The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a new website to share information on prevention, protection and accountability relating to the clergy sex abuse crisis.
“The purpose of this website is to serve as a source of information and provide resources regarding the safety of children and vulnerable persons, victim assistance, and frequently asked questions,” said Monsignor Brian Bransfield, General Secretary, USCCB.
This website reinforces the importance of prevention, protection and accountability in response to the ongoing work to eradicate clergy sexual abuse. Visitors can browse through the pages of the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its progress, as well as the new reforms set to be discussed during the Spring General Assembly of bishops in Baltimore. Learn more at usccbprevention.org
Public sessions of the general assembly discussions and votes will be available via live stream at http://www.usccb.org/live
During the Spring General Assembly, the bishops will discuss and vote on bishop accountability measures to respond to the abuse crisis and will also hear reports from the National Advisory Council and an annual progress report by the National Review Board. The bishops will also discuss and vote on the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (2nd edition); and on the final approval of revisions made to the second typical edition of the ICEL Gray Book of the Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons, among other items.
The USCCB has also launched a new website highlighting the importance of prevention, protection and accountability in response to the ongoing effort to eradicate clergy sexual abuse. As the American bishops prepare to meet in Baltimore for their Spring General Assembly next week, this new site serves as a resource detailing the steps the American bishops are taking to confront this crisis.
On the site, Readers can browse through the layers of the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its progress, as well as the new reforms set to be discussed in Baltimore. There are also numerous readily available resources to address any instance of clergy sexual abuse.
Explore the website by visiting: usccbprevention.org
Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media on Tuesday, June 11, Wednesday (partial day), June 12, and the morning of Thursday, June 13. Press conferences will follow open sessions of the meeting as time allows. Due to limited capacity, please note there will be no onsite credentialing due to security considerations.
A live stream and satellite feed is expected to run Tuesday, June 11 from 8:30am-6pm Eastern, Wednesday, June 12, 11am-6pm Eastern and Thursday, June 13, 8:45 am to 1:15 pm. The assembly will be live streamed on the Internet and will be available via satellite for broadcasters wishing to air it.
News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations and other materials will be posted to this page: usccb.org/meetings as soon as possible during the general assembly.
Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media can use the hashtag #USCCB19 and follow on Twitter (twitter.com/usccb) as well as on Facebook (facebook.com/usccb) and Instagram (instagram.com/usccb).
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released their 2018 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organization nation-wide.
A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate is also included as part of the report. The 2018 report for audit year July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018, states that 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations. Compared to 2017, the number of allegations has increased significantly due to the additional allegations received in five New York State dioceses as a result of the implementation of their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation programs.
Additional data on allegations provided by CARA’s annual survey shows that more than nine in ten alleged offenders (92 percent) identified during the survey year were already deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized or missing. Most abuse reported occurred between 1960 and 1990, with a peak in the 1970s.
Twenty-six new allegations involving current minors were reported during the audit period. As of June 30, 2018, three were substantiated and the clergy were removed from ministry. These allegations came from three different dioceses. Seven allegations were unsubstantiated as of June 30, 2018. Three were categorized as “unable to be proven” and investigations were still in process for six of the allegations as of June 30, 2018. For the remaining seven allegations involving minors, two were referred to a religious order, two were reported as unknown clerics, and three were not claims of sexual abuse, but were boundary violations.
During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 472 victims/survivors and their families who reported during this audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,542 victims/survivors and their families who reported abuse in prior audit periods. Support may include counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services.
The report also notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2018, over 2.6 million background checks were conducted on Church clerics, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2018 over 2.6 million adults and 3.9 million children and youth have also been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.
Regarding Charter Compliance, the report noted the following:
StoneBridge Business Partners, the auditor, visited 72 dioceses/eparchies and collected data from 122 others.
All dioceses/eparchies were found compliant except for the Diocese of Lincoln, who was found non-compliant with Article 7 of the Charter.
Three eparchies did not participate including the Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace, the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, and the Eparchy of Phoenix
The Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People continues to emphasize that the audit and maintaining zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.
This is the sixteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, making a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.
The full Annual Report can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/child-abuse-prevention/upload/2018-CYP-Annual-Report.pdf
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People can be found here: www.usccb.org/charter
Additional information on diocesan requirements can be found here:
Notre Dame de Namur and Saint Leo universities now enrolling students for fall 2019
Two established Catholic universities have come together to make it easier for education, healthcare, law enforcement, and other public-service professionals to pursue a graduate degree for career advancement. Through a collaborative effort, Saint Leo University will provide prospective students with an easy-to-navigate admissions process, and Notre Dame de Namur University will offer a quality online master’s degree program in public administration that fits the career and lifestyle needs of adult students.
“One of the benefits of this partnership is that students now have two quality academic institutions working together on their behalf,” said Dr. Melanie Storms, senior vice president at Saint Leo University. “Our goal is to offer a program that is easy for the working professional to enter and access.”
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares professionals for administrative and management positions in public, nonprofit, and service-related organizations. The MPA is the preferred degree for many public-sector leaders because it delivers a comprehensive overview of organizations that rely on government budgets, taxes, or grants for funding.
The updated, online program helps students develop competencies for dealing with individual differences in skills and behaviors, and learn about the basics of personality development as it relates to management.
Many of the professionals who have graduated from Notre Dame’s program hold leadership positions as county managers or police chiefs, as well as senior administrators in education, healthcare, and other public service organizations.
“Saint Leo and Notre Dame have produced strong graduates in these sectors,” said Dr. Hernan Bucheli, provost at Notre Dame de Namur University. “As Catholic higher-education institutions working together, we are making opportunities for career advancement accessible to more people through our collaboration.”
The fall 2019 term for the program begins on August 26, and applications will be accepted through mid-August. The GMAT requirement will be waived for new students.
To learn more about the Master of Public Administration program and admissions, visit saintleo.edu/ndnu or call (888) 875-8265.
About Notre Dame de Namur University
Notre Dame de Namur University (www.ndnu.edu) is a Catholic, not-for-profit, coeducational institution serving approximately 1,500 students from diverse backgrounds. Established in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, NDNU is the third-oldest college in California and the first authorized to grant the baccalaureate degree to women. Notre Dame maintains a strong commitment to academic excellence, social justice, and community engagement. The university is fully accredited and offers a rich variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including online MBA and MA TESOL programs, and a Criminal Justice BS (www.ndnu.edu/online/). Notre Dame has a historic California campus on the San Francisco Peninsula, and a satellite campus in Tracy, California, in the Central Valley.
About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University (www.saintleo.edu) is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. Saint Leo is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states.
Diane Kledzik, the director of the Diocese of St. Petersburg Marriage and Family Life Office, recently received Clearwater Central Catholic (CCC) High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award for her accomplishments in the area of “Living Faith.”
Diane graduated from CCC in 1980 and she went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources with a minor in Religious Studies from Eckerd College and a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry from St. Thomas University. She also earned a Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies and a Certificate in Advanced Studies from the Center for Ministry Development.
“We are pleased to recognize Diane’s dedication to the Church by presenting her with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Living Faith,” said Jim Deputy, Principal, CCC.
For 20 years, Diane served as Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. In 2018, she was named Director for the Office of Marriage and Family Life. Prior to her role at the Diocese, she served as Director of Youth Ministry at St. Jerome Parish, Largo (1984-1993), Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Venice (1993-1997) and Co-Director of Youth Ministry at St. Margaret Mary in Winter Park.
Nationally, Diane has served on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Evangelization Secretariat’s Executive Commission and the National Strong Catholic Families Team, and the boards of the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities (NAFSCC) and Paulist Evangelization Ministries. She also represents the NAFSCC on the Representative Council of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.
This past summer, Diane represented the Diocese on an immersion trip to Malawi with Catholic Relief Services. Previously, she helped develop several retreats and evangelization processes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the Diocese of Venice, including Teens Encounter Christ, Antioch, RENEW 2000, Disciples in Mission and Alpha.
A long-time member of a Small Christian Community at her parish, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Diane serves as an Infant Baptism Ministry catechist, a Youth Ministry Core Team member, and an occasional RCIA catechist and sponsor. At St. Patrick’s, she served as PTO President of St. Patrick Catholic School (2013-2015) and was a member of the St. Patrick Catholic School Strong Catholic Families team.
Floridians Pray for an End to the Use of the Death Penalty
Robert Joseph “Bobby Joe” Long is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m. for the 1984 murder of Michelle Sims. Long additionally pled guilty to, and received life sentences for, seven other murders.
In a May 20 letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, executive director, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked the governor to commute Long’s death sentence to a life sentence without parole. “Although he caused much harm, society has been safe from his aggressive acts in the decades of his incarceration,” said Sheedy. “Without taking his life, society can be protected while he endures the alternative sentence of life without the possibility of parole.”
Sheedy encouraged DeSantis to promote a consistent pro-life ethic in our state. “The cycle of violence – to which Mr. Long’s acts have contributed – must end. His execution would only perpetuate it,” said Sheedy.
The Catholic Church has long advocated for an end to the use of the death penalty. Preceding each execution for nearly four decades, the Florida bishops have urged governors to commute the sentence of the condemned to life in prison. This is the first death warrant signed by Gov. DeSantis.
Prior to Long’s scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across Florida to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for the governor as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.
Over 19,000 donors from all 80 parishes and missions have committed to more than $6,726,953 to the 2019 Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA). Together we have achieved 57% of the shared diocesan goal of $11.8 million to date, which supports the vitality, strength and growth of our parishes, missions, schools and local Church. This generosity displays a message of hope to those in need and investment in the good works being done in the name of Jesus Christ.
Each day we are blessed with opportunities to deepen our faith and share our gifts with others, and supporting APA is one of the ways we can do this. Every gift allows the faithful to give a witness of His great love and mercy. By joining together, we help care for those who are poor and vulnerable, share Catholic social teachings and inspire lifelong faith formation. We promote vocations, see to the well being of retired priests, enhance worship experiences and support the administration of each parish and school.
Through participation in APA, we proudly proclaim the Good News and invite all people to encounter Jesus Christ. All are invited to take part, and Courageously Live the Gospel through the Annual Pastoral Appeal!
After many years of preparation through prayer, study and discernment, Anthony Astrab, Ralph D’Elia and Joshua Hare were ordained to the Catholic priesthood on May 18, 2019 at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in front of nearly 1,000 friends, family and supporters. All three were born in the Tampa Bay area. (Click here to view the ordination photo albums.)
During the two-hour liturgy, the young men promised to live out the call that God has placed in their hearts.
In front of all gathered, they committed to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church’s tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people.
“Being ordained a priest today, you are consecrated to celebrate the sacraments, in particular, the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes during his homily.
One of the key moments in the Ordination Mass was when the bishop placed his hands upon the head of the ones to be ordained, praying in silence for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Another moving moment during the liturgy was when the men to be ordained lay prostrate in front of the altar as the congregation prayed the Litany of the Saints. This act of humility symbolizes their unworthiness for the priesthood and their dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.
The Bishop also anointed the hands of the ordinands with sacred chrism. This anointing signifies that the hands of the newly ordained priest are being prepared for the sacred duties and vessels which will be part of the priestly ministry, for example, offering the bread and the wine, anointing the sick and blessing people.
“It is with these consecrated hands that you will celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass, thus providing the Lord’s very own body, blood, soul and divinity to his people for nourishment,” Bishop Parkes told the three men about to be ordained during his homily.
Photos above by Mike Donovan
Learn About our New Priests:
Father Anthony Astrab
Childhood: He was born in Dunedin and raised in Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs.
Education: He is a 2004 graduate of Jesuit High School, Tampa. He graduated from USF with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting (2008) and a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies (2010). He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at St. John Vianney College Seminary, in Miami and a Master of Divinity from St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary, in Boynton Beach.
Vocations Story: After graduating from USF, he was making good money buying, renovating and selling homes, and he found who he thought would be his future wife. However, there was a restlessness and a certain sense of incompleteness until he entered the seminary. “I just discovered this joy that I had in the Church and I began to also fall in love with what the priest does,” said Father Astrab.
First Assignment: His first priestly assignment will be as Parochial Vicar of Nativity Parish, in Brandon.
Father Ralph D’Elia
Childhood: He is a fourth-generation Tampa native.
Education: He graduated from USF with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He has been in formation six years, four years in seminary at the Pontifical North American College, in Rome and two years at St. John Vianney College Seminary, in Miami.
Vocations Story: He first sensed a calling to the priesthood while in high school. However, he put that aside and decided to study law and politics. Contrary to what he anticipated, the more he immersed himself in realizing his own plans the more he recognized that those plans were incapable of fulfilling his deepest desires. “My vocation has been defined by a desire to be fulfilled. After these six years of formation, I am the most fulfilled I have ever been in my life,” said Deacon D’Elia.
First Assignment: Following his ordination, he will continue his studies in Rome and return to the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 2020 for his first priestly assignment.
Father Joshua Hare
Childhood: He was born in Florida and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. For the past ten years, he has lived in Brooksville.
Education: He earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and a Master of Divinity from St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.
Vocations Story: One reason that he feels called to the priesthood is because he wants to bring the joy and love of Christ to his brothers and sisters through the Eucharist. “It was the Church that has been there for me the most in my life and I want to be there for others as a priest,” said Father Hare.
First Assignment: His first priestly assignment will be as Parochial Vicar of St. Paul Parish, in St. Petersburg.
This video captures one of the most joyous moments of the ordination. Also, Bishop Parkes delivers his homily and share personal insights on the life of these new priests and words of wisdom to inspire them in their priesthood. (Video duration is 15 minutes.)
Religious Freedom Week takes place from June 22 – 29 each year. It begins with the feast day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, includes the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and ends with the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This year, the week also includes the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Click here for resources.
· The theme for this year is Strength in Hope. It is taken from the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity:
Catholics face challenges both in our current political climate of polarization and within the Church. We want to encourage Catholics to persist in the struggle to participate in the advancement of the kingdom of God by finding hope in Jesus Christ.
· The USCCB provides “Pray – Reflect – Act” documents—one for each day on different religious liberty topics. These materials help people learn about religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn, whether by finding ways for their parish to serve their community or perhaps even by calling their Members of Congress to promote legislation supporting religious liberty.
· This year’s Pray-Reflect-Act gives a sense for the breadth of religious liberty issues of particular concern for the bishops at the present time. For international concerns, the Office of Religious Liberty has collaborated with the Office of International Justice and Peace to highlight three regions in the world where persecution of religious minorities is severe, the Middle East, Myanmar, and Nigeria. We need to be in solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith.
· Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for child welfare service providers. The opioid crisis is putting a strain on the foster care system. The number of children in need is going up. The number of families willing to take the children into their homes is going down. And in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and D.C., service providers like Catholic Charities who have a track record of excellence in recruiting and assisting foster families have been shut down.
· The federal Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 897 / S. 274) would protect the religious liberty of child welfare providers, including adoption and foster care agencies. Similar legislation has been introduced and passed in several states. All are encouraged to check out the USCCB Action Center and their state Catholic conference websites for legislative updates on this and other important policy issues!
· Another area that has become of particular concern is the imposition of religious tests on Catholic nominees to the federal judiciary. In 2017, during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, a nominee was asked intrusive questions about her Catholic faith in an exchange which included a senator saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” More recently, several nominees have been interrogated about their membership in the Knights of Columbus. These kinds of questions amount to a religious test, which is both unjust and unconstitutional. We are urging Catholics to contact their senators to say that religious tests are unacceptable.