Browsing Pastor's Corner

Reflections on Pope’s Sex Abuse Conference

Feb 27, 2019

Pope Francis’ historic worldwide conference on the Church Sex Abuse Scandal came to a close last Sunday. As is the case with all such events mixed reviews were offered on Monday. Some abuse victim advocates panned the conference’s outcome. They were critical because the conference didn’t promulgate concrete new regulations imposing strict universal one strike and your out for clergy found guilty of sexual abuse and the accountability of bishops who cover up abuse. They also were angered by Pope Francis’ remarks during his closing speech regarding the problem of sexual abuse in other facets of life.

As a final analysis is made it would be good to remind ourselves of the Pope’s objectives going into the conference. Back in December in an article by Crux Now Catholic News Service, John Allen stated what were the Pope’s expectations. He said one was that the pope wanted to, “deliver an unequivocal message that clerical abuse is a universal problem, one that requires the participation of the Church at all levels to resolve.”

Going into the conference about two thirds of the bishops, many of them from countries of the developing south, have had no direct experience with the clerical abuse scandal. Many saw it as an American or western problem and not something that they had to face. They resented pressure to spend time and resources on the problem. Many saw pressuring them to address sexual abuse as another chapter in Western colonialism.

The conference seemed to be successful in helping them to have a greater understanding of the problem. They were introduced to listening to the stories of abuse victims from victims from some of their own countries. Several of the speakers, Sr. Veronia Openibo from Nigeria, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manilia, Philippines gave emotional address all reinforcing the reality of the problem in the Church throughout the world.

Allen in December said a second possible outcome was “announcing concrete methods for building stronger systems of accountability, not just for the crime of sexual abuse but its cover-up.” That didn’t specifically happen. What did come out of the conference was most likely the death of the use of secrecy in dealing with the issue. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and German Cardinal Reinhard Marx addressed accountability. Mexican Vatican correspondent Valentina Alazaki spoke about the importance of communication with the media in helping foster transparency. She warned that failure to do so was being complacent with covering up abuse.

A third outcome Allen anticipated was that Francis would “charge all these presidents of bishops’ conferences with making a point of meeting abuse survivors when they go home.” “[T]here simply is no substitute for spending time with victims in terms of getting a sense of the horror that being abused as a child by a member of the clergy represents.” In addition to the five abuse victims who spoke to the conference. Many media reports are that during the conference victims had unprecedented access to participants and Vatican policymakers.

Last week’s conference has left much of the implementation of a response to clerical sexual abuse up to the local bishop’s conferences. That decentralized approach is probably more sensitive to the needs of different cultures from around the world. However, the conference has given the bishops’ groups clear expectations of what their response needs to be.

In his December analysis John Allen predicted that not everyone would be completely satisfied by the results of last week’s conference. He said, “Almost by definition, Americans are likely to be frustrated with what may seem the scant results of the February meeting. Things will rise and fall with how nimble the U.S. bishops are about putting together a plan of action that coheres with the indications it provides after it’s over.”

Last Sunday there was indications that U.S. bishops understand that to be the case. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Bishops was quoted as saying, the USCCB’s administrative committee will “work like mad” to modify its proposed protocols for bishop accountability.” He said it was the bishop’s expectation to be able to have these guidelines approved at the bishop’s June meeting. Let’s continue to pray for this outcome and for the survivors of abuse.

Lent Begins This Wednesday
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday the first day of the Lenten Season. Lent is meant to be a forty-day retreat preparing every Catholic to spiritually celebrate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ during the Easter Triduum. Lent is a penitential season where we practice the disciplines of fasting, almsgiving and prayer to help us be more aware of the needs of the poor and our need to imitate the example of Jesus Christ more fully. The parish is providing several opportunities to put the Lenten disciples into action.

Lenten Folders-Parishioners on our mailing list received a Lenten Folder last week. We ask you put aside a quarter a day for a total of $10 over the entire Lenten season. Your donation will be combined with other parishioners’ donations and sent to Food for the Poor to build a modest home for a family in Haiti. The cost of a home is $3,600. Last year parishioners donated $4,000, for this purpose. How about building two homes this year?

Friday Program-On the Friday afternoons of Lent we will be reciting the devotion of the Stations of the Cross in the Church at 4:30PM. Each week a different parish ministry will lead the recitation of the Stations. The version of the Stations used will reflect the theme of their work. This Friday the Stations will be led by the Choir and we will recite Everyone’s Way of the Cross. After the Stations you are invited to share a simple supper of soup, bread and beverage. Following the meal, a short twenty to thirty-minute presentation of a segment of Bishop Robert Barron’s program, Priest, Prophet, King, will be offered. This week’s presentation is entitled, “Adoration”. Come join us for all or any part of the program.

Dynamic Catholic Best Lent Ever-Last week’s bulletin included a flyer inviting you to participate in Dynamic Catholic’s, “Don’t Give Up Chocolate for Lent”, daily on-line Lenten reflection. Everyday of the season you can have a short reflection sent to your computer or other electronic device. Sign up at Have a good Lent.


Ash Wednesday Mass Schedule
Wednesday, March 6, 2019,
8 AM, 12:05 PM and 7:00 PM
Ashes will be distributed at all Masses

Lenten Fast Regulations
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent is this Wednesday. It is a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics. Here is an update on the regulations governing those practices.

Abstinence -- Catholics over 14 years of age are bound to the obligation of abstinence. Abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and on all Fridays of Lent. On days of abstinence, meat may not be eaten at all.

Fast -- Catholics over 18 and up to the beginning of their 60th year are bound to the obligation of fasting. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are fast days. On these days, only one full meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed.

Regarding other weekdays of Lent, participation in daily Mass and the voluntary observance of fasting is recommended. Commendable, particularly during Lent, is generosity to local, national and world programs of sharing our abundance, the traditional Lenten Devotions and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of “mortification.”

Upcoming Marriage Encounter Dates
Last weekend Ginny and Joe Vatelli spoke at the masses about Marriage Encounter Weekend. A weekend is planned for April 13-14, 2019, at Our Lady of the Cape, Brewster. Ginny and Joe left some application on the table at the back of the Church. If you would like to participate in a weekend please take one or register at or call 800-710-WWME (9963).

Thank You for Their Generosity
Over the last few weeks the parish has been the recipient of some very nice generosity. A couple who are seasonal parishioners made the parish the recipient of a yearend donation of $10,000 from their retirement account. We were also the beneficiary of a very generous $100,000 legacy from the estate of Giles Chapin, a parishioner who died last year. Have you considered Holy Redeemer as a beneficiary in your will, retirement annuity or insurance policy? Using some of your residual estate to help finance the spread of the gospel and do works of charity here in our parish is a good way to show our love of God.


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