Earlier this week was the premier of the film “Spotlight”, which deals with The Boston Globe’s coverage of the clergy abuse crisis. I issued this statement about the film Wednesday night through our archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot, and I would also like to share it with you here:
The Spotlight film depicts a very painful time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States and particularly here in the Archdiocese of Boston. It is very understandable that this time of the film’s release can be especially painful for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.
The media’s investigative reporting on the abuse crisis instigated a call for the Church to take responsibility for its failings and to reform itself — to deal with what was shameful and hidden — and to make the commitment to put the protection of children first, ahead of all other interests.
We have asked for and continue to ask for forgiveness from all those harmed by the crimes of the abuse of minors. As Archbishop of Boston I have personally met with hundreds of survivors of clergy abuse over the last twelve years, hearing the accounts of their sufferings and humbly seeking their pardon. I have been deeply impacted by their histories and compelled to continue working toward healing and reconciliation while upholding the commitment to do all that is possible to prevent harm to any child in the future.
The Archdiocese of Boston is fully and completely committed to zero tolerance concerning the abuse of minors. We follow a vigorous policy of reporting and disclosing information concerning allegations of abuse. Any suspected case of abuse should be reported to civil authorities and to the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach (866-244-9603 or 617-746-5985).
More information about the protocols and programs run by the Archdiocese to assure safe environments for children and to address the needs of survivors may be found at www.bostoncatholic.org.
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Now, on to the events of my week…
We were very pleased to see such a large turnout of Knights and Dames, as well as a large number of young people who are joining the auxiliary group. We are blessed to have such a strong presence of the Order of Malta in the Boston area. They do such important work locally, nationally and globally promoting the mission of the Church, particularly Catholic healthcare, humanitarian efforts and outreach to the poor.
Following the Mass, everyone gathered for dinner in the seminary refectory.
Before the meal, we heard remarks by a young man named Eric Donovan, who shared his story of travelling to Lourdes with the Order after suffering paralysis.
He said he received a miracle there, which may not be the kind you might expect — he received the gift of hope.
The evening’s keynote address was given Father James Martin, editor-at-large of America magazine, who is a very well-known author and speaker.
Father Martin gave a very fine talk on the theme of the humanity and divinity of Christ.
We are so grateful to Msgr. James Moroney and seminary for their gracious hospitality, and to area chairperson Damien DeVasto who did such an excellent job organizing this gathering.
With Father Martin and Damien DeVasto
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The following day I travelled to Pittsburgh because my Capuchin Province was having their annual celebration of jubilees, and they asked me to celebrate the Mass.
We had several Friars celebrating significant anniversaries but the one who was celebrating the most years of service was Father Angelus Shaughnessy. He was celebrating 60 years of ordination and 65 years of religious life. Father Angelus worked for some time with Mother Angelica and EWTN, and his television Masses were always very popular.
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Saturday, we held our annual Archdiocesan Justice Convocation, which each year focuses on a different aspect of the Church’s social teachings.
I was particularly pleased that the convocation this year focused on themes from the Holy Father’s encyclical Laudato Si’ — the protection of creation and care for immigrants.
The featured keynote speaker at this year’s gathering was Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, an organization that does such wonderful work all over the world helping those in need.
We are so grateful to the organizers of this event, particularly those coming out of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Their efforts helped ensure the event was sold out well in advance — certainly a great accomplishment, a great testimony to the commitment so many of our people have to the Social Gospel of the Church.
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On Sunday, I gathered with supporters of our Catholic Appeal for a Mass at St. Bridget’s in Lexington. The event was a chance to thank them for all their support of our Appeal, which is the lifeblood of the archdiocese.
After the Mass, we had a luncheon where I had a question and answer session with the people.
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Later, Isabel Gil, the Vice Rector of the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon came for a visit.
She gave me the gift of the emblem of the University.
The university was founded in 1967 — the 50th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima — and there were a number of local people who were great supporters of the university, including Cardinal Medeiros and Joe Fernandes of the Fernandes Supermarket chain. For many years we had an annual fundraising event between Boston and Fall River to help support the university.
Now, as they are preparing to celebrate their own 50th anniversary in 2017, they are interested in reinvigorating ties with the Portuguese speaking community in the United States, and they came to speak to me a little about that.
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From there, we went to the hospital to visit José Vazquez, the man who had worked for many years in the administration of the seminary. He was gravely ill and, sadly, passed away Wednesday.
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On Tuesday, we had a meeting here at the Pastoral Center of leaders of Hispanic ministries from the 11 dioceses of the Boston and Hartford Provinces. This meeting was part of the preparation leading up to the Fifth National Encuentro for Ministry Among Hispanics/Latinos (which is usually abbreviated to the more manageable form, “V Encuentro”).
I have had the privilege of attending each of the four previous Encuentros, the first being held in 1972 in Washington. Each of them has given new energy, impulse and direction to Hispanic ministry in the United States. This is particularly important at this stage of our development as a Church in the United States, where such a huge percentage of the Catholic population is Hispanic. With the many challenges that we have, this Encuentro will be particularly important. I was so happy to see the enthusiastic response of the attendees from so many different dioceses.
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Tuesday evening, I had one of our regular meetings with our recently ordained priests here at the Pastoral Center.
As always, we began our gathering with a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by dinner and discussion.
We conducted a survey among them talking about the joys and challenges of being a young priest and how they deal with those challenges. I was conducting the survey as part of the preparation for a presentation that I plan to give to the Congregation for the Clergy.
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Also that evening, I attended a reception at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Newton were they were presenting an award to Gerry Sheehan, and I was asked to say a few words.
Gerry Sheehan has been an extraordinary benefactor of our Catholic schools. In my remarks, I noted this is the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate and that we have a wonderful tradition of friendship between the Catholic and Jewish communities here in Boston, particularly since the time of Cardinal Cushing. I said that Gerry Sheehan represents this kind of bridge between our communities and so we were so happy they were honoring him.
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Finally, on Wednesday we held our semi-annual meetings of bishops of the Boston Province, which includes the dioceses of Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. We gather together to discuss different pastoral challenges and plans that we have moving forward. Among our agenda items was a report by Father Paco on the preparation for the Encuentro Nacional.
Until next week,
– Cardinal Seán