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Network of homes provides love, hope, help for pregnant women in need

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeffrey BrunoBy Steve LarkinWASHINGTON(CNS) -- When Chris Bell was working in Times Square in the late 1970s, he wasshocked to repeatedly see young mothers entering crisis shelters with theirchildren, and he decided that he had to do something.Withthe help of Father Benedict Groeschel, a member of the Franciscan Friars of theRenewal, and his spiritual director at the time, Bell founded Good Counsel, anetwork of pro-life maternity homes.Currently,Good Counsel operates six homes -- four in New York state, one in New Jerseyand one in Alabama -- and works with other homes all over the country. It also islooking to both grow and expand its network."GoodCounsel is one of the founding members of the National Maternity HousingCoalition," Bell told Catholic News Service. "Most of the homes are small andlimited in what they can do, but we can help find a place for any pregnantwoman in the country."Bellsaid that any pregnant women can enter the maternity homes for free, and th...

Catholics express despair, disbelief, anger at new abuse revelations

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON(CNS) -- After the first allegations of abuse against Archbishop Theodore E.McCarrick were publicized in mid-June, employees at the U.S. bishops'conference headquarters in Washington were bracing for calls from Catholicsconfused, outraged or anything in between regarding the emerging scandal.The bigsurprise: More Catholics were calling in -- and kept calling -- to ask how theycould be foster parents to immigrant children who had been separated from theirparents by the U.S. government at the U.S.-Mexico border.Thatdidn't last long, though.Thefoster-parent calls receded and the abuse-related phone calls picked up involume and intensity, according to Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive directorof the Secretariat for the Protection of Children and Young People at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.DeaconNojadera said he doesn't know exactly why people call his office. He suggestedit may be that callers expect that the office can i...

Update: Report details rape of children, culture of secrecy that fanned it

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters videoBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The report begins dramatically, imploringits readers: "We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this."Plain and simple, at least 1,000 children identified in theinvestigation were raped in Catholic places of worship, in schools, and indiocesan owned vehicles, and were "groomed" through diocesan programs andretreats so they could be molested, wrote members of a 23-person grand jury whoheard those accounts over a period of almost two years of an investigation ofclergy sex abuse said to have taken place in six dioceses in the state ofPennsylvania over 70 years. Their findings were unveiled Aug. 14. In almost 1,400 pages, they describe graphic accounts of theabuse they say happened in the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg,Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.They detail accounts they heard of boys and girls whosegenitals were touched, who were raped or made to perform a variety of sex acts.The re...

Commentary: a crisis regarding the responsibility of church authorities

By Greg ErlandsonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Catholic NewsService posted a short video of the Pennsylvania attorney general's Aug. 14 news conference announcing a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in sixdioceses, its editors had to add a warning about the graphic language viewerswould hear. The actual 900-page report chronicling 70years of child sexual abuse by 301 priests is much, much worse. There areimages of rape, perversion and blasphemy that will be hard to excise from areader's imagination, vile and disgusting acts that have shattered the livesand faith of the more than 1,000 victims and their families.Harder still is to understand how some leaderscould have known about these acts of profound betrayal and not have beenenraged into action to excise permanently such evil from our church.And this goes to the dark heart of this crisis:That men of the cloth would sin so grievously against the most defenseless intheir flocks, and that men of the cloth would fail to respond appr...

Discalced Carmelites use time-honored skills to construct new monastery

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chris Heisey, The Catholic WitnessBy Jen ReedFAIRFIELD,Pa. (CNS) -- The grinding sounds of an excavation and construction site yieldedto the intonation of a solemn pontifical Mass and prayers for the future on avista in Fairfield July 25, where construction is underway for a secondmonastery for the Discalced Carmelite nuns in the Harrisburg Diocese.Alittle more than two years ago -- on June 13, 2016 -- Mother Stella-Marie,prioress, stood at this same site gazing at the grassy and tree-lined farmlandoverlooking southern Adams County, and expressed her trust in the Lord that"one day we will see here a beautiful monastery that is dedicated to the gloryof God."Whilethe building materials for the cloistered monastery are still being preparedfor construction -- namely, the excavation of stone from the land on which itwill stand -- the early development of its farmstead can already be seen.Trueto Carmelite tradition and architecture in the footsteps of their foundress,St. ...

Report details rape of children, culture of secrecy that fanned it

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters videoBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The report begins dramatically, imploringits readers: "We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this."Plain and simple, at least 1,000 children identified in theinvestigation were raped in Catholic places of worship, in schools, and indiocesan owned vehicles, and were "groomed" through diocesan programs andretreats so they could be molested, wrote members of a 23-person grand jury whoheard those accounts over a period of almost two years of an investigation ofclergy sex abuse said to have taken place in six dioceses in the state ofPennsylvania over 70 years. Their findings were unveiled Aug. 14. In almost 1,400 pages, they describe graphic accounts of theabuse they say happened in the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg,Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.They detail accounts they heard of boys and girls whosegenitals were touched, who were raped or made to perform a variety of sex acts.The re...

Update: Pennsylvania grand jury says church was interested in hiding abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tim Shaffer, ReutersBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) - A Pennsylvaniagrand jury report issued Aug. 14 paints a picture of a Catholic Church in sixof the state's dioceses that for decades handled claims of sex abuse of minorsunder its care by hiding the allegations and brushing aside its victims. Morethan 300 priests were linked to abuse claims and over 1,000 victims wereidentified, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a newsconference following the report's release. "The main thing wasnot to help children but to avoid 'scandal,'" says a biting sentence about thebehavior of church leaders and officials in the report, detailing a months-longinvestigation of clergy sex abuse claims in the dioceses of Pittsburgh,Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.The report ofalmost 1,400 pages covers a period of 70 years into the past, includinginformation from the early 2000s, a time when news of the clerical sex abusescandal erupted in the U.S. Before...

Abuse letter to Cardinal O'Malley was second priest sent officials

By Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) --In a June 2015 letter to Boston's Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley obtained byCatholic News Service, a New York priest tells the prelate about "sexual abuse/harassment/intimidation"allegations he had heard concerning then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick and asksthat if the matter doesn't fall under his purview, to forward it to the "properagency in the Vatican." The letter "hastaken me years to write and send," writes Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St.Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, who made the letter available toCNS in early August. But it was the second time he had attempted to tell churchofficials in writing. In it, hedescribes for Cardinal O'Malley conversations with the rector of a seminary inNew Jersey about trips then-Archbishop McCarrick, as head of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, would take with seminarians to a beachhouse. During the timeperiod he mentions in the letter, 1986 to 1996, he says he was teaching atImmaculate Co...

Wuerl: In Pittsburgh, he 'established strong policies' on abuse claims

IMAGE: CNS/Bob RollerBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Washington CardinalDonald W. Wuerl said Aug. 14 that during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburghfrom 1988 to 2006, he "established strong policies that addressed the needs ofabuse survivors, removed priests from ministry and protected the mostvulnerable in the community."He said he also "traveled to Rome to challengesuccessfully a Vatican decision to reinstate a (Pittsburgh) priest removed fromministry as a result of substantiated child abuse claims."Cardinal Wuerl made the comments inresponse to the Pennsylvania attorney general's release the same day of a grandjury report on a months-long investigation of abuse claims in the PittsburghDiocese and five other dioceses in the state -- Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie,Scranton and Allentown.The report covers a span of over 70 yearsand many of the claims are decades old."There have been other reports about childsex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report says. "But never on thissc...

Bishops 'shamed' by 'sins, omissions' of priests, bishops leading to abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the diocesesBy WASHINGTON(CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "are shamed by and sorry for the sins andomissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops" that have led to sexualabuse and caused great harm to many, said an Aug. 14 statement from thepresident of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of itschild protection committee."Weare committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen,"said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president, and BishopTimothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the Committee for the Protectionof Children and Young People.Theypledged "to maintain transparency" and provide for "the permanent removal ofoffenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone."Cardinal DiNardo also said he is hosting a series of meetings during the week to respond to "the broader issue of safe environments within the church," and will provide an update when the meetings are co...

Thought of the Day

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Luke 1:49

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