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Pope Francis’ response to Sexual Abuse Reports

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Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
To the People of God

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1. If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2. … all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1] This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2] This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3] Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

FRANCIS

Vatican City, 20 August 2018

Complaining

I read this story recently, and then I heard of one of our parishioners complaining about what another one was wearing. I found this story apropos. We need to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on one thing only when we come to church. We are not the ones to judge!

A lady went to her Pastor and said ‘Pastor, I won’t be going to your church anymore.’

The Pastor responded ‘But why?’

The lady said ‘Ah! I saw a woman gossiping about another member; a man that is a hypocrite; the worship team living wrong; people looking at their phone during service; among so many other things wrong in your church.’

The Pastor replied ‘OK. But before you go, do me a favor: take a full glass of water and walk around the church three times without spilling a drop on the ground. Afterwards, leave the church if you desire.’

The lady thought: too easy! She walked three times around the church as the Pastor had asked. When she finished she told the Pastor she was ready to leave.

The Pastor said, ‘Before you leave I want to ask you one more question. When you were walking around the church, did you see anyone gossiping?’

The lady replied ‘No.’

‘Did you see any hypocrites?’

The lady said ‘No.’

‘Anyone looking at their phone?’

‘No.’

‘You know why?’

‘No.’

‘You were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t stumble and spill any water. It’s the same with our life. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others. We will reach out a helping hand to them and concentrate on our own walk with the Lord.’”

At any church, there are going to be things to complain about. A church is filled with people, and people aren’t perfect. Only Jesus can set the perfect example, so let’s focus on Him!

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Fr. Ken

Community Lunch

Many of you probably know that one of my “dreams” when the parish first began in 2016, and I was named pastor, was to reach out to the greater community in a special way by providing a free lunch once a month to whoever wanted to attend. We are called to reach beyond ourselves and our boundaries and be present to others, and in doing so we bring Christ to them. Last weekend we read the Gospel of Jesus feeding the 5000 with barley loaves and a few fish. Among the many aspects that we can learn from this Gospel, which is repeated six times in the four Gospels, is that we, the community, are called to feed those who are in need. Jesus didn’t ask them who they were, what their needs were, where they came from or what they believed. He just wanted to give them something to eat.

In September, St. Mary Cause of Our Joy will begin having a free lunch for everyone in our community. It is not just for the poor, or the homeless. Anyone who may want to attend is welcome. No questions asked; no donations required. Just come and eat and spend a little time with others. People who live alone and may want a little bit of company once and a while may want to attend. People who drive old, beat-up cars and brand new, shiny ones as well. Or maybe those who have no car at all.

We are called to reach out and care for others. This is one way we can do so. Under the guidance of Paul, Sabrina and Steve, we will be gathering a team of leaders who will coordinate the lunch every month, which will take place on the fourth Thursday of the month beginning at 12:00 noon. Those people will then ask for volunteers from amongst our parish members and others as well. We will need help to cook, set up, serve, clean up, to bake desserts and maybe just to be here and greet our guests and make them feel welcome. You can volunteer just once, or once every few months or every month.

By looking outward and not inward, we will see the presence of God in the eyes of others. Please help us make this endeavor a success. Evangelization takes on many forms, and this is one of them.

Fr. Ken

Friends of the Poor Walk – St Vincent de Paul

Join St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy’s St. Vincent de Paul Conference as we walk in Solidarity as Friends of the Poor .

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What: Friends of the Poor Walk
When: Saturday, September 29th
Where: Belle Isle – 2 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207

*$11 State Park Recreation Pass required for vehicle
(can be purchased on site)

Time: Check-in at 9:00 a.m. Walk begins at 10:00 a.m.
Who: YOU!

Lunch, T-Shirts and a great time for all!

Register or Donate to the St Mary team at https://www.fopwalk.org/team/2189

All Donations stay with our local Conference at St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy

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Mass in the Grass/Picnic

PARISH PICNIC

NEXT Sunday, August 12

Mass in the Grass begins at:
Noon
on our parish grounds

Picnic following Mass (1:00pm)

Cost: Free

A complete hog dog lunch will be
provided (hot dog, chips, water and dessert).

Limited metal chairs will be provided. Feel free to bring your own comfy chair and a
non-alcohol drink.

Join us for a fun afternoon

Blood Drive – Wed. 8/1/18

The need for blood is constant and only volunteer donors can fulfill that need for patients in our community. Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every 2 to 3 seconds and most of us will need blood in our lifetime. Please Join us in giving the Gift of Life,

Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
In the Large Social Hall

Drive Details:

St. Mary Cause of Our Joy Catholic Church
8200 N. Wayne Rd,
Westland, MI, 48185

Click here to make an appointment

All donors will receive a digital $5.00 Amazon gift card. Make your donation faster. Go to www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass the day of the drive. You can do all the reading and answer the questions. You can do this on your computer or smart phone. Thank you

Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross blood program!

Download the Red Cross Blood Donor App on the App Store, Google Play or text BLOODAPP to 90999. Schedule appointments, get rewards and invite friends to join you on a lifesaving team.

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What is RCIA?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a Catholic program or education intended to instruct in the Catholic Faith those who are seeking to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through Baptism and/or Confirmation and Holy Communion. RCIA is your compass to the Catholic Faith.

Who should look into RCIA?

  • Anyone not yet baptized.
  • Anyone baptized but not as a Catholic.
  • Anyone baptized as a Catholic who did not yet receive First Communion or Confirmation.
  • Fully initiated Catholics seeking fuller catechetical knowledge of their Catholic Faith.
  • Anyone at all looking to learn more about Christianity.

The RCIA program is led by a team who will help guide participants on their Faith Journey. In addition, participants will also have a sponsor to pray with them and guide them throughout the process. The process consists of four phases:

INQUIRY

Initially, participants will learn the RCIA process and overview of the faith to discern whether this is the step they wish to take at this point in their lives.

CATECHUMENATE 

Participants attend a number of classes to learn the fundamentals of the Roman Catholic Church to develop a prayer life and foster conversion.

ENLIGHTENMENT

Participants focus on self-examination, repentance and prayer in preparation for their entry into the Church.

MYSTAGOGIA

Following the rite of initiation at the Easter Vigil, the participants are asked to define the next steps of their journey in faith. The new Catholics are encouraged to get involved in the Parish Ministries and to worship with the community they choose to join on the weekends.

If you think you might be interested in knowing more about the Catholic Faith, please call the Parish office at 734-425-4421.

Shop Kroger, Help SVdP

Shop at Kroger, Help Our SVdP

You can help our St. Vincent de Paul every time you use your Kroger Plus card!

Have your a Kroger Plus card handy (or get one from the customer service desk at any Kroger) and go to

at krogercommunityrewards.com:

  • You will need to Sign In or Register as a ‘New Customer’.
  • Click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
  • Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Enter “47927” as their NPO number
  • To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see your organization’s name on the right side of your information page.

Do you use your phone number at the register? Call 877-576-7587 to get your Kroger Plus card number.

Now every time you swipe your Kroger Plus card you will be helping those in need in your community.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul – St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy Conference thanks you!

Catholic Services Appeal – CSA

The 2018 Catholic Services Appeal is underway. Gifts to the CSA make possible a wealth of ministries, programs, and services that touch the lives of thousands throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit each day.

This year’s CSA theme, Opening Doors to GROW WITH CHRIST, reflects our Holy Father’s invitation to all Catholics to renew their personal relationships with our Savior, as “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

If you have already pledged your gift to the 2018 CSA, thank you! If you have yet to make your gift, please prayerfully consider generously supporting this year’s effort. You may pledge your gift online at give.aodcsa.org. Your gift has a tremendous impact to countless beneficiaries to CSA-funded services in Southeast Michigan and beyond.

Please support this year’s Catholic Services Appeal by completing your pledge card and dropping it into the collection basket or mailing it to the parish office. You can also visit our site at: http://stmarycooj.aodcsa.org.

Thank you!

Virtue of Humility

When Jesus wants to teach us how a Christian should be (even though there were no “Christians” at the time of Jesus), he tells us very little. Instead, he showed us. He does so by feeding the hungry, by welcoming the stranger. The love that Christ shows to others is boundless, and it surpasses anything that we can imagine. It is not always easy to understand, however God often expresses His infinite love in small, tender ways, rather than in bulky methods. The goodness and tenderness of God is most often expressed in small ways.

It would be easier to see God’s presence in mighty deeds, like the raising of a dead person to life or some seemingly miraculous sight overhead. That would almost make things too easy to believe. Instead, we need to find God’s presence in the small and easy-to-overlook simple occurrences in our daily life. In the Old Testament, we hear that the people were looking for the voice of God in the great and mighty wind, but it was not there. They sought it in the earthquake, but that was not God’s voice. Afterwards, there was a fire, but alas, God’s voice was not there. Then came the voice of God in a whisper, a gentle blowing of the wind. There was the voice of God.

We don’t need to be in the forefront, always in charge and in positions where we are seen to live a good Christian life. Working in the background, without even expressing our opinions or getting the recognition is what it means to live a Christian life. Often times those who are looking for attention step forward; they seem to be the “super” Christians. That is not the example that Jesus gave us.

A good friend of mine was the Rector of our PIME International Theology School for a number of years. I remember that I would often tell him, “Make sure you teach our future priests the virtue of humility”. He would chuckle and respond, “You can’t teach humility”. Maybe you can’t teach it, but you sure can model it, not only for future priests but for all who choose to serve the Lord. God is present in the littleness and tenderness of our actions.

Fr. Ken