Thursday, February 28, 2013

POPE'S FAREWELL TO CARDINALS

This morning at 11:00 AM, Pope Benedict XVI met with all of the Cardinals who were in Rome for the Conclave.  It was a very moving and touching event as we were participating in the final apostolic work of our Holy Father.  His words to us:


Dear beloved brothers
I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.
And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord.

As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter's Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry. We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path.

Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord.

I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini’s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .
Guardini says: "The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ. "This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square.


We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: "The Church is awakening in souls." The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today.

Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.
Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him.

And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

POPE'S GRATITUDE TOWARDS ALL

Pope Benedict's final General Audience was a very personal and warm message of gratitude towards all who collaborated with him in his ministry as Successor of Peter.

He models for us the need for constant gratitude to God for so many blessings, but also, to all who assist us in our daily lives:  family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends, colleagues.  We tend to express our displeasure and dislikes without hesitation, but we are not so quick to thank all who have helped us.

For me, this Lent is a wonderful time to reflect more deeply on God's many gifts in our lives, and especially to thank personally all who accompany us on our faith journeys.  We sometimes look at Lent as a time of privation; but a far more penitential practice is reaching out to one another in expressions of gratitude.

Let's listen to what the Pope said on Wednesday at the Audience:

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry.

The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support.

A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with a father’s heart.

I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service....
 
God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times.  Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world.  In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love.  Thank you!:


Let's follow his lead:  may our hearts expand to embrace all who journey with us as disciples of Jesus Christ!

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DIFFERENT MOOD IN ROME

The overall mood here in Rome now is quite different from 2005.  Recall that Pope John Paul II had been in declining health from early 2004 until his death April 1, 2005.  It was obvious that the Pope would not remain much longer on this earth, and we had all begun to mourn him even before he died.

The mood back in April of 2005 was somber and sad.  So many people had never really known any other Pope in their lives, and it was like losing a revered Grandfather--someone whom we had made a part of our own families.

There then followed the official days of mourning, the Pope lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica, countless pilgrims coming to pay their respect and gratitude for his ministry in our midst.

This time, the mood is two-fold.  On one hand, we give thanks for the incredible eight years which Pope Benedict served as Successor to Peter.  We recall his wonderful teachings and homilies, and we were all in awe at his scholarship.  There is no real sense of loss this time, because we have not "lost" Benedict.  He is stepping away from the very active role as Pope to serve God and the Church in a more prayerful fashion--outside the fury of activities that swirl around the Pope who is active.

On the other hand, there is great anticipation and expectation everywhere.  People on the streets are wondering which Pope God has chosen to replace Benedict.  Questions abound:  where will he be from?  How old will he be?  What new directions for the Church will he bring?  How will he deal with problems--older ones, and newer ones? 

The two characteristics which many people are hoping for are that he be a Pope who has abundant pastoral ministry experience, and who can help shape a new and dynamic future for the Church in today's world. 

There is concern that the Church is proceeding down two opposite directions:  in many countries of the northern hemisphere, the Church is not fully alive and dynamic, with far fewer Catholics living out their faith.  At the same time, the Church in many countries of the southern hemisphere are experiencing great vitality and growth.

Many are praying that our new Pope will enliven the Church world-wide, bringing us the dynamism of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.

Come, Holy Spirit!! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

TOUGH LENTEN CHALLENGE

We have many challenges on our Lenten journey, but one in particular is the focus of my prayer and work this Lent:  the love of our enemies in life.

Jesus' words could not be more clear or compelling:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. 

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?  Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?  Do not the pagans do the same?  So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."  [Matthew 5:43--48]

I can't recall a time such as now when people tend to be so judgmental and even self-righteous, so quick to accuse, judge and condemn.  And often with scant real facts and information.  Because of news broadcasts now 24/7 there is little or no fact checking; no in-depth analysis; no context or history given.  Rather, everything gets reported as "news" regardless of the basis for the item being reported--and passed on by countless other news outlets.

We have ended up with a climate in which it's the norm to instantly pass judgement on one another, taking in and repeating gossip, sharing someone else's judgment as the truth, no regard for other people who may be harmed.  Whatever happened to the norm of giving others the benefit of a doubt until hard evidence proves otherwise?

Witness the hatred which has boiled up across the Middle East and other conflicted parts of the world, and the deep emotions which do not allow for understanding or love to emerge at all.

But Jesus calls us to something far different and much more difficult:  we are to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us.  In today's world, to follow Jesus and his Gospel message means to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."  That's a really high bar for all of us, and certainly for me.

My daily prayer list includes both loved ones/friends, as well as those who dislike or even hate me.  One prayer group involves those suffering from cancer and other illnesses, those who have been sexually abused by clergy and others in our Church, those who can't find a decent job, those in danger of losing their homes, our immigrants who live in the shadows of society.

But another prayer group includes individuals who cannot forgive me for my past hurts or offenses, those in the media who constantly malign me and my motives, attorneys who never focus on context or history in their legal matters, groups which picket me or otherwise object to me, and all those who despise me or even hate me.

If I don't pray for all of these people, then I am not following Jesus' specific discipleship demand.

Jesus' message of love and forgiveness has flooded the world over the centuries, and this message has had the power to change hearts and minds.  May his challenge this Lent inspire us to do as he asks.        

Sunday, February 24, 2013

POPE BENEDICT'S FINAL ANGELUS

BENEDICT XVI'S FINAL ANGELUS: THE LORD CALLS ME TO DEDICATE MYSELF MORE TO PRAYER, BUT I DO NOT ABANDON THE CHURCH

Vatican City, 24 February 2013 –
 
More than 200,000 people attended the final Angelus of Benedict XVI's pontificate.  Looking up from St. Peter's Square, everyone--near and via television--were able to see a more relaxed and hope-filled Pope. 

The Holy Father was received with much applause and, before beginning his short meditation, responded saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.” He then commented on the Gospel reading for this second Sunday of Lent, which recounts the Transfiguration of the Lord.
 
Luke the Evangelist places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. His is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a type of spiritual retreat that Jesus undergoes on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James, and John, the three disciples who are always present at the moments of the Master's divine manifestation.
 
The Lord, who had foretold His death and resurrection shortly before, offers His disciples an anticipation of His glory. Again at the Transfiguration, as at His Baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father: 'This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.' The presence of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, is very important.
 
The entire history of the Covenant is directed toward Him, the Christ, who brings about a new 'exodus', not to the promised land, as in the time of Moses, but to heaven. Peter's exclamation, 'Master, it is good that we are here', represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience.
 
St. Augustine comments: “Peter … on the mountain ... had Christ as the Bread of his soul. Should he then depart from there to return to struggles and sorrows, while up above he was full of the holy love for God that inspired him to saintly behaviour?”
Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. During Lent we learn to give the proper time to the prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life.
 
In addition, prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions, as Peter would have wanted on Mt. Tabor. Instead, prayer leads to a path of action. 'The Christian life—I wrote in this year's Lenten Message—consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from Him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'”
I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to 'scale the mountain', to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church.
 
If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. Let us call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary: May she help all of us to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in works of charity.”
 
 
After praying the Angelus, in his greetings in various languages, the Pope thanked everyone for expressing their closeness and for keeping him in their prayers in these days, saying: “We also give thanks to God for this sun we have today”, seeing that in Rome, contrary to the meteorological forecasts, it was not raining.
 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CARRYING A SCANDAL BIBLICALLY

One very insightful and powerful Address has sustained me over these past difficult years as all of us in the Church had to face the fact that Catholic clergy sexually abused children and young people.

Entitled On Carrying A Scandal Biblically it was first delivered in late 2002 by Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., in Canada.  The Address was edited into an article, and is readily available on his website. (1)

There is nothing else in print which has so captivated my heart and soul, and served as the basis for countless meditations and reflections.  I recommend it to anyone who is searching for a truly counter-cultural approach at dealing with this terrible sinfulness which has overwhelmed all of us in the Church.

You will never find the Rolheiser approach even mentioned in any news media, since it is not about condemning others, but about how disciples of Jesus are called to carry and live out a terrible scandal day by day.

He calls our suffering what it really is:  painful and public humiliation, which is spiritually a grace-opportunity.  I have tried to live out--poorly and inadequately far too often--his two implications of humiliation:

1.   the acceptance of being scapegoated, pointing out the necessary connection between humiliation and redemption;

2.   this scandal is putting us, the clergy and the church, where we belong--with the excluded ones; Jesus was painted with the same brush as the two thieves crucified with him.

His example of Mary at the foot of the cross pondering all that is happening has meant so much for me, and I turn to her daily seeking her help to carry this scandal as she carried the scandal of Jesus' cross with such inner strength.  Note how Rolheiser pictures Mary for us:

"Mary at the foot of the cross.  What is Mary doing there?  Overtly nothing.  Notice that, as the foot of the cross, Mary doesn't seem to be doing anything.  She isn't trying to stop the crucifixion, nor even protesting Jesus' innocence.  She isn't saying anything and overtly doesn't seem to be doing anything.  But Scripture tells us that she 'stood' there.  For a Hebrew, that was a position of strength.  Mary was strong under the cross.  And what precisely was she doing?  She was pondering in the biblical sense."

And then, Rolheiser gives us the golden rule for our own thoughts and conducts as we are being humiliated:  "To ponder in the biblical sense means to hold, carry, and transform tension so as not to give it back in kind."

"Jesus models this for us.  He took in hatred, held it, transformed it, and gave back love; he took in bitterness, held it, transformed it, and gave back graciousness; he took in curses, held them, transformed them, and gave back blessing; he took in betrayal, held it, transformed it, and gave back forgiveness."  That's what it means to ponder biblically.

I surely need your prayers and your encouragement in my own life to handle all of my mistakes, omissions, and commissions as God asks, and as Jesus and Mary lived out:  to take in what swirls around me, to hold it, to carry it, to transform it and to give it back as grace, blessing, and gift.

Jesus and Mary, walk with us and show us how to follow you!



1)       http://www.ronrolheiser.com/common/pdf/scandal.pdf

Monday, February 18, 2013

JESUS, SUFFERING SERVANT

As we continue along our Lenten journey, and with a special emphasis upon the humiliations which Jesus suffered, there is great spiritual power in turning to the final Suffering Servant poem from the prophet Isaiah:

He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, like one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that he bore, our suffering he endured.  We thought of him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity.  He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.

Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth.

Seized and condemned, he was taken away.  Who would have thought any more of his destiny?  For he was cut off from the land of the living, struck for the sins of his people  [Isaiah 53: 3--8]  (The entire poem is read every Good Friday during the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord.  Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12)

The poem of the Suffering Servant is important for all of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ since we are called to imitate his words, actions, and life.  Part of that journey will always entail suffering from time to time.  But what makes Jesus' suffering so different, and so important for us, is that he lived out Isaiah's prophecy fully:  "...he did not open his mouth..." 

That means never rationalizing what is happening in our lives, never protesting misunderstandings, and never getting angry because of false accusations.  And that is so difficult for us human beings.  It is certainly difficult for me on my journey.

Not opening our mouth in repudiation or backlash goes against our human nature, and against our pride.  But remaining silent after the example of Jesus leaves each accusation in the hands of our loving and forgiving God, not in the hands of other humans with varied agendas.

May I encourage all of us to reflect upon the four Suffering Servant poems in Isaiah during Lent.  The first three are used during Holy Week at our Masses on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; the fourth on Good Friday. (1)

May the silent Jesus become a new petition for each of us this year during Lent.




(1)  The four Suffering Servant poems:  Isaiah 42:1--4; Isaiah 49:1--7; Isaiah 50:4-11; Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA & HUMILITY

In his Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius Loyola describes the three kinds of humility.  I have prayed his Exercises for some 38 years now during annual retreats, but never focused as much upon his great insights into humility as now.  Let's review his three kinds:

No. 165    The First Kind of Humility.  This is necessary for salvation.  It consists in this, that as far as possible I so subject and humble myself as to obey the law of God our Lord in all things, so that not even were I made lord of all creation, or to save my life here on earth, would I consent to violate a commandment, whether divine or human, that binds me under pain of mortal sin.

No. 166 The Second Kind of Humility.  This is more perfect than the first.  I possess it if my attitude of mind is such that I neither desire nor am I inclined to have riches rather than poverty, to seek honor rather than dishonor, to desire a long life rather than a short life, provided only in either alternative I would promote equally the service of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul.  Besides this indifference, this second kind of humility supposes that not for all creation, nor to save my life, would I consent to commit a venial sin.

No. 167.  The Third Kind of Humility.  This is the most perfect kind of humility.  It consists in this.  If we suppose the first and second kind attained, then whenever the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty would be equally served, in order to imitate and be in reality more like Christ our Lord, I desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, rather than riches; insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors; I desire to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world.  So Christ was treated before me.

What an extraordinary life-long task and journey!  I think most of us do fairly well with the first kind of humility most of the time. 

But can I truly say that I don't desire riches over poverty?  That I don't desire honor over dishonor?  That I don't desire a long life rather than a short one?  Ignatius begins the third kind with these words:  "If we suppose the first and second kind attained...."  In my own life, I certainly cannot suppose those levels of humility "attained."

But we are on a faith journey accompanied by Jesus every step of the way, and it's through prayer and using all our strength that we try to be more humble and more like Him.

The third kind is truly a call to humiliation, more than to humility.  With this kind, Ignatius raises the bar considerably.  He moves from the verb "desire" in the first two kinds, to "desire and choose" in the third kind.  In past years I can't recall myself desiring and choosing:

*     poverty with Christ poor, rather than riches;

*     insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors;

*     worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent.

But through God's grace, I am for the first time realizing that I should be praying for the very things from which I cringe, the disgrace I abhor, the fool that I seem.

Lent is a long period of time, but I am not sure where I will be by Easter on this particular journey embracing and praying for humiliation.

Christ, have mercy!    

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CALLED to HUMILIATION

From our earliest catechism days we learn about the virtue of humility.  We study it, we think about it; but we don't embrace it.

And why?  Because humility is all about self-effacing, about seeing ourselves as far more diminished than we had hoped.  As a result, few of us set out to embrace humility for Lent or as a pattern for our lives.  Most us us accept a few affronts and neglects as humility, and then move on.

But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are actually called to the fullness of humility:  humiliation, and publicly. 

Today's Gospel gives us the stark reality and immediate challenge:  "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." {Luke 9:23]  Daily means each and every day, not now and then on our faith journeys, and on our terms.

That desire flows from our lips so easily, but we seldom mean it fully and internally.  It's almost a spiritual throw-away for us.  But Jesus means it so deeply.

Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God's grace finally helped me to understand:  I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility.  Rather, I am being called to something deeper--to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.

I was not ready for this challenge.  Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.

To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation.  I'm only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated.  In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people.  I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage--at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God's special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them. 

Over the coming days of our Lenten journey I hope to explore with all of you some deeper spiritual insights into what it really means to take up our cross daily and to follow Jesus--in rejection, in humiliation, and in personal attack.

Strangely, the more I allow all of this to unfold without protest and objection, the greater the inner peace I feel.

Kyrie, eleison!



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LENTEN RESOLUTIONS

As we begin our annual Lenten Journey on this Ash Wednesday, I was struck by a reprint of a meditation on Lenten resolutions written by Caryll Houselander, a famous British mystic and spiritual guide.  It is in the monthly Magnificat booklet.  You may find it helpful for your own Lenten Journey:


As to your Lent...I can only tell you my own experience.  A mass of good resolutions, I think, are apt to end up in disappointment and to make one depressed.  Also direct fault-uprooting:  it makes one concentrate too much on self, and that can be so depressing.  The only resolution I have ever found works is:  "Whenever I want to think of myself, I will think of God."  Now, this does not mean, "I will make a long meditation on God," but just some short sharp answer, so to speak, to my thought of self, in God.  For example:

     "I am lonely, misunderstood, etc."

     "The loneliness of Christ at his trial; the misunderstanding even of
            his closest friends."

     Or:

     "I have made a fool of myself."

     "Christ mocked--he felt it; he put the mocking first in foretelling
his Passion--'The Son of Man shall be mocked, etc.'--made a fool of, before all whom he loved."

     Or:

     "I can't go on, unhelped."

     "Christ couldn't.  He couldn't carry the cross without help; he was grateful for human sympathy--Mary Magdalene--his words on that occasion--other examples as they suggest themselves--just pictures that flash through the mind."  This practice becomes a habit, and it is the habit which has saved me from despair!...

Different people have different approaches to Christ.  He has become all things--infant, child, man--so that we all can approach him in the way easiest for us.  The best is to use that way to our heart's content, and not to trouble about any other.


Lent is a grace-filled time for all of us to seek God's love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Repentance and reconciliation begin with our turning to God, and in the words of Sister Wendy, "...to stand unprotected before God."

God's forgiveness flows over us, and helps us to begin to make up for our sins, failures, foolish mistakes, serious errors.  I long for his showing me the way this Lent.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

POPE BENEDICT'S WRITINGS

Although Pope Benedict is stepping aside as our active Pope, nonetheless his marvelous writings will continue to guide and inspire us for decades to come.

His brief meditations are among my favorites, and if you want a great companion for Lent, be sure to get a copy of The Joy of Knowing Christ.  His 55 meditations bring us ever more deeply into the life of Jesus Christ.  [Easy to purchase on line]

If you use one meditation a day during Lent you will come to know Jesus in new and palpable ways, and your friendship with him will become an amazing grace for you.

The more fully we listen to Jesus' words and instructions, and the more we watch in wonderment as he touches the lives of countless crowds with his message of God's love and mercy, then the more able you and I are to imitate Jesus in our own lives. 

The New Evangelization proposed by Benedict flows from two founts:  knowing Jesus more deeply, and sharing him in love and through actions towards others.

May Jesus accompany us day after day along our Lenten journey!

Monday, February 11, 2013

PREMATURE SPECULATION

It is interesting that the preliminary speculation about who might be elected by the College of Cardinals to succeed Pope Benedict XVI seem to follow a "secular election mentality."  The American media, in particular, are viewing this opportunity in the Church from the perspective of American political elections.  Wrong.

That is, the speculation is upon geopolitical, demographic, and even "power" propositions.

Fortunately, the election of the Successor to St. Peter is in the power of the Holy Spirit, not earthly electoral pundits.

I recall so vividly in 2005 participating in the Conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI.  The presence and power of the Holy Spirit were palpable.  There was no secular voice or influence.  It was incredible.

The People of God in the Church can fortunately anticipate a similar process in which the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit will prevail.

POPE BENEDICT XVI


STATEMENT on the RESIGNATION of

POPE BENEDICT XVI
 
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
 
February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has been an extraordinary Successor to St. Peter these past eight years, and I thank God for the graces and blessings which have come to the Church and to the world during his Pontificate.

It was my privilege to participate in the Conclave of April 2005 when Pope Benedict was elected.  I recall so clearly his words when he told the Cardinals that he was choosing the name of Benedict because of his fondness for the prayerfulness and the Rule of St. Benedict, and also because Pope Benedict XV [1914—1920] served during a time of turmoil and wars across the world.

 
Pope Benedict XVI began his Petrine ministry from a firm foundation of prayer, holiness, and remarkable scholarship.  Before the end of 2005 he issued Deus Caritas Est, a letter on the virtue and gift of charity and love among the disciples of Jesus Christ.  Two more followed:  one on hope in 2007, the third on faith in 2009.

His homilies and addresses were so amazing because he was not speaking about Jesus Christ as a topic, but he was speaking about Jesus from a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus himself.  It was that attraction to the person of Jesus Christ which flowed from all his many teachings for the Church and the world.

Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world.  His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus.

The Church will continue to be blessed by his prayer lifted up for the needs of the world, as well as by his writings which will continue to nourish the minds, hearts and souls of Catholics around the world.

I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor.

Friday, February 1, 2013

HISTORICAL EVOLUTION of DEALING with the SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS


Friends in Christ,

This morning I sent this letter to Archbishop Jose H. Gomez giving the history and context of what we have been through since the mid-1980s.  There is nothing confidential in my letter.   I have been encouraged by others to publish it, so I am do so on my personal Blog.  I hope you find it useful.
 
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February 1, 2013
 
 

Dear Archbishop Gomez:

In this letter I wish to outline briefly how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and I responded to the evolving scandal of clergy sexual misconduct, especially involving minors.

Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.  In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children.  While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed.

Shortly after I was installed on September 5, 1985 I took steps to create an Office of the Vicar for the Clergy so that all our efforts in helping our priests could be located in one place.  In the summer of 1986 I invited an attorney-friend from Stockton to address our priests during our annual retreat at St. John’s Seminary on the topic of the sexual abuse of minors.  Towards the end of 1986 work began with the Council of Priests to develop policies and procedures to guide all of us in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct.  Those underwent much review across the Archdiocese, and were adopted in 1989.

During these intervening years a small number of cases did arise.  I sought advice from several other Bishops across the country, including Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, and then Bishop Adam Maida of Green Bay.  I consulted with our Episcopal Conference frequently.  All the advice was to remove priests from active ministry if there was reasonable suspicion that abuse had occurred, and then refer them to one of the several residential treatment centers across the country for evaluation and recommendation.

This procedure was standard across the country for all Arch/Dioceses, for School Districts, for other Churches, and for all Youth Organizations that dealt with minors.  We were never told that, in fact, following these procedures was not effective, and that perpetrators were incapable of being treated in such a way that they could safely pursue priestly ministry.

During the 1990s our own policies and procedures evolved and became more stringent.  We had learned from the mistakes of the 1980s and the new procedures reflected this change.  In 1994 we became one of the first Archdioceses in the world to institute a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board [SAAB] which gave helpful insights and recommendations to the Vicar for the Clergy on how to deal with these cases.  Through the help of this Board, we moved towards a “zero tolerance” policy for clergy who had allegations against them which had proven true.

In 2002 we greatly expanded the SAAB group into the new Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board.  They were instrumental in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and served as an invaluable body for me and our Archdiocese.  They dealt with every case with great care, justice, and concern for our youth.

From 2003 to 2012 the Archdiocese underwent several Compliance Audits by professional firms retained for this purpose.  Most Auditors were retired FBI agents, and extremely competent.  Every single Audit concluded that the Archdiocese was in full compliance with the Charter.

When you were formally received as our Archbishop on May 26, 2010, you began to become aware of all that had been done here over the years for the protection of children and youth.  You became our official Archbishop on March 1, 2011 and you were personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012—again, in which we were deemed to be in full compliance.

Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.

I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s.  I apologized for those mistakes, and committed myself to make certain that the Archdiocese was safe for everyone.

Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then.  But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an Archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.

With every best wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

His Eminence
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles