This Week’s Message from Father Dave…
Last week I attended our diocesan priest convocation that lasted three days. The priests of the diocese gather together for an extended period of time (three days) to pray, reflect on pertinent topics of our ministry, and spend time together. We do this every other year. As you could have guessed with everything in the news about the Church, we spent a considerable amount of time on the abuse crisis in the Church.
Bishop Perez gave us several hours of his time to talk on the abuse crisis. What I gather from his reflection is that the crisis is a multi-layered issue. You cannot pin-point one specific reason as to why the abuse in the Church took place. Rather, it is a combination of many different things that allowed this to take place over the course of the last seventy years. The screening of priest candidates could have been more rigorous; the issue of clericalism shielding priests faults and sins; the issue of homosexuality; the structures of the Church that failed to prevent such abuse; and the failure of church leaders to appropriately react, are just a few key reasons that were mentioned. It was a honest yet sobering discussion that needed to take place.
There was an extended presentation on the Abuse Review Board that actively handles each allegation against a cleric. This Board set up by the diocese is a result of the Dallas Charter (2002) that states there is a zero-tolerance when it comes to abuse of minors. This diocesan board is composed of professional lawyers, counselors, an abuse victim, and a priest. They meet on a regular basis and when an allegation is made they quickly gather to review the allegation. They will have a decision in a short period of time, usually just a few days. If the allegation is credible the priest or deacon is removed from his position and a further investigation is handled. All of their finding are also given to the civil authorities for their investigation.
The review board has done an excellent job in the last fifteen years for the diocese. They have handled each case with a sensitivity to the victims and done their due diligence in reviewing each case. Since the year 2002 there has been a dramatic decrease of sexual abuse in the Church in our country. In reality the numbers have gone down since the middle of the 1980’s. Over the last four years only twenty-two allegations of sexual abuse have been reported in over the 200 diocese in the United States. The last case reported in Cleveland was just over two years ago. That priest was on leave of absence at the time. He has not returned to ministry. My hope and prayer is that we can completely eradicate this problem from our Church.
In the next several weeks I will be presenting a letter composed with the help of our parish council that we will send to Bishop Perez. I will read it at Mass and give each parishioner a chance to sign it. We will send it to Bishop Perez. I want to make sure we as a parish understand the situation at hand and that we properly act. As we continue into the future months more will be said about this issue from the media and from our bishops who have their annual fall meeting next month. This will be the focus and main agenda item for them as they gather. Please continue to pray for all victims of abuse. Pray for our Church as we go through these difficult days. Pray that the correct decisions will be made to properly take care of those who have been hurt.
As I shift back to our liturgical celebration for this Sunday, I am challenged by the lack of understanding on the part of Jesus’ disciples. They just do not get it! They want the glory without the effort it takes or what might be imposed on them in the process. James and John want to sit at his right and left hand side in heaven. They are being just a little presumptuous. They will find out what it means to drink of the cup that Jesus will drink of and to be baptized in the baptism with which Jesus will be baptized. Jesus is talking of his suffering and death.
I wonder when they initially hear of Jesus’ crucifixion how they reacted. Would they even dare drink of the same cup? With the power of his resurrection and Jesus overcoming the grave, the disciples have every incentive to carry his story even if it means drinking of that same cup. In reality, the disciples will do just that. Jesus’ closest followers will give their lives for the sake of the gospel and drink of the cup of suffering.
Remember our Reverse Raffle is in two weeks, Saturday, November 3rd at the LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor, Ohio. I am grateful to our Reverse Raffle Committee that has provided the selling of tickets and preparing for this event. Please purchase your tickets by calling the parish office or see the sellers after Masses on Sunday.
As the days grow shorter and the fall chill is in the air, I hope you are able to spend time on your faith life through prayer and worship. Family, faith, and friends sustain us in all we do. Have a great week!!