Mensaje del Padre Felipe (22 de diciembre de 2002)

Todos han escuchado de la resignación del Cardenal Law en Boston. En la parte escrita en ingles, ofrecí unas reflexiones. Es cierto que su resignación fue resultado de una mala administración en cuanto a los casos de abuso sexual de menores y niños en su arquidiócesis. Un problema es que algunos han concluido que fue igual en todas partes del país, pero no es cierto. Seattle ha tenido casos, pero es importante saber que no hemos tenido un caso de abuso sexual de un niño por un clero desde mediados de los años ochenta, es decir no había casos en los últimos quince años. Hace unos veinte años el arzobispo Hunthausen estableció unas normas que sus sucesores (los arzobispos Murphy y Brunett) han seguido con eficacia. También estableció una Comisión “Blue Ribbon” (cinta azul) que ha fiscalizado el problema. La mayoría de las diócesis en los Estados Unidos han seguido normas semejantes. Si Boston lo hubiera hecho, habríamos evitado mucho de esta situación horrorosa. Nuestra preocupación principal es la protección de todos nuestros niños.

Algunos han preguntado si sus donaciones han sido utilizadas para estos casos. El arzobispo Brunett ha respondido, “Les puedo asegurar que el dinero donado para programas y servicios no ha sido y nunca será usado para costos con relación a casos legales sobre abuso de niños.” También el dinero que Uds. donan a la parroquia será usado solamente para las áreas indicadas en el presupuesto.

Es importante rezar por nuestra parroquia, nuestras familias y por nuestros obispos durante este tiempo. Estamos acompañando a la Virgen y San José en sus últimos días antes del nacimiento de Jesucristo. Pedimos su intercesión poderosa para todas nuestras necesidades.

Cardinal Law’s Resignation

Archbishop Brunett made the following statement regarding the resignation of Cardinal Law:

“It was with some sadness but also hope that I learned of the resignation of Bernard Cardinal Law as Archbishop of Boston this morning. I am saddened by the circumstances prompting his departure, but hopeful that this will be a positive step on the road to healing for the Boston Archdiocese and those who have suffered because of the actions or omissions of those of us who are called to leadership in the Church.”

Like Archbishop Brunett, and I am sure many of you, I also felt a certain relief and sadness at Cardinal Law’s resignation. Cardinal Law was one of the first priests to get involved in the civil right rights movements – “before it became fashionable” as they say. He was a forerunner in ecumenical and Jewish-Christian relations and more recently took a leadership role in focusing aid and attention on the plight of African nations. However, he will not be remembers for those things, but for his malfeasance regarding sexual abuse of children and minors. There is hardly anything more despicable than such abuse. While no amount of therapy, apologies or lawsuits can ever reverse the great damage done, we continue to pray that the victims will find some peace.

Situation in Seattle

Cardinal Law’s resignation was also a relief because for the past twelve months the scandal has been seen in terms of his astonishing mishandling of sex abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Boston. While Seattle has had its own cases, it is important to point out that the Archdiocese has not had a new case of sexual abuse of child by clergy since the mid 80’s. Back in the early 80’s Archbishop Hunthausen established a Blue Ribbon Committee and a series of protocols which have been followed by his successors. A great number of U.S. dioceses followed similar procedures. If Boston and all other dioceses had done so, much of this horror would have been avoided.

Some are concerned that moneys they donate will not be used for the purposes designated, but to pay for costs related to abuse cases. Archbishop Brunett stated, “As Archbishop I can assure that no monies donated for programs and services or otherwise specifically designated have been or will be used to allay the costs of child abuse settlements.” In addition, moneys which you donate to the parish will only be used for those areas outlined in our budget.

Disclosure of Accusations

One sad effect of Cardinal Law’s malfeasance was that it led to an indiscriminate disclosure of accusations. It happened on a massive scale in Boston and on a smaller scale here. I have a friend whose uncle was accused an act of sexual abuse going back over three decades. The accusation led to the priest’s immediate removal from all ministry. My friend’s young children saw their great uncle’s name in the newspaper and knew that a pall of suspicion had been cast over him.

In an illuminating article called The Boston Disease, Michael Novak describes the “McCarthyism in the legal procedures involved in forcing these revelations out into public for public delectation (calling to mind the practice of public humiliation in the stockades in the Commons of old). These procedures, many of them gross violations of due process, Boston's elite have here tolerated, because aimed at the Catholic Church. They would never tolerate these abuses were their own interests threatened. I leave these to the conscience of the Boston legal community, which will one day pay for these precedents.”

Catholic League

While we have much to be ashamed of and have a tremendous amount work to regain trust, still we need to recognize that many people have used the scandal to advance their own agendas against the Catholic Church. I have made available this weekend some copies of Catalyst (the Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights). Modeled after the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, it exposes some of the more blatant anti-Catholicism in the media. I encourage you to become a member of the Catholic League. You can do so by calling 212-371-3191 or writing to 450 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10123. Their website is http://www.catholicleague.org. Membership costs $30 a year and includes a subscription to Catalyst.

Faithfulness of Holy Family Parishioners

I want to thank you who have stood by your faith during this difficult year. I have certainly experienced people’s prayers and support here in Holy Family. We have especially witnessed an increase number attending Eucharistic Adoration, but also other activities and ministries here in the parish. During the past few weeks the members of our parish St. Vincent de Paul and Madre Teresa have worked overtime to reach out to the poor in our neighborhoods. I thank them for their service – and all those who have given their time and talent.

Also I wish to thank you for your Stewardship of financial resources. It has been a hard year for many families in our parish, especially those who have lost their jobs or had hours cut back. I know that other families have made significant sacrifices in maintaining or even increasing their parish giving. As we approach the end of the year, if you are able to make a special contribution to the parish, it will be gratefully received.

Cutbacks in School

We have had to make some cutbacks in our parish. In Holy Family School we made some reductions which should save about fifteen thousand dollars over the next six months. These reductions were painful, especially to those who had hours reduced, but they were necessary on account of the shortfall in our school budget. In addition to the cutbacks, we also raised the price of school lunch.

Addressing Urgent Needs

As I mentioned in earlier bulletins, our parish council has been working with me regarding the concerns raised at our parish listening sessions. Perhaps most pressing are our building needs. In order to effectively address them, we need your continued support to meet our operating budget and to address the ongoing maintenance of our facilities. Fixing them will be part of the overall maintenance and building program which we will be presenting in 2003.

During these final days of Advent we accompany the Blessed Virgin and her husband Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem. The Hispanic community does this by their celebration of the posadas and the Filipino community also has a pre-Christmas novena called Simbang Gabi. In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear the angel address Mary, “Hail, full of grace!” If the angel Gabriel can give her such a greeting and her cousin Elizabeth call her “Mother of my Lord,” should we not also reverence the Blessed Virgin Mary? As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth and to welcome the New Year, we ask her powerful intercession for our world, our Church, our children and ourselves.