June 9, 2019

No doubt you have seen something on the news,  read a piece in the newspaper, or have found a segment on the internet about the latest decree from Pope Francis concerning the mandatory reporting of anyone associated with a church ministry accused of sexual misconduct. The decree applies to the Universal Church and has gone into effect as of June 1, 2019, for a three-year period. It will then be tweaked, if necessary, before becoming permanent law in the Catholic Church. I believe it is important that everyone understand what the provisions are in this law, and therefore I am including the following summary which the Archdiocese of Chicago has prepared.

 

What are the provisions of this law?

 

This law requires Church leaders throughout the world to offer spiritual, medical and psychological support to victims and their families as appropriate. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Assistance Ministry has offered these services for nearly three decades.

 

Dioceses must establish publicly accessible systems for reporting sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct, as well as for dealing with the mishandling of such misconduct, including cover up, before June 1, 2020. The archdiocese has such systems and regularly encourages those who have experienced abuse to come forward.

 

Vos estis lux mundi mandates that all clerics and members of religious orders within the global Church report clergy sexual abuse and the cover-up of such misconduct to Church authorities, including when these offenses were committed by bishops or religious superiors, regardless of when they occurred.

 

Vos estis lux mundi confirms the duty to follow the reporting requirements of local civil jurisdictions. The archdiocese has reported all allegations to civil authorities, regardless of whether the accused is deceased or a diocesan clergy person or a member of a religious order.

 

Sexual acts carried out through violence or use of intimidation,  including offenses against seminarians or novices, are subject to mandatory reporting and investigation.

 

This law protects those who report abuse from recriminations of any kind.

 

Vos estis lux mundi requires metropolitan bishops to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and the mishandling or cover-up of such misconduct by bishops and religious superiors in a timely and effective manner.

 

It encourages the inclusion of laypeople in such investigations. Lay people are already integral to the investigatory process in this archdiocese through our independent review board comprised of victim survivors and experts in the fields of counseling, law enforcement and child care.

 

Investigations of accused bishops or leaders of religious orders are to be carried out at the local level, whether by archbishops or superiors of religious orders, unless there are conflicts of interest. In such cases, the law provides for an appropriate alternative. The law allows for lay experts to be used in the process.

 

How does this law work?

 

Anyone can forward an allegation against a diocesan cleric and/or member of a religious order to the relevant bishop and/or religious superior for investigation. Other measures for reporting can also be adopted to assure accessibility and transparency. All reporting requirements to civil authorities are to be observed.

 

Once a bishop or religious superior receives an allegation, he must forward it to the relevant local Church authority, the metropolitan archbishop of a given region or the superior general of the religious order. The allegation also must be forwarded to the Holy See.

 

The metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator must then investigate the allegation in a timely manner. If the metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator is accused or subject to a conflict of interest, another person, who is not in conflict, is chosen by the Holy See.

 

Those tasked with carrying out such investigations are encouraged to engage the help of lay experts—including, for example, members of the existing review boards of many dioceses. Our conference can adopt guidelines to standardize the use of lay people in the process throughout the dioceses of the United States.

 

Once the investigation is complete, the results are forwarded to the relevant office of the Roman Curia, which must act promptly in accord with set time lines.

 

The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels he or she has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at www.archchicago.org.

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will gather for the 2019 Spring General Assembly in Baltimore from June 11-14, 2019, at which they will review all of the above and decide what further needs clarification and implementation so that procedures are clear and applicable throughout the United States.

 

THE SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST

 

The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles draws upon a long tradition in the Old Testament where God has been preparing for the outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the creation account, God’s Spirit hovers over the waters of the chaos and brings about the creation of the world. Now with the outpouring of the Spirit on the first Apostles, God brings to birth a new world. When God created the human person, God breathed on the clay he had formed and it became a living human being. In today’s reading, the Apostles gathered as a strong wind rocks the room. This symbolizes God’s breath transforming these scared followers into courageous missionaries.

 

At the Tower of Babel, the quest to become equal with God resulted in disharmony. The numerous languages of humanity symbolize their inability to communicate with each other, resulting in alienation. With the appearance of the tongues of fire, a reversal takes place: God grants the Apostles the gift of speaking to enable all who hear to understand. What first divided humanity, now unites them. In this gift of the Spirit, God restores human beings to unity with one another and with God—what God had intended at the very beginning of creation.

 

In the Second Reading, Paul teaches that the gift of the Spirit makes us God’s children, uniting us with one another and with Christ. We become Christ’s heirs, called to embrace his life of suffering that will lead us to “be glorified with him.”

 

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus promising to send the Holy Spirit to “teach you everything.” Through the power of the Spirit, God dwells within us, enabling us to live anew.

 

The reading from Acts portrays a city filled with people who speak many languages, much like many of our large cities and increasingly smaller cities. As we ponder the reading, we may consider our openness to people from other regions of the world. Pope Francis writes in The Joy of the Gospel of the various expressions of Christian life in varied cultures. He states, “Cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity. The Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into the perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity. He builds up the communion and harmony of the people of God” (#117).

 

In the Gospel, we hear that God will dwell in whoever keeps Christ’s word. Pope John Paul II writes in Ecclesia in America of our encounter with Jesus Christ and the evangelization that is our task as disciples. The pope states, “With the command to evangelize which the Risen Christ left to his Church, there goes the certitude, founded on his promise, that he continues to live and work among us: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). The mysterious presence of Christ in his Church is the sure guarantee that the Church will succeed in accomplishing the task entrusted to her. At the same time, this presence enables us to encounter him, as the Son sent by the Father, as the Lord of Life who gives us his Spirit” (#7).

 

For Your Reflection: How do we reach out to welcome different cultures within the parish and the community? What name do you use for God in prayer? How can you become open to relying on the Holy Spirit to teach you and remind you of what Jesus taught?

 

FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA

Thursday, June 13, 2019

 

There is perhaps no more loved and admired saint in the Catholic Church than St. Anthony. He was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. His was a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated, and they arranged for him to be instructed at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, however, he entered the community of Canons Regular (Augustinians) on the outskirts of Lisbon. The Canons were famous for their dedication to scholarly pursuits. They sent him to their major center of studies in Coimbra to study Latin and theology.

 

After his ordination to the priesthood, Fernando (his given name) was named guest master and placed in charge of hospitality for the abbey. It was in this capacity, in 1219, that he came into contact with five Franciscan friars who were on their way to Morocco to preach the Gospel to the Muslims there. Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars, whose Order had been founded only eleven years prior. In February of the following year, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco, the first to be killed in their new Order. Seeing their bodies as they were processed back to Assisi, Fernando meditated on the heroism of these men. Inspired by their example and longing for the same gift of martyrdom, he obtained permission from church authorities to leave the Augustinian Canons to join the new Franciscan Order. Upon his admission to the life of the friars, he joined the small hermitage in Olivais, adopting the name Anthony, from the name of the chapel located there dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great, by which he was to be known.

 

The new Brother Anthony then set out for Morocco in fulfillment of his new vocation. Illness, however, stopped him on his journey. At this point he decided to head to Italy, the center of his new Order. On the voyage there, his ship was driven by a storm onto the coast of Sicily. From Sicily he made his way to Tuscany where he was assigned to a convent of the Order, but he met with difficulty because of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forli, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen, while being allowed to spend much time in private prayer and study.

 

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, a great many visiting Dominican friars were present, and there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. The Franciscans naturally expected that one of the Dominicans would occupy the pulpit, for they were renowned for their preaching. The Dominicans, on the other hand, had come unprepared, thinking that a Franciscan would be the homilist. In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, whom he suspected was most qualified, and entreated him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence held the attention of his hearers.

 

At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the local Provincial Minister, to preach the Gospel throughout the area of Lombardy in northern Italy. In this capacity he came to the attention of Francis of Assisi. Francis had held a strong distrust of the place of theological studies in the life of his brotherhood, fearing that it might lead to an abandonment of their commitment to a life of real poverty. In Anthony, however, he found a kindred spirit for his vision, who was able to provide the teaching needed by young members of the Order who might seek ordination. He thereby entrusted the pursuit of studies for any of his friars to the care of Brother Anthony. From then on, his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. While teaching was a skill he possessed, it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.

 

Anthony died at the Poor Clare monastery at Arcella on June 13, 1231, at the age of 36 and was canonized less than a year later. His fame spread through Portuguese evangelization, and he has been known as the most celebrated of the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of his adopted home of Padua as well as his native Lisbon. He is venerated all over the world as the patron Saint for lost articles and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946, he is sometimes called the “Evangelical Doctor.”

 

Here at St. Peter’s we will celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony on Thursday, June 13, with a Solemn Mass and choir at 11:40. Please note that there will be no 12:15 Mass on this day since the 11:40 Mass will extend over the 12:15 starting time. We will bless the traditional small loaves of bread during this Mass and distribute them to those attending at the end of the Mass. If there are loaves left over, we will make them available at the 1:15 and 5:00 Masses. We will celebrate Solemn Vespers at 5:40 P.M. in church; all are invited. We invite everyone to participate in one of the Masses on this St. Anthony Feast since the Devotion to St. Anthony has been a hallmark of this church since the time of the great Chicago Fire many years ago.

 

A CHUCKLE FOR PENTECOST

 

My five children and I were playing hide-and-seek one evening. With the lights turned off in the house, the kids scattered to hide, and I was “it.” After a few minutes, I was able to locate all of them.

 

When it was my turn to hide, they searched high and low but couldn’t find me. Finally one of my sons got a bright idea. He went to the phone and dialed.

 

They found me immediately when my cell phone started ringing.