes are too old to be prosecuted, but "for many of the victims, this report is justice," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in an Aug. 14 news conference unveiling the report, as some of those who had testified for the grand jury attended. "We're going to shine a light," Shapiro added. "We can tell our citizens what happened." The report says that it recognizes that "much has changed over the last 15 years." Grand jury members said they heard reports from the six dioceses investigated, "so that they could inform us about recent developments in their jurisdictions." "In response, five of the bishops submitted statements to us, and the sixth, the bishop of Erie, appeared before us in person. His testimony impressed us as forthright and heartfelt," they wrote. "It appears that the church is now advising law enforcement of abuse reports more promptly. Internal review processes have been established. Victims are no longer quite so invisible. But the full picture is not yet clear." Even though the report is long and its details painful, knowing what happened is "the only way to fix these problems," they write. The report recommends that the Pennsylvania Legislature drop the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. They also ask for a "civil window" law that would let older victims sue the dioceses "for the damage inflicted on their lives when they were kids." It says better laws for "mandated reporting of abuse" are needed and say confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreements should not apply when it comes to criminal investigations. The grand jury said it keeps in mind that there are likely more than the more than 1,000 victims identified and likely more offending priests it does not know about. It identified 301 priests in the report. "What we can say, though, is that despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability," the report says. "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades, monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal." A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but whether there may be enough evidence or probable cause to support a criminal charge.- - -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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the diocesesBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The following are excerpts of statements, and links to the full statements, made by the bishops of the six Pennsylvania dioceses named in a grand jury report released Aug. 14 that detailed a two-year investigation of seven decades of clergy sex abuse claims. Many of the claims date back decades. Pennsylvania officials say 301 priests were linked to sex abuse claims and more than 1,000 victims were identified by the grand jury investigation. The bishops' statements were made on the day the report was released. From Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh: "It is difficult to stand here before you today. Yet, I wouldn't want to be, I couldn't be, any other place than with you at this moment. The women and men of the Grand Jury have spoken. They have spoken for victims. To those women and men and all those they have spoken for: We hear you. The church hears you. I hear you. ' We cannot bury our heads in the sand. There were instances in the past, as outlined in this report, when the church acted in ways that did not respond effectively to victims. "Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did. For that I express profound regret. At the same time, I express gratitude to survivors who have taught us to respond with compassion to those who are wounded and with determination to remove offenders from ministry. To apologize and express sorrow for the past is an important step. But it is not enough. Continued action is necessary." Bishop Zubik's full statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2KSdhWN. The Diocese of Pittsburgh's response to the grand jury report is at https://bit.ly/2MjWvov and a chart on abuse claims https://bit.ly/2Bc8tMx. From Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg: "I read the grand jury report on child sexual abuse with great sadness, for once again we read that innocent children were the victims of horrific acts committed against them. I am saddened because I know that behind every story is a child precious in God's sight; a child who has been wounded by the sins of those who should have known better. ' In my own name, and in the name of the diocesan Church of Harrisburg, I express our profound sorrow and apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse, the Catholic faithful and the general public for the abuses that took place and for those church officials who failed to protect children. "We will continue to make amends for the sins of our past, and offer prayers and support to all victims of these actions. We are committed to continuing and enhancing the positive changes made, to ensure these types of atrocities never occur again. Since the turn of the century, the church has instituted policies that take clear and decisive action to prevent future abuse." Bishop Gainer's full statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2nANol0. He also referred to the diocese's release Aug. 1 (and updated Aug. 6) of a list of 72 clergy, both dead and alive, accused of abuse at https://bit.ly/2OBYiTn. The diocese has other documents on its new Youth Protection blog, https://www.youthprotectionhbg.com. "As I stressed last week when we released information regarding our own internal review of child sexual abuse in the Harrisburg Diocese," Bishop Gainer said Aug. 14, "I acknowledge the sinfulness of those who have harmed these survivors, as well as the action and inaction of those in church leadership who failed to respond appropriately." From Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown: "As your bishop, I am deeply saddened by these incidents. I sincerely apologize for the past sins and crimes committed by some members of the clergy. I apologize to the survivors of abuse and their loved ones. For the times when those in the church did not live up to Christ's call to holiness, and did not do what needed to be done, I apologize. "I also apologize to you, the faithful of the diocese, for the toll this issue has taken over the years: the sadness, the anger, the doubts, and the embarrassment it may have brought you as a Catholic. I ask for your forgiveness, and I thank you for your perseverance and for your courageous witness to our faith. I want to assure you that as a church, we will learn from the report of the grand jury and use it to further improve our protections for children and young people." Bishop Schlert's full statement, issued as a letter to the people of the diocese, can be found at https://bit.ly/2w7oHAK. A separate diocesan statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2MMBrUs. The diocesan website, https://sp.allentowndiocese.org, also has a video message from the bishop and a fact sheet on diocesan response to abuse claims. From Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton: "Many of you are aware of the statewide grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The grand jury has issued its report of findings. While this is an uncomfortable and unsettling topic, we must speak openly and frankly about it. "First of all, none you deserve to be confronted with the behavior described in this report. It is unsettling, tragic and it breaks your heart. To all of you, most especially to those of you who are victims of such heinous actions by members of the clergy, to those of who have suffered because of misguided and inappropriate decisions of church leaders and to those of you who make up the blessed faithful of our church who are simply trying to live your lives as sincere and committed servants of the Lord, I offer my deepest apologies for such behavior and the consequences of this tragic reality in our church. "There are simply no words that I can offer to take away the pain this has caused. Simply put child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated from our church. Sadly, the church has taken far too long to do that. While the investigation and the report represent a disturbing and painful chapter in the life of our church, it is necessary for us to address them in order for us to move ahead in a more positive way." Bishop Bambera's message in a video can be found in English and with Spanish subtitles can be found, respectively, at https://bit.ly/2vIWAbu and https://bit.ly/2Pep0T8. A diocesan statement on the grand jury report and a list released Aug. 14 of priests, religious, lay employees and volunteers credibly accused of abuse released can be found at https://bit.ly/2KSnX7P. From Bishop Edward C. Malesic, Diocese of Greensburg: "To the survivors of sexual abuse in the church, whether it was at the hands of a priest, a teacher, volunteer, or even a family member: I grieve for you and I grieve with you. In the Diocese of Greensburg, we stand ready to listen to you and, if you want it, we stand ready to help you heal as much as possible. It does not matter when it occurred, by whom it occurred, where it occurred, or how it occurred. We want to help. Jesus expects nothing less from us. "Let me tell you this, just in case you have some misgivings because of your past experience with the church: We love you. And I ask all of the Catholic faithful to support you with the care and concern that you deserve. "Specifically, to those of you who were abused by one of our priests. In the name of the entire Catholic church, I apologize to you for those men who stole your childhood innocence, and in some cases, robbed you of your faith. Those priests acted as wolves among us, even if they were dressed in sheep's clothing. I am sorry for that. In fact, honestly, I am extremely angry at them for what they did to you. I am outraged along with everyone else. I can understand your anger with bishops as well -- perhaps even with me. You deserved much better from us. I promise to do my best to continue to ensure that it will never happen again. "Let me say this as clearly as possible. Priests who have abused our children have no place at our parish altars wearing the vestments of our sacred mysteries. They have forfeited the right to be called 'Father' by our people. Priests who have abused our children have no place in ministry." Bishop Malesic's full statement -- in a video message and transcript -- can be found at -- https://bit.ly/2nCJHeD. The diocese Aug. 14 also released a list of clergy with credible and substantiated allegations against them: https://bit.ly/2MHSU0e. Other information and a special issued of The Catholic Accent, the diocesan paper, can be found at https://bit.ly/2w60c76. From Bishop Lawrence T. Persico, Diocese of Erie: "Today, I want to express my sorrow directly to the victims of sexual abuse that occurred within the Diocese of Erie. You have suffered in darkness for a very long time. "As the grand jury report demonstrates, you have experienced unimaginably cruel behavior by the very individuals who should have had the greatest interest in protecting you. You were betrayed by people holding themselves out as servants of God, teachers of children or leaders in the community. ' I humbly offer my sincere apology to each victim who has been violated by anyone affiliated with the Catholic Church. I hope that you can accept it. I know that apologizing is only one step in a very long and complex process of healing. "You may be aware that we recently unveiled new policies and implemented procedures to ensure that this criminal behavior is stopped. We just released another update of our website today, adding names in light of the grand jury report. This is one sign of our commitment to transparency. "But this is not the moment to focus on our efforts. Today, I simply stand before you, humbled and sorrowful." Bishop Persico's full statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2nFt5Dm. Other Bishop Persico statements can be found at https://bit.ly/2Mr0I9K, along with diocese's full disclosure list of credible abuse claims and diocesan child protection protocols.- - -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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Tim Shaffer, ReutersBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) - A Pennsylvania grand jury report issued Aug. 14 paints a picture of a Catholic Church in six of the state's dioceses that for decades handled claims of sex abuse of minors under its care by hiding the allegations and brushing aside its victims. More than 300 priests were linked to abuse claims and over 1,000 victims were identified, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a news conference following the report's release. "The main thing was not to help children but to avoid 'scandal,'" says a biting sentence about the behavior of church leaders and officials in the report, detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie. The report of almost 1,400 pages covers a period of 70 years into the past, including information from the early 2000s, a time when news of the clerical sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. Before its release, some urged that the report be read keeping in mind that a lot has changed in the church since then, and also that not all of the report's claims are substantiated. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, for example, a few priests named in the report are still working there because diocesan officials could not substantiate claims of abuse made against them, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik told local reporters Aug. 10. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper reported that Bishop Zubik said: "There is no priest or deacon in an assignment today against whom there was a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse." He said he would explain the process to parishioners following the report's release. But there are many painful claims. In the news conference, Shapiro described allegations of a priest who physically molested a group of children by telling them he was doing a "cancer check," one who he said "impregnated" a girl, others who had boys strike a religious pose naked to take pictures of them. Shapiro spoke of a "systematic cover-up" by church officials who took information to the Vatican, who also did nothing to help victims. He also spoke of priests who "weaponized faith" and had the victims go to confession for the sins that had just been committed against them. Some of those who testified before the grand jury were present for the release of the report. Reporter Brandie Kessler, of The York Daily Record, tweeted: "Victims and family members are being led in. I'm seeing a few people starting to cry." Some bishops from the six dioceses named responded almost immediately after the release. "I read the grand jury report on child sexual abuse with great sadness, for once again we read that innocent children were the victims of horrific acts committed against them," said Harrisburg's Bishop Ronald. W. Gainer in a statement shortly after the document's release. "I am saddened because I know that behind every story is a child precious in God's sight; a child who has been wounded by the sins of those who should have known better." Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie appeared in a news conference and took questions shortly after the report's release, saying he wanted to address the victims and spoke of their "unimaginable pain" and suffering. "You were betrayed by people holding themselves out as servants of God," he said. "Each one of you has your own story with pain and grief that is unique to you I don't know presume to know ' I want to assure you that you are not responsible in any way for what happened to you." He said he offered "sincere apologies" for each of victims. "Because of the report, the public will begin to understand your pain in a new way," he said, pledging that the Diocese of Erie would not "shroud abusers in secrecy no matter who they are and how long ago it took place." Bishop Zubik said in a statement, "We are sorry, I am sorry. I take this report to heart. It is a story of peoples' lives." "No one who has read it can be unaffected," he said, including many who are themselves victims of child sexual abuse and its details would reopen wounds. But no doubt some would feel "betrayed" by the church, too, he added. "Today, I again apologize to any person or family whose trust, faith and well-being has been devastated by men who were ordained to be the image of Christ," he wrote. "Ever since I first met victims of clergy child sexual abuse in 1988, I have seen the immense pain that this crime causes to its victims, to their loved ones and to the heart of Jesus. Their words break my heart. I have cried with them and for them over the damage done to them and their families by men whose lives should have been committed to protecting their souls from harm. I dedicate myself to helping them and to doing everything possible to prevent such abuse from happening again." He said the report points out instances in the past when the church did not respond effectively to victims. "Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did," he said. "For that I express profound regret." The grand jury said it found in its investigation that those who claimed sexual abuse of their own or of their children by Catholic clergy or other church workers were "brushed aside," and officials became more concerned with protecting the abusers because they wanted to protect the image of the church, the report says. Some of those named in the report had their names redacted, or blacked out, after challenging the inclusion of their identities in it without having the legal opportunity to defend themselves. They are scheduled to have a hearing with the court in September. Some of the dioceses involved said they would release the names of those facing "credible allegations" in the report when the document was made public and some of them did so immediately. The Diocese of Erie added five names to its list Aug. 14 and those names were not included in the grand jury report, said Bishop Persico. Some, such as the Diocese of Harrisburg, made its list public Aug. 1, updating it Aug. 6, adding the name of an accused priest to it after receiving "additional information." "We again emphasize that this is a list of accusations; we did not make assessments of credibility or guilt in creating this list," a statement from the diocese said. Not all who are accused of sexual abuse or of covering it up in the report are priests. Some on the lists released by dioceses are deacons, some are seminarians, teachers or other church workers, and some are no longer alive. Some are accused of being in possession of child pornography, others of inappropriate touching, kissing, soliciting a child for sex, but most are listed as "sexually abusing a child." Following the sex abuse crisis in 2000, the U.S. bishops in 2002 approved procedures and protocols for addressing allegations of abuse. But Shapiro seemed to cast doubt that it was enough. "They claimed to have changed their ways," he said. The development comes as the Catholic Church in the United States finds itself grappling with the late July resignation from the College of Cardinals of a beloved and respected retired prelate, now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, 88, of Washington, following decades-old allegations that he sexually abused seminarians and at least two minors. He has been removed from public ministry, as of June 20, and is awaiting a Vatican trial. - - -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.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Bob RollerBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said Aug. 14 that during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, he "established strong policies that addressed the needs of abuse survivors, removed priests from ministry and protected the most vulnerable in the community." He said he also "traveled to Rome to challenge successfully a Vatican decision to reinstate a (Pittsburgh) priest removed from ministry as a result of substantiated child abuse claims." Cardinal Wuerl made the comments in response to the Pennsylvania attorney general's release the same day of a grand jury report on a months-long investigation of abuse claims in the Pittsburgh Diocese and five other dioceses in the state -- Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie, Scranton and Allentown. The report covers a span of over 70 years and many of the claims are decades old. "There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report says. "But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere." In his statement, Cardinal Wuerl said that while he understands the report "may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse." "I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report," he added. In his statement and in an Aug. 13 letter to priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl said that the part of the report he was allowed to see before its official release had references to 32 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. His statement was accompanied by a fact sheet about his years in Pittsburgh. It said "the facts are" that during his tenure as Pittsburgh's bishop, the diocese "promptly investigated" allegations of child sexual abuse and took appropriate actions, including removal of priests from ministry. "The diocese required removal of a priest from ministry in the event of an admitted or substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse," the fact sheet said. "While allegations of abuse were being investigated, priests were placed on administrative leave and/or sent for professional psychological evaluation." The grand jury report "does not distinguish between allegations and proven facts," it said. "The report assumes that mere allegations against a priest should have resulted in permanent removal from ministry. This assumption is mistaken." During his 18 years in Pittsburgh, "scientific, psychological and medical understandings of child sexual abuse evolved significantly, as did civil and church law," the statement said. "Still, throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh, as well as afterwards, Cardinal Wuerl sought to implement child-protection policies that kept pace with or were ahead of that evolution." "As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop," Cardinal Wuerl said in his remarks. "The sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a terrible tragedy, and the church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely." In his letter to priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl said the report "will be a reminder of grave failings that the church must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness. "It will also be a reminder that there are many survivors of such abuse whom we must continue to keep in our prayers, and whose pain we must seek to help bear and lessen through accompaniment and care." He said that he could not "fully express the dismay and anger I felt, when as a newly installed bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, I learned about the abuse some survivors experienced in my diocese." "It moved me not simply to address these acts, but to be fully engaged, to meet with survivors and their families, and to do what I could to bring them comfort and try to begin a process for healing," he continued. "It also urged me to develop quickly a 'zero tolerance' policy for clergy who committed such abuse, and put in place a process to ensure that an y allegation of abuse was addressed as fairly and forthrightly as possible." He also noted that while the grand jury report references 32 Pittsburgh priests, during the seven decades the report covers, "about 1,800 or so diocesan priests served the people of Pittsburgh in their parishes and schools." In that time, he added, "more than 5,000 priests served across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in that same time frame." "Between 1988 and 2006, how the church -- and society as a whole -- dealt with the scourge of child sex abuse evolved: mandatory reporting and adjudication of such claims, for example," he added. "But what never changed was my commitment to the survivors of the abuse and their families." He said to the priests that he expected the report would be critical "of some of my actions" in Pittsburgh, but he said he also believes "the report also confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the survivors and to prevent future acts of abuse." "I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report," Cardinal Wuerl said. He urged prayers for anyone harmed by clergy, adding, "Our commitment to addressing this scourge and supporting survivors, and encouraging survivors to come forward for assistance and to seek justice must not waver." "The Catholic Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuses of the past, and we are now in the midst of a new era where our communal bonds of trust are once again being tested by the sin of abuse," he added. - - - Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher- - -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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the diocesesBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops" that have led to sexual abuse and caused great harm to many, said an Aug. 14 statement from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of its child protection committee. "We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. They pledged "to maintain transparency" and provide for "the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone."Cardinal DiNardo also said he is hosting a series of meetings during the week to respond to "the broader issue of safe environments within the church," and will provide an update when the meetings are concluded. The prelates' joint statement was issued in response to the release the same day of a grand jury report based on a months-long investigation by the state's attorney general into sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses -- Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg. The report covers a span of over 70 years. Many of the claims go back decades. "(The report) again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades," said Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty. "We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse," they said. "As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops." They added, "We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank." Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty said the USCCB committee headed by the Indiana bishop and the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection at the bishops' conference in Washington "will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen." In 2002, the bishops adopted the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which, they said, "commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse." The charter was revised and updated in 2011 and again in 2018. "We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone," the two prelates said. "All policies and procedures regarding training and background check requirements are made publicly available by dioceses and eparchies." "We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in God's loving presence as the church pledges to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice." - - - Editor's note: The full statement from Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty can be found at https://bit.ly/2MvN7yc.- - -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.