Browsing Pastor's Corner

Bishop da Cunha’s Announce Clergy Record Review

Jan 7, 2019

In 2004, the Diocese of Fall River released a list of thirty-two priests and one seminarian who had sexual abuse charges made against them in the previous fifty years. The diocese also reported at that time the total number of abuse allegations was 216. has a database listing the names of priest from throughout the country who have been accused of abuse. They list the names of twenty-nine priests and one seminarian who were attached to the Diocese of Fall River who have at some time been accused of sexual abuse. According to the website charges against two of the twenty-nine priests were found to be unsubstantiated. Three of the priests listed were convicted and served time in prison for their crimes. By 2004 the statute of limitations had already run out in the cases of the other priests so they were never criminally charged nor were the accusations against them proved. It is also my understanding that the diocese as spent approximately $15 million dollars in legal settlements and counseling services for abuse victims. The last charges of abuse made against a priest of the diocese was in 2012. This priest died in 1996.

As Bishop da Cunha states in his letter clergy files were reviewed again last year to insure no abuse cases were overlooked. He states the diocese has hired Mr. William Gavin a former FBI Assistant Director to review clergy personnel records to provide independent prove that all cases have been accounted for. Bishop da Cunha states that it he is doing so in the interest of accountability and transparency.

This week the US Bishops completed a week-long quiet retreat at a seminary in suburban Chicago praying for the Holy Spirit to guide their actions to continue to address the clergy abuse scandal. The retreat was proposed by Pope Francis and it was directed by the preacher to the papal household, Capuchin friar Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.

To begin the retreat Pope Francis addressed the bishops in an eight-page letter. In it the pope “called for a “new ecclesial season” led by bishops who are more than administrators interested in “pointing fingers,” and instead, leadership marked by “collegial spiritual fatherhood,” rooted in humility and unity,” according to an article by Christopher White on the Crux Now website. White also wrote that the pope had, “re-upped his call for “a pastoral conversion” to change a culture which he posited allowed for a culture of abuse to fester.”

In an article in America Magazine Zac Davis addressed the criticism from some quarters that the bishops shouldn’t be praying about abuse but doing something about it. In his article Davis points out that, “There is a long tradition in the Catholic Church regarding the necessary relationship between prayer and action, and the importance of it preceding action.” It is always good to take the time to reflect before initiating reforms to make sure they really address the issue and don’t have unintended consequences that end up exacerbating a problem. Then decisive action must be taken. At the close of his article Davis says, “Catholics should pray that their bishops have the grace to understand where God is leading the church, but also that they will have the courage to enact change when they leave the retreat center and return to their dioceses.”

Back in the summer I said in a homily, soon after the wounds of the clergy sexual abuse scandal were reopened, that as Jesus said in scripture fasting and prayer are what will finally help the church solve the abuse scandal. I want to thank parishioners who joined with me to use the fall and winter Ember Days for fasting and prayer on the sexual abuse issue. I plan to continue to take the opportunity of commemorating the Ember Days in this way.

From February 21-24, Pope Francis will be meeting with representative of Bishops Conference from through out the world with the intention of developing a world-wide plan to address the sin of sexual abuse and form policies to hold bishops and those who enable abuse accountable. I plan to fast and do extra prayer during those days asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten the bishops to formulate a plan to address the sexual abuse scandal and help begin to restore credibility to the Church.

Two Retreat Experiences for Men
Diocese of Fall River Vocation Office Discernment Retreat Weekend
The Diocese of Fall River Vocation Office is hosting a discernment weekend for Men ages 18-45 at the Betania II Spiritual Life and Marian Center, 154 Summer St. Medway, MA from Friday February 22 to Sunday February 24. If interested, please contact Fr. Jack Schrader at or 508-695-6161.

“Everybody Dies-but not everyone Lives!”
The Diocese of Fall River Office of Faith Formation is offering a retreat for men at the Sacred Hearts Retreat Center 226 Great Neck Road, Wareham the weekend of February 8-10, 2019. The theme of the retreat is living strategies for a full live. Retreat leaders are Ernie Collamati & Deacon Bruce Bonneau. Space is limited to 25 reteatants and the cost is $165. To register call Deacon Bonneau at 508-678-2828 Ext. 13 or email:

Save This Date!
Reserve Saturday, March 9, 2019, to attend the 2019 Fall River Women and Men’s Conference to be held at Stonehill College, N. Easton. The theme of this year’s conference is Living in the Light of Hope. Conference presenters will include Bishop Robert Reed from Boston Catholic Television, Dr. Mary Healy and Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann. A dozen parishioners attended last year’s conference. Some of them got their picture taken with Bishop da Cunha and ended up on the cover of his pastoral letter. The parish is planning to hire transportation again this year so you need not worry about driving. More information will be coming later in the month.

Catholic Communications Campaign Collection
The Catholic Communications Campaign Collection will be the second collection next weekend January 19/20. Each year this collection is conducted to help pay for the Church’s communication’s efforts both here in our diocese and nationally. Half of the proceeds from this campaign are used to fund part of the $100,000 per year cost of the WLNE-TV, Channel 6 Sunday TV Mass. Further funding for the Mass is payed for by a portion of the annual Catholic Charities Appeal. The other half of the CCC collection goes to help the Church spread the good news of the gospel through the use of mass media and social networks. Please support the communications outreach of the Catholic Church by your generosity to the second collection next weekend.

Help Wanted Anyone a Graphic Artist?
Our parish has many talented people so there must be someone in our parish with talents as a Graphic Artist or with some advertising experience. The parish could use your gifts to put together a parish brochure and advertising campaign for the summer months. Please call the parish office at 508-945-0677 or email us at to offer your gifts.

Help Our Parish Youth
Katy Street, one of our parish youth is a nursing student at the University of Maine, Orono. Katy is participating in a wonderful campus missionary organization called, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). This March, rather than use he spring break as time for a vacation on the beach, she would like to join a missionary trip to rural Peru as part of a group sponsored by FOCUS. The group of 25 students will use their medical skills to help the poor in the Amazon jungle. To be able to participate in the trip Katy needs to raise $2,600 by February 15, 2019. You can help make Katy’s dream come true! If you would like to join her mission support team, simply go online and donate by credit card or bank transfer at or mail a check made payable to Catherine Street to 368 Long Pond Drive Harwich, MA 02645. Donations made online by credit card or bank transfer are tax-deductible, charitable gifts. Thank you so much for your prayerful consideration. There are no minimums or maximums gift amount and all gifts are greatly appreciated!


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