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U.S. Bishops… Offer Statements In Support of Archbishop Viganò And An Investigation

September 12, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

(Editor’s Note: Below are several of many statements from U.S. bishops testifying to the personal credibility of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and calling for an investigation of his claims concerning the Pope and sex abuse crisis. As Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s commentary was quite long, we are only presenting excerpts of it. See lifesitenews.com for updates on bishops’ statements.)

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver issued the following letter expressing his support for USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s and the Executive Committee’s call for an independent investigation in the wake of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s testimony:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Many of you are aware that this past weekend the former papal representative to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released a testimony that makes serious allegations about the Archbishop McCarrick abuse case.
In my interactions with Archbishop Viganò I have found him to be a man of deep faith and integrity. I join Cardinal DiNardo and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Executive Committee in calling for the Holy See to conduct a thorough investigation that includes granting authority to a lay commission to examine the many questions that surround Archbishop McCarrick, such as who was involved in covering up his gravely immoral behavior or failed to act to stop it.
As Cardinal DiNardo said on August 27, “The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.”
While righteous anger, deep frustration, and deep sorrow are understandable, and my heart breaks for the victims of abuse as well as for you that you must suffer this trial, we must all “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ the perfecter of faith.” He is our strength! He is the truth who will set us free!
Jesus asks each of us, “Who are you going to serve?” Will it be the Lord, or the false gods of today — power, careerism, entitlement, sexual promiscuousness, and so many others? While we are in the world, we are not of the world and we are called to be of Christ alone, deepening our closeness to him in the sacramental life of the Church!
The call to holiness is real and possible, as Jesus tells us, “for God all things are possible!” Yet, when we let the ways of the world form us rather than the Gospel and Jesus, when we put more trust in the world than in Jesus, we end up where we are today. While, this is not the first time in the history of the Church that she has been rocked by a lack of faith and immorality among her clergy, as history teaches, only a strong return to Jesus Christ and his ways will heal the horrific sinful breach that has taken place!
The Gospel reading from John 6 last Sunday presents us with Jesus’ challenging question after he taught about his Real Presence in the Eucharist. He asked Peter and the other disciples: “Do you also want to leave?” Peter responded with his great statement of faith that gets to the heart of the matter. “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
We must pray for a deep faith in Jesus Christ, one that grows and deepens each day. We must live our lives in intimacy with Jesus, the Holy One of God! It is Jesus who will see us through this time of trial and purification, who will help us to live out the Beatitudes and be faithful to the commandments.
Know, my brothers and sisters, that you are in my prayers. Know that I am deeply grateful to you for your fidelity. I pray that your hearts and the heart of every disciple may be ever more conformed to the heart of Christ!

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USCCB President Daniel Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement of August 27 follows:

In communion with the Holy Father, I join the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in taking upon ourselves his exhortation, “this open wound [of abuse] challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.”
On August 1st, I promised that USCCB would exercise the full extent of its authority, and would advocate before those with greater authority, to pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. On August 16th, I called for an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth. Yesterday, I convened our Executive Committee once again, and it reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.
The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.
I am eager for an audience with the Holy Father to earn his support for our plan of action. That plan includes more detailed proposals to: seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops. Inspired by his recent letter to the people of God, and his motu proprio of two years ago, As a Loving Mother, I am confident Pope Francis shares our desire for greater effectiveness and transparency in the matter of disciplining bishops. We renew our fraternal affection for the Holy Father in these difficult days.
To the survivors of abuse and the families who have lost a loved one to abuse, I am sorry. You are no longer alone. Since 2002, hundreds of professionally trained staff across the country have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse. Nationwide, the Church has a zero-tolerance policy toward priests and deacons who abuse, safe environment training, background checks for those working around children, victim assistance coordinators, prompt reporting to civil authorities, and lay review boards in dioceses.
In other ways, we have failed you. This is especially true for adults being sexually harassed by those in positions of power, and for any abuse or harassment perpetrated by a bishop. We will do better. The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church’s firm foundation is Jesus Christ. The failures of men cannot diminish the light of the Gospel. Lord, by the help of your mercy, show us the way to salvation.

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Bishop Carl A. Kemme of Wichita, Kansas, issued this statement regarding Archbishop Vigano’s testimony:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The most recent allegations contained in the testimony of the former nuncio of the Holy See to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released on Saturday [August 25] have left many in the Church in this country and abroad with serious concerns and questions. I share those same questions and concerns. As your bishop charged with the governance of the Diocese of Wichita, I wish to make the following response.
I have spoken to Archbishop Viganò on only two previous occasions, the first being the day it was announced to me that I had been appointed by Pope Francis as the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and then again on my ordination day on May 1, 2014 which Archbishop Viganò graciously attended. In these conversations, I found Archbishop Viganò to be most kind and amiable. In the brief time that my service here as bishop and his service as papal nuncio coincided, I always thought highly of his leadership and regarded him as someone whom the Church could be proud of in her service.
However, I am unable to personally speak to any of the allegations he makes as a matter of conscience against certain individuals including Pope Francis regarding the current crisis we face in the Church today.
Therefore, I join with others in expressing my hope and expectation that a full, independent, and transparent investigation be conducted in this matter so as to bring forth the truth. The allegations of such a respected bishop in the Church and one charged with such great responsibility as the papal nuncio to the United States demands such an investigation.
It is my prayer that such an investigation will ultimately bring peace to our troubled Church and restore confidence to the people of God.

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Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann Kansas City, Kans., issued the following commentary (excerpted):

…Both the McCarrick scandal and the grand jury report have raised serious questions about the accountability of bishops. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has promised that the conference “will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the conference will advocate with those who do have authority. One way or another, we are determined to find the truth of this matter.”
Cardinal DiNardo also announced he will present a plan to the full body of bishops that includes: 1) an invitation to the Vatican to conduct an investigation in concert with a group of predominantly laypeople identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board; 2) develop new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and 3) create procedures to resolve complaints against bishops that will be prompt, fair, and transparent. I wholeheartedly support Cardinal DiNardo’s proposals to improve the accountability of bishops.
Every bishop reports directly to the Pope. No other bishop has the authority to hold another bishop accountable. For instance, the three other bishops in the province of Kansas do not report to me. I do not have authority to intervene in the diocese of another bishop. My responsibility as archbishop is to convene the other bishops of the province to promote a spirit of cooperation and cultivate unity for the good of the Catholics and all the people in our respective dioceses.
It is inconceivable to me that the bishops who were involved with the settlements for McCarrick’s misconduct did not bring these matters to the papal nuncio (the Holy Father’s ambassador to the United States) and the nuncios failed to inform the Pope at that time and those who assisted him with the care of bishops.
Just this past week, the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, released a statement that claims he and his predecessors, Archbishop Pietro Sambi and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo (both now deceased), did inform the respective Popes. In my experience of Archbishop Viganò during his tenure as apostolic nuncio, he was a man of integrity. There are also respected sources that are contesting elements of Archbishop Viganò’s statement.
This development makes it even more imperative that we embrace Cardinal DiNardo’s commitment to pursue the truth of why McCarrick was allowed to continue to exercise public ministry and continue in the College of Cardinals, when his sexual misconduct and abuse of power were already known. We must do all that we can to ascertain the truth and then allow the chips to fall where they may….

Conversion And Renewal

This is a moment for conversion and renewal of the entire church, but especially for bishops and priests. The only way forward for renewal is to acknowledge and confess our past sins, as well as to make a firm purpose of amendment not to repeat them.
Both the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the earlier national study by John Jay College commissioned by the U.S. bishops in the wake of the 2002 scandal reveal that a high percentage of victims of clergy sexual misconduct were postpubescent males. In other words, much of the misconduct involved homosexual acts. We cannot ignore this reality.
Pope Emeritus Benedict gave guidance to seminaries and vocation ministries regarding the non-acceptance for priestly formation those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. All candidates for the seminary have to be able to give evidence for their capacity of living celibate chastity with both integrity and joy.
The requirement of celibate chastity for Catholic priests is not because the church does not value marriage and the importance of family life. No, just the opposite! The church asks her priests to relinquish what is arguably most precious and most dear, precisely because it is most precious and dear. The priest’s willingness to commit to a life of celibacy makes no sense if Jesus did not suffer, die and rise from the dead for us. The church asks her priests to stake their entire life on the truth of the paschal mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus.
Celibacy is first and foremost to be a witness to the truth of the Gospel. The priest’s life is meant to be a living symbol that challenges his parishioners to place God first in their lives above everyone and everything else. Celibacy also allows the priest to be available and accessible to his people. A priest is able to go wherever his gifts are most needed by the people of God without having to weigh the necessary question of a husband and biological father whether this ministry is good for his marriage and children. It is this embrace of the charism of celibacy that increases a priest’s ability to become a true spiritual father to his parishioners.
It is not enough for those seeking ordination to the priesthood to accept reluctantly celibacy as a necessary burden to become a priest. If our heart is not into embracing the challenges and beauty of celibacy with joy, then we are setting ourselves up for failure and wounding our people.
Nor is it sufficient for priests to live celibacy faithfully, but not be able to teach with conviction and enthusiasm Catholic sexual morality as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Our Catholic understanding of human sexuality is beautiful and guides those who embrace it to the path to authentic love and happiness. The priest needs to be able to articulate, in a convincing and compelling way, why heterosexual intimacy outside of the marital covenant is gravely immoral, as well as why homosexual activity is also always seriously sinful.
My priority in evaluating men for the seminary as well as the suitability of our priests for serving God’s people is their commitment and capability of living celibate chastity with fidelity and joy.

The Gift Of The Priesthood

I have been a priest now for more than 43 years. It is an incredibly blessed life. Priests have the opportunity to be the human instruments that God uses to touch with his grace the hearts of his people. We are privileged to spend our entire lives striving to help others come to know the good news of God’s love revealed for them in Jesus Christ.
At the same time, it is not any easy life. Jesus does not promise his disciples an easy path. I tell our seminarians that being ordained a priest is, in effect, placing a target on your back for the devil. Satan will do anything to strike the shepherds in order to scatter the flock. The priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and generosity to serve God’s people as a priest. In my travels throughout the archdiocese, I witness and am edified by the zeal and dedication of our priests.

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