Table of Contents

The newest material is at the top of each section 

I. A Note from Al
II. Moving Forward: How are Church and State Responding to Clerical Sexual Misconduct? 
III. Coverage of Bishops’ Meetings
The Latest Viganò Coverage & Analysis
V. Related Coverage
Pastoral Advice
What Went Wrong?
The Co-Responsibility of the Laity
The Laity Take Action
Join the Conversation!
Recommended Reading
The Bishops Respond

I. A Note from Al

Dear friends, partners in the gospel, listeners and lurkers,

Since we began this page at the end of last summer, much has happened. The Bishops met in Baltimore in November and at the insistence of the Congregation for Bishops they did not develop any policies dealing with the various aspects of sexual misconduct. This doesn’t mean anyone is necessarily stonewalling, although it feels that way. It does mean, however, that the U.S. Bishops were not allowed to do the work they had hoped would begin restoring them to moral authority.  They did talk more freely with one another than I had seen in the past. Most striking were calls for fraternal correction and co-responsibility of the lay faithful. There was even a discussion of empowering the Metropolitan (Archbishop) to investigate those diocese that fall under his provenance. The Archbishop or Metropolitan of Detroit, for instance, would have responsibility to investigate Lansing, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Gaylord, and Marquette.

The U.S. bishops hold more diverse emphases than most of the engaged laity realize.

  • Many are admirable and aspire to fulfill their calling as bishops. These are “gospel”, i.e., evangelical Catholic men. They want proclamation of the gospel to be their calling card. They are promoting the New Evangelization, i.e., evangelizing the baptized and catechizing the converted. Applying the true teaching of the Church and exercising sound pastoral judgment is what they are all about. Making saints, the universal call to holiness is our shared lifetime project.
  • Some are careerists. They are driven by personal ambition not called by Christ. So they receive the episcopacy as the reward of a career in religious corporate ladder climbing. They don’t engage in serious pastoral or theological work unless it is an invitation from a USCCB committee to write a white paper. They often like brick and mortar and see themselves as corporate CEOs or branch managers of Vatican Inc. Their theology changes with the papacy. Truth is defined by what those in power need to hear to promote them or back their projects. Clericalism serves them well by conferring upon them a spiritual/moral stature they could not sustain without the trappings of office.
  • There are others who see the Church as a platform for the pushing of a political vision, kind of the UN at prayer. They like the “let your conscience be your guide” moral misunderstanding. “Conscience” becomes the sentimental judgment determined by the persuasive power of the marketing slogans and political epithets of their adolescence.  They want the democratization of doctrine because they have lost faith in any coherent revelation that can be known by reading the Bible. They like religion bounded by reason or rather a religion without revelation. They resent American Catholics who see abortion as the morally defining issue of this generation. They are embarrassed by the Church’s opposition to same sex acts or homosexual marriage. These issues don’t buy them cultural approval. They prefer global warming, global politics. UNICEF rather than Cross-Catholic Relief Services.  They believe the Church needs to open wide its doors not so much to Christ but to the world.
  • Still, there are others who like “religion” with its pageantry, costuming, incense, artwork, production. They gather people together for religious, inspirational entertainment, liturgical or otherwise, and are often comfortable as the star attraction. They will go to where the miters, relics and alleged apparitions can provide a festival of faith even though the participants are often kept ignorant of Catholic doctrine or bereft of the corporal works of mercy.  They can be highly traditional or charismatic depending upon their own temperament. But they value form over substance, structure over authentic Spiritual power. At heart, they are thespians who need an audience, a stage, a platform upon which to perform. I think these are in short supply because other members of the hierarchy resist colleagues who grandstand. This kind of person is often weeded out and ends up among evangelicals and Pentecostals where the show must always go on but they don’t have to answer to any other bishops or a pope.
  • Some few remind me of Dorothy Day’s identification with the poor and marginalized but who don’t trust politics of the left or the right. They see that clericalism aligns itself with secular elites that dominate the masses. They see many of the ordained as complicit in absolving those who control the poverty of millions. The old Christian world, not the Catholic Faith, “evolved into the corporation society, a society dedicated to money, to paper to machines, to wealth, to economics, to mechanical evolution, to the meaning of the laboring masses, to a massification of finance in the manipulative hands of the privileged few.” They are functional pacifists since they believe that war is almost always the business plan of elites.

In spite of their differences, a large majority, want to see a united witness in accord with Pope Francis, Benedict XVI and John Paul II. There are some, however, who read the stylistic differences between Pope Francis and his predecessors as a break in the tradition.   A few others might say that the differences are far more than style. While this is absolutely true but how different? Francis has a different vision of moral theology than John Paul II.  But how different? Some of the questions raised by the Holy See’s slap down of the American bishops on Monday won’t be satisfactorily answered for a while. Does Pope Francis have something to hide from the American bishops? Does Pope Francis fear that American bishops when they are united on a solution might make it more difficult for him to impose his agenda? Is he afraid of being upstaged before his grand entry in February?  Does he just want to insure that the global norms slated for February won’t be upstaged by the Americans who many European Catholic leaders who think we are too compliant with Church teaching, too focused on what God has said

I want to especially draw your attention to a 32-page reader entitled What We, the Laity, Are Reading That Is Shaking Us to the Core compiled by Janet Smith, myself and some others who have just started a group called No More Victims headed up by attorney Jason Negri.  The group met for the first time at the beginning of September and since that month we’ve seen two priests removed from their assignments. One was suspended; the other had his faculties revoked. I mention this because when a mature Catholic laity takes co-responsibility for the Church we can act more effectively as one body.

Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò has described how “corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy” and that “Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

Who is Viganò to make such a troubling claim? He was the second ranked Vatican administrator to Pope Benedict XVI and former papal nuncio to the United States. He holds doctorates in both canon and civil law. For decades he worked in the highest echelons of the Church and was trusted with clear access to the damning information he reports.

Archbishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said “I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity…Archbishop Viganò’s testimony [must] be taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly.”

My prayer is that this resource page will motivate Catholic laity to turn their moral outrage into decisive action.  Yes, I will pray and fast. Yes, I will continue, by God’s grace, to deepen my relationship with Jesus.  But I will also apply St Paul’s commands to love, pray for, encourage, forgive, exhort and admonish our bishops. It is the opportune time to begin treating our bishops and priests like fellow Christians with distinct gifts but no more gifted or called than any member of Christ’s body.  They are called to serve the people of God and we now need them to push for a thorough investigation into the truth or falsity of Archbishop Vigano’s claims. If the Church won’t do it, the secular press, secular government or independent Catholic journalists using private investigators will.

Why is it so important for lay Catholics to act right now? Because positive action right now might turn a nightmare of corrupt clergy into a vision of consecrated laity. Remember what Pope Benedict taught so clearly: You as a baptized Christian bear co-responsibility for Christ’s body, the Church. You must not merely cooperate or collaborate with the ordained. You must show by your engagement that the Church is not the possession of the ordained. They don’t “own” it.

We are not asking for Pope Francis to resign. We are not asking for a lynching or mindless mob chest beating. We are asking for the transparency that leads to truth. Today we ask for a thorough investigation. Later, we will discuss other things laity can do to bring healing to victims, justice to perpetrators, and glory to God and help to the world that it might see Jesus in the midst of His body, the Church.

So please contact your bishop. You can find the address of your bishop at this USCCB website Comprehensive Diocese and Bishop Address List

I suggest you send a snail mail rather than email.  Many bishops still think in terms of letters rather than email or twitter.  But don’t worry. IF you can only do email, do it. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.  ACT.

Take co-responsibility for Christ’s Church.  Follow this link for tips on writing your Bishop.

When you have written your letter, make sure copies are sent to the president of the USCCB who himself has already called for an investigation. He will need your letters to sustain him through the tough times ahead.  Then, also write the Apostolic Nuncio and copy everything you sent to the bishops.  Remember you are writing not to accuse and alienate but to stand for truth and transparency.

Comprehensive Diocese and Bishop Address List


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II. Moving Forward: How are Church and State Responding to Clerical Sexual Misconduct?

Diocesan Responses 

Latest News 

III.  Coverage of Bishops’ Meetings


Baltimore USCCB Assembly – June 2019

Vatican Worldwide Meeting of Bishops – February 2019

Baltimore USCCB Assembly – November 2018 

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IV. The Latest Viganò Coverage & Analysis: 

Supporters of Viganò: CLICK HERE to see where your bishop stands

Critics of Viganò:

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V. Related Coverage:

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VI. Pastoral Advice:

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VII. What went wrong?

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VIII. The Co-Responsibility of the Laity: What does the Church Say?

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IX. The Laity Take Action – Ways to get involved

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X. Join the Conversation! Al answers your questions plus on-demand Webcasts and letters from listeners!

Your Questions Answered

Letters to Al 

Webcasts with Al, Teresa and other Catholic Experts

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XI. Recommended Reading

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XII. The Bishops Respond:

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo (USCCB President) — Aug. 16 Statement

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo (USCCB) — Aug. 1 Statement

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron (Detroit) — Aug. 13 Statement (PDF)

Bishop James Conley (Lincoln)Aug. 31 Statement 

Bishop Thomas Rodi (Mobile) – Aug. 22 Statement

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (Military Services) — Aug. 20 Statement

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample (Portland, Oregon) — Aug. 20 Statement (PDF)

Bishop Robert J. Baker (Birmingham, Alabama) — Aug. 20 Statement (PDF)

Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Springfield) — Aug. 19 Statement

Bishop Robert Morlino (Madison) — Aug. 18 Statement

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone (San Francisco) — Aug. 17 Statement (PDF)

Greg Burke (Holy See Press Office) — Aug. 16 Coverage

Bishop Lawrence Presico (Erie, PA) – Aug 14 Statement

Bishop William A Wack (Pensacola) – Aug. 15 Statement 

Bishop Mark Bartchak (Altoona-Johnstown) — Aug. 14 Statement

Bishop Alfred Schlert (Allentown) — Aug. 14 Statement

Bishop Ronald W. Gainer (Harrisburg) — Aug. 14 Statement

Bishop David Zubik (Pittsburgh) — Aug. 14 Statement

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (Philadelphia) — Aug. 14 Statement

Bishop Edward C. Malesic (Greensburg) — Aug. 13 Homily

Bishop James Johnston (Kansas City-St Joseph) – Aug. 10 Blog

Bishop Peter Libasci (Manchester) – Aug. 10 Statement 

Bishop Robert Barron (Auxiliary Bishop in Los Angeles) — Aug. 9 Column

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory (Atlanta) — Aug. 9 Statement

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight (Jefferson City) — Aug. 9 Statement

Bishop Shelton Fabre (Houma-Thibodaux) – Aug. 9 Statement

Bishop James Checchio (Metuchen) – Aug. 9 Statement

Bishop Andrew Bellisario (Juneau) Aug. 7 Statement

Bishop Chad Zielinski (Fairbanks) – Aug. 6 Statement

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger (Albany) — Aug. 6 Statement

Bishop Michael Burbidge (Arlington) – Aug. 3 Statement 

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr (Cincinnati)Aug. 3 Statement

Bishop Paul Bradley (Kalamazoo) – Aug. 3 Statement

Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington) — Aug. 3 Statement

Bishop Richard F. Stika (Knoxville) — Aug. 3 Statement

Bishop Mark Seitz (El Paso) – Aug. 2 Statement

Bishop Daniel Thomas (Toledo) Aug. 2 Statement

Archbishop Paul Etienne (Anchorage) – Aug 1 Statement

Bishop Christopher Coyne (Burlington) – Aug. 1 statement 

Bishop David Walkowiak (Grand Rapids) – July 30 Statement

Bishop Barry Knestout (Richmond) – July 30 Statement 

Bishop Michael Olson (Ft. Worth) –  July 28 Statement

Cardinal Sean O’Malley (Boston) – July 25 statement

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