Auxiliary Bishop To Hold “Listening Session” With Parish

We’d love to hear from Our Mother of Consolation parish members who attend the listening session announced below. We’d also like to hear how their sexual abuse forum was organized so other parishes could adapt the model.


Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill Sexual Abuse Forum Listening Session

Our parish Sexual Abuse Forum will be hosting a listening session with Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior on the present crisis in our Archdiocese on Monday, May 23, 2011, at 7:00 PM in the church.

This listening session is open to all OMC parishioners.

17 thoughts on “Auxiliary Bishop To Hold “Listening Session” With Parish

  1. Is an archdiocesan member, who is not an OMC parishioner, permitted to attend this “listening” session?

    Is the “listening” to be done by the parishioners or is the “listening” to be done by Bishop Senior? If the latter, will the Bishop follow the “listening” with “doing” (read ACTION)?

    One would think that 222 N. 17th St. has been doing an awful lot of listening since September 2005. Of course, this is what those of us who care about the protection and safety of our children believe!

    1. I think a similar “listening session” was held about a month ago at Old St Joe’s with Bishop Senior. I think that it is an opportunity for people to vent,express their feelings etc…..Not sure.If someone could fill us in from Old St Joe’s that would be great.

  2. Our parish, St Thomas of Villanova, is having “an oppurtunity for prayer and dialogue about the sexual abuse crisis hosted by the Parish Council on Tuesday.”

  3. That’s a good question Michael.

    How much has Bishop Senior or any of the Philly auxiliary bishops for that matter, Cardianal Rigali or Cardinal Bevilaequa really “listened” to what three Philadelphia Grand juries have had to say to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

    Yes, they have “heard” but have they really “listened” with their minds, hearts and souls?

    Reading the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s 76 page Response to the
    report of the Investigating Grand Jury Pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S 4552(e), prepared by Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP, I would have to answer that, given their actions, it hardly appears likely.

    Many in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been clinging to the hope that ecclesiastical leadership had learned something between 2005 and now but clearly that has not been the case as has been pointed out now in the 2011 Grand Jury Report. Many have come to that realization and Catholics4Change is a result of that.


    Who’s going to be listening to what?

    Why the wait until May 23, 2011?

    Sister Maureen
    Victims’ Advocate

    Springfield Sun
    Friday, April 29, 2011
    Guest column:
    “Philadelphia archdiocese continues cover-up of abuse”

    Have you called your PA respresentative obtain his or her support for House Bills 832 & 878?

  4. I sincerely hope the people of Our Mother of Consolation will speak their minds and from their hearts and souls to the Bishop. I would suggest that Bishop Senior attend without talking points, just a servant’s heart and an open mind. He must listen and the faithful must begin to actively voice their anger, frustration and disgust over the behavior of the Bishops, church officials and church spin agents. The time for meaningful structural change in the church is long overdue.

  5. I wish we had a ‘listening’ session at our parish. I have asked but had no reply and really did not expect to have one. It would be very difficult for me to just listen and not be able to ask the many questions I have.

  6. The Church comes into existence through the communion of bishops in their dioceses
    with the Bishop of Rome. Under the Church’s law, parishes are considered portions of dioceses. Although the parishes themselves are public juridic persons and they are noncollegial aggregates of persons, the parishioners in the aggregate do not have collective rights.

    This presentation is entitled:

    “Constitutional Reflections on the Parish: An Entity in the Fabric of the Church”

    The author is Mark Chopko, general counsel to the USCCB for over 20 years, who is now the Chair of the Non-Profit and Religious Group at Stradley and Ronon, long-term counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (Chairman, William Sasso).

    Regardless of the number of “listening” sessions, peaceful protests, legislative advocacy and scholarly research, this simple fact remains:


    At the Chestnut Hill session, will someone please ask Bishop Senior if the Archdiocese of Philadelphia abides by this principle?

  7. It may be true juridically that parishioners in the aggregate do not have collective rights. I have no reason to doubt this statement. However, I believe this pertains more to governance of the parish than to the moral, ethical and canonical rights of the faith community to voice their concerns to their pastors (Canon 212) and the pastor’s “obligation” to listen and consider the facts seriously as presented by the people.

    I would go so far as to state that, if the bishop just gives lip service to the parishioners, the faithful could make life in the local church very uncomfortable. I would suggest through financially withholding donations. That’s a start.

    Lets see how fast the church will act under those circumstances.

  8. Dear Kathy,

    To answer your question about “listening sessions” at Old St. Joseph’s, Church we had a total of three listening sessions. On Sunday, February 27, two listening sessions, open to anyone, took place, one after the 9:30 a.m. Mass and one after the 11:30 a.m. Mass. We were invited to express our feelings about the grand jury report and the responses of the Archdiocese. The sessions were co-facilitated by our pastor, Fr. Dan Ruff, S.J., and by Fr. Jerry McGlone, S.J., who is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of religious and clergy who suffer from sexual traumas. I counted about thirty persons at the early session and about forty-five at the later.

    Later a third listening session was scheduled after the 11:30 a.m. Mass on March 27. Bishop Senior is our area vicar; it was announced that he would be present and that attendance was restricted to parishioners. The session was well attended. I found that its value lay notin the little Bishop Senior said but in the opportunity the parish gave him to listen to our feelings of shock, outrage, betrayal, grief, and demands for action from the Archdiocese.

    As Sister Maureen mentions above, nothing that has come to public attention about the response of the Archdiocese suggests that any member of the hierarchy has listened fruitfully to what those in the parishes are saying. To take action as citizens, we must not wait for the hierarchy.

    1. Thank you Maureen. It certainly sounds like your pastor has been proactive in responding to the needs of his congregation. It is interesting that the initial meeting took place in February,just a few weeks into the crisis.We continually hear from people that almost three months later, there has been no open communication within various parishes.
      I realize that these meetings and listening sessions are not changing anything in regards to the protection of children,which is what we all are concerned about.It is however at least a good faith effort by your pastor to not treat this as a “taboo” subject. Good for him and for the members of your parish.
      Do you feel that people were very honest and open in their remarks in the meeting to Bishop Senior?

      1. Dear Kathy,

        Thank you for writing. I believe the listening sessions were a good first step, if only to let the people see that each person is not alone in carrying the heavy knowledge of the crimes of which the grand jury accused the Archdiocese and to give a public forum to allow us to share our first reactions so that the life of the parish could go on. Yes, the sooner the sessions start, the better.

        Yes, the parishioners were very open and honest, expressing the same anger, disappointment, betrayal, and demand for justice before the auxiliary bishop that they had in his absence.

  9. Our culture as Catholics is to trust in the clergy, even to venerate them. Changing a lifetime of attitude and behavior is very difficult. That is probably why parishoners have not demanded that their pastors and their bishops be more responsive to legitimate needs and wants of the people. To expect our hierarchy to respond to our concerns is about as likely as to expect most lifelong Catholics to withhold their donations–or even less likely to stand up during a sermon to say that the preacher is wrong–or God forbid–to walk out during an offensive sermon. What we Catholics need is a change of heart. We need to feel the PAIN of our sisters and brothers who have been abused and BELIEVE that those abused persons were not somehow responsible for the sins of the clergy. Then we must BELIEVE that the clergy do not have the power to withhold our eternal salvation. Once we realize and believe how much God loves us, the veneration of the clergy as mediators of our salvation may stop. We might even come to believe that we can live without the priestly caste!! God bless us all and give us strength in this difficult time.

  10. Maureen O’Riordan:

    “… it was announced that he (Bishop Senior) would be present and that attendance was restricted to parishioners….”

    Control and manipulation – it’s the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s modus operandi.

    Seriously, though, Maureen, you were right on with this:

    “…nothing that has come to public attention about the response of the Archdiocese suggests that any member of the hierarchy has listened fruitfully to what those in the parishes are saying. To take action as citizens, we must not wait for the hierarchy…”

    Since I’m not one to walk away from an opportunity for fruitful advocacy, here’s the question:

    Can the leadership of any single parish legally bar a non-parishioner from attending such an event? What would happen if an interested non-parish member insisted on being permitted to enter the meeting and participate? Can the church (local parish or archdiocese management) take legal action (file criminal charges or seek court relief) if such a possible attendee were to force the issue?

    1. What an interesting point, Michael. Are they going to check people’s “parish membership cards” at the door? Would it be a crime for a caring Catholic from another parish to show up at such a meeting because his/her parish has not yet had one? Great observation.

    2. I know that a Monsignor at a parish in Chester County held a meeting and allowed people who were not parishioners to attend. It is a very good point that Michael brings up.
      What message does it send to people who belong to parishes where their concerns are being ignored? Are local clergy members not aware that some fellow clergy are trying to minister to their congregations in a time of crisis?

    3. Dear Michael,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. To do the Archdiocese justice, I inquired at the time, and my pastor told me that he alone was the source of the decision to restrict the third listening session to parishioners. I believe there are different purposes for meetings: one that was designed to help the members of a parish share with one another, discern what God asks of them as a parish in response to this crisis, and go on together would require a different setup than a regional meeting focused on the advocacy and action that usually come out of our shared prayer and reflection. I myself believe that legal action should be reserved for the most important issues, such as abuse itself. If only all the parishes had such sessions for their own people, who already know each other, to share, there would not be so many people looking to attend a meeting elsewhere. But, since there are, I hope that we can offer everyone what they need.

Leave a Reply to JackieCancel reply