Archbishop Chaput Issues Pastoral Letter On Coming Year

In a pastoral letter dated Dec. 8 and to be read this Sunday, Archbishop Chaput addresses the difficult year ahead for Philadelphia Catholics. On that day, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I attended Mass at St. John the Evangelist. It was a packed house. The faithful were diverse – business people on lunch, families, shoppers, local residents and the homeless. The common thread was devotion and that is powerful. Philadelphia Catholics are strong. We’ll survive the school closings, the trial, media coverage and fiscal concerns. Not facing the underlying issues of the clergy sex abuse scandal would be counter to the nature of our faith and far more damaging to our spirit and Church.

Archbishop Chaput indicates the fate of the priests removed from ministry last March will be announced in the first months of 2012. We hope he will also implement the recommendation of the Grand Jury report.

We hope priests and parishioners address these difficult subjects openly and non-defensively during the difficult months ahead. People want and need ministry and it should be honest and interactive. Please prayerfully reflect and take action on behalf of the least of our brothers – the unprotected children, the victims. Please also pray for and support our Catholic school system.

Yes. This will be a hard year, but I’ll take difficult over denial and lies any day. What do you think?

Click here to read, “Chaput letter warns faithful of painful year ahead,” by David O’Reilly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 10, 2011


74 thoughts on “Archbishop Chaput Issues Pastoral Letter On Coming Year

  1. What a pity the pastoral letter included only the clergy removed from ministry.
    The clergy who have brought children in the world today, remain unprotected and continue to be a non event. There would be more than one who would have requested a Rescript of Vows and refused due to the “evident danger of scandal and inheritance rights”, with birth certificates entered as the fathers occupation as clergyman.

  2. From the article: Chaput’s letter speaks also of the archdiocese’s “grave and continuing obligation to help victims of clergy sex abuse to heal.”
    I need someone to explain to me once and for all what that statement means,help victims heal. Is that accomplished by fighting the statute of limitation reform,a standing ovation for Msgr Lynn and ignoring those who participate in the First Friday vigils? I am always amazed when I read of this “healing”.

    1. Their “healing” is pie in the sky as far as I am concerned……….we the laity need a “concrete” list of what the Archdisocese specifically plans on doing. I will even go further they need to meet with concerned laity, victims and their families and come up with this list and then do it.

    2. Kathy, what Chaput’s statement means is he tells lies. You don’t import a team of “take no prisoners ” lobbying lawyers from Denver to help victims heal.

      To put his statement in a truthful context, C4C bloggers may wish to contrast it to Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish’s excellent article yesterday, including the two comments, “Chaput & Dolan Tango” and “Chaput’s Real Lobbying” , accessible by clicking on at:

      1. Jerry, a somewhat unrelated question….Most US diocese are Corporate Soles (no pun intended), but apparently the Vatican is directing them to change this status, due to financial liability.

        What gives?

      2. Joan, in a diocese, the assets and liabilities are often held in a state formed religious “corporation sole”, with the head bishop as “sole” shareholder. A recent diocesan ploy is to “move” the “good” assets to another corporation controlled by the bishop. leaving the major liabilities, including obligations to abuse victims left in the original corporation, which then files for bankruptcy.

        Victims who have proven their clams and satisfied the applicable statute of limitations then still cannot collect because the bankrupt corporation has too few assets left to settle legitimate pre-bankruptcy claims.

        Chaput may be contemplating this ploy for Philly.

      3. Joan, stopping transfers by legal action depends on complicated legal and factual issues. I believe from press reports that Jeff Anderson is dealing with similar issues in Milwaukee, and is also involved in civil cases for survivors in Philly. So I expect Chaput will be forcefully challenged if he tries anything cute.

        As to insurance, I am not an expert, but would be surprised if Chaput did anything to reduce any liability an insurance company otherwise incurred. He would not appear to gain by that and would thereby lose funds he could otherwise use to gain a settlement with survivors.

        Again experienced survivors’ lawyers appear to be on the case and would likely act to prevent any cute moves.

    3. Susan in her introductory piece mentioned the 2011 Grand Jury recommendations which were not included in the AB’s letter, but clearly should be a part of the AD’s immediate agenda. They are as follows:

      2011 Grand Jury Report Recommendations to the Archdiocese (pulled directly from Report)

      “Obviously, nothing will really change in the church until there is a will to change. In the meantime, there are steps to be taken, both inside and outside the Archdiocese, that may be of some help in preventing new victims and assisting old ones.

      First, experience now demonstrates that programs for aiding victims of clergy sex abuse cannot be operated by the church itself. Victims should be assisted by the state Victim Compensation Board, or by a completely independent non-profit organization that is not subject to Archdiocesan control. In either case the church must provide the necessary funding. The church, through its lawyers, is of course entitled to defend itself against civil or criminal claims; but it can no longer try to play both sides of the fence with its victims.

      Second, as the previous grand jury requested seven years ago, the Legislature should pass a “civil window” statute that will allow for lawsuits on otherwise time-barred claims. That is the only way the public will be able to learn of and protect itself from abusive priests that the church’s review board refuses to reveal.

      Third, there is another way in which the Legislature may have power to influence the actions of the church. Although parochial schools do not operate at public expense, they do receive various targeted funds for ancillary items. The Legislature should consider reduced funding to schools, public or private, that fail to create a safe environment for their children.

      Fourth, we urge victims of clergy sexual abuse to come forward to the District Attorney’s Office. You are not required to go to the Archdiocese first; nor are you precluded from going there if you first report your abuse to law enforcement officials. There is no other class of crimes where we expect victims to rely on their assailants for a resolution. That was the attitude in the past in relation to domestic abuse, but the criminal justice system has worked to change that mindset. The same should be true in relation to clergy abuse. We think the wall of silence may be cracking.

      A final word. In light of the Archdiocese’s reaction to the last grand jury report, we expect that some may accuse us of anti-Catholic bias for speaking of these painful matters. We are not church-haters. Many of us are church-goers. We did not come looking for “scandal,” but we cannot close our eyes to the powerful evidence we heard. We call the church to task, to fix what needs fixing.”

  3. Donald Wuerl did the same thing when in the Pittsburgh Diocese, Close the schools and continue to cover up the rape and sodomy of innocent children by catholic priests.

    Factor in the corruption in PA politics and our children don’t have a chance. The feds are afraid to clean house in PA, they know if the corruption is exposed the first gunshot of the revolution will be fired in PA borders.

    God Bless America, what’s left of it.

    Mike Ference

    P.S. Read for yourseld:

  4. Here’s how I read Chaput’s letter — sounds to me like a good number of those priests who were put on administrative leave will be coming back- “shocker” —- and his words may say “grave and continuing obligation to help victims of clergy sex abuse heal”, but he is ever so subtly directing the blame for financial problems and closing of schools in the archdiocese on the abuse victims (any kind of compensation). What a set-up! It’s like sticking the proverbial knife in but it’s covered with sweet syrup. This guy’s good. Sad, sad day for Philadelphia!

  5. Now, the next thing that Chaput can do is stand with the victims to get the PA Statute of Limitations removed, so that victims can have their day in court so the full truth can be exposed and so the kids will be better protected.

    That would be REAL help for the victims to heal.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

    1. Sadly, in Pennsylvania, the rape and sodomizing of innocent children is deemed politically correct by our elected officials. PA politicians suffer from the Joe Paterno syndrome: do as little as possible when faced with the sexual assault of innocent children. PA politicians would rather protect their pensions, power and prestige instead of children harmed by sexual predators.

      Mike Ference

      P.S. Good luck in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Judy.

      1. Judy Courtin, Australian lawyer has a group behind her calling for the state of Victoria’s coroner to exercise his powers according to the Coroners Act in relation to the dozens [and counting] of suicides connected to abuse by clergy, gone unchallenged for decades, for the same reasons.
        Somehow Austraia is able to slip under the radar such is the stronghold, with never a mention in books by overseas authors, as recently Matthew Fox’s The Popes War.

  6. I read the AB’s comments somewhat the same way, as Jane, ie the need to close schools, cut budgets, survive the trials in March, somehow help abuse victims, return some of the suspended priests (by the way, who decided that the Grand Jury’s concerns about the other 10 priests were ‘frivolous’?) portray the AD as under a huge cloud of trouble, and surely no sane person would want to add SOLs to the mix?

    Below I am pasting a portion of the actual letter. The paragraph on the resources of the Church belonging to the people and the role of the AB as steward will, I think be used in defense of the opposition of the AD to SOLs extension, ie must preserve limited assets for work of the whole diocese. This point of view does NOT consider that as the AD has grievously harmed victims it has a PRIMARY responsibility to them BEFORE funding any other Church programs.

    Below is the balance of the letter:

    “Complacency is the enemy of faith. To whatever degree complacency and pride once had a home in our local Church, events in the coming year will burn them out. The process will be painful. But going through it is the only way to renew the witness of the Church; to clear away the debris of human failure from the beauty of God’s word and to restore the joy and zeal of our Catholic discipleship.

    In the year ahead, we have a grave and continuing obligation to help victims of clergy sex abuse to heal; to create Church environments that protect our young people; and to cooperate appropriately with civil authorities in pursuing justice for both the victims of sexual abuse and those accused.

    At the same time, we need to remember that many hundreds of our priests — the overwhelming majority — have served our people with exceptional lives of sacrifice and character. Since arriving in September, I have pressed for a rapid resolution of the cases of those priests placed on administrative leave earlier this year. The first months of 2012 will finally see those cases concluded. Whatever the results, the confidence of our people and the morale of our priests have suffered. The hard truth is that many innocent priests have borne the brunt of the Church’s public humiliation and our people’s anger. The harsh media environment likely to surround the criminal trial which begins next March will further burden our lay people and our clergy. But it cannot be avoided.

    Finally, the resources of the Church do not belong to the bishops or the clergy; they belong to the entire Catholic people, including the faithful generations who came before us. The Church is a community of faith alive in the present but also connected across the years through time. The Church holds her resources in stewardship for the whole Catholic community, to carry out our shared apostolic mission as believers in Jesus Christ. This means that as archbishop, I have the duty not just to defend those limited resources, but also to ensure that the Church uses them with maximum care and prudence; to maximum effect; and with proper reporting and accountability.

    In the coming year we will face very serious financial and organizational issues that cannot be delayed. They must be addressed. These are not simply business issues; they go to the heart of our ability to carry out our Catholic ministries. The archdiocese remains strongly committed to the work of Catholic education. But that mission is badly served by trying to sustain unsustainable schools. In January, the archdiocesan Blue Ribbon Commission will provide me with its recommendations on Catholic education. The Commission has worked for months on this difficult issue with extraordinary sensitivity and skill. It will likely counsel that some, and perhaps many, schools must close or combine. It will also offer a framework for strengthening our schools going forward.

    Over the next 18 months the same careful scrutiny must be applied to every aspect of our common life as a Church, from the number and location of our parishes, to every one of our archdiocesan operational budgets. This honest scrutiny can be painful, because real change is rarely easy; but it also restores life and health, and serves the work of God’s people. We cannot call ourselves good stewards if we do otherwise.

    1. Yes why is the archdisocese making these judgements and not law enforcement? Expired statue of limitaions? I thought some of these incidents were more recent.

    2. Clergy in Australia are reluctant to speak out due to repurcussions. One Fr Maurie Crocker, was treated so dismalley, he took his own life.
      Read: Death of Maurie Crocker, Parliarment of New South Wales Parliament, The Honourable Franca Arena Ajournment of Condolence.
      Unfortunately she had to relinquish her position, due to same undue pressure for speaking out from scources no doubt connected to member politicians.

      1. L. Newington,
        I just read a story on Fr. Maurie he seemed like a brave man. While reading the story I came across a quote that struck a deep cord in me by Frere Bartholome de las Casas ” When truth goes forward it is often fragile and alone; falsehood on the other hand can have many helpers” it seems for many this might be how we once saw our truth but now that we have a community of sorts I hope our truth is no longer alone…………

  7. Unfortunate. More of the same.

    Prepare the people…

    1. you will be hit financially
    2. you will have school closings
    3. underlying the two above are the victims
    4. we need to close ranks
    5. when you see the church fighting against the SOL, it’s because we’re being good stewards
    6. We have good priests who have been burdened…don’t challenge them to do more or better.
    7. It’s the church’s money, not the clergy’s…BUT, you don’t have a say where it goes or how it’s used…you have to trust us, the criminals who have lied to you and used you.

    He’s good. Very good. Soooo, when all of the ugly comes to pass…the media, the victims, the suspended priests, the school closings, the SOL fight, the mismanagement of funds, the lack of ministry to victims…the laity will be postured as victims, clinging to their good shepherds for what to think next. Keep them passive and all will be well. Not an action verb in the whole letter for the laity…just prepare and keep listening to them.

    Anyone familiar with reaction formation?

    Dear God…

    1. SW, I completely agree with your incisive interpretation. Chaput just returned from Rome when he received personal instruction from the pope–the man who has masterminded the worldwide cover-up of priest rape of defenseless children.

      Chaput has dropped the glove. Philly Catholics must either resist Chaput by all available means or expect more of the Bevilaqua/Rigali style cover-ups.

      Please note above the cross link to Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish’s excellent new article.

    2. I’m guessing that most of the regular C4C commenters are familiar with Thomas Doyle’s many contributions re: the sexual abuse crisis but for folks who are not, the Voice of the Desert, ‘Clergy Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church, Reflections 1984-2010, 9-26-2010, in part relates to the AB’s pastoral letter, see below:

      s.  Victims had been turning to the civil courts since 1983 when Jeff Anderson filed the first known civil suit against a diocesan bishop.  Insensitive and uninformed voices claimed the suits were all about greed….plunging into the Church’s deep pockets, draining the coffers and severely crippling all of the Church’s ministries especially its schools and extensive outreach to the poor and disenfranchised.  Behind these preposterous defenses, all of which originated with the hierarchy, there was no evidence whatsoever that much deserved payments to victims were putting any aspect of Church life out of business.  Although several bishops tried blaming sex abuse victims and their attorneys for the rash of Church closings in several dioceses, the truth was that many had been planned in advance of the “crisis” and all were due to changing demographics and a serious shortage of priests with little signs of a reversal of this trend in the future.  A more sinister reason was forced into the open by enraged parishioners in several dioceses:  bishops were closing some parishes that were thriving because they wanted to sell valuable property to shore up dwindling financial resources.  An additional fact that pushes these claims further into the realm of pure spin is the unquestioned data that approximately 80-88% of the funding for Catholic Charities across the U.S. comes from government grants.

      1. The Church’s aid to the poor through Catholic Charities is true, but as Thomas Doyle points out about 90% of the money that Catholic Charities uses to help the poor comes from governmental sources.

        And if for some reason Catholic Charities lost those grants, there are many fine ‘services providers’ that not only would get the contracts, but provide excellent services. The poor WOULD be served…although Catholic Charities would not get the credit.

        The competition for these governmental grants is stiff, I know, I have fought for them.

      2. Doyle makes the point that School and Church closings are often caused by changing demographics and priest shortages.

        The AB recently noted that the local seminary was ‘underutilized’ with around 40 seminarians, in a diocese three times the size of Denver, which had 80 seminarians.

        I am wondering if the absence of vocations may have something to do with the clerical climate in the AD?

  8. I have a warning for ‘chaput’, your modus operandi that you used in Denver will not work in PA as the upcoming trials of your pal lynn and his co conspirators along with Penn State and Syracuse will only serve to heighten the awareness of everyone who will demand that the laws be changed and your pals in Harrisburg (marsico & caltagirone ) will not be able to
    the will of the people, it is going to get bad real soon !

  9. “Honest scrutiny can be painful,” Chaput wrote, “because real change is rarely easy.”

    Did he really say this? “HONEST SCRUTINY” and “REAL CHANGE”

    222 N. 17th Street, Archdiocesan HQ, wouldn’t recognize “honest scrutiny” and “real change” if it were an 18-wheeler and it came crashing through the front door down there at their offices!

    Did Chaput include the option of “selling the exclusive, highly-priced mansion estate” out there on City Ave where he now resides? What about the ballooning legal expenses of bringing in his Denver church counsel, including Marty Nussbaum?

    1. Michael, you know I am coinfident that Chaput would never accept willingly either “honest scrutiny” or “real change”. Following orders from Rome, US bishops have ferociously fought change for over a quarter century. My rough calculation is that the actual and opportunity costs to the Church in present dollars incurred on account of each and every pedophile priest is approximately $1 million per priest.

      Imagine, spending a million dollars on someone, often only to enable him to abuse more children again.

      Philly Catholics can either (1) protest Chaput’s flawed strategy any and every way they are able and refuse to fund this unChristian insanity or (2) accept more of the same.

      Philly Catholics must demand a real presence at the table with Chaput in making decisions about how their money is spent and how their children are protected. The first Christans sat at the table. It is time for Chaput to restore this practice and give up his monarchical nonsense.

      Independence Hall dealt with one monarchical tyrant in 1776. It is time for Philly Catholics once again to meet and depose Chaput if he refuses to meet openly and authentically.

      Some Philly Catholics will also need to focus on what they will tell Jesus when he asks them why, when they were able, they failed to obey fully His mandate to protect defenseless children.

  10. …”the archbishop said, he has been struck…” “…by the fidelity of the archdiocese’s priests.”

     -Was he referring to his not so secret gathering where most of the priests stood and applaud in support of Msgr. Lynn?

    The archbishop states, “Complacency is the enemy of faith.”
    -Is he referring to the self-satisfaction that came with the church’s ability to hid crimes against children for many years before the Grand Jury uncovered them?

    “…The harsh media environment likely to surround the criminal trial which begins next March will further burden our lay people and our clergy. But it cannot be avoided.” 

    -Does the archbishop mean that life for the Church’s leadership was a lot better before the evil media let the public know about the rape of children, and its cover-up?

    After all these years of the same old rhetoric, top end lawyers and PR men, and billions of dollars spent on law suits, how can one be anything but cynical?

  11. Jerry…….

    “….Philly Catholics must demand a real presence at the table with Chaput in making decisions about how their money is spent and how their children are protected….”

    Thanks for the follow-up. Involvement in the decision-making???? yeah, when pigs fly, Jerry.

    Seems like you and I are located in two pretty tough states when it comes to our legislatures recognizing that the protection of our children are the first priority. I know that Rep. Markey has been extremely diligent and persistent with these legislative changes in NY and PA has its own legislative advocates who are true leaders in the fight to protect children.

    Jerry, I feel like you and I are like the mayors in the cities invovled in the Super Bowl at the end of every football season. We should place a gentleman’s bet on which legislature will finally be the FIRST to take care of our children with the necessary legislative changes, like HB 832 and 878. For my end, if I lose out and NY takes the first steps in the legislature, I’ll come up to NY with some soft pretzels, Italian water ice and a giant South Philly cheesesteak.

    Jerry, what are you offering this PHillly writer should Harrisburg come through first and pass the necessary legislative proposals?

    1. Thanks, Michael. I have no interest in any competition. This is not a PA versus NY competition, for me at least. My cheerleading for Philly was just that, since I got involved in following C4C earlier.

      My comment was not intended to suggest Philly Catholics aren’t doing enough. They are doing remarkably, especially given the opposition. I also believe many New Yorkers follow this site.

      My point in mentioning “aiming for a seat at the table” was simply to raise a positive objective for change, however remote, in addition to securing justice for survivors. If all the proposed legislation in NY and PA were enacted, which would be wonderful, you still have a Church that is unaccountable, which has been a major factor in causing the existing problems and will likely cause them again if the power structure remains unchanged.

      You may view this as “pigs flying’. With all due respect. I disagree

  12. Chaput is being disingenuous – again, when he shifts the blame onto the “harsh media environment.” The media would not be nearly as harsh as he whines about if the church male hierarchy had manned-up from the very start. If innocent priests are being tainted or maligned by the media it is not the fault of the media but the sordid cover-up of the
    Vatican on down.


    1. I wanted to second SRW’s thought, relative to the ‘harsh media environment’ and the morale problems with ‘good’ clergy and laity. It’s the ‘poor us’ argument, again!

      The Archdiocese has been a molestation scandal happening for so very many years, aided and abetted by at least two cardinals and other diocesan officials. No discussion about THAT.

      Proposed school closures and budget cuts are at least in part a reflection of the exodus of Catholics who chose not to be a part of an organization that abused children and passed on predators.

      Abused children and future potentially abused children should be the primary focus of AD concern.

  13. You bet, Survivor’s Wife, “let the spin begin.” I have no doubt that this is the first step in a well orchestrated PR plan. AB Chaput’s meeting with the Pope no doubt was a chance to fine tune the plan. My family and I will not be attending Mass this weekend and listening to PR coming from the pulpit. That is not what a “sermon” is supposed to be. Instead, we are taking that time to prepare bags of much needed items for a local shelter and making a Merry Christmas poster for them to hang there. Now, in what capacity will my children feel closer to Jesus?

    1. Jackie-Thank you for this idea. I just realized I forgot to buy a gift for the child we picked from our parish Advent Angel program and the gift is due tomorrow. I think I may be shopping for that child in the AM instead of going to Mass and listening to this PR. Dating the letter from the feast of the Immaculate Conception and releasing it on Gaudete Sunday is the height of arrogance! I feel physically ill reading that letter.

      1. Theresa I understand how you feel I missed mass two weeks in a row………sort of crisis of faith………..trying to reconcile my faith and my church…….then I went to adoration all day and then confession and now I am back to going to mass…………why because no matter how corrupt the church is the Saints went for the same reason I am going to worship and recieve Christ in all his brokeness and glory………..I know what I believe …………the bishop might have authority to teach on the spiritual……… but the statue of limitations being blocked is not a teaching of the church we must follow……….and I will make a point of letting other people know this…… this way my faith must be stronger to push forward but that is always a good thing……

  14. As long as Catholics continue to acknowledge and be affected by pastoral letters, they maintain and actively engage in the shepherd-herd or parent-child praxis inherent to a monarchy.

    Pastoral letters are paternalistic, and their aim is social control.

    Pastoral letters are anti-democratic. Their contents and perspectives are based on ecclesiastical positions, concerns and motives, alone. They are authoritative, following no democratic practices or ideals whatsoever.

    Pastoral letters are anti-intellectual. They exclude the input of the faithful. In excluding it, the implication is that they are intellectually unworthy of knowing the relevant facts and truths. Knowledge and wisdom is restricted to the hierarchical few.

    Pastoral letters have the uncanny habit of appearing on a feast day, or at the start of Advent or Lent. The habit cloaks it in tradition, mystery and awe for the purpose of magnifying its significance and/or correctness. The tradition, mystery and awe have the effects of silencing the faithful and wrestling them into a kind of sacred submission.

    We should be deaf to pastoral letters, demanding, instead, COMMUNICATION… the kind that 21st century, intelligent and respectful human beings know, trust and rely on in order to flourish.

    1. As usual Had it you are absolutely right.

      But consider the fact that for the folks in the pew who just might be reading this blog….that’s a new idea.

      In early Church there was a collaborative decision making effort, with Vatcan 2 there was a respect for ALL the ‘people of God’, NOW, not, so much.

      I would say to folks in the pew, for the first time reading this blog, the AB has a perfect right to his opinion, and the avenues to widely express it, but you have a right to yours and it may or may not agree with the pastoral letter.

      Please consider that the Archdiocese has behaved very badly in the last, at least ten years, relative to the sexual abuse of children and the ‘knowing’ passing on to unsuspecting parishes (maybe yours) of predator priests.

      The Grand Jury, an independent entity in both 2005 and 2011 has identified many creditably accused priests, in 2005 there were 63, in 2011, somewhere around 41, with 26 ‘suspended ‘ 4 charged with rape and one charged with child endangerment.

      I would ask you to very carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully consider these facts.

      1. Joan I think that is a very balanced level headed appeal to look at the facts and pray. In a way I feel like he is asking us to prepare for a tusamni………and I don’t think that is possible.

      1. I’m a philosophy professor, beth, but I also hold degrees in theology. Ironically, I spent 6 years with the Jesuits who taught me, precisely, to know the reality of the Catholic Church. Still, like everyone here, I’m still learning.

      2. Hadit catholic,
        Thanks for that reply. I thought you were professor of theology seem to know alot about church history etc. My dad was a history professor but also taught philosophy. Seems we have something in common I also was taught by Jesuits for 4 years. Yes we are all learning I am afraid for better or for worse……….I am hoping for better 🙂

      3. Haddit, am delighted to discover your professional background (I was hoping for some theological/philosophical input, relative to what I see as the Church’s PRIMARY responsibility to abuse victims and the protection of innocent children BEFORE the other good works of the Church. And this is a disposition of assets issue.

        I went back and read your Justice versus Mercy remarks and may (or may not) have gotten it right. But what I think you were saying was that because the Church was involved in both the commission of abuse crimes and their cover up, the Church has that primary ‘justice’ responsibility, first before other good works.

        Am I off base? Please comment.

    2. Amen, Hadit, I couldn’t agree more, which is why I tried to divert C4C readers to Sr. Maureen’s article in my first comment above. Thanks to the perceptive comments from you and others, C4C bloggers may not be too fooled by Chaput’s latest ploy so highlighting his letter has served a useful purpose.

      “Pastoral” harkens back to a “Good Shepherd”, who would lay down his life to save one of his 100 sheep. Current bishops’ behavior suggests bishops will sacrifice 99 of their sheep if they could maintain their lavish lifestyle off of the contributions of the remaining single sheep.

      Chaput is telling us how he is planning to sacrifice as many sheep as he deems appropriate to save his power and privilege. He has already begun to blame his coming ecclesial bloodbath on the previously sacrificed survivors who dare to demand some basic justice. He has even sacrificed his own priests, who may not have sinned but still blindly follow him, even when their parishioners no longer trust them. Truly pathetic.

      We are not sheep. We must, as best we can, continue to constantly resist being led to the slaughter by false, corrupt shepherds. Trusting that God is on our side, we shall succeed. Much has been accomplished in a few years. More can and will yet be accomplished.

  15. I see one “thumbs down” which keeps coming up. I would be interested in your rational; please enlighten us.

  16. I know this is a repeat of my earlier post, but this Chaput quote is what you might call a real “keeper”

    “Honest scrutiny can be painful,” Chaput wrote, “because real change is rarely easy.”

    Did he really say this? “HONEST SCRUTINY” and “REAL CHANGE”

    Archbishop Chaput, if you would be so kind as to answer the following for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

    When were you personally, your conduct and decision-making ever subject during your time in Church leadership to “honest scrutiny”?

    What is this “real change” that you are referring to in the statement from your letter to the faithful?

    1. I think the faithful want to cling to “honest scrutiny” and “real change” because it is the language of reform. But…

      I think that “honest scrutiny” is referring to the real, “honest,” hard-core inquiry the AD made into the schools and parishes– what are the circumstances of each; which ones need to close; which ones will merge?

      I think that “real change” is referring to the concrete and practical changes that will result from the “honest scrutiny.” “Real change” will entail real downsizing.

  17. An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. – Pope John Paul II

  18. Mary Hanlon Castronuovo, MPS

    “And the Band Played On”

    And the Band Played On is a 1993 American television film docudrama directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The teleplay by Arnold Schulman is based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts.

    This Emmy Award winning film told the story of those who were jumping up and down to get the Medical Community and the world to take notice of what was happening in our midst, at the beginning of the AIDS Epidemic. The title perfectly captures the absurdity of the response among those in the medical community and the CDC toward the impassioned pleas of the young Doctor trying to get somebody to recognize the magnitude of the problem. So long as the victims were gay men, apparently the problem was not worthy of their attention. I see the same thing happening all over again today, amidst the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in our Church. This time, the “professionals” who just keep playing their tune is the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and the victims are the childhood victims of sexual abuse and Catholics still awaiting for the full measure of truth on this issue. Only a full rendering of truth on behalf of Bishops who were complicit in the cover-ups can begin the process of healing for our Church.

    Today is Guadete Sunday in the Catholic Church. The third week of Advent recognizes that although we are waiting upon the Lord, we are waiting with Joyful hearts! My heart this day, unfortunately, is not filled with joy as I wait longingly for ANYONE within the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, on any given Sunday, to acknowledge the pain and suffering in the hearts of so many Catholics, in a Homily. Oh how I would speak to this truth and withstand the punishment doled out to me by my “hierarchical superiors”, if only I had access to the pulpit! Being barred though, as a woman, I can express the truth via the written word. I pray for my Church, which I love, that more of us will find the courage to speak truth to power, so that we can truly live up to being the Body of Christ, on earth.

  19. I think we need to be patient with Archbishop Chaput. He’s only been here for 3 months. There is so much judgement on here and hateful speeches. It doesn’t sound very Christian.

    1. anony-mouse I will say to you what I have stated many times before. I am a Mom with 2 children who attend Catholic school. Since they have been of school age there have been 2 Grand Jury reports,26 priests suspended, and now the upcoming criminal trials. How am I supposed to react? As for people sharing their thoughts about Chaput -it is done everyday in every segment of society. Look how people rip apart political candidates and others in the public domain. I will treat the church no better or no worse than any other institution and considering the way I have been treated by the AD on occasion -that is beyond Christian of me.

    2. I hear you but people are disappointed and frustrated he blocked the statue of limitations in Denver not to mention greatly saddened. How many victims have you met with personally? Pa has a private and public Bill addressing the statue of limitations so he can’t say we are biased toward the catholic church this time. Jesus wasn’t acting very Christain when he throw over the money changers tables either. There is a time to stand up for what is right. Did you read the 2 grand jury reports? How about Archbishop Bevs statements? It is not very Christain to rape kids and cover it up. Jesus said anyone that hurts a child should have a millstone thrown around his neck. I think sometimes people are confused what Christain really means.

    3. anony-mouse — I would be interested to know your take on the scripture passages on Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Would you describe His behavior as “christian”? Remembering that in that scripture, we are watching “LOVE” Himself in action.

    4. anony-mouse, you sound like a caring person. I think once you become informed as to the way things have been handled for years by Church hierarchy regarding child protection and compassion for victims, you will see where the lack of Christianity really lies. In my heart, I believe Jesus wants us to be the voice for the victims who have been disregarded and for our children who deserve protection from such heinous crimes. Jesus is often found in unexpected places. Also, God will test us in ways we may never imagine. I believe this is a true time of testing. Will we take care of those most vulnerable as Jesus did? Or will we support powerful leaders who have made poor choices and, unfortunately, seem to continue to do so? Believe me, I pray all the time that our leaders will start to do the right thing by owning up to what has happened and taking responsibility, making victims top priority, and discontinuing their fight against legislation that would give justice to victims and keep all children safer. But, if they don’t, we, as followers of Christ, can’t just be blind sheep…..we need to be dilligent in showing THEM the way.

      1. The last blog sent before I finished. Just came across Cardinal Foley passed away. I said a few prayers for him.

  20. When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, Sister Saint James asked me if I knew how Jesus died. I said, “Everybody knows that, Sister.” She replied, “Well then, how did he die?” I said, “He was shot, Sister?” “HE WAS SHOT?” “Yes, he was shot (bang-bang), Sister.” Sister Saint James looked at me somewhat angerily and said, “He was crucified!!” I said, “Oh, you mean Jesus Christ? I thought you meant the son of God – John Lennon!”

    I never claimed to be a religious man.

  21. I notice Chaput has a few canned words of concern for victims before turning to his true passion- his fellow priests and the institutional church. It reminds me of a letter sent in the Iowa diocese where I used to live; a retired bishop had been credibly accused of assaulting 20+ boys. After a sentence or two about the victims, the bishop writing the letter said (of the retired bishop who had assaulted boys), “Bishop Soens has suffered much.” He went into a very heart-felt message about this man who not only had abused so many boys in a sadistic manner, but also had intimidated other victims who had tried to report other abusers.

    The institutional church is rotten to the core. I am sorry. I know it hurts many of you, as it hurt me. It was almost easier to think there was something wrong with me that caused me to be assaulted than to see the ugly truth: this church has known about the rape of children not for decades, but for centuries. The cover-up is just a part of doing business, and every word that comes out of a bishop’s mouth is by design. The sneakiest politician in Washington has nothing over on those boys.

    When I made the decision to become a SNAP leader, an attorney told me, “It’s probably not the smartest thing you’ve ever done.” I didn’t know what to make of that statement, but after hearing so many stories of heartbreak and having so few, unfortunately, who were able to come forward, after learning the depth of the deceit involved in all this, I am beginning to think he was right. Maybe I was better off not knowing. Although in the words of Jesus, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It burns like hell first, though.

    I don’t know where all this will go. I guess I would suggest if you want to stay with your faith, take it back to where it started. Originally Christians met in small groups in people’s homes, and maybe that’s where it should have stayed, instead of getting into opulent buildings and long robes and all that trappings of religion. For me, I have no belief in organized religion anymore- but it helps me to know there are people like you who are standing in solidarity with the victims. There are an awful lot of us, more than will ever be known.

    1. “Originally Christians met in small groups in people’s homes, and maybe that’s where it should have stayed, instead of getting into opulent buildings and long robes and all that trappings of religion.”

      So true Janet-and isn’t that just what Jesus spoke against, the opulence and trappings of religion as displayed by the pharisees and the sadducees? The RCC eventually built up something even bigger than what Jesus sought to overthrow in the religion of His upbringing.

      Thank you for being one of the victims to come forward and share your story with the rest of us.

    2. You speak the truth…….money and power corrupts even in the church……..Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said not to worry about wordly possessions and that it was difficult for a rich man to get to heaven. I am all for vows of poverty. I was thinking today it is a shame we dont have christain communities that actually share their wealth with each other and actually live simple good Christian lifestyles where you actually can see their love for one another. I know the early church had problems but at least they tried to live as Jesus…..the youth of today are not dumbies they see the hypocritcy.

      1. Actually Beth-such communities do exist but they are few and far between. I have a good friend from my volunteer days at Covenant House who went on to join a Catholic “intentional” community in Germany. She met her husband in the community and now they have 4 daughters. What struck me the two times I visited her were the way the liturgies were conducted and the fact that a “haus frau” in the community was as well respected as a priest or professor. It seemed to me to be as close to what the early Christians experienced as you could get in our modern day.

  22. The latter part of this discussion is interesting – Jesus said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am also.” In an unrelated article to C4C the question was raised about what Jesus would say if he returned to earth today. One wag from England said: “He would cock an eye up to the spire of St, Paul’s Cathedral in Lindon and say: “How much did this cost?” Just so – and St. John the Divine in NYC, St. Patrick’s, and St. Peter’s in Rome.

    Quakers participate in their faith in simple unadorned buildings with virtually no bling and hierarchy.


  23. Well, I for one am so happy Chaput has informed me that it would be a difficult year. Otherwise, I would never had been able to figure it out. Thank God, the Church is there to spell out the obvious, not to mention tell me how I am supposed to think and feel. I was wondering, was this last year difficult too? I would really like clarification….

    Yet in all seriousness, how stupid do we have to be to not understand the underlying implications of his statements? Yes schools will close (they have been planning it), cover ups will continue, tuitions will be increased (they are every year anyway)-adding financial burden to many already financially burdened in a tough economy, etc, etc, etc.

    But what will we do about it? I ask this question, because I truely do not have an answer for how I will deal with any of this. Prayer is not enough, at least it hasn’t been for me. Having two kids in Catholic school has not only been a financial burden, but increasingly a moral one as well. The challenges by the ignorant of our faith are presented to me daily. Is it not remarkable to see how the ‘general’ public dealt with the same allegations in now two university settings, yet the church abuse continues to go under the radar? We expect more of the average person then we do for priests? Joe Paterno actually did everthing he was supposed to do, according to the Mandated Reporter Training one receives to do any type of work (volunteer or otherwise) in the Catholic School system. Yet he is judged in the court of public opinion (fairly or unfairly) as having not done enough. Yet the “faithful” stand up for Lynn who has LIED, who has access to children and continues to be recognized as the pastor of a parish, albeit in name only right now?

    All these other organizations were horrified at allegations made, and people were relieved of thier duties immediately. I am tired of well thought out words being strung together by those in a position to really make a difference. I’m tired of these professionally written comments trying to hide the true horror and ugliness of it all. It’s demoralizing and, I’ve said it before, insulting.

  24. Finally, there is a promise of ACTION on the part of archdiocesan leadership.

    Seems to me that their task is somewhat like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…….

  25. Joan,

    My post on justice and mercy meant to speak to the blogger who believed that the Church owed sexual abuse victims mercy alone. The blogger posted under many, different names.

    Briefly, on the issue of justice and mercy, and how they pertain to the Church:

    If the Church is guilty of facilitating the sexual abuse crisis and covering it up, then it has committed crimes. Fundamental to our system of justice in the U.S. is the idea that no person, no institution, nothing, is immune to it, including the Church. To excuse the Church would be unjust.

    One of the main reasons we have laws is to deter crime. If the Church is guilty of crimes, what will deter it from further crimes is it is immune to the consequences delivered by our system of justice?

    When crimes are committed, there are perpetrators/enablers and victims. An unjust, unfair and inequitable imbalance is created between them. The perpetrators/enablers “took” something from the victims. Only when justice is served, is a relative balance restored. Perpetrators/enablers “give back” what is owed to their victims.

    Say, the Church is guilty of crimes. Say, however, that is is immune to the justice system, it is immune to the consequences intended to deter its crimes, and it is immune to restoring the relative balance between itself and its victims. What kind of climate or environment does that create for mercy to unfold? Imagine compassion, charity, relief, goodwill, sympathy and love under these conditions.

    Mercy entirely depends on justice. It cannot unfold without it. To attempt mercy without justice is cruel, inhumane and immoral.

    Must bishops wear miters??? What about a simple thinking-cap?

  26. Haditcatholic, thank you very much. The reason I asked for some clarification of the justice/mercy issue is that I find myself, viscerally convinced, but without perhaps a logical base, that before the Church funds any other program, or frankly does anything else, they owe (due to the heinousness of those crimes), proper restitution to abuse victims and protection of innocent children from predators. That their deeply criminal actions are a first consideration, that takes precedence over all other Church activity.

    Conventual Church wisdom would say, I think, that such restitution is just one issue amongst many other considerations.

    What is the proper prioritization? Joan in a quandary?

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