The Church Needs Your God-given Time, Talent, Gifts Now More Than Ever

The Church Needs Your God-given Time, Talent, Gifts Now More Than Ever

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Next weekend, is our Discipleship of Time and Talent commitment weekend, in which we renew our annual promise to give thanks to God for His many blessings, by giving back to Him some of the talents He has given us. Discipleship is how we respond to God’s love and generosity and what He’s done for us. The Lord has done a lot for us. Our response needs to be charity, compassion, and service for others. Our time, our talents, and our gifts are not for us. God gives these to us for the service of the Church. 

Sadly and painfully, some have used their talents to benefit themselves, hurting others, and hurting rather than serving the Church. I am talking about the shameful sex abuse scandal we have been hearing about in recent months. This crisis is completely opposite of what the Church is about. The Church is called to evangelize bringing Christ to others, and evangelization says: “Trust me, I’m announcing to you eternal life, I’m bringing you to heaven.” How can we evangelize our world with this type of behavior? We cannot allow conducts that are not according to the Gospel, and we need to get better at not covering up any kind of evil behavior. As painful as this time is, the Church needs to be cleansed, whatever is not transparent needs to be, and we need to realize “business as usual” is not enough.

We are blessed here at the Archdiocese of Denver. In 1991, Cardinal Francis J. Stafford, then Archbishop of Denver, instituted a mandatory reporting policy. He additionally created a third-party conduct response team made up of professionals, including lay people, to advise the archbishop and be available to meet with victims and offer help and support. This was something revolutionary at the time. 

Since then, his successors, Archbishop Chaput and now Archbishop Aquila have continued and strengthened those efforts to prevent this shameful behavior. Since 2002, 70,000 adults have been trained to recognize and report abuse and neglect in our Archdiocese. Every year, 20,000–25,000 children are trained to keep themselves safe—1,200 of those only at our parish. Currently, more than 14,000 workers and volunteers are active mandatory reporters. Since 2002, more than 175 facilitators train an average of 4,375 adults every year. We have a zero-tolerance policy in place, a third-party review committee which evaluates and audits all our protocols, and Archbishop Aquila is fully committed to keeping people accountable and to healing and purifying our Church. 

This commitment requires our cooperation. This is not the time to give up. It’s a time to be holy, to be strong, more than ever. It’s time for more works of holiness to purify the Church. It’s time for more beauty, a time to be more intent on giving witness to Christ. It’s a time to sacrifice and to make an impact in people’s lives. In our actions, we’re deciding if we’re Catholic or not. We do no favor to the victims by quitting or by attacking each other. Nor by keeping our talents to and only thinking about ourselves. We do the victims good by being more welcoming, more loving, more charitable. 
As we get ready to make our discipleship promises, I encourage you to pray about what gifts and talents the Lord has given you and how you can use them to serve the Church, which needs you at this time. God has chosen and called us to be holy, offering our life to Him. We need to be converted to Him, and faithful to his Gospel. That is how the Church will overcome this crisis of faith and of love and truly be the beautiful and holy Bride of Christ (cr. Ep 5:27).

In Christ,

Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba,

Pastor


August 13, 2018 ArchBishop Aquila Addresses Crisis at MTYR Conference

August 13, 2018 ArchBishop Aquila Addresses Crisis at MTYR Conference

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This past week I was on my annual silent retreat and the accusations against Archbishop McCarrick were a part of my prayer. Faithful have written to me and have asked questions about the situation. Some have felt that the Lord has abandoned the Church. Other bishops have spoken out on this tragedy, and today I offer to you, the faithful of the archdiocese and my brother priests and deacons, the following reflections.

As noted by Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, the revelations about Archbishop McCarrick have caused both bishops and the laity “anger, sadness, and shame.” Personally, I am deeply sorry that both laity and clergy have had to experience this type of betrayal. In response, I am asking every priest in the archdiocese to offer a Mass each month in reparation for the sins committed by cardinals, bishops, priests and deacons, and for all sins committed by clergy and lay people against the commandments of our Lord, as well as to pray for healing for the victims of sin. This Mass is to be announced publicly so the lay faithful can attend and offer prayers in reparation for these grave sins that have wounded so many and for their own sins.

The staff of the Archdiocese of Denver and I strive to make every effort to ensure that such things do not occur here. Our preventative measures include: background checks, safe environment classes, mandatory reporter training, creating a conduct response team that is primarily made up of lay people, an annual independent audit of our abuse reporting structures, having a laywoman (Christi Sullivan, 303-715-3241 or Christi.Sullivan@ArchDen.org) serve as the coordinator of our Safe Environment Office, which deals with all cases of any type of abuse against minors by clergy or laity, and providing psychological screening for candidates for the priesthood.

We also have a Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, Jim Langley, Psy.D., who can be contacted at 720-239-2832 or Victim.Assistance@ArchDen.org. If anyone in the archdiocese has an abuse situation concerning any member of the clergy or a lay employee of the archdiocese with a minor or the elderly, they may contact one of them. Both Bishop Rodriguez and I take these matters with the utmost seriousness.

During my retreat, my director encouraged me to pray with the calls of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Samuel. In praying with the call of Samuel, I was struck by the Lord’s words to Samuel concerning Eli. The Lord told Samuel to tell Eli, “…I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house from beginning to end. And I tell him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons were blaspheming, and he did not restrain them. (1 Samuel 3: 12-13, emphasis added). Too many seminarians, priests and bishops knew of Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior and did not restrain him.

Due to this, I call on the U.S. bishops’ conference to ask for and allow an independent investigation that includes members of the lay faithful and those clergy who had nothing to do with the matter. Since the oversight of bishops and cardinals falls under the jurisdiction of Rome, I humbly ask Pope Francis to conduct an independent investigation like he did in Chile.

Like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, so have I wept for the Church and for the innocent victims. I remember when I visited Auschwitz for the first time in 1988. As I walked with horror in my heart over the palpable evil present, pondering how could human beings do this to other human beings, I heard in prayer, only Jesus Christ and he alone can redeem this evil. The same is true with the sexual abuse crisis of today, as well as with the emptying of our pews, and the abandonment of God by the world. So, what must we do?

We must recognize that complacency about evil and sin is present both in the Church and the world and has led us to where we are today. This culture of complacency among clergy and laity must come to an end!

We have also failed to recognize that the spiritual battle is real. Some say the Lord has forsaken the Church, but this is not true. Rather, there are some within the Church who have forsaken Jesus and the Gospel. Pope Francis speaks often in his homilies of the devil and his workings. The devil is real and pulls us away from the ways of Jesus and the love of the Father. The devil uses confusion, chaos, discouragement, and negative thinking to draw us away from Jesus. When one looks at salvation history one sees, beginning with Adam and Eve, moving through the Old and New Testaments, and down through the centuries to now, that it is human beings who abandon the ways of God. When the ways of God are abandoned, God lets human beings go their own way and there are always dire consequences.

Jesus tells his disciples in John 15 that “apart from me you can do nothing” and he further tells us that if we separate ourselves from the vine, Jesus, we will wither. Perhaps the reason for our empty pews, the sharp decline of the faith in Europe and the west, the decimation of many religious orders, and the sexual abuse crisis is that we are not attached to Jesus, the true vine. At the heart of this crisis today is a spiritual crisis that depends more on the solutions of men than on the Gospel and Jesus. The cost of discipleship is real and it includes dying to ourselves, a complete surrender to Jesus, who loves us and desires only our good and joy (Lk 9: 23-26; Lk 14: 25-35; Mt 16: 24; Jn 15:11).

Thus, our response to this complacency must be a return to the ways of God, which lays out the path of grace that preserves us from the real dangers of sin and the attacks of the evil one. The Father has given us his son Jesus, the Beatitudes, the Gospels, the truth, and his commandments out of love for us to keep us on the narrow way of love. He is merciful in all that he has given to us. Charity and truth must always go together. A disciple should never lead someone into sin or condone sin. Jesus never condoned sin! But rather taught that for the unrepentant, the consequence for doing so is hell (Mk 9:42, Lk 17: 1-4). Just as a parent provides boundaries for their children for their own good and protection, so has the Lord provided for us.

All of us within the Church, including the Holy Father, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated and laypersons need to examine our consciences and ask ourselves: Do I truly know, love and serve the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? And do I follow the ways of Jesus or the ways of the world? In the formation of my conscience do I listen to the voice of God, the voice of the world, or my own voice, and do I test the voice I hear to make sure that it is in accord with the Gospel? Have I personally put my faith in Jesus Christ, and in this time of tribulation do I keep my eyes fixed on “Jesus the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12: 2)? Do I know where I have come from; that God loves me and knew me before I was born (Ps 139)? Do I know where I am going, that I am created for eternal life and to know the Father, as Jesus knows him (Jn 8:14)? Do I truly believe that intimacy with Jesus can heal the wounds of my sins, weakness, or brokenness? And finally, as Jesus so frequently reminds his disciples in John 14 and 15, those who love him keep the commandments, just as he kept the Father’s commandments. Do I do that?

Pope Francis and every pope since Blessed Paul VI, has called us to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ. This encounter leads to faith in Jesus Christ and a deep personal relationship with him, who in turn leads us to the Father and the Holy Spirit. His desire is for each disciple to be one with the Father and him. Once we put our faith in Jesus, love him and keep the commandments, then the Father and the Son will make their home in our hearts (Jn 14:23). Each one of us must pray for a deeper faith in Jesus each day, the faith that will move mountains (Mt 17:20) and make us into missionary disciples. With God “all things are possible,” (Mk 10:27) and that includes the forgiveness of our sins, the healing of our wounds, becoming a saint, and living a life of holiness and virtue, including chastity. And that brings me to another important aspect of this crisis.

Cardinal DiNardo noted in his statement that “the Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality” and it is not just the Church, it is the world. Sadly, too many, both clergy and lay, have listened more to the world than to Christ and the Church when it comes to human sexuality. The consequences of the worldly approach to sexuality are clear in the distortion of this precious gift and the confusion about sexuality that grows daily.

The teaching of the Church on human sexuality has been clear over the centuries, and St. John Paul II helped tremendously with his positive message about the Theology of the Body. Furthermore, those who have received the teaching of the Church and have been accompanied in a loving and merciful way, both young and old, have testified to the truth contained in this teaching, as well as the healing, freedom and joy it brings. This is observed in many of the young people whom I have encountered through the Fellowship of Catholic University Students program, those who have walked in the Neocatechumenal Way, those who have shared in Living Waters or Courage retreats, or participated in Sexaholics Anonymous. Their witness, joy and freedom are real, and it embraces the truth of who they are in the merciful eyes of the God. The God who heals and restores order.

Amidst the darkness of the sexual revolution and all that it has brought about, the Church must decisively return to the truth, dignity and beauty of human sexuality.

We must teach that every sexual act that takes place outside of a marriage between a man and woman, is not in keeping with God’s plan for our happiness. When one separates the procreative aspect from sex, one can justify just about any sexual act. As Blessed Paul VI noted in Humanae Vitae, this separation has had and will continue to have negative consequences on the Church and society.

We must also teach that, according to the Sacred Scripture and tradition, “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law and they “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357).

We must also be sure to carefully form seminarians, as we have been doing in the archdiocese for quite some time. However, all seminaries need to devote special attention to the formation of our future priests and their education in chastity, so that they can develop an authentic maturity, and embrace celibacy for the Kingdom of God, respecting and fostering the nuptial meaning of their bodies (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 44). Chastity is a great good that needs to be lived!

The sexual revolution occurring in our culture, which essentially says, “Anything goes if adults consent to it,” is not the way of God and only leads to where we are today. We must be willing to accompany people into the truth of Jesus Christ who will set them free to live the virtues, which bring true freedom, peace and joy.

In closing, I ask all of us to remember to pray and stay close to the heart of Jesus, to ask for the humility of Jesus and the gift of loving others as Jesus loves (Jn 13:34). Every disciple must pray for the gift of faith and a deeper trust and confidence in Jesus, most especially in his healing power. We must pray for all victims of sexual abuse in our culture today, for their healing and their encounter with Jesus Christ, who can bring healing to them.

We must pray for the clergy of the Church, the Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests and deacons, that the Holy Spirit will stir into flame the gifts he has bestowed on them, help them to be faithful to Christ and the Gospel, and to be true servants of the faithful with the heart of Christ. We must pray for the Church, our Mother, that is holy, though having sinners in her midst, and suffers for the offenses of all her members.

Let us pray for the virtue of hope, so that we come to the awareness that we can do all things in Christ, who gives us the strength to be saints (Phil 4:13). Let us ask for the gift of piety, so that we truly behave as God’s children and reverence our own and each other’s bodies as temples of the Spirit. Let us beg for the grace to have pure hearts (Mt 5: 7).

Finally, as those who belong to Jesus, we must pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. We can never wish evil or seek vengeance on another (PV 24:29; Mt 5: 44-48; Col 3:13; Rom 12:19-21). Every human being is a sinner whom Jesus loves and is in need of the mercy of Jesus. Jesus forgave every human being from the Cross when he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” No matter how egregious the sin, the Lord is willing to forgive us if we “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). This forgiveness, like his love, must be received.  He reminds us to be merciful as his Father is merciful and that the Father loves both the just and unjust (Mt 5:44-48). In this time of darkness, may we put our faith, trust and love in Jesus who is our Savior and Redeemer, the one who will free us, and may we live in his truth and light!

With the love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L.

Archbishop of Denver

Q&A ON CLERGY MISCONDUCT AND ABUSE OF POWER

Q&A ON CLERGY MISCONDUCT AND ABUSE OF POWER

This document is provided to answer questions about how the Archdiocese of Denver handles misconduct and/or abuse of power by members of the clergy, i.e., Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. It is not meant to present the topics exhaustively nor serve as a form of policy; rather, it is a starting point to answer questions that are being asked. The Archdiocese addresses misconduct in four areas: prevention, reporting, immediate response, and ultimate outcomes. 

Prevention

How does the Archdiocese screen men who apply for seminary or permanent diaconate formation?

The application process for entering seminary and the diaconate is multi-layered and stringent. The men first enter a discernment process with the Director of Vocations or the Director of Deacon Formation through discernment retreats and one-on-one conversations. These conversations and interactions help the directors evaluate the man on a personal and informal level. All areas of life pertaining to a priestly discernment are discussed with the director including sexuality, academics, family-of-origin experiences, and prayer life. Once the man begins to understand and demonstrate evidence of a call to the priesthood or the diaconate, and once the director has separate and converging evidence that the man is called by God, then he may begin the formal application process.

What does the formal application process for seminary and diaconate formation entail?

The application, currently 24-page document, asks many direct and probing questions about a man’s discernment of the priesthood or the diaconate, his family life, religious experiences, educational background, and financial situation. In addition to the application itself, the following are also required:

  • A comprehensive psychological evaluation, which includes a battery of psychological tests and a personal interview with a trained Catholic professional who evaluates the candidate's compatibility with the state of life he is pursuing (This evaluation addresses an applicant's emotional health, family background, psycho-sexual health, and ability to maintain boundaries.)

  • Four letters of reference from family, friends, associates, and at least one priest

  • An autobiography

  • A physical, along with blood-work

  • A criminal background check

Once an applicant has completed these steps with the Director of Vocations or the Director of Deacon Formation, and if there are no impediments or other issues identified, then he is scheduled for an interview with the seminary board of review and a personal interview with the Archbishop. At any point during the process, a man can be asked to delay his entrance into the seminary or diaconate formation, or to discern a different vocation.

(For those applying to the diaconate, the application process also includes the man’s wife, whose support is required for the process to move forward. Men applying for the diaconate must have a stable marital relationship for at least five years.  The children of the individual applying for the diaconate are also asked questions as appropriate concerning their father’s desire to become a deacon.)

What policies are in place that govern the conduct of men in formation and members of the clergy?

The Archdiocese has a comprehensive Code of Conduct that must be followed by all bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated lay people, employees, and volunteers who have regular contact with minors. The code, currently a 33-page document, stresses that behavior towards others is the essence of discipleship, and that public and private conduct has the potential to inspire and motivate people, but also the potential to tear down their faith.

What does the Code of Conduct include?

The code includes standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries, a policy regarding sexual misconduct and child abuse, and a social media policy. It also includes harassment reporting procedures, Colorado Child Abuse and Child Sexual Assault Reporting Act Requirements, and Colorado Elder Abuse and At-Risk Adult Abuse Reporting Requirements. A copy of the code can be found here:

http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-Arch-of-Den-Code-of-Conduct-ver-1.2.pdf

How is the conduct of clergy monitored?

All priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated lay people, employees, and volunteers who have regular contact with minors are required to complete a Safe Environment training program. This program teaches how to identify signs of misconduct and best practices for making churches, schools, and communities safer. Further, the Code of Conduct instructs that all signers, even if they are not considered a Mandatory Reporter by Colorado Law, are expected to report incidents of abuse, neglect, or suspected abuse of children, elders, or at-risk individuals. Clergy are surrounded each day by people who have been through the Safe Environment training program and who have signed the Code of Conduct. Such individuals are expected to help set the standard of behavior and call out any problem behavior, especially that of clergy.

How does the Archdiocese ensure that clergy from another diocese are screened?

In order for a priest or deacon from outside the Archdiocese to function in a ministerial capacity, a letter of good standing must be received by the Vicar for Clergy office from the priest or deacon’s home diocese. This letter affirms that the priest or deacon has never been accused of misconduct with a minor, that his background check is clear, and that he has completed a Safe Environment training program.

After the initial training and screenings, how often are prevention methods updated?

Background checks are run on all priests and deacons every five years. Five years after completing the Safe Environment Training Program, priests and deacons complete the State of Colorado Mandatory Reporter on-line training program.

What does the Archdiocese do to help children and youth protect themselves from abuse? 

Every year in the Archdiocese, between 20,000 and 25,000 children and young people are trained in ways to keep themselves safe.

  • Called to Protect for Young Children™ is designed to teach children in grades K-5 the skills they need to recognize boundary violations that may precede abuse, to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations, and to tell a trusted adult when someone has crossed a boundary with them.

  • Called to Protect™ for Youth is the first comprehensive program specifically designed to teach middle and high school youths self-protection skills. The program uses a three-part DVD series and guided group discussions to teach young people how to recognize their personal boundaries, how to respond if someone tries to violate their boundaries, and what to do if someone is sexually abusing them or someone they know.

Of course, adults cannot hold children and teenagers solely responsible for their own safety, but they can be trained to play an active role in keeping themselves, their friends, and their activities safe.

How is the Archdiocese held accountable for its prevention practices?

The Archdiocese participates in a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) annual audit on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The curriculum for training adults and children in abuse prevention and reporting, information on how parishes are reviewed for compliance, and reports on any accusations that were made and their credibility, are reviewed annually by an independent outside firm. Periodically, this audit is accompanied by in-person interviews of all archdiocesan personnel involved with child and youth protection. The Archdiocese has participated in the audit since 2004 and has always been found in compliance. More information on USCCB audits can be found here:  

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/audits.cfm 

What measures are in place for overseeing bishops and cardinals?

Bishops and Cardinals fall under the jurisdiction of the Holy See (the Vatican). Currently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is working with the Holy See to open new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops, as well as advocating for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity. (For example, in the recent case involving Archbishop McCarrick, the USCCB is pursuing an investigation and will be asking the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Investigation that includes qualified, independent lay professionals from fields like law enforcement and psychology.)

Reporting

What expectations does the Archdiocese have for reporting misconduct or suspected misconduct?

The Archdiocese strives to be a highly reliable organization creating environments that are safe for all people to live out their lives of faith. Actual or suspected abuse of minors, elders, or at-risk adults are reported to law enforcement. Questionable actions or speech which are neither abusive nor provoking a direct suspicion of abuse should nevertheless be brought to the attention of clergy and/or staff. In the event that such actions or speech are that of clergy or a staff member, it should be reported to the Victim Assistance Coordinator.

What channels exist for such reporting?

  1. Abuse of a minor, by anyone: 

-Must be reported to local law enforcement or the statewide reporting hotline: 1-844-CO-4-KIDS / 1-844-264-5437

-Fill out the Archdiocese of Denver Reporting Form: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Child-and-Adult-Abuse-and-Neglect-Reporting-English.pdf

-Contact Victim Assistance Coordinator – 720-239-2832 – victim.assistance@archden.org

  1. Abuse of an elder or at-risk adult, by anyone:

- Must be reported to law enforcement or County Adult Protective Services

- Fill out the Archdiocese of Denver Reporting Form: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Child-and-Adult-Abuse-and-Neglect-Reporting-English.pdf

- Contact Victim Assistance Coordinator – 720-239-2832 – victim.assistance@archden.org

  1. Abuse of power or other misconduct by a priest or deacon:

-Contact Priest Personnel (Office of Bishop Rodriguez) – 303-715-3197

Abuse of power/ Inappropriate behavior by a deacon

-Contact Deacon Personnel (Deacon Joseph Donohoe) – 303-715-3198

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, people have been reluctant to report misconduct or abuse of power by clergy or staff members, how is the Archdiocese addressing this issue?

Since 2003 – and indeed even before that date – the Archdiocese has had an independent Conduct Response Team that has worked with legal counsel to address and respond to, in accordance with Church and civil law, accusations against a member of the clergy. This approach is very similar to secular “Whistle Blower” policies for the corporate world. The Archdiocese is developing a means for anonymously reporting any kind of misconduct and/or abuse of power by any member of the clergy or Church employee, that will ensure all reports are appropriately addressed.

Who would handle a case of reported abuse by a bishop or cardinal in the Archdiocese of Denver?

While no specific procedure or precedent exists for the reporting of abuse by a bishop or cardinal in the Archdiocese beyond the procedures described above, abuse or suspected abuse of a minor, elder, or at-risk adult by such persons should always be reported to law enforcement in accordance with the Archdiocese’ standard policies. For other forms of misconduct, reports can be made to the bishop of a neighboring diocese or the Apostolic Nuncio. Such reports should also be made to the Victim Assistance Coordinator. The Conduct Response Team and/or the proposed anonymous reporting method mentioned above are also avenues for reporting.

Immediate Response

What happens when a report is made about a member of the clergy?

When a credible report of abuse of a minor is made about a member of the clergy, the man is removed from ministry immediately. This is done to protect both potential victims from any further harm. In regard to other types of alleged misconduct, the Archdiocese will respond promptly and with great seriousness. If it is determined that the kind of misconduct being reported would put the safety of others at risk, (physically, spiritually, emotionally), restrictions can be placed on the ministry of the accused clergy member. It is the goal of the Archdiocese in all incidents of reported misconduct to protect victims, while at the same time withholding judgment until all investigations can be conducted. The Archdiocese does not transfer accused clergy to other dioceses or parishes unless such transfer takes place after an accused has been definitively cleared of all wrong doing.

How does the Archdiocese treat sexual misconduct of clergy with adults?

All reports of instances or suspected instances of such misconduct are investigated in accordance with the Code of Conduct. In the event of reported misconduct, the Archdiocese also investigates whether the clergy member abused his position of power, which would add to the gravity of an already grave situation. Once the details of the misconduct are better understood, the Archdiocese acts in a manner that addresses its particularities—specifically addressing whether the clergy member is suitable for ministry. These steps are taken with the intent of preserving the safety of others, while at the same time protecting clergy against potential false accusations. It is important not to judge this type of misconduct according to what society might find acceptable or unacceptable, since the Church has always taught that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin.

Ultimate Outcomes

What happens to a member of the clergy who is found guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor or child abuse?

The consequences and penalties determined by the legal system always take precedence. Additionally, a member of the clergy who is found guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor or child abuse is permanently removed from all ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver without the possibility to transfer to another diocese. Tolerance or allowances are never made in these situations.

What happens to a member of the clergy who is found guilty of other types of grave misconduct?

If a clergy member is found guilty of grave misconduct, it is doubtful that he will ever be able to return to active ministry. Considering the nature of misconduct, it may be the case that after an extended period of time, a man may return to a limited form of ministry that takes into account his past transgressions. Additionally, transfer of a member of the clergy will never be made without a full disclosure of his past misconduct.

What happens to a member of the clergy who is found innocent or who faces an allegation with insufficient evidence?

In cases where insufficient evidence exists, and/or a member of the clergy is found innocent of an accusation after a comprehensive investigation, he will be able to return to ministry. It may be the case that his assignment will change in location or responsibility due to the length of time of an investigation and/or the damage to his reputation.

Father Felix: AUTHENTIC HOLINESS OF LIFE IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD OUT OF THE CRISIS

Father Felix: AUTHENTIC HOLINESS OF LIFE IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD OUT OF THE CRISIS

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This last week, all the priests of the Archdiocese of Denver met together with our Archbishop, to pray for the victims of sex abuse and to ask for the Holy Spirit for a deep revival in holiness in our lives, so that we may be true servants, which Christ has called us to be. The first and greatest priority is to bring healing and support to all victims of sexual abuse. All victims of abuse need to be assisted and brought to the all-powerful grace, love, and forgiveness of Christ, the Great Healer. 

Our lack of faith in Christ is one of the greatest causes of this crisis. This is a crisis of having a deep, life-changing and life-giving encounter with the Lord’s love. The Lord desires to heal and purify our hearts. The angel said it to Mary: “Nothing is impossible to God!” We need to grow in faith, that is, to listen, trust, and wholeheartedly believe that Christ is faithful to us, that His love does all things for us, and He can’t stop giving His life for us. He can’t be outdone in generosity with us.

We need to recognize “the cost of discipleship.” Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it” (Mk 8:34-35). Jesus wants everything from us. Jesus says: “My zeal is to do the will of the one who sent me.” The solution is real discipleship, that is, surrendering our life to God. We need to keep our eyes fixed on making disciples of Christ. Simple, normal, regular, average people who put their total trust in the Lord, in His promise of salvation, and happiness to all of us in our Baptism.

The world, more worldly attachments, and the mentality of human justice will not find healing for our current crisis in the Church. Only holiness, the holiness of Christ, the beauty of the Theology of the Body, the embrace of the teachings of the Church on morals and human sexuality, among others, will help us save the truth, which sets us free (cf Jn 8:32). We can’t deny sin. Our culture glorifies sin, and condemns the sinner. The Gospel does the opposite. It announces forgiveness, but teaches chastity, purity  and modesty, so that the desires of our heart may be directed towards God, and not to worldly pleasures, benefits, and interests.

Our Baptism brings us to be holy. Our faith can’t be a secondary element in our lives. We are meant to bring everyone around us to a healing encounter with Christ. We are his apostles, his true prophets, and his servants. We priests, together with our archbishop, and all Christians are all called to chastity, that “the Christian has "put on Christ," the model for all chastity. All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life...Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2348-2349). 

Discipleship is to decide to receive from Christ, the freedom of becoming a gift to God and to others. That’s the path to healing out of our sex abuse scandal. To be open to receive Christ’s gift of himself to us in our daily prayer life and truly growing on a faith journey, so that we may take care of the victims of this great catastrophe, and offer them the freedom for which Christ has set us free. “Man always has before him the spiritual horizon of hope, thanks to the help of divine grace and with the cooperation of human freedom” (John Paul II VERITATIS SPLENDOR 103).

God made us for sacrificial love, for unconditional, self-giving total love. Not doing that opens us, slowly but surely to horrible crisis like the one we hear about these days.

In Christ,

Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba