Archbishops call for 'penance, purification' to rebuild, renew church

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone says in a letter to Catholics of his archdiocese he will designate a day "when together we will make an act of reparation" and pray for the church in midst of the abuse scandal. Archbishop Cordileone is pictured during the 2017 bishops' fall meeting in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said penance and purification is needed to rebuild the U.S. Catholic Church and respond to the abuse crisis.

He stressed the importance of strong procedures and protocols for addressing abuse claims, helping the victims and creating safe environments for all children and young people.

"Programs, protocols, and best practices are essential. But they are not enough," he said in an Aug. 17 letter to the people of the archdiocese.

"We need to hold people accountable and we need to atone for these sins as a church," he said.

He called it "a sad and confusing time for all of us" with the abuse allegations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, followed by the Pennsylvania grand jury report on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning 70 years in six Catholic dioceses in that state.

"I am praying for you and your families and for our young people; and for our bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and religious," he said. "I am praying most intensely for the victim-survivors of these crimes, and am trying to offer what small penance I can for everyone who has suffered abuse by pastors of the church."

Archbishop Gomez also addressed what he sees as "the deeper crisis today in the church," a spiritual and moral crisis.

"I believe we need to respond to this crisis with a new call to penance and purification and a new dedication to leading holy lives," he said.

"Renewal of the church is first of all a duty for bishops and priests," Archbishop Gomez said. "We need humble penance for what has been done by our brothers. We need to live with simplicity and integrity and be models of conversion and holiness.

"Now more than ever, I pray that every bishop and every priest will rediscover his love for Jesus Christ and burn with new desire to bring holiness and salvation to our people."

He said priests, like all Christians, "are all called to holiness and to grow in our relationship with Jesus and to glorify God by our lives. But the priest above all is consecrated to serve 'in the person of Christ.' That is why the evil at the heart of these scandals is so terrible."

"A sacred trust has been broken by men whom Jesus entrusted to be his representatives on earth," he continued. "These priests have betrayed Christ and done violence to his children. The cruelty they have done casts a shadow on the priesthood and the vast majority of priests who are good and faithful servants of the Gospel."

Archbishop Gomez said he understands the anger and frustration that people have against the church "and her leaders right now." He said he feels "a deep sadness" and is "horrified that such crimes could be committed against innocent children of God.

He noted that as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is on the Executive Committee, which has issued two statements so far. Among other initiatives, the committee has outlined a plan to have "substantial involvement of the laity" from law enforcement, psychology and other disciplines in investigating abuse and responding to it. Another component is "addressing the culture of clericalism that contributed to these abuses and failures in leadership," he explained.

He also emphasized the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has an effective system in place for reporting and investigating suspected abuse by priests and for removing offenders from ministry, conducting background checks and creating safe environments. He encouraged anyone who is a victim or knows a victim to contact the archdiocese.

"What has happened is the responsibility of bishops and priests. That is clear," Archbishop Gomez said. "But the way forward will mean laypeople and clergy working together. ... We need to begin again right now, starting with those of us who are bishops and priests.

"All of us in the church need to commit ourselves again to the basic practices of our Christian life: personal prayer, the Eucharist and confession, the works of mercy, growing in the virtues," he said and he urged Catholics to not "lose hope in the church."

"In this moment, our Lord is counting on us. So please do not give in to discouragement," the archbishop said. "Put your hope in God's promise: Where sin increases, his grace will increase even more."

In a letter to Catholics of his archdiocese, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone also emphasized that the archdiocese has strong policies and protocols for addressing abuse and creating but that he would review them with archdiocesan officials.

But beyond that, he, like Archbishop Gomez, said that "what is called for at this time is penance in reparation for sins against faith and morals."

"This is how we keep the righteous indignation that so many of us feel at this time from becoming an anger that divides the body of Christ," he said.

He said the reports of episcopal negligence and malfeasance in the face of clerical sexual abuse, coupled with some reports of bishops themselves guilty of sexual predation, have "reopened old wounds" for Catholics and the larger society.

He also decried the "spirit of raw ambition on the part of some, who will stop at nothing to advance their careers and climb the ecclesial corporate ladder over investing themselves in serving the people of God. Such behavior on the part of church leaders is despicable, reprehensible, and absolutely unbecoming of a man of God."

Archbishop Cordileone said he will designate a day "when together we will make an act of reparation, and how that will be conducted."

In the meantime, he asked all Catholics in the archdiocese, including the priests, "to engage in prayer, penance and adoration as an act of reparation for sins against chastity and the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament, in accordance Our Lady's wishes."

The archbishop invited all to join him in:

-- Praying the rosary daily. (He urged families to pray the rosary together at least once a week.)

-- Practicing Friday penance by abstaining from eating meat and one other additional act of fasting (e.g., another form of food or drink, or skipping a meal).

-- Spending one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week.

"While I pledge to attend to policies and their observance, we all must be engaged at this time on the spiritual level," Archbishop Cordileone said. "Without prayer, penance and adoration in reparation for the horrendous sins rampant in our church for very many years now, any efforts of the temporal order will be meaningless."

He also asked Catholics "to stay close to your parish priest."

"Our priests make great sacrifices to serve their people with generosity and compassion. They are there for you, attentive to providing you pastoral care," he said. "I am grateful to them for their labors in the Lord's vineyard, and pray that the divine assistance may be with them as they minister to you during this time of crisis"

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...