IMAGE: CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The wave of accusations of sexual harassment,
misconduct and assault from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and many places in
between in recent months has been described as a revolution, a moment and a time
for national reckoning.
accused -- abruptly fired or resigned -- have issued apology statements or denied
wrongdoing. Those who have come forward -- predominantly women, but also some
men emboldened by the solidarity of the #MeToo movement -- were named "Silence
Breakers" by Time magazine and honored as its 2017 Person of the Year.
still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution," the Time article
points out, stressing that for true social change to happen, private
conversations on this issue are essential.
that's where some say the Catholic Church has something to offer both from its lessons
learned -- and how it could do more -- to support victims and foster healing.
Catholic Church -- tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal that made
headlines in 2002 - has taken steps in all of its dioceses to address and
prevent the abuse of young people and will keep doing this forever, according
to Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat
for Child and Youth Protection.
continues its training, education, background checks and reporting, the church must
similarly "face the reality of sexual harassment," said a Dec. 11 editorial
in America magazine, pointing out that what the church went through with the
abuse crisis shows "it is possible to begin turning even an organization
as large and as old as the church toward primary concern for victims. "
church faces hurdles in just getting into this discussion, acknowledged Helen
Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School
and consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity, noting that people can
accept church teaching on global warming or refuges but its teachings on
sexuality "is the thing that gets people mad."
papal encyclicals such as "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), she said
the "church was onto something" when it spoke of what would happen
when sex was separated from love and responsibility, stressing that if "sex
is robbed of its full meaning, it is bound to hurt someone."
that's what the country is seeing now. As she points out: "We are not
talking about women complaining that men stomped on their feet or slapped them
really hard, it's sex," which explains the "depth of humiliation and anger"
these women feel who have come forward.
is not a moment for triumphalism. I don't see anyone in the church taking that
approach," Alvare said. "What I do see is people saying: 'Let's look
at what's happening, let's name what we're seeing and think about how to fix
part of that solution," she added, noting that the experience of the
church reaching out its hand and saying: 'We're here if you're suffering,' is
Part of the
church's role can't help but stem from lessons learned in the abuse crisis.
Deacon Nojadera said: "Clergy sexual abuse should not have happened, but
it is part of our history and our landscape" and the church is
"healthier and holier" for taking stock of what went wrong and
learning to "listen intently" to victims, something he said it didn't
He also knows
the current abuse allegations go beyond the worlds of entertainment and
politics and are closer to home with people coming forward in recent months under
the tagline #ChurchToo to share their experiences of abuse in church
environments of all faiths. These victims have often expressed the added pain of
being told they did something to bring about the abuse.
the Catholic Church needs to help all who have been abused, not just address
wrongs of its own past. When he gives talks around the country, people
often pull him aside to talk about spousal abuse, domestic violence and
Catholic News Service that the church's policies, adopted across the board in
2002 in its "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People"
put protocols in place for anytime someone calls a parish or diocesan office
seeking help with ongoing or previous abuse or assault. For starters, they are
offered resources and contact numbers to report the problem.
Eden Goldstein, an author who has written about finding healing after abuse,
said some dioceses and parishes need to do more.
if someone contacts a parish priest to say they have suffered abuse, they should
not be immediately given a list of local therapists which they could find on
their own, or books with "vague platitudes." Instead, she said,
victims need clear spiritual guidance and reading recommendations tailored to
their specific needs. Most of all, Goldstein said, "they need someone to
listen to them with an open heart and say: 'I'm very sorry to hear what was
done to you. It wasn't your fault.'"
short, there needs to be more collaboration, to connect those who've suffered
with spiritual care and with priests who are specifically able to help. Victims
also need community, she said, pointing out the importance of Catholic outreach
groups like the Maria Goretti Network, https://mgoretti.org.
who goes by the pen name Dawn Eden and is an assistant professor of dogmatic
theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, speaks
from experience. She was sexually abused as a child and when she became a Catholic as an adult, she said, she was "carrying all of this misplaced
guilt," imagining that she should have done something to stop it.
her own path to healing came from the examples of the saints, which she writes
about in her book: "My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the
Help of the Saints."
CNS that the saints model a path forward for the country's current crisis because
they were "bold and courageous in speaking the truth and speaking when
they saw people being abused and oppressed in any way."
also practiced mercy and justice and didn't see a conflict between the two.
example, St. Maria Goretti -- an 11-year-old Italian girl stabbed in 1902 while
resisting a sexual assault -- forgave her assailant on her death bed, but she
also gave a detailed description of what happened to her to the police.
sees it, St. Maria Goretti, canonized in 1950, is the "model we need to
follow" because she shows those who suffer "that to forgive is in no
way to excuse the abuser."
- - -
Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2017 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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Father Nate WillsBy Mary C. UhlerMADISON,
Wis. (CNS) -- When the Wisconsin Badgers' football team travels to the Orange
Bowl to play Miami Dec. 30, the players will take a 12-1 record with them --
one of the best in team history.
them will be Msgr. Michael Burke -- better known as "Father Mike" to the coaches
and players. He has been the team's chaplain for 40 years.
began working with the team when he was on the faculty of Madison's Holy Name
Seminary. The Badgers used the seminary fields and facilities for their summer
training camp for many years.
Mike was a faculty member, rector, and vocation director during the years from
1977 until the closing of the seminary in 1995.
remembers the training camps well. "The team was usually at the seminary for
over three weeks," he recalled in an interview with the Catholic Herald,
newspaper of the Diocese of Madison. "They were locked in and had to stay there
the entire time. They certainly got focused, since there were no distractions."
Mike believes he was the first team chaplain in the Big Ten Conference. Now,
all but three of the schools' teams have chaplains.
his years as chaplain for the University of Wisconsin-Madison team, Father
Mike has offered encouragement and support to the coaches and players of all
has performed 104 weddings of players and of coaches and countless baptisms.
"They still stay connected with me," he said. "They send lots of pictures."
is very intense," Father Mike observed. "The players have to balance going to
school, practicing, and keeping their head straight when they're 18 years old.
Many of them have issues with their families."
said the current head coach, Paul Chryst, and the assistant coaches let Father
Mike know if players have personal problems. "It could be a father who's in
jail or someone in the family has cancer. I can be there to offer support."
Mike said his work with the team is really another parish. "It's very
rewarding," he said. "They keep me young."
Mike retired in July as pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, where he
served since 1996. Since retirement, Chryst told him, "We'll keep you
priest's encouragement of players "has happened thousands of times," Chryst
told the Catholic Herald. "Father Mike really helps our team."
Mike prays with players of all faiths before the Badgers' games, including in
the games, he stands on the sidelines with the players and coaches. He wears a
clerical collar, and recently at the Wisconsin-Iowa game, he got hit and
knocked down by an Iowa player.
said the Iowa player noticed his collar and said, "Sorry, Father," and helped
Mike said he has been impressed by the spirituality of the Badgers' players and
coaches. He said the players' parents have noticed the change in their
children, with many of them going to church more frequently.
coaches and players also put their faith into action. This became evident this
year when Wisconsin played Florida Atlantic University when Hurricane Irma hit
Florida Atlantic coaches and players ended up staying in Madison from game day on Saturday until the following Wednesday.
athletic director, Barry Alvarez, and his wife, Cindy, along with Chryst's wife, Robin, and the wives of other coaches, made the Florida Atlantic
crew welcome, as did Father Mike himself, who was out every day meeting with
was impressive to see how we all helped the Florida Atlantic people. Many of
them were worried about their families back home. Some of them wrote me
thank-you notes when they got back," said Father Mike. "It was a win-win
situation all around."
to comment on the Badgers' best football season ever, Father Mike said, "This
year, they are so focused. They are a determined group, care for each other, and
work together. I've never seen a coaching staff and players who work so well
believes a lot of the success is due to the strong spirituality among the
coaches and players, starting with Chryst, who is Catholic himself and
attributes much of his success as a coach to the influence of his father, the
late George Chryst, who died 25 years ago.
a priest in 1974, Father Mike said he has been happy. "I'm so grateful I had the
opportunity to do what God wanted me to do. I've been blessed with wonderful
parents, brothers, sisters and friends. I've made so many wonderful friends
over the years."
retired in July but said he's busier than ever, ministering at
a Catholic high school as well as at a Catholic-run nursing facility and a hospice.
And he still makes time to serve as chaplain of the Badger football team.
been a wonderful experience," he emphasized.
Badgers' coaches and players thinks he's "the greatest" and hope he stays around
for many more years.
is editor of the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Madison.- - -Copyright © 2017 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, ReutersBy Dennis SadowskiWASHINGTON
(CNS) -- In Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, California and Mexico City, recovery
was slow and deep pain remained from a string of natural disasters as 2017 ended.
and earthquakes from August through December caused widespread destruction and
claimed hundreds of lives. Rebuilding in the affected areas will take years to complete.
responded with emergency aid and undertook fundraising campaigns to help people
of different walks of life who lost homes and livelihoods.
other place was harder hit than Puerto Rico, which was slammed in September by
Hurricane Maria, the 10th most intense Atlantic storm on record. Electrical
power was at 70 percent capacity and many communities continued to have no
access to clean water in mid-December.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of
Chicago visited the island in early December at the behest of Pope Francis. He
toured the island with representatives of Catholic Extension, the papal society that has supported the church in Puerto Rico for decades.
once-bustling town centers and business districts shuttered in cities large and
small, signaling a massive loss of income and livelihood. Collapsed buildings,
flooded homes and roofless structures offered testimony to the severity of the
official death toll in Puerto Rico stands at 64. However, data obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that at least 985
additional people died in the 40 days after the hurricane, which is a higher death toll than in 2016, a year without such severe storms.Elsewhere,
Hurricane Harvey, swamped southern Texas and southwestern Louisiana as it ambled offshore
in the Gulf of Mexico for days in late August, dumping more than 50 inches of
rain on some communities. Catholic parishes and schools were among entities affected by flooding. The storm was the first major hurricane to make
landfall on the U.S. mainland since 2005 and caused nearly $200 billion
the back-to-back storms in the Caribbean: first Hurricane Irma followed by
Hurricane Maria. With winds topping 160 miles an hour, both storms devastated
entire islands. Irma also caused flooding throughout Florida.
Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe,
Martinique, and Turks and Caicos were battered by the storms.
same time, earthquakes
of magnitudes 8.1, 7.1 and 6.1 jolted Mexico Sept. 7, Sept. 19 and Sept. 23,
resulting in 474 deaths and more than 6,300 injuries.
The temblors were followed in
October and December by wildfires in California, driven by hot winds and fueled
by hundreds of thousands of acres of dry timber, a consequence of a dry summer.
recent round of fires near Los Angeles followed by two months more than a dozen
wind-whipped blazes in California wine country that destroyed thousands of
homes in urban neighborhoods, causing 24 deaths and leaving hundreds of families homeless.
to the disasters, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities
USA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Relief Services mobilized to
raise funds to assist with emergency relief and long-term recovery.
collected $38.5 million for
hurricane relief and another $1.3 million for Mexican earthquake relief. Catholic Charities USA raised $24 million for disaster assistance. The Society of
St. Vincent de Paul also was on the scene in various locales coordinating
its response through parish and diocesan councils.Other donors included Catholic Extension, which provided $400,000 in immediate support to the church in Puerto Rico following the hurricanes, and the Knights of Columbus, which pledged $1.4 million for church repairs in Florida, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization earlier provided $100,000 to the Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Mexico by the end of October had raised $900,000 for earthquake emergency aid.
Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency and a partner in the church's Caritas Internationalis
network, was on the ground providing disaster assistance.
The U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on Catholic
Home Missions made an emergency grant of $50,000 to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, to help with its response to the fires. In addition,
the Archdiocese of Los Angeles began collecting funds even as wildfires raged in
early December for families, parishes and schools affected by the fires in Los
Angeles and Ventura countries.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2017 was the seventh most
active hurricane season on record dating to 1851 and the most active season
Alan Betts, a Vermont-based
climate scientist who has studied global weather and climate for more than 40
years, outlined his concerns about future weather patterns during a Nov. 2
Catholic Climate Covenant webinar.
Betts long ago
concluded that earth is warming and that humans cause it because of their penchant
for burning fossil fuels in large quantities.
webinar and a September presentation at St. Michael's College in Colchester,
Vermont, Betts explained that a warming atmosphere holds more water vapor. More
humidity in the atmosphere means a higher potential for downpours.
At the same
time, the oceans are a storehouse for excessive heat. The Climate Special
Report released by 13 federal agencies Nov. 3 found that the oceans have
absorbed 93 percent of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gas warming since
the mid-20th century, leading to altered global and regional climate.
the oceans, the more intense the hurricanes, Betts said.
Catholic Climate Covenant and the Global Catholic Climate Covenant continued
efforts throughout the year to call on people to advocate for action to cut
carbon emissions, a leading cause of climate change.
climate-related actions, hundreds of Catholics from across the country joined
the two organizations during the April 29 People's Climate March in Washington.
sweltering heat -- the temperature reached 91 degrees at nearby National
Airport, tying a record set in 1974 for the date -- an estimated 200,000 people
walked from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to protest President Donald
Trump's environmental agenda.
administration has begun the process of dismantling environmental regulations
and rolling back the Clean Power Plan regulating carbon emissions from
coal-fired power plants in the name of creating jobs and boosting the U.S.
economy. Trump also followed through on a campaign pledge to begin the process
of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.
bishops issued several statements throughout the year calling on the president
to remain in the accord and keep the Clean Power Plan in place.
- - -
Dennis Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.- - -Copyright © 2017 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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Hannah McKay, ReutersBy Carol GlatzROME (CNS) -- With so much suffering, poverty and
exploitation in the world, missionary work must also include reaching out to
people whose hearts are closed to receiving immigrants and refugees, Pope
Francis told Jesuits in Myanmar.
"Unfortunately, in Europe there are countries that
have chosen to close their borders. The most painful thing is that to take such
a decision they had to close their hearts," he said during a private
audience Nov. 29 in the chapel of the archbishop's house in Yangon.
"Our missionary work must also reach those hearts
that are closed to the reception of others," he told 31 Jesuits from
different parts of Asia and Australia, who are based in Myanmar.
The Rome-based Jesuit-run journal, La Civilta Cattolica,
published a transcript Dec. 14 from the private meeting in Myanmar and the
pope's private meeting Dec. 1 at the apostolic nunciature in Dhaka with Jesuits
based in Bangladesh.
In both meetings, the pope listened to and answered their
comments, concerns and questions, and the journal provided an English
translation of the original Spanish remarks.
A Jesuit's mission is to be close to the people,
especially those who are suffering and forgotten because "to see them is
to see Christ suffering and crucified," he said in his meeting in Myanmar.
His approach, he said, is to try to visit these places
and to "speak clearly, especially with countries that have closed their
"It is a serious issue," he said, commenting on
how that evening, they all would be sitting down to a full meal, including
dessert, while many refugees will "have a piece of bread for dinner."
He recalled visiting the refugees in Lesbos, Greece, and
how the children he was greeting were torn between shaking his hand and reaching
for candy that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was pulling out of his pockets.
"With one hand, they greeted me with the other, they
grabbed the candy. I thought maybe it was the only sweet they had eaten for
The situation of many of the refugees and stories they
have told him have "helped me to cry a lot before God," he said,
particularly when a Muslim man recounted how terrorists slit the throat of his
Christian wife right before his eyes when she refused to take off the cross she
"These things must be seen and must be told,"
he said, because news of what is happening does not reach most people, and
"we are obliged to report and make public these human tragedies that some
try to silence."
The Jesuits he met in Bangladesh thanked him for talking
about the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority being pushed from Myanmar's
Rakhine state and seeking refuge in Bangladesh.
"Jesus Christ today is called Rohingya," as
these people are their brothers and sisters, the pope told the Jesuits.
Just as St. Peter Claver ministered in the 17th century to
slaves subjected to horrible conditions, such shameful conditions people endure
still persist, he said.
"Today, there is much discussion about how to save
the banks. The problem is the salvation of the banks. But who saves the dignity
of men and women today?"
"Nobody cares about people in ruins any longer. The
devil manages to do this in today's world. If we had a little sense of reality,
this should scandalize us."
"The impudence of our world is such that the only
solution is to pray and ask for the grace of tears," he said.
Meeting the Rohingya refugees that same day at the
archbishop's residence in Dhaka, he added, made him feel ashamed. "I felt
ashamed of myself, for the whole world!"
When asked "why such attention" for the small
Catholic community in Bangladesh when he elevated their archbishop in Dhaka to
the rank of cardinal, Pope Francis said that in naming cardinals, he looks to
the "small churches, those that grow in the peripheries, at the
It's not meant to give them "consolation," but
is "to launch a clear message: the small churches that grow in the
periphery and are without ancient Catholic traditions today must speak to the
universal church, to the whole church. I clearly feel that they have something
to teach us."
- - -
Editors: The full text in English can be found online at:
- - -Copyright © 2017 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Ritchie B. Tongo, EPABy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the thought of receiving a
blessing by text from Pope Francis could have millions of mobile users glued to their smartphones,
the Vatican spokesman said that isn't his style.
The spokesman, Greg Burke, issued a statement on Twitter
Dec. 13 saying that Pope Francis doesn't use the instant messaging platform
Reports of "the Holy Father using WhatsApp are false,"
Burke tweeted. "He does not send messages or blessings through this
The Pope Francis Foundation, a Catholic organization in
Corrientes, Argentina, announced Dec. 12 the launch of "Wabot-Papa Francisco,"
a chatbot that allows users to contact the pope and keep up-to-date with his
schedule, reported the Argentine newspaper, La Nacion.
The foundation said the chatbot would respond to users
queries through "texts, images, video, audio and documents," La Nacion
"You can also have a simulated chat with His Holiness.
Wabot technology allows the entire Catholic community or people of any other
faith to interact with the pope," the foundation said.
The pope, the organization added, "is a technological
man, he believes that technology can help many people and understands that it is
the future of communications."
In his message for the 50th World Communications Day Jan.
24, 2016, Pope Francis acknowledged that emails, text messages, social networks
and chats can be "fully human forms of communication."
However, he added, "it is not technology which
determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human
heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal."
Despite his favorable attitude toward new forms of
communication, the pope has also admitted that he is "a dinosaur"
when it comes to technology.
During a Google Hangout conversation sponsored by Scholas
Occurrentes in 2015, a young girl from Spain asked the pope if he liked to take
photos and upload them to a computer.
"Do you want me to tell you the truth?" the pope
asked. "I'm a disaster with machines. I don't know how to work a computer.
What a shame!"
- - -
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 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 email@example.com.