Thursday 19th September 2019

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November 30, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. In view of the recent sexual scandals in the Church, the Diocese of Sacramento has hired the consulting firm of Kathleen McChesney to examine all records of sexual abuse within the diocese and publish a list of the clergy credibly accused of abusing children and young people. Does that consulting firm have credibility, and is this the proper approach in dealing with the situation? — J.D.H., California.
A. Kathleen McChesney is a former FBI agent and executive who served as director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection following the U.S. bishops’ adoption in 2002 of their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. She developed a national protocol to ensure that all Catholic dioceses complied with civil laws relative to the prevention, reporting, and response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
After three years in that position, McChesney became vice president of global security for the Walt Disney Company. She left Disney in 2007, has co-edited a collection of essays entitled Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, and now runs Kinsale Management Consulting, providing services for businesses and nonprofit organizations.
In a letter to the faithful of Sacramento, Bishop Jaime Soto expressed shame over “the sickening, repulsive actions revealed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the actions of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.” He said that he has hired the McChesney firm to provide “a public, transparent accounting” of the situation in Sacramento, and that he will publish by next March a list of all the priests “who have been credibly accused of abusing children and young people” in his diocese over the past 50 years.
Is this the proper approach in dealing with clergy sex abuse? It’s certainly better than having a politically motivated grand jury conduct the investigation.

Q. One priest in our parish invites non-Catholics and small children who have not made their First Communion to come to the altar at Communion time to receive a blessing. They cross their hands over their chest as a sign they are not going to receive Communion, and the priest raises the Host and makes the Sign of the Cross in the air in front of them as a blessing. Is this allowed, and why would a non-Catholic who doesn’t believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist want such a blessing? — M.T., via e-mail.
A. There is nothing in the rules for the distribution of Holy Communion that mentions such a practice, so it has been introduced at the whim of a priest. This is contrary to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which says that “the Priest will remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass” (n. 24).
We understand the thinking behind this practice, namely, not to let anyone feel excluded because they cannot receive Communion. But is feeling excluded in this situation necessarily a bad thing? Wouldn’t it be better to encourage non-Catholic adults to learn more about the Eucharist and to take the necessary steps to become Catholics so that they can receive Jesus? Or to instill in small children a fervent desire to receive Jesus when they are old enough?
Or in the case of Catholic adults, who come forward for a blessing because they are not in the state of grace, to urge them to straighten out an irregular marriage, for example, or to repent of their sins by going to Confession and becoming worthy to participate in this wonderful sacrament?
And what about the confusion caused by seeing someone whose sinful state is well known going up to the altar and apparently receiving Communion since those sitting some distance away in church cannot see that the person is only getting a blessing, especially if the Host is held up in front of him or her? And aren’t there other blessings given during the course of the Mass that could benefit these persons?
Finally, what’s more important — making these persons feel included, or emphasizing that the Holy Eucharist is of such awesome majesty that those seeking blessings should do all they can to partake worthily in it?

Q. Does anyone in the leadership of the Church care about that which is subject to the most abuses — the Holy Eucharist? — A.M.T., Illinois.
A. Of course, there are priests and bishops who are very conscientious about treating the Eucharist with holiness and reverence. The growing movement to increase Eucharistic adoration is one evidence of that. But on the other hand, there is the disturbing trend to make the Eucharist available to those in a state of objective sin, such as the divorced and remarried. All of us who revere the Real Presence of our Lord need to step up our prayers and hours of adoration to eliminate all abuses of this Most Holy Sacrament.

Q. What do you think of the “Patriotic Rosary”? I attended one tonight and was very uncomfortable as the books used were put out by “A Friend of Medjugorje.” Then patriotic songs were sung between the decades. When we say the “Rosary for Life,” we sing the Ave Maria between the decades. I felt it should not be called a rosary since it was interrupted by readings from George Washington, John Adams, James Iredell, Jedediah Morse, and Robert E. Lee. Am I being too critical of the “Patriotic Rosary”? — E.C., via e-mail.
A. Having taken part in this particular recitation of the rosary for many years, we would say, yes, you are being too critical. Setting aside the fact that the booklet is produced by Caritas of Birmingham, a promoter of the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje, there are some wonderful songs and meditations interspersed between the decades of the rosary.
What is this Patriotic Rosary? First of all, all the prayers in general are for the conversion of our country and specifically, at the beginning of each decade, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the state Governors, and all country and municipal offices. Second, each Hail Mary begins with the prayer, “We plead the Blood of Jesus over [name of one of the 50 states] and every soul in that state.” Third, the songs are both patriotic and religious.
For example, the fourth stanza of America the Beautiful addresses “our Fathers’ God, to thee, Author of liberty, to thee we pray. Long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light. Protect us by thy might, great God our King.”
Or the fourth stanza of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which says, “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea; with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free. His truth is marching on.”
Or the second stanza of America the Beautiful, which says, “America, America, God mend thine ev’ry flaw. Confirm thy soul with self-control, thy liberty in law.”
Or the fourth stanza of The Star Spangled Banner, which says, “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust’.” Or all the words of God Bless America.
We have had the joy of singing these songs and praying this rosary each year on July 3 on the Town Common in our community. No one has objected to this practice yet. The idea of praising God and country in a public setting, of saying prayers to Mary and asking for God’s blessings on this land, sends a chill up our spine each year.
As for the meditations on statements by figures from our history, they are also both patriotic and religious and remind us of our Christian heritage. George Washington said that “the great Governor of the Universe has led us too long and too far on the road to happiness and glory to forsake us in the midst of it.”
John Adams said, “I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
James Iredell extolled “the glorious effects of patriotism and virtue” and prayed “to God that the fair character I have described may be that of America in the latest ages.”
Jedediah Morse warned that “whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”
And Robert E. Lee told his soldiers to “pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and His redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.” Wise words and words worth remembering while praying a patriotic rosary.

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