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First Ash Wednesday service held in Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh, Scotland, Mar 6, 2019 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- The Scottish Parliament hosted a Blessing and Distribution of Ashes for the first time this year, with Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh presiding.

Archbishop Cushley reflected during the March 6 service on the gesture of receiving ashes, which he said reminds us “that we are dust.”

“[A]nd, yes, it is about sinfulness, it is about acknowledging that we need God’s help, that we are fragile, that we are mortal, that we have been disobedient and that we want to regain our relationship with Almighty God,” he continued.

The Ash Wednesday service took place in a committee room in the parliament’s Queensberry House, according to a press release from the archdiocese.

It was sponsored by Member of Scottish Parliament Elaine Smith, who said in a statement that “it was lovely to have the Archbishop come and distribute ashes to those who work within the Scottish Parliament.”

Anthony Horan, parliamentary officer for the Scottish Bishops Conference, said he was pleased to see “such a cross-party representation” of members of parliament and their staff.

“I believe the Church has something good and positive to offer society,” he said in an archdiocesan statement, adding that it was an honor “to be invited and welcomed to the Scottish Parliament in this special way.”

Horan said he hopes more Catholic events will take place in Parliament in the future. Last year, Mass was celebrated for the first time in Parliament during Holy Week.

Smith also commented on the good turnout at the Ash Wednesday event, saying she would like “repeat this service every Lent, if possible, as well as hosting a Mass during Holy Week.”

In reflecting on the meaning of the ashes distributed at the start of Lent, Archbishop Cushley stressed the importance of recognizing the sin in one’s life and having a desire to repent and be reunited with God.

“I think that is a very good and very wholesome thing for us to do and it takes genuine human maturity to be able to do that sincerely and to wish to improve oneself in order to become the Child of God we were always meant to be.”

Pope on Ash Wednesday: Lenten fasting a 'wake-up call for the soul'

Rome, Italy, Mar 6, 2019 / 09:59 am (CNA).- Fasting from food or other things during Lent is a chance for Catholics to reorient their material attachments, Pope Francis said on Ash Wednesday, as he urged people to slow down and turn to Christ during the penitential season.

“Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love, and calls us to a life that is passionate for him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world; to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity,” the pope said during Mass March 6.

“Is it difficult to live as he asks? Yes, it is difficult, but it leads us to our goal,” he continued. “Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes, but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night; to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes, but rises gloriously.”

Quoting the day’s first reading from the prophet Joel – “Blow the trumpet … sanctify a fast” – Francis called the piercing blast of a trumpet “a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life.”

“It is a summons to stop, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.”

This wake-up call, he said, includes a message from the Lord: “Return to me.” “Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.”

He advised Catholics to fix their gaze upon the Crucified Christ, because “from the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation.”

“We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down,” he continued. “The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, his loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things.”

To mark the start of the Lenten season, Pope Francis prayed the Stations of the Cross at St. Anselm Church in Rome before processing the short way to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for the celebration of Mass, benediction, and the imposition of ashes.

The traditional procession is composed of cardinals, bishops, priests, the Benedictine monks of St. Anselm, the Dominican friars of Santa Sabina, and lay people. As the Catholics make their way between the two churches, they sing the Litany of the Saints.

The practice of the pope beginning the Lenten season of prayer and penance in this manner was started by St. John XXIII when he established the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at St. Anselm's in 1961.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the three areas the Lord invites Catholics to focus on during Lent – almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. “What are they for?” he asked. “Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbor; fasting, to ourselves.”

The season of Lent is an invitation to focus first on God, he continued, then on charity toward others, and “finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart.”

Comparing the heart to a magnet, which always “needs to attach itself to something,” he said if it always “attaches” to things of the world, “sooner or later it becomes a slave to them.”

By comparison, if people turn their hearts to the things which abide, which do not pass away, that is where they will find true freedom, he said.

The ashes, he explained, are a sign of this detachment – “a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind.”

“The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain,” he stated.

“Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind,” he said, reminding Catholics that no material possessions or wealth go with them past the grave.

“Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust,” he urged. “Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things.”

“We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?”

Lenten fasting advice from the Pope who faced Attila the Hun

Rome, Italy, Mar 6, 2019 / 03:10 am (CNA).- As Christians prepare to engage in the fasting and abstinence of Lent, they can find guidance in the words of Pope St. Leo the Great’s sermons.

Stressing Lenten discipline as a way to struggle against our sins and against the devil’s temptations, the fifth century pope advised self-scrutiny, purification, forgiveness of enemies and almsgiving to the poor.

“Let us prepare our souls for fighting with temptations, and understand that the more zealous we are for our salvation, the more determined must be the assaults of our opponents,” he said in his Lenten sermons, elsewhere adding “there are no works of power, dearly-beloved, without the trials of temptations, there is no faith without proof, no contest without a foe, no victory without conflict.”

Pope Leo I was involved in the theological questions of the fifth century, most famously affirming Christ’s two natures, human and divine, for the Council of Chalcedon.

He also led a delegation which successfully negotiated with Attila the Hun to turn his invading forces away from Rome.

He was named a Doctor of the Church in the eighteenth century. His writings and sermons proved enduring and influential. While some of his comments are specific to his time, as a whole he offers special advice for Lent.

True peace and true freedom come only “when the flesh is ruled by the judgment of the mind, and the mind is directed by the will of God,” he said in his sermons.

For St. Leo the Great, the Christians’ enemies are often our vices, disordered desires and sins.

“We cannot otherwise prevail against our adversaries, unless we prevail against our own selves,” he counseled. The contrary desires of flesh and spirit must be disciplined, and the mind will lose to the body if bodily desires become too strong.

When the mind is subject to God and delights in heavenly gifts, when it has “trampled underfoot the allurements of earthly pleasure” and has not allowed sin to reign, Leo says, “reason will maintain a well-ordered supremacy, and its strongholds no strategy of spiritual wickedness will cast down.”

“Christian people, whatever the amount of their abstinence, should rather desire to satisfy themselves with the Word of God than with bodily food,” said Leo the Great.

He counseled self-scrutiny to root out discord and wrong desires and to be attentive to God’s commandments. Citing St. Paul, he said Lenten fasting is a time to cleanse ourselves “from every defilement of flesh and spirit.”

“Now let godly minds boldly accustom themselves to forgive faults, to pass over insults, and to forget wrongs,” he said in one sermon.

“Let all discords and enmities be laid aside, and let no one think to have a share in the Paschal feast that has neglected to restore brotherly peace,” he said in another.

Care for the poor and others in need should be an even greater priority.

“Let us not pass over the groans of the poor with deaf ear, but with prompt kindness bestow our mercy on the needy, that we may deserve to find mercy in the judgment,” said the saint, later adding “let each bestow on the weak and destitute those dainties which he denies himself.”

“Let our humaneness be felt by the sick in their illnesses, by the weakly in their infirmities, by the exiles in their hardships, by the orphans in their destitution, and by solitary widows in their sadness: in the helping of whom there is no one that cannot carry out some amount of benevolence,” he continued.

Warning against the dangers of spiritual pride and hypocrisy, he also gave advice on how to follow Lenten disciplines.

“The self-restraint of the religious should not be gloomy, but sincere; no murmurs of complaint should be heard from those who are never without the consolation of holy joys,” he said, adding “no one is so holy that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that he might not be devouter.”

At times, the foes of Christians are not simply the flesh, but even the demonic, he said. The approach of Easter makes the devil grow “furious” and “consumed with the strongest jealousy and now tortured with the greatest vexation.”

It is a time when “the Christian army has to combat him, and any that have grown lukewarm and slothful, or that are absorbed in worldly cares, must now be furnished with spiritual armor and their ardor kindled for the fray by the heavenly trumpet.”

The approaching baptism of new Christians at Easter, and the growing penitence of lapsed Christians, is also a target of the devil’s anger.

“For he sees whole tribes of the human race brought in afresh to the adoption of God’s sons and the offspring of the New Birth multiplied through the virgin fertility of the Church,” St. Leo the Great said. “He sees himself robbed of all his tyrannical power, and driven from the hearts of those he once possessed, while from either sex, thousands of the old, the young, the middle-aged are snatched away from him, and no one is debarred by sin either of his own or original.”

The devil sees, too, those who have lapsed, “deceived by his treacherous snares,” now becoming “washed in the tears of penitence” and seeking mercy and reconciliation in the Church.

Leo the Great also promoted fasting as a way to prepare to conquer earthly foes.

When the Hebrews and Israelites were oppressed by the Philistines “for their scandalous sins,” they restored their mental and physical powers by commanding a fast in order to be able to overcome their enemies.

“For they understood that they had deserved that hard and wretched subjection for their neglect of God’s commands, and evil ways, and that it was in vain for them to strive with arms unless they had first withstood their sin,” he said.

Abstinence from food and drink was “the discipline of strict correction,” he said. In order to defeat their foes, they “first conquered the allurements of the palate in themselves.”

Similarly, those of us who face opposition and conflict “may be cured by a little carefulness, if only we will use the same means.”

Though all seasons of the year are full of God’s blessings, St. Leo the Great said, Lent is a time when “all men's minds should be moved with greater zeal to spiritual progress.” Lenten discipline “should heal us and restore the purity of our minds, during which the faults of other times might be redeemed by pious acts and removed by chaste fasting.”

Bishops’ Conference President and Domestic Justice Committee Chairman Express Sorrow, Urge Prayer and Support, After Deadly Tornadoes Hit Alabama and Damage Other States in the Southeast

WASHINGTON—After tornadoes killed more than 20 people in Lee County, Alabama, and caused destruction in Georgia and surrounding states over the weekend, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, FL, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed sorrow for those in mourning and encouraged hope and generous support at the beginning of the Lenten season.

The full statement follows:

"It is with heavy hearts that we continue to learn about the destruction in Alabama and Georgia from tornadoes over the weekend. At the time of this writing, there are 23 confirmed dead in Alabama, including three children, many more missing, and miles of destruction of homes and communities. We offer prayers for the victims and their grieving families and friends. Now is the time to offer assistance in any way we can to those facing great difficulties. One way to do this is by donating to Catholic Charities and other organizations that are working to provide emergency needs, and to help rebuild.
Our hope, in this Lenten season, as always, is in the Lord of life who has conquered death. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who have died, and may the Holy Spirit work through all of us to give comfort to those who are grieving with generosity and love."

Donations can be made to Catholic Charities USA at

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Alabama, Georgia, tornado, assistance, Catholic Charities, emergency aid, Lenten season

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane


Nicaraguan bishops not mediating latest round of peace talks

Managua, Nicaragua, Mar 5, 2019 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- The Nicaraguan bishops said Monday they have not been invited to mediate in the renewed dialogue between the government of President Daniel Ortega and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

Anti-government protests in the country began in April 2018. They resulted in more than 300 deaths, and the country's bishops mediated on-again, off-again peace talks until they broke down in June.

A new round of dialogue began Feb. 27 at the INCAE Business School in Managua.

Attending the start of the talks as witnesses and as “a gesture of good will” were Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua and the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

The bishops' conference stated March 4 that “in this historic moment our greatest contribution as pastors of this pilgrim Church in Nicaragua will continue to be to accompany the people in their suffering and sorrows, in their hopes and joys, and lifting up our prayers of intercession so that Nicaragua may find civilized and just ways for a peaceful solution in view of the common good.”

At the end of the Feb. 27 session of the peace talks, a statement was read which reported the approval of 9 out of 12 proposed points, without specifying what these were.

The talks continued Feb. 28 and March 1, with the agreement to continue meeting March 4-8. In addition, it was indicated that the goal is that “the negotiations conclude as soon as possible.”

Nicaragua's crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protestors have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega's administration.

The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors' complaints.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega's authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Church has suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held in 2019, but Ortega has ruled this out.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis Names Msgr. Alejandro Aclan as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; Accepts Resignation of Bishop Armando Ochoa from the Diocese of Fresno; Appoints Most Reverend Joseph Brennan as Bishop of

WASHINGTON— Pope Francis has appointed the Reverend Monsignor Alejandro
D. Aclan as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. The Pope has also accepted the resignation of Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Fresno and appointed as Bishop of that same See the Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. Bishop Ochoa has reached the retirement age for bishops of 75. The Pope has also named Bishop David Talley as Bishop of the Diocese of Memphis.

The appointments and resignation were publicized in Washington on March 5, 2019, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Rev. Msgr. Alejandro Aclan is currently serving as priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and most recently served as Vicar for Clergy. He was born February 9, 1951 in Pasay City, Philippines. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology (1971) from University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He also holds a Master of Divinity (1993) from St. John’s Seminary, in Camarillo. Father Aclan was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1993.

Assignments after ordination include: Associate Pastor/St.Finbar, Burbank; St. John of God, Norwalk, 1993-2001; Director of Vocations in Progress (1996-1999). Rev. Msgr. Aclan served as a Pastor/St. Madeleine, Pomona (2001-2012); Member/Regional Pastoral Council, San Gabriel Valley Pastoral Region (2003-2008); Treasurer/Council of Priest (2006-2010); Regional Vocations Director, San Gabriel Valley Pastoral Region (2010-2012); Associate Vicar for Clergy (2015-2018). In July 2018 Monsignor Aclan began a sabbatical year.  

Bishop Joseph V. Brennan was born on March 20, 1954 in Van Nuys, California. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John’s Seminary College (1976) and a Masters in Divinity from St. John’s Seminary Theologate (1980). He was ordained a priest in June 21, 1980.

He was installed as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Titular Bishop of Trofimiana, September 8, 2015. Bishop Brennan is the Episcopal Vicar of the San Fernando Pastoral Region, one of the five Pastoral Regions in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Brennan has also served as Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Bishop Armando Ochoa was born in Oxnard, California, in 1943. In 1962 he entered St. John’s Seminary College and having graduated, continued his studies at St. John’s Seminary School of Theology. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on May 23, 1970. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Alphonsus Church in East Los Angeles; St. John the Baptist Church in Baldwin Park; and St. Teresa of Avila Church, Los Angeles. Bishop Ochoa was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Los Angeles, in December 1984. While an Associate Pastor at St. Teresa of Avila, he was named a Monsignor, Chaplain to His Holiness, in 1982. Bishop Ochoa was installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno on February 1, 2012 and served on several U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees.

Pope Francis has also appointed Bishop David P. Talley as Bishop of the Diocese of Memphis. Bishop Talley has served up until now as Bishop of Alexandria in Louisiana.

Bishop Talley studied for the priesthood at St. Meinrad School of Theology. He earned his doctorate in canon law from the Pontificia University Gregorian in Rome. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a graduate degree from the University of Georgia. He was ordained on June 3, 1989.

He was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Atlanta by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on January 3, 2013 and was consecrated a bishop on April 2, 2013. Pope Francis appointed him Coadjutor Bishop of Alexandria on September 21, 2016 and was installed a bishop of the diocese on February 2, 2017 following the resignation of Bishop Ronald Paul Herzog.  

His assignments include: parochial vicar at St. Jude the Apostle church, officer of the Archdiocese of Atlanta tribunal, director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is comprised of 8,636 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 11,541,404 of which 4,039,491 or 35 percent are Catholic.  

The Diocese of Fresno is comprised of 36,072 square miles in the state of California and has a total population of 2,906,023 of which 1,200,000 or 41.29 percent are Catholic.

The Diocese of Memphis comprises 10,682 square miles. It has a total population of 1,553,899 people of which 60,320 or 4% percent, are Catholic.


Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Reverend Monsignor Alejandro Aclan, Bishop Joseph Brennan, Bishop Armando Ochoa, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of Fresno, Bishop David Talley, Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana


Media Contact:

Judy Keane



Diverse Faith Leaders and Religious Nonprofits Renew Call to Repeal the “Parking Lot Tax”

WASHINGTON–Ecumenical and interfaith leaders renewed their call to urge Congress to repeal a change to the Internal Revenue Code that will imminently tax nonprofit organizations—including houses of worship—for the cost of parking and transit benefits they provide to their employees. Section 512(a)(7) has been commonly referred to as the “parking lot tax”.

Leadership from a variety of nonprofits, religious and educational institutions, and houses of worship sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Ranking Member asking for Congressional action to address this concern.

The letter states, in part: “This provision effectively creates an income tax on churches for the first time in U.S. history,” and it expresses concern “about the troubling precedent this sets by entangling the IRS with houses of worship.” The letter “urge[s] Congress to swiftly pass a bipartisan, full repeal of Section 512(a)(7) before taxes are due this year.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined signatories from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Jewish Federations of North America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, The Episcopal Church, National Association of Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventist Church North American Division, and other nonprofit organizations concerned about this new tax in signing the letter.

A link to the letter can be found here:
Keywords: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Bishop Frank Dewane, USCCB, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, parking lot tax, Section 512(a)(7), religious freedom, religious liberty

Media Contact:
Judy Keane


Chair of Pro-Life Committee Commends Rule Separating Abortion from Title X Family Planning

WASHINGTON--Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it finalized “The Protect Life Rule,” regulations for the federal Title X family planning program. The Rule requires clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement commending HHS:

“I applaud the Trump Administration for reaffirming that abortion is not family planning. Abortion ends the lives of families’ most vulnerable members, as well as damaging the spiritual, mental and physical health of mothers. Although the USCCB continues to have strong objections to government promotion and funding of contraceptives, we have long supported enforcement of the abortion funding restrictions in Title X, and we are pleased to see that the Administration has taken seriously its obligation to enforce those restrictions. We are also grateful that this rule eliminates the requirement that doctors in Title X clinics refer and counsel for abortion, which previously ensured that all Title X clinics and staff had a close connection with abortion.”

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, President Trump, pro-life, federal funding, abortion, Title X, pregnancy, family planning, women's health, comprehensive care

Media Contact:
Judy Keane


Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Says Senate Rejection of Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should horrify and anger the American people

WASHINGTON–Monday night, the Senate failed to advance the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—legislation that prohibits infanticide by ensuring that a child born alive following an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. The Senate rejected a motion to advance the bill on a vote of 53 to 44 with 3 not voting. In the Senate, 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster and pass a bill.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:

“There should be no bill easier for the Senate to pass than one that makes clear that killing newborn babies is wrong and should not be tolerated. That even one senator, let alone 44 senators voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is an injustice that should horrify and anger the American people and commit us to decisive political action. A vote against this bill is a vote to extend Roe v. Wade’s license for killing unborn children to killing newborn babies. The American people, the vast majority of whom support this bill, must demand justice for innocent children.”
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life, abortion
Media Contact:
Judy Keane


President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement at Close of Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church

ROME—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the final day of a four day meeting attended by Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences from across the globe.  

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." Psalm 145:18

"These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.

How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process.  

Achieving these goals will require the active involvement and collaboration of the laity. The Church needs their prayers, expertise, and ideas. As we have learned from diocesan review boards, a comprehensive range of skills is required to assess allegations and to ensure that local policies and procedures are regularly reviewed so that our healing response continues to be effective. All of the models discussed this week rely upon the good help of God’s people.

I and the bishops of the United States felt affirmed in the work that is underway. Enhanced by what I experienced here, we will prepare to advance proposals, in communion with the Holy See, in each of these areas so that my brother bishops can consider them at our June General Assembly. There is an urgency in the voice of the survivors to which we must always respond. I am also aware that our next steps can be a solid foundation from which to serve also seminarians, religious women, and all those who might live under the threat of sexual abuse or the abuse of power.

In our faith, we experience the agony of Good Friday. It can cause a sense of isolation and abandonment, but the Resurrection is God’s healing promise. In binding the wounds now before us, we will encounter the Risen Lord. In Him alone is all hope and healing.

May I also add a sincere word of thanks to the many who prayed for me and for all that this meeting be a success."
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, Vatican, Holy See, survivors, Dallas Charter, laity,
bishop conduct, June General Assembly, sex abuse, abuse of power, Good Friday, Resurrection, Risen Lord, prayer, wounds, healing

Media Contact:

Judy Keane