Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Archbishop O’Brien will participate in Irish visitation

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien is heading to Rome and Ireland early this year as part of an Apostolic Visitation of Irish seminaries called by Pope Benedict XVI in his March 19, 2010 pastoral letter to the people of Ireland.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is leading the visitation of seminaries and, with the approval of the pope, invited the Baltimore archbishop to assist.

Catholic News Service reported in November that the visitation of seminaries was expected to make sure screening policies and educational programs to improve child protection were in place in the wake of the child sex abuse crisis in Ireland.

The visitation is part of a larger effort that will also involve four archdioceses and religious orders. British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster, will conduct the visitation of the Archdiocese of Armagh; Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston will conduct the visitation of the Archdiocese of Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto will conduct the visitation of the Archdiocese of Cashel; and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, will visit the Archdiocese of Tuam.

Four visitators, including two nuns and two priests, will investigate religious houses in Ireland.

From the archdiocesan news release:

The Visitation will examine all aspects of priestly formation and is pastoral in nature, “intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal,” the Holy Father wrote.

Archbishop O’Brien will accompany Archbishop Dolan and the other members of the Visitation team to Rome later this month to visit the Pontifical Irish College. The first week of February, the team will travel to Ireland to visit St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth; Saint Malachy’s College, Belfast; All Hallows College, Dublin; Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin.

“This is a collaborative effort involving the Bishops of Ireland in an attempt to review the past and present formation programs at the Irish seminaries in an effort to contribute to their spiritual health and growth, as well as an increase in priestly vocations,” Archbishop O’Brien said.

The team will conduct one-on-one interviews with present and recent students, faculty and staff. Separate Apostolic Visitations of the four Metropolitan Archdioceses and Religious Houses in Ireland are also being conducted by separate visitation teams. The visitations are expected to be completed by Easter 2011.

According to the Archdiocese of Dublin, “When the Visitation is complete, the Holy See, after reviewing all the material submitted by the Visitators and offering suggestions for the spiritual renewal of the Archdioceses, Seminaries and Religious Houses, will issue a comprehensive summary of the results of the Visitation.”

Archbishop O’Brien led the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. Seminaries and houses of priestly formation in 2005.


Cardinal Bernardin on the silver screen

A Jesuit priest is turning the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s bestselling “The Gift of Peace” into a movie. Chicago Catholic News has the story:

After sex abuse allegations were recanted against Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in the mid-1990s — and before the cancer that would claim his life was detected — he led a powerful retreat in Mundelein.

“He was emotionally very vulnerable, and somewhat euphoric,” recalled the Rev. Michael Sparough, a Jesuit priest who attended the spiritual gathering.

“He just talked about the trauma and the nightmares he had, and how tremendously stressful this whole thing was, but how the truth was ultimately triumphant.”

“That retreat had a tremendous impact on my life.”

Now, Sparough is leading an effort to bring Bernardin’s story to the silver screen. The 60-year-old priest, who helps run a Barrington retreat center and has written a number of books, is working with two Hollywood script writers to turn Bernardin’s bestseller, The Gift of Peace, into a mainstream feature film.

It’s certainly no done deal, but Sparough said Bernardin’s successor at the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, has given him permission to turn the book into a screenplay. And Sparough believes the public is ready for a story like this.

“It’s a classic hero’s journey, and I think it’s a story that needs to be told in our time — and my hope is it’s a healing story for those who have been wounded by the Church, and a story that will remind us of some of the best parts of our Catholic tradition,” Sparough said.

In recent years, the Church has been mired in scandal over its handling of clergy sex abuse cases in the United States and around the globe. Pedophile priests were transferred rather than stripped of their duties, and allegations that children were molested often weren’t taken seriously.

The irony, Sparough said, is that Bernardin was considered by many to be ahead of his time in developing policies for dealing with problem priests. And that was before he was accused of abusing a man named Steven Cook when Cook was a student years earlier in Cincinnati.

It’s how Bernardin handled those accusations — made in 1993 and later recanted — that really define “the man, and his story and his life is really a parable of contemporary sanctity,” Sparough said.

Read the rest here.

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