Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

Financial Peace University Class

January 23, 2018 - 7:00pm
Mary's Room- subject to change
What if you were following a plan for your money that you KNEW worked? With Dave Ramsey’s class Financial Peace University, you CAN take control of... Read more

Knights of Columbus Officers Meeting

KofC
January 24, 2018 - 7:00pm

Financial Peace University Class

January 30, 2018 - 7:00pm
Mary's Room- subject to change
What if you were following a plan for your money that you KNEW worked? With Dave Ramsey’s class Financial Peace University, you CAN take control of... Read more
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Lent

Preparing for Lent

Saint of the day

January 21, 2018 - 11:00pm
St. Vincent was Deacon of Saragossa, and a martyr under Diocletian in 304. This most renowned martyr of Spain is represented in the dalmatic of a deacon, and has as emblems a cross, a raven, a grate, or a fire-pile. He is honored as patron in Valencia, Saragossa and Portugal.He was born at Saragossa to Eutricius, his father, and Enola, his mother, who was a native of Osca. Under the direction of Valerius, Bishop of Sargossa, Vincent made great progress in his studies. He was ordained a deacon and commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese since the bishop at the time had a speech impedement. By order of Governor Dacian, Vincent and his bishop were dragged in chains to Valencia and kept in prison there for a long time. Then Valerius was banished, but Vincent was subjected to many cruel torments including the rack, the gridiron, and scourgings. After suffering these, he was again imprisoned in a cell strewn with potsherds. He was then placed in a soft and luxurious bed, to shake his constancy, but there he expired.His body was thrown to be devoured by vultures, but it was defended by a raven. Dacian then had the body cast into the sea, but it came to shore and was buried by a pious widow. After peace was restored to the Church, a chapel was built over Vincent's remains outside the walls of Valencia.
January 19, 2018 - 11:00pm
Sebastian was the son of a wealthy Roman family. He was educated in Milan and became an officer of the imperial Roman army, and Captain of the Guard. He was a favorite of Emperor Diocletian. During Diocletian's persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing both supplies and comfort. He is reported to have healed the wife of a fellow soldier by making the sign of the cross over her. During his time in the army he converted many soldiers and a governor.Charged as a Christian in 288 in Rome, Sebastian was tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and left for dead. However, he survived, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian, where the emperor then had him beaten to death.During the 14th century, the random nature of the blak plague caused people to say that the plague was intruduced to thier villages through being shot by natures archers. In desparation they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and Saint Sebastian became associated with the plague.
January 18, 2018 - 11:00pm
Saint Canutus, King of Denmark,  succeeded his elder brother Harold on the throne of Denmark in the year 1080. He began his reign by a successful war against the enemies of the state, and by planting the faith in the conquered provinces. Amid the glory of his victories he humbly prostrated himself at the foot of the crucifix, laying there his diadem, and offering himself and his kingdom to the King of kings. After having provided for the peace and safety of his country, he married Eltha, daughter of Robert, Earl of Flanders, who proved herself a spouse worthy of him.The justice of Saint Canutus as sovereign was well known. He applied himself to the reform of all internal abuses. For this purpose he enacted severe but necessary laws for the strict administration of justice, the repression of violence and tyranny by the powerful, without respect to persons. He favored and honored holy men, and granted many privileges and immunities to the clergy. His charity and tenderness towards his subjects made him study all possible ways to make them a happy people.During a rebellion in his kingdom, the king was surprised at church by the rebels. He confessed his sins and received Holy Communion. Stretching out his arms before the altar, he was struck down on his knees by the enemies of his Christian reign.
January 17, 2018 - 11:00pm
Saint Charles was born John Charles Marchioni in Sezze, Italy on October 19, 1613.  His family was extremely pious. They lived in a rural area and as a child Saint Charles worked as a shepherd.  Due to his lack of education, it is said he learned only the basics and could barely read and write. He joined the Franciscans as a lay brother in Naziano, where he served as a cook, porter, and gardener.Saint Charles was known for his holiness, simplicity, and charity.  He was generous to travellers and sought out spiritual advice.  In 1656 he worked tirelessly with victims of the plague.  He also wrote several mystical works including his autobiography entitled "The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God".  Tradition states he was called to the bedside of the dying Pope Clement IX for a blessing.Saint Charles died on January 6, 1670 in Rome of natural causes, and he is buried in Rome in the Church of Saint Francis.  He was Canonized by Pope John XXIII on April 12, 1959.
January 16, 2018 - 11:00pm
On his Jan. 17 feast day, both Eastern and Western Catholics celebrate the life and legacy of St. Anthony of Egypt, the founder of Christian monasticism whose radical approach to discipleship permanently impacted the Church. In Egypt's Coptic Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have a special devotion to the native saint, his feast day is celebrated on Jan. 30. Anthony was born around 251, to wealthy parents who owned land in the present-day Faiyum region near Cairo. During this time, the Catholic Church was rapidly spreading its influence throughout the vast expanses of the Roman empire, while the empire remained officially pagan and did not legally recognize the new religion. In the course of his remarkable and extraordinarily long life, Anthony would live to see the Emperor Constantine's establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire. Anthony himself, however, would establish something more lasting – by becoming the spiritual father of the monastic communities that have existed throughout the subsequent history of the Church. Around the year 270, two great burdens came upon Anthony simultaneously: the deaths of both his parents, and his inheritance of their possessions and property. These simultaneous occurrences prompted Anthony to reevaluate his entire life in light of the principles of the Gospel– which proposed both the redemptive possibilities of his personal loss, and the spiritual danger of his financial gains. Attending church one day, he heard –as if for the first time– Jesus' exhortation to another rich young man in the Biblical narrative: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.â€� Anthony told his disciples in later years, that it was as though Christ has spoken those words to him directly. He duly followed the advice of selling everything he owned and donating the proceeds, setting aside a portion to provide for his sister. Although organized monasticism did not yet exist, it was not unknown for Christians to abstain from marriage, divest themselves of possessions to some extent, and live a life focused on prayer and fasting. Anthony's sister would eventually join a group of consecrated virgins. Anthony himself, however, sought a more comprehensive vision of Christian asceticism. He found it among the hermits of the Egyptian desert, individuals who chose to withdraw physically and culturally from the surrounding society in order to devote themselves more fully to God. But these individuals' radical way of life had not yet become an organized movement. After studying with one of these hermits, Anthony made his own sustained attempt to live alone in a secluded desert location, depending on the charity of a few patrons who would provide him with enough food to survive. This first period as a hermit lasted between 13 and 15 years. Like many saints both before and after him, Anthony became engaged in a type of spiritual combat, against unseen forces seeking to remove him from the way of perfection he had chosen. These conflicts took their toll on Anthony in many respects. When he was around 33 years old, a group of his patrons found him in serious condition, and took him back to a local church to recover. This setback did not dissuade Anthony from his goal of seeking God intensely, and he soon redoubled his efforts by moving to a mountain on the east bank of the Nile river. There, he lived in an abandoned fort, once again subsisting on the charity of those who implored his prayers on their behalf. He attracted not only these benefactors, but a group of inquirers seeking to follow after his example. In the first years of the fourth century, when he was about 54, Anthony emerged from his solitude to provide guidance to the growing community of hermits that had become established in his vicinity. Although Anthony had not sought to form such a community, his decision to become its spiritual father – or “Abbotâ€�– marked the beginning of monasticism as it is known today. Anthony himself would live out this monastic calling for another four decades, providing spiritual and practical advice to disciples who would ensure the movement's continued existence. According to Anthony's biographer, St. Athanasius, the Emperor Constantine himself eventually wrote to the Abbot, seeking advice on the administration of an empire that was now officially Christian. “Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man,â€� Anthony told the other monks. “But rather: wonder that God wrote the Law for men, and has spoken to us through his own Son.â€� Anthony wrote back to Constantine, advising him “not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.â€� St. Anthony may have been up to 105 years old when he died, sometime between 350 and 356. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave.
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Daily Readings

January 21, 2018 - 1:00am
1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."
3 So Jonah arose and went to Nin'eveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nin'eveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth.
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!"
5 And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
January 21, 2018 - 1:00am
4 Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.
6 Be mindful of thy mercy, O LORD, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to thy steadfast love remember me, for thy goodness' sake, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
January 21, 2018 - 1:00am
29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none,
30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods,
31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
January 21, 2018 - 1:00am
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."
18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.
20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb'edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.
January 20, 2018 - 1:00am
1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amal'ekites, David remained two days in Ziklag;
2 and on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes rent and earth upon his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and did obeisance.
3 David said to him, "Where do you come from?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel."
4 And David said to him, "How did it go? Tell me." And he answered, "The people have fled from the battle, and many of the people also have fallen and are dead; and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead."
11 Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and so did all the men who were with him;
12 and they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
19 "Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen!
23 "Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 "Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you daintily in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 "How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! "Jonathan lies slain upon thy high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 "How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"
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Mass Times

Weekend Mass

Saturday 4:30 p.m.

Sunday 8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.

Confession Times

Wednesday 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 3:30 p.m.

Or by appointment.

Eucharistic Adoration

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs every Wednesday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. with confession and benediction.

Daily Mass

Monday 7:00 a.m.

Tuesday 8:30 a.m.

Wednesday 8:30 a.m.

Thursday 6:15 a.m. & 8:30 a.m.

Friday 8:30 a.m.

First Friday Adoration

12-hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs every first Friday of the month from 9:00 a.m. Friday to 9:00 p.m.

Catholic News

January 22, 2018 - 7:04pm

Damascus, Syria, Jan 22, 2018 / 06:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An estimated nine people were killed in a bombing on Monday afternoon in Damascus. The shelling targeted the Bab Touma and al-Shaghour districts, which are historically Christian areas, and several churches were damaged as well.

At least 18 additional people in Old Damascus were injured in the bombings.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A bomb reportedly caused “severe damage” to the Maronite cathedral in Damascus. According to Archbishop Samir Nassar, the bomb also knocked out water and electricity.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From Archbishop Samir of Damascus &quot; Another bomb hit the Archdiocesan complex which includes the Cathedral at 14h today January 22nd . There is severe damage . We are without water and electricity. <br>3 bombs not far from here have claimed 15 victims.<br>We pray to the Lord.&quot; <a href="https://twitter.com/acn_uk?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@acn_uk</a></p>&mdash; Edmund Adamus (@EdmundPAdamus) <a href="https://twitter.com/EdmundPAdamus/status/955450206018994176?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 22, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">BREAKING NEWS: Another bomb hit the Maronite Archdiocesan buildings in Damascus, Syria today, 22 January at 14:00 - damage is severe. 3 bombs close by claimed 15 victims. Please pray for them <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Prayforus?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Prayforus</a></p>&mdash; Aid to the Church (@acn_uk) <a href="https://twitter.com/acn_uk/status/955464058970558465?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 22, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

This is not Archbishop Samir’s first brush with death this month: a bomb hit his bedroom Jan. 8. He survived unscathed due to an extremely well-timed trip to the bathroom before the bombing began.

The Maronites are an Eastern Catholic Church that is in full communion with Rome. There are about 3 million Maronites in the world. Although the church originated in the Levant, there are now significant Maronite populations in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. The Maronites have faced persecution throughout their history.

The Syrian civil war began nearly seven years ago, in March 2011. More than 400,000 people have been killed. At least 4.8 million have become refugees, and another 8 million have been internally displaced.

What began as demonstrations against the nation's president, Bashar al-Assad, has become a complex fight among the Syrian regime; moderate rebels; Kurds; and Islamists such as Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State.

January 22, 2018 - 6:04pm

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2018 / 05:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Thousands gathered in Los Angeles on Saturday for a rally and march supporting the dignity of every human life and proclaiming that every human person is “made for greater.”

“God made a decision to make each one of you. He decided to make you, to make me. This is how special we are to him,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez in his homily during the Requiem Mass for the Unborn, which concluded the Jan. 20 OneLife LA event.

“[God] comes to us to proclaim the Gospel of Life,” he said. “We are called to announce this good news to every person that we are made for greater things,” he said, citing the event’s theme, “Made for Greater.”

Archbishop Gomez told CNA that the event was created four years ago. The archbishop said he saw the need for both an annual celebration of life and an opportunity to address the challenges in the culture of death, such as abortion and assisted suicide.

The day began with a youth rally at 11 a.m., where young people from Southern California gathered at La Placita Olvera.

There, bands led the crowd in praise and worship, and Daniel Rangel-Santos, executive board vice president of the USC Caruso Catholic Center, shared the story of how his parents were advised to abort him when doctors discovered a likely birth defect.

“Immediately, my parents strongly refused to have the abortion. For them, despite their financially humble situation at the time, a birth defect was neither an issue nor an excuse for an abortion. They loved me and they wanted to meet the new son God sent them,” he told CNA.

Shortly after noon, dozens of students, families, seminarians, clergy, and religious made their way to the Los Angeles State Historic Park, chanting along the way, “We are the pro-life generation” and “OneLife LA.”

Karen Gaffney, worldwide pro-life speaker and the first person with Down syndrome to ever swim the 21-mile stretch of the English Channel, was the keynote speaker at the event. She decried the abortion industry’s effort to target babies with Down syndrome, saying, “They want to screen us out.”

However, she also expressed gratitude for the steps taken by schools, businesses, and individuals to work toward greater inclusion for people with Down syndrome.

“We are musicians and artists, actors and fashion models, we own black belts in Taekwondo. And some of us have even escaped from Alcatraz … 15 times,” she said jokingly, referring to her own accomplishments of crossing the San Francisco bay 15 times.

Gaffney encouraged the crowd to take the time to learn more about Down syndrome.

Also in attendance was Bishop W.C. Martin, pastor at Bennet Chapel Baptist Church who has helped members of his parish adopt 76 children; Jose Arellano who aids Homeboy Ministries, which helps teens escape gang violence; and Patricia Heaton, pro-life advocate and star in ABC’s Sitcom “The Middle.”

“I love the fact that so many of these diverse groups can all get together and support each other… I think that’s also the other important thing – to look around and see how much support there is from all kinds of people – everybody has a stake in this,” said Heaton.

The day concluded with Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Some After the liturgy, 180 candles were lit and processed to the base of the altar in memory of the 180 unborn lives aborted that day in Southern California alone.

For many OneLife LA attendees, the march is just one way to witness to the dignity of life all year round.

Father Alan Benander, a Norbertine priest prays for the unborn at every Mass he celebrates. He is also the Right to Life Moderator at St. Michael’s Preparatory School in Silverado, California, where he is also a teacher and coach.

When Fr. Benander leads his students on pro-life outings, he reassures them of the power of prayer and fasting.

“On this trip I took 20 students, and I said, ‘We are going to pray for an end to abortion, and we might not be able to stop every abortion from happening … but pray for one particular girl right now who is thinking of killing her unborn child,’” he told CNA.

In addition to prayer, Father Benander said Catholics should aim to educate themselves more thoroughly, so that they can be sources of catechesis for those who support abortion.

Rangel-Santos, from the USC Caruso Catholic Center, agreed. He told CNA that he worked to support “The Real Sex Week” at the USC, where he is a senior. As part of the initiative, he spoke to students at the secular college about “the effects of pornography, developing healthy relationships, resources for reproductive health, support for victims of sexual assault, self-defense classes, and the effects of sex in the media.”

In addition to advocating and praying for an end to abortion, march participants also focused on end-of-life care. California legalized assisted suicide in a high profile bill in 2016.

Sister Isabella, a Carmelite of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus of Los Angeles, has spent the last seven years caring for the elderly in the area. Those she works with often face suffering and depression, but Sister Isabella said the answer is not in handing them pills that will kill them.

“We are God’s hands and feet in this world, and we have to say yes to the love,” she told CNA. She recalled how an elderly man once told her, “When you all are near, the suffering doesn’t matter anymore, because the love is greater.”

“That’s what we have to do when someone is suffering. It’s a call for help, it’s a call to love to a greater degree, and if we don’t listen to that call, our brothers and sisters…won’t feel God’s love for them.”

January 22, 2018 - 5:51pm

Paris, France, Jan 22, 2018 / 04:51 pm (ACI Prensa).- Heavy rains did not deter huge crowds from gathering in the streets of Paris for the city’s March for Life on Sunday.

Organizers estimated that about 40,000 people showed up for the march, which had as its theme, “From darkness to light.”

Despite the heavy rain, the marchers completed the entire route. The march lasted about four hours, starting from Porte Dauphine and ending in the Trocadero esplanade, in downtown Paris.

A minute of silence was held during the march for those who have lost their lives to abortion.

More than 200,000 abortions are performed each year in France, according to government statistics.

March for Life spokesman Emil Dupont told CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa that “it is important to break the silence and speak about the consequences of abortion, which no one want to say anything about. So we've got to do it.”

“It is very important to work together for life,” he stressed. 

Ana del Pino, the European coordinator of the OneOfUs Federation, agreed, emphasizing the need for unity and cooperation among all the European pro-life groups “to present a common front in defense of motherhood, the family and life.” 

In addition to protection for the unborn, this year the March for Life placed special emphasis on end-of-life issues.

Although active assisted suicide is illegal in France, a bill passed in January 2016 allows for “terminal sedation.” For those who are determined to be near death, the law permits “heavy and continuous sedation,” administered until the patient dies either from the illness or starvation. 

In addition to the tens of thousands of French who took to the streets to demonstrate for life, several pro-life groups from Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal also joined in the march.

Pablo Siegrist from the Jerome Lejeune Foundation in Spain told ACI Prensa that his group participated in this demonstration in France because the laws on surrogate motherhood, abortion and euthanasia have “a clear crisscross effect between countries, and that's why we believe we have a much more encompassing goal to offer, which is to defend everyone's life.

“We believe that life is a treasure regardless of the physical or mental abilities a person may have and that everyone has a lot of contribute. We stand up for everyone, no matter what their situation is,” Siegrist stressed. 

Alvaro Ortega, president of the Spanish +Life Foundation, one of the numerous groups of young people attending the March for Life, said the reason they came was because “we believe it is absolutely necessary to defend the most innocent and defenseless which is the child who has been conceived but not yet born.”

Ortega also stressed the importance of an international presence in demonstrations such as this one because issues like abortion and euthanasia “come from an agenda organized on the international level, and so the response has to also be international.”

January 22, 2018 - 5:37pm

Denver, Colo., Jan 22, 2018 / 04:37 pm (CNA).- It is no secret that the pontificate of Pope Francis has been a challenge for Church leaders to navigate, and the bishops of the United States are no exception.  A man often called the Pope of surprises, who has encouraged Catholics to “make a mess,” the pontiff’s spontaneity, new approaches, and willingness to rebuff traditional consultative mechanisms has, more than once, seemed to catch American bishops off-guard.

But for the most part, America’s church leaders have been careful to emphasize their unity with Pope Francis. The bishops have mostly expressed strong public support for Francis, even while offering widely differing takes on the meaning of his teachings, especially regarding the interpretation of the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.  

Although some sitting American bishops have privately expressed reservations about the Pope’s leadership, none had deemed it appropriate to publicly correct the Pope.

Ecclesiastical culture emphasizes fraternity, harmony, and the appearance of getting along, and the American bishops have seemed to stress those values during the Francis pontificate.
 
In 2013, Archbishop Charles Chaput told a reporter, “I’ve never been critical of the Holy Father and would never speak ill of him.” That sentiment might have been considered a universal commitment among America’s bishops.

At least until this weekend, when Cardinal Sean O’Malley issued a strong criticism of some recent comments from Pope Francis.

The criticism was a response to remarks Pope Francis made about a Chilean bishop, Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up acts of sexual abuse for his one-time friend, the disgraced Fr. Fernando Karadima. Barros has claimed to be innocent, and Francis has been a staunch defender. In 2015, he appointed him to lead the Diocese of Osorno, and shortly thereafter, he told an official at the Chilean bishops’ conference that opposition to the appointment was “silliness.”

“Think with your head, and do not be carried away by the noses of the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together,” the Pope told Deacon Jaime Coiro during a brief meeting in May 2015 at the Vatican.

Karadima was a prominent figure in Chile, and many Chileans have been critical of the Vatican for the handling of his case. Although he was found guilty of sexual abuse by a Vatican tribunal, he was not laicized because of his advanced age. Before Francis arrived in Chile, there were large protests in the country, and several churches were vandalized. The matter of Barros’ appointment was a part of the conversation.   

On Friday, Francis told a reporter “the day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak. There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

Francis may have meant otherwise, and Barros’ situation is complicated, but the Pope was largely understood to be accusing Barros’ accusers, some of whom are Karadima’s victims, of calumny-- slander or detraction.  

For many, this was a bridge too far.

O’Malley’s statement called the Pope’s remarks a “source of great pain” for abuse survivors.  

“Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile,” O’Malley’s statement read.

On his return flight from South America yesterday, the Pope apologized for his remarks, and tried to clarify them, while continuing to express support for Barros.

O’Malley’s statement praised the Pope’s support for abuse survivors, and it can hardly be called “speaking ill” of Francis. But it was certainly a direct criticism of his comments.
 
It is not surprising O’Malley was unhappy with the Pope’s remarks. O’Malley took over the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003, after the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, who was widely reported to have been negligent in his response to allegations of sexual abuse among the clergy. Boston was the epicenter of the “Long Lent of 2002,” which began the sexual abuse scandal in the United States, and O’Malley, arriving in the midst of the fervor, bore the brunt.

By many accounts, O’Malley handled that responsibility admirably. He met with victims, engaged in complicated litigation, dealt with canonical and civil trials of priests, and, to his chagrin, oversaw the closure of some Boston parishes.

He became, in many respects, the face of the American Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.

But O’Malley was not alone. Since 2002, the leaders of the Catholic Church have worked, with a great deal of actual unity, to ensure safe Catholic environments for children and vulnerable adults. The 2002 documents guiding that work have led bishops to establish lay-led review boards, to implement background checks and abuse-prevention trainings, and to establish offices for child protection in their dioceses.

While some bishops have expressed concern about “mission creep” among child protection professionals, or advocated for a stronger stated correlation between homosexuality and some acts of sexual abuse, the bishops have been unified in recognizing a problem, and working to root it out.

Most American bishops have had the difficult experience of meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse, and apologizing for their suffering.

The issue has not been characterized by ideological division. The current chairman of the bishops’ committee on child and youth protection, Bishop Ed Burns of Dallas, is widely perceived to be hard-working, non-political, and collaborative. Most observers would say that those adjectives describe the character of the bishops’ approach to child-protection.

And, for the most part, their efforts have had effect. Sexual abuse prevention policies have largely worked to screen potential predators from among the clergy, and the Church in the US has begun to rebuild its credibility on the issue of sexual abuse.

O’Malley’s statement emphasized the Church’s concern for victims of sexual abuse, and its commitment to safe environments. While his concern for Karadima’s victims rang true, the statement may have also been motivated by a concern that the Pope’s remarks would be a step backward for the public credibility of the Church in the US, which has taken many painful steps in order to move forward.

Given the difficult work American bishops have done to address sexual abuse, it makes sense that O’Malley offered a response to the Pope.  But his statement was certainly outside the norm for American bishops in the modern era.

In the Church’s long history, criticism from bishops aimed at the Pope is not uncommon.  But contemporary critique from American bishops is usually far less direct and far more veiled than O’Malley’s statement. His statement may prove exceptional: a singular correction on a unique issue. Or it may have pave the way for other kinds of statements.

O’Malley’s concern was likely shared by other American bishops, but, since Pope Francis has apologized, it seems unlikely that there will be more statements from American bishops on this issue.

But other significant issues are looming.

This year, the Pope will lead a synod on vocations and young people, where some expect that clerical celibacy may be an issue for discussion. And during this year, the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, some predict debate on the encyclical’s interpretation.

Humanae Vitae, especially, is an issue that the bishops of the United States have stressed over the past few decades. Several American bishops have long-standing affiliation with natural family planning apostolates, and, especially since the 2012 HHS mandate, the USCCB itself has invested in a pastoral emphasis on the teachings of Humanae Vitae.  If there was any perception that those teachings were at risk of being de-emphasized, American bishops might view that as a bridge too far, as O’Malley did in this case.

And, given the work the bishops have done to promote priestly vocations over the past twenty years, they could be similarly concerned if they felt that Rome might give conflicting signals about clerical celibacy.

The American bishops might stick to their emphasis on unity and fraternity. But, with difficult conversations on the horizon, and with O’Malley setting a new precedent, it’s possible that other bishops might feel empowered to offer more direct criticism, if they felt it was needed.

On those issues, of course, it is not clear whether the Pope would respond to criticism with a mid-flight apology.  

January 22, 2018 - 4:55pm

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2018 / 03:55 pm (CNA).- Last week, I attended the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. I have attended the march on several occasions before, and it is always a beautiful and encouraging experience.

But unfortunately, I also witnessed something at this year’s march that was discouraging. As marchers arrive at the Supreme Court – the end of the march route – they usually encounter a few dozen counter-protesters, waving signs and chanting slogans in support of abortion under the guise of women’s “freedom” and “choice.”

This year, however, there were also a few demonstrators waving signs about immigration: With Congress in a stalemate over DACA and the threat of government shutdown looming just hours away, the immigration issue was in the spotlight in Washington that day.

I didn’t hear what the people with the immigration signs said to the marchers. But suddenly, a whole group of pro-life marchers started chanting, in unison, “Build that wall! Build that wall!”

This is wrong. Whatever one’s views on immigration, it is a matter of basic courtesy to maintain respect and courtesy when discussing an issue. DACA is not just a heated political topic. It is a policy question with human consequences: family members facing separation and young adults whose entire lives may be uprooted. Uncertainty causes real suffering for hundreds of thousands of people impacted by DACA. The “Build that wall” chant tossed out so casually by the pro-life marchers did not express a coherent argument or invite reasoned debate. All it did was harm.

There are several issues being debated within the pro-life movement. One is how to respond to the inconsistencies of President Trump. Another is which social initiatives and political policies will best achieve the goals of the pro-life movement. Still another is the question of whether abortion is the sole issue under the pro-life banner, or whether other issues – the death penalty, for example – fall under the same umbrella.

People of good will may debate and strongly disagree on these questions. What’s not up for debate, however, is the necessity of respect for other people, no matter who they are, and what they think. Taunting people at a march themed “Love Saves Lives” discredits pro-life claims about the dignity of every human person.

Shortly before the march began, I talked to Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. Now 45 years after the Supreme Court mandated legal abortion nationwide, I asked him if he is hopeful about the future of the pro-life movement. He said that he is hopeful, first and foremost, because the pro-life movement is joyful. Because of this joy, he said, the pro-life movement is growing.

My own experience supports Archbishop Lori’s observations. The pro-life movement is a joyful movement, and people take notice. One young woman at this year’s march shared with a CNA reporter that her mom had considered abortion while pregnant with her, after being kicked out of her home and lacking support from family. It was the support and joyful witness of pro-lifers that led her to reconsider and choose life for her daughter, who is now active in the pro-life movement in Canada.

This is the pro-life movement at its best: joyful, supportive, full of hope. And it is a standard that must not be compromised. When individuals wearing pro-life t-shirts shout antagonistic, vitriolic comments at anyone, they do a disservice to the cause they profess to care about so deeply.

 

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