Thousands of people in our diocese, including you who may be reading this, have been formally trained and certified on sexual misconduct and on maintaining a safe environment for our children, youth and vulnerable adults. Our Safe Environment Training program known as Virtus is made available to and mandatory for all diocesan priests, deacons and lay personnel, especially those who work with minors, parents, children and youth. It is imperative that we, as a community of faith, understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors as we learn to recognize abuse and its potential. I want to emphasize that we must always report suspected abuse immediately to the appropriate authorities.
We must continue to pray for resolution to this challenge before us. I assure you that in the Diocese of El Paso we will always first care for the victims who have suffered abuse rather than protect our own image. We will always remain a local Catholic church that seeks to earn your trust, guarantees accountability and takes responsibility for our mistakes and failures. Addressing abuse issues in our Church and taking steps necessary to prevent abuse in our diocese requires a collective action and commitment on all our parts. May God help us to be reflective of what Jesus intended His Church to become when he first sent the Holy Spirit upon her. May our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church remain the custodian of the teachings of Christ and may that same Holy Spirit move us to be more like him.
+Bp. Mark Seitz
For more information on The Diocese of El Paso Safe Environment Ministry, Victims Assistance Program and Sexual Misconduct Policy please go to www.elpasodiocese.org
President of U.S. Bishops Conference Issues Statement on Course of Action Responding to Moral Failures on Part of Church Leaders
August 1, 2018
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement noting the steps the U.S. Bishops Conference will take in addressing the failures of the Church in protecting the people of God.
Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:
"The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people's lives and represent grave moral failures of judgement on the part of Church leaders.
These failures raise serious questions. Why weren't these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn't this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?
Archbishop McCarrick will rightly face the judgement of a canonical process at the Holy See regarding the allegations against him, but there are also steps we should be taking as the Church here in the United States. Having prayed about this, I have convened the USCCB Executive Committee. This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our General Assembly in November. All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB. This work will take some time but allow me to stress these four points immediately.
First, I encourage my brother bishops as they stand ready in our local dioceses to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the Church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them.
Second, I would urge anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the Church to come forward. Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement.
Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick's conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the Conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.
Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.
Let us pray for God's wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul's instruction: 'Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect' (Romans 12:2)."
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, USCCB Executive Committee, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, moral failure, seminaries, human dignity, canonical process, Holy See, General Assembly