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Catholic News

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 seven homes -- four in New York state, one in New Jersey, one in Alabama and one in Connecticut -- 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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Chris Bell was working in Times Square in the late 1970s, he was shocked to repeatedly see young mothers entering crisis shelters with their children, and he decided that he had to do something.

With the help of Father Benedict Groeschel, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and his spiritual director at the time, Bell founded Good Counsel, a network of pro-life maternity homes.

Currently, Good Counsel operates seven homes -- four in New York state, one in New Jersey, one in Alabama and one in Connecticut -- and works with other homes all over the country. It also is looking to both grow and expand its network.

"Good Counsel is one of the founding members of the National Maternity Housing Coalition," Bell told Catholic News Service. "Most of the homes are small and limited in what they can do, but we can help find a place for any pregnant woman in the country."

Bell said that any pregnant women can enter the maternity homes for free, and the homes will help provide them with opportunities to go back to school and find jobs.

Good Counsel will even assist pregnant women with drug addictions or mental illnesses and help find suitable places for them.

They also can help plan adoptions. Bell said that many women don't realize that they can choose the couple who would adopt their child and fear that the child will be placed in the foster care system.

Bell said that many women who are told that their child will have genetic defects can benefit from maternity homes.

"I don't know why the only response so many medical people have is to tell the mother to get rid of it if it looks like the child will have genetic defects," he said. "Especially in the United States, where we're rich and have the technology to help them."

He told the story of a woman whose doctor told her that her unborn son had a defect in every cell in his body, and the doctor recommended she abort.

She then called Good Counsel, saying "I just want to be a good mother." Good Counsel took her in, found a different medical facility for her, and prayed with her because she wanted to pray.

When the boy was born, the fears of the doctor were unfounded. He had a hole in his heart, which required two surgeries, but by the time the mother left the home her son looked like any other one-year-old.

Bell also told another story of a mother who already had a 3-year-old when she came to Good Counsel.

When she told the father that she was pregnant, he kicked her in the stomach and she left him.

Within her first few months, she had obtained a home health certificate, and, after having the baby and staying with him for a few months, she found a job.

"When I think about where she was when she came to us and where she was when she left, it was a total turnaround," Bell said.

Bell said he thought that media coverage was one reason for a lack of awareness about maternity homes.

"I think the media has a strong bias against anything anti-abortion," he said.

Despite that, he intends on continuing his work.

"The question I ask: Isn't there enough love in the world for another baby? Where there's love, there's life, and where there's life, there's hope. We can change things by looking at one life at a time and one family at a time."

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Editor's Note: Information about the Good Counsel network of homes can be found by going to goodcounselhomes.org or by calling (800) 723-8331.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of theU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Aug. 16 announced three key goals and acomprehensive plan to address the "moral catastrophe" of the new abuse scandal hittingthe U.S. church.Theplan "will involve the laity, lay experts, the clergy and the Vatican," CardinalDaniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said. This plan will be presented to thefull body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore inNovember.Cardinal DiNardo laid out three goals just established by the bishops' ExecutiveCommittee in a series of meetings held early the week of Aug. 13. They are:--An investigation into thequestions surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal andretired archbishop of Washington. With a credible allegation against him that he abused aminor nearly 47 years ago and accusations of sexual misconduct with seminarians,many are asking how hecould have risen up the ranks of the church, as...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Aug. 16 announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the "moral catastrophe" of the new abuse scandal hitting the U.S. church.

The plan "will involve the laity, lay experts, the clergy and the Vatican," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said. This plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.

Cardinal DiNardo laid out three goals just established by the bishops' Executive Committee in a series of meetings held early the week of Aug. 13. They are:

-- An investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington. With a credible allegation against him that he abused a minor nearly 47 years ago and accusations of sexual misconduct with seminarians, many are asking how he could have risen up the ranks of the church, as an auxiliary bishop, bishop, archbishop and finally cardinal.

-- An opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops.

-- Advocacy 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," Cardinal DiNardo said.

"Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick," the cardinal said. "Those sentiments continue and are deepened in view of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

"We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report," he added.

MORE TO COME

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters video

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The report begins dramatically, imploring its readers: "We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this."

Plain and simple, at least 1,000 children identified in the investigation were raped in Catholic places of worship, in schools, and in diocesan owned vehicles, and were "groomed" through diocesan programs and retreats so they could be molested, wrote members of a 23-person grand jury who heard those accounts over a period of almost two years of an investigation of clergy sex abuse said to have taken place in six dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania over 70 years. Their findings were unveiled Aug. 14.

In almost 1,400 pages, they describe graphic accounts of the abuse they say happened in the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.

They detail accounts they heard of boys and girls whose genitals were touched, who were raped or made to perform a variety of sex acts. The report says one priest molested five girls in a family. In some cases the report details, girls became pregnant after being raped. One priest was "rendered irregular" after helping arrange an abortion for a minor he impregnated and mentions a letter that followed from church officials that "seemed to exclusively address the procurement of the abortion with little concern that (the priest) had impregnated a child."

Some cases were worse than others, the report said, when detailing a case involving a boy who was given holy water by a priest to wash out his mouth after he had the boy perform a sex act. Most of the children were teens and some were preteens, according to the report.   

What is depicted comes from internal documents made available by dioceses, from testimony of those who offered it, "and, on over a dozen occasions, the priests themselves appeared before us. Most of them admitted what they had done," the report says.

When the children or their families reported what happened, "all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all," the report says.

"The bishops weren't just aware of what was going on; they were immersed in it. And they went to great lengths to keep it secret. The secrecy helped spread the disease," the report said.

Most of the crimes are too old to be prosecuted, but "for many of the victims, this report is justice," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in an Aug. 14 news conference unveiling the report, as some of those who had testified for the grand jury attended.

"We're going to shine a light," Shapiro added. "We can tell our citizens what happened."

The report says that it recognizes that "much has changed over the last 15 years."

Grand jury members said they heard reports from the six dioceses investigated, "so that they could inform us about recent developments in their jurisdictions."

"In response, five of the bishops submitted statements to us, and the sixth, the bishop of Erie, appeared before us in person. His testimony impressed us as forthright and heartfelt," they wrote. "It appears that the church is now advising law enforcement of abuse reports more promptly. Internal review processes have been established. Victims are no longer quite so invisible. But the full picture is not yet clear."

Even though the report is long and its details painful, knowing what happened is "the only way to fix these problems," they write.

The report recommends that the Pennsylvania Legislature drop the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. They also ask for a "civil window" law that would let older victims sue the dioceses "for the damage inflicted on their lives when they were kids." It says better laws for "mandated reporting of abuse" are needed and say confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreements should not apply when it comes to criminal investigations.

The grand jury said it keeps in mind that there are likely more than 1,000 victims identified and likely more offending priests it does not know about. It identified 301 priests in the report.

"What we can say, though, is that despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability," the report says. "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades, monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal."

A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but whether there may be enough evidence or probable cause to support a criminal charge.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (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 Catholics confused, outraged or anything in between regarding the emerging scandal.

The big surprise: More Catholics were calling in -- and kept calling -- to ask how they could be foster parents to immigrant children who had been separated from their parents by the U.S. government at the U.S.-Mexico border.

That didn't last long, though.

The foster-parent calls receded and the abuse-related phone calls picked up in volume and intensity, according to Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat for the Protection of Children and Young People at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Deacon Nojadera said he doesn't know exactly why people call his office. He suggested it may be that callers expect that the office can issue reprimands to any suspected cleric: "What are you going to do about it?"

But that's not the case, he told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 13 interview. Priests accused of abuse are subject to the discipline of their diocesan bishop or religious superior; if found guilty of misconduct, priests may be laicized by the Vatican. Accused bishops, though, are subject first to the Vatican.

Parents who call sound worried, the deacon added: "How do I know my child's going to be safe if he's in formation or if he's in seminary?"

The three most notable cases this summer involve Archbishop McCarrick, who is facing a credible allegation of abusing a minor and is believed to have harassed and abused seminarians even after they were ordained to the priesthood; the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, where a vocations director who died in 2008 has recently been accused of harassment; and the Archdiocese of Boston, where Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley ordered an investigation of the archdiocesan seminary after abuse reports surfaced in early August.

"Our first job is to listen, to be empathetic," Deacon Nojadera said. Some of the callers, he acknowledged, are angry. "Well, I'm angry, too," he told CNS. Without prayer, he added, "I can't do what I'm doing,"

Both the National Review Board and the bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People are scheduled to meet in September. Deacon Nojadera said his office hopes to be able to give each body guidance on strengthening the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," approved by the bishops in 2002.

"In 2002, we were responding to a very specific situation: the abuse of children by priests," Deacon Nojadera said. "I still hold it's a very good document. It's better than nothing. It has its strengths, it has its weaknesses." He added, "We need to have a very serous discussion on what we can do to improve what's mandated by the charter."

The charter, amended in 2011 and again earlier this year. did not take into account the possibility that bishops could be abusers, or that abuse victims could be adults, much less seminarians and priests whose path to -- and following -- ordination could be stymied by bishop-abusers.

The increased call volume experienced by Deacon Nojadera and his staff has not been experienced in two dioceses contacted by CNS.

"We've all spent time processing among staff and clergy, because this is another level of concern and another level of distress for all Catholics," said Beth Heidt Kozisek, victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, in a phone interview with CNS. "But we really haven't had an increase in the number of calls from parishioners or general members of the community."

The allegations against Archbishop McCarrick, a former cardinal, weren't published in either the Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska's largest newspaper, or the local daily, The Grand Island Independent, Kozisek said. "I found it online but I didn't see any comments online," she added. "Is that a sign of our rural culture -- nobody's reading the news? They're busy farming and other activities?"

"Baton Rouge has not experienced an increase in allegations or calls in the last month due to the Cardinal McCarrick story," said an email to CNS from Amy Cordon, victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"My colleagues and I do not see our ministry to victims of clergy abuse as a job. We are ministers," Cordon said of herself and her fellow victim assistance coordinators. "And our boss, Jesus Christ, never disappoints.

"This is why you are not seeing a mass exodus of victim assistance coordinators when these stories continue to break 10-plus years after the charter was written," she added. "Most of us work under truly holy men of God and are very fortunate to have good bishops who care for those who have been harmed. I can certainly say that is the case in Baton Rouge."

Deacon Nojadera recalled the instance of one caller, who had worked with the resigned cardinal, first weeping with anguish over the phone and then voicing anger over the situation. "First, I have to listen," he said.

But the moment, he said, may signify the need for "a spiritual cleansing in the church."

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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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...

By Greg Erlandson

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Catholic News Service posted a short video of the Pennsylvania attorney general's Aug. 14 news conference announcing a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses, its editors had to add a warning about the graphic language viewers would hear.

The actual 900-page report chronicling 70 years of child sexual abuse by 301 priests is much, much worse. There are images of rape, perversion and blasphemy that will be hard to excise from a reader's imagination, vile and disgusting acts that have shattered the lives and faith of the more than 1,000 victims and their families.

Harder still is to understand how some leaders could have known about these acts of profound betrayal and not have been enraged 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 in their flocks, and that men of the cloth would fail to respond appropriately.

The clergy sexual abuse crisis has been, and remains today, ultimately a crisis regarding the responsibility of church authorities. The profound distrust of institutions -- law, science, education, government -- that permeates our society permeates our church as well. This distrust strikes at the heart of a hierarchical structure -- that those who bear the most responsibility and most power have at times failed us. "Put not your trust in princes," sang the psalmist. Indeed, many Catholics no longer do.

And yet we must not paint all bishops and priests today with the same brush that has tarred some. Many more bishops have met with victims, cried with them, and responded to their needs than in years past. Many more priests speak out forthrightly from their pulpits, addressing the scandals and encouraging those who have been hurt to come forward.

In the wake of the recent revelations involving Pennsylvania, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick and other allegations that have come to light involving seminaries, there are four take-aways from this horrible new chapter in the life of our church.

First, the bishops today, as descendants of the apostles and descendants of those who previously occupied the positions they hold now, must convincingly demonstrate a spirit of repentance and recommitment. Their people, and society at large, are not looking for more generic apologies and corporate-sounding assessments of current performance. They must act boldly and concretely if their apologies are to be taken seriously.

Their recommitment must involve greater accountability and greater transparency. To do this, they must have the support of the Vatican. This won't be easy. There are many bureaucratic and institutional forces that do not want the sins of the fathers to be exposed and that are blind to the great peril our church is already in.

Second, many are calling for a greater role for the laity in investigations and in future decision-making. It is a tremendously positive development that lay boards have become involved in assessing abuse allegations. Past scandals documented in Pennsylvania so often involved only clergy in investigative and decision-making roles. The church needs lay men and women to be actively involved in the purification and renewal of the church.

There also should be a renewed appreciation for the role of the church's own media in informing and forming Catholics. At least 39 bishops have spoken out about the initial scandal involving Archbishop McCarrick, yet some dioceses no longer have effective communication tools to make sure that their people are hearing the voices of their bishops. Worse still would be if diocesan publications are tempted to avoid publishing news of these scandals, even though their secular counterparts are putting it on the front page. This destroys the credibility of Catholic media and further undermines the leadership of the bishop.

Third, we must acknowledge how much has changed since the scandals that rocked the U.S. church in 2002. The church now is far different from even 16 years ago. Extensive procedures for training young people, for background checks and for reporting violations have been put into place. Victims are much more likely to be treated with sympathy and their reports taken seriously. Since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was implemented in 2002, it is estimated that the church has spent $4.4 billion on these procedures as well as on payouts to victims and their attorneys. No other social institution even comes close to this level of commitment.

Which brings us to the fourth point. Solving the problem of sexual abuse and accountability in the church will not solve the problems of sexual abuse and accountability in society. There are an estimated 60,000 cases of child abuse in the United States each year. Multiplied over a span of 70 years, this number would be horrifying.

Abuse in the larger society is no excuse for the 301 priests (about 5 percent all priests who served in those dioceses over a period of 70 years) who are guilty of abusing at least 1,000 victims. Yet if any good is to come out of this long tragedy, it may be that the church -- humiliated and scorned as it now is -- may be able at some point to contribute to a much greater healing that needs to take place in our country and our world.

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Erlandson is director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jeffrey Bruno

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Chris Bell was working in Times Square in the late 1970s, he was shocked to repeatedly see young mothers entering crisis shelters with their children, and he decided that he had to do something.

With the help of Father Benedict Groeschel, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and his spiritual director at the time, Bell founded Good Counsel, a network of pro-life maternity homes.

Currently, Good Counsel operates six homes -- four in New York state, one in New Jersey and one in Alabama -- and works with other homes all over the country. It also is looking to both grow and expand its network.

"Good Counsel is one of the founding members of the National Maternity Housing Coalition," Bell told Catholic News Service. "Most of the homes are small and limited in what they can do, but we can help find a place for any pregnant woman in the country."

Bell said that any pregnant women can enter the maternity homes for free, and the homes will help provide them with opportunities to go back to school and find jobs.

Good Counsel will even assist pregnant women with drug addictions or mental illnesses and help find suitable places for them.

They also can help plan adoptions. Bell said that many women don't realize that they can choose the couple who would adopt their child and fear that the child will be placed in the foster care system.

Bell said that many women who are told that their child will have genetic defects can benefit from maternity homes.

"I don't know why the only response so many medical people have is to tell the mother to get rid of it if it looks like the child will have genetic defects," he said. "Especially in the United States, where we're rich and have the technology to help them."

He told the story of a woman whose doctor told her that her unborn son had a defect in every cell in his body, and the doctor recommended she abort.

She then called Good Counsel, saying "I just want to be a good mother." Good Counsel took her in, found a different medical facility for her, and prayed with her because she wanted to pray.

When the boy was born, the fears of the doctor were unfounded. He had a hole in his heart, which required two surgeries, but by the time the mother left the home her son looked like any other one-year-old.

Bell also told another story of a mother who already had a 3-year-old when she came to Good Counsel.

When she told the father that she was pregnant, he kicked her in the stomach and she left him.

Within her first few months, she had obtained a home health certificate, and, after having the baby and staying with him for a few months, she found a job.

"When I think about where she was when she came to us and where she was when she left, it was a total turnaround," Bell said.

Bell said he thought that media coverage was one reason for a lack of awareness about maternity homes.

"I think the media has a strong bias against anything anti-abortion," he said.

Despite that, he intends on continuing his work.

"The question I ask: Isn't there enough love in the world for another baby? Where there's love, there's life, and where there's life, there's hope. We can change things by looking at one life at a time and one family at a time."

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Editor's Note: Information about the Good Counsel network of homes can be found by going to goodcounselhomes.org or by calling (800) 723-8331.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is traveling to Irelandspecifically for the World Meeting of Families, but the sex abuse crisis isdominating headlines before hisAug. 25-26 trip.While coverage of clerical abuse in the United States, Chileand Australia continues, Irish news media have been filled with articles abouthow a top Vatican official allegedly tried to get Irish government officials tosupport deals that would protect church records of abuse allegations and limitthe financial liability of the church.Former Irish President Mary McAleese said Cardinal AngeloSodano, then the Vatican secretary of state, approached her in November 2003 aboutan agreement or concordat to protect church records, and Dermot Ahern,Ireland's former foreign minister, said Cardinal Sodano asked him in November2004 about the Irish government indemnifying the church against court-orderedcompensation for victims. Many of the institutions where the abuse took place...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is traveling to Ireland specifically for the World Meeting of Families, but the sex abuse crisis is dominating headlines before his Aug. 25-26 trip.

While coverage of clerical abuse in the United States, Chile and Australia continues, Irish news media have been filled with articles about how a top Vatican official allegedly tried to get Irish government officials to support deals that would protect church records of abuse allegations and limit the financial liability of the church.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, then the Vatican secretary of state, approached her in November 2003 about an agreement or concordat to protect church records, and Dermot Ahern, Ireland's former foreign minister, said Cardinal Sodano asked him in November 2004 about the Irish government indemnifying the church against court-ordered compensation for victims. Many of the institutions where the abuse took place were supported by the state or subject to state inspection.

Cardinal Sodano, the now 90-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals, has not responded to the claims, nor has the Vatican press office.

Writing Aug. 7 in the Irish Times, Marie Collins, who had been one of the abuse survivors Pope Francis named to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said that in Dublin the pope "should admit the responsibility the Vatican and church leadership hold for past events in Ireland and set out how he is going to deal with the abuses happening today in other parts of the Catholic world."

"He needs to do more than make promises," Collins wrote. "He must commit to action."

U.S. Dominican Father Thomas Doyle, who has spent decades working with survivors of clerical sexual abuse, told the Irish radio RTE Aug. 13 he hoped Pope Francis would have the courage to admit publicly that the Vatican itself was involved in covering up abuse crimes.

"I believe that kind of a statement coming from him is absolutely necessary because the day is long gone when people will tolerate them saying, 'Well, we're sorry for the pain you suffered, for the mistakes that were made.' No," he said, "it wasn't mistakes. It was an intentional program, an intentional, systemic program" to protect the church above all else.

Officials chose to "sacrifice the thousands of victims for the image and the welfare and the power of the institution," Father Doyle said. "The apology has to come from the top."

A meeting with Irish survivors of abuse is not on the pope's official schedule, but in the past, such meetings were announced only after they had taken place.

Irish newspapers reported Aug. 1 that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he was certain Pope Francis would speak of the abuse scandal, but he was not sure that the pope would have time to meet with survivors given that he would be in Ireland only 36 hours.

Collins told RTE the next day Vatican officials "are delusional" if they believe not meeting survivors would keep the topic of abuse out of the news while the pope is in Dublin. "Ignoring an issue is not going to make it go away."

What the pope "needs to do, particularly now as the flood gates are opening around the world," she said, is to state clearly "what he is going to do about this crisis in the church. At the moment it is not being addressed."

A session on "safeguarding children and vulnerable adults" is scheduled for the World Meeting of Families' pastoral congress Aug. 24, the day before the pope arrives. It will be moderated by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the pontifical commission, and Collins is scheduled to be one of the presenters.

The magnitude of abuse inflicted by Catholic priests, religious brothers and women religious in Ireland is staggering.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the church in Ireland was rocked by a series of very public revelations about sexual abuse and, particularly, about how the abuse and allegations of it were mishandled by senior church leaders. The abuse included thousands of cases of sexual and physical abuse in Catholic residential schools and care facilities, including the so-called Magdalene laundries where young women were sent for having children out of wedlock or being suspected of sexual promiscuity.

A series of judicial reports detailed a pattern of cover-up and a tendency to put the avoidance of scandal and the reputation of the church ahead of the needs of those who were abused. Four Irish bishops resigned after being criticized for their handling of abuse allegations.

One of the judicial reports, released in 2009, focused on the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975-2004. An independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, looked at the handling of some 325 abuse claims in the archdiocese over that 30-year period.

The report concluded that during those years, rather than being concerned about the victims, Catholic leaders were more interested in "the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets."

In 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the people of Ireland and addressed survivors directly: "You have suffered grievously, and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen."

Pope Benedict also ordered an apostolic visitation of Ireland's four archdioceses, its seminaries and its religious orders and put U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Brown, a longtime official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in charge of the nunciature in Ireland. The move came after the previous nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was recalled in 2011 after an independent judicial report accused the Holy See of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

In July 2014, Pope Francis held his first meeting as pope with survivors, including two from Ireland. They were accompanied by Collins, who was then serving on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Collins resigned from the commission in March 2017, saying some Vatican offices were blocking the implementation of recommendations made by the commission.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the dioceses

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops" that have led to sexual abuse and caused great harm to many, said an Aug. 14 statement from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of its child protection committee.

"We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

They pledged "to maintain transparency" and provide for "the permanent removal of offenders 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 concluded.

The prelates' joint statement was issued in response to the release the same day of a grand jury report based on a months-long investigation by the state's attorney general into sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses -- Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg.

The report covers a span of over 70 years. Many of the claims go back decades.

"(The report) again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades," said Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty.

"We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse," they said. "As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops."

They added, "We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank."

Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty said the USCCB committee headed by the Indiana bishop and the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection at the bishops' conference in Washington "will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen."

In 2002, the bishops adopted the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which, they said, "commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse." The charter was revised and updated in 2011 and again in 2018.

"We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone," the two prelates said. "All policies and procedures regarding training and background check requirements are made publicly available by dioceses and eparchies."

"We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in God's loving presence as the church pledges to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice."

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Editor's note: The full statement from Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty can be found at https://bit.ly/2MvN7yc.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said Aug. 14 that during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, he "established strong policies that addressed the needs of abuse survivors, removed priests from ministry and protected the most vulnerable in the community."

He said he also "traveled to Rome to challenge successfully a Vatican decision to reinstate a (Pittsburgh) priest removed from ministry as a result of substantiated child abuse claims."

Cardinal Wuerl made the comments in response to the Pennsylvania attorney general's release the same day of a grand jury report on a months-long investigation of abuse claims in the Pittsburgh Diocese and five other dioceses in the state -- Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie, Scranton and Allentown.

The report covers a span of over 70 years and many of the claims are decades old.

"There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report says. "But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere."

In his statement, Cardinal Wuerl said that while he understands the report "may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse."

"I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report," he added.

In his statement and in an Aug. 13 letter to priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl said that the part of the report he was allowed to see before its official release had references to 32 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. His statement was accompanied by a fact sheet about his years in Pittsburgh.

It said "the facts are" that during his tenure as Pittsburgh's bishop, the diocese "promptly investigated" allegations of child sexual abuse and took appropriate actions, including removal of priests from ministry.

"The diocese required removal of a priest from ministry in the event of an admitted or substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse," the fact sheet said. "While allegations of abuse were being investigated, priests were placed on administrative leave and/or sent for professional psychological evaluation."

The grand jury report "does not distinguish between allegations and proven facts," it said. "The report assumes that mere allegations against a priest should have resulted in permanent removal from ministry. This assumption is mistaken."

During his 18 years in Pittsburgh, "scientific, psychological and medical understandings of child sexual abuse evolved significantly, as did civil and church law," the statement said. "Still, throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh, as well as afterwards, Cardinal Wuerl sought to implement child-protection policies that kept pace with or were ahead of that evolution."

"As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop," Cardinal Wuerl said in his remarks. "The sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a terrible tragedy, and the church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely."

In his letter to priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl said the report "will be a reminder of grave failings that the church must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness.

"It will also be a reminder that there are many survivors of such abuse whom we must continue to keep in our prayers, and whose pain we must seek to help bear and lessen through accompaniment and care."

He said that he could not "fully express the dismay and anger I felt, when as a newly installed bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, I learned about the abuse some survivors experienced in my diocese."

"It moved me not simply to address these acts, but to be fully engaged, to meet with survivors and their families, and to do what I could to bring them comfort and try to begin a process for healing," he continued. "It also urged me to develop quickly a 'zero tolerance' policy for clergy who committed such abuse, and put in place a process to ensure that an y allegation of abuse was addressed as fairly and forthrightly as possible."

He also noted that while the grand jury report references 32 Pittsburgh priests, during the seven decades the report covers, "about 1,800 or so diocesan priests served the people of Pittsburgh in their parishes and schools."

In that time, he added, "more than 5,000 priests served across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in that same time frame."

"Between 1988 and 2006, how the church -- and society as a whole -- dealt with the scourge of child sex abuse evolved: mandatory reporting and adjudication of such claims, for example," he added. "But what never changed was my commitment to the survivors of the abuse and their families."

He said to the priests that he expected the report would be critical "of some of my actions" in Pittsburgh, but he said he also believes "the report also confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the survivors and to prevent future acts of abuse."

"I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report," Cardinal Wuerl said.

He urged prayers for anyone harmed by clergy, adding, "Our commitment to addressing this scourge and supporting survivors, and encouraging survivors to come forward for assistance and to seek justice must not waver."

"The Catholic Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuses of the past, and we are now in the midst of a new era where our communal bonds of trust are once again being tested by the sin of abuse," he added.

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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...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tim Shaffer, Reuters

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) - A Pennsylvania grand jury report issued Aug. 14 paints a picture of a Catholic Church in six of the state's dioceses that for decades handled claims of sex abuse of minors under its care by hiding the allegations and brushing aside its victims.

More than 300 priests were linked to abuse claims and over 1,000 victims were identified, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a news conference following the report's release.

"The main thing was not to help children but to avoid 'scandal,'" says a biting sentence about the behavior of church leaders and officials in the report, detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.

The report of almost 1,400 pages covers a period of 70 years into the past, including information from the early 2000s, a time when news of the clerical sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. Before its release, some urged that the report be read keeping in mind that a lot has changed in the church since then, and also that not all of the report's claims are substantiated.

In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, for example, a few priests named in the report are still working there because diocesan officials could not substantiate claims of abuse made against them, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik told local reporters Aug. 10.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper reported that Bishop Zubik said: "There is no priest or deacon in an assignment today against whom there was a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse." He said he would explain the process to parishioners following the report's release.

But there are many painful claims.

In the news conference, Shapiro described allegations of a priest who physically molested a group of children by telling them he was doing a "cancer check," one who he said "impregnated" a girl, others who had boys strike a religious pose naked to take pictures of them. Shapiro spoke of a "systematic cover-up" by church officials who took information to the Vatican, who also did nothing to help victims. He also spoke of priests who "weaponized faith" and had the victims go to confession for the sins that had just been committed against them.

Some of those who testified before the grand jury were present for the release of the report. Reporter Brandie Kessler, of The York Daily Record, tweeted: "Victims and family members are being led in. I'm seeing a few people starting to cry."

Some bishops from the six dioceses named responded almost immediately after the release.

"I read the grand jury report on child sexual abuse with great sadness, for once again we read that innocent children were the victims of horrific acts committed against them," said Harrisburg's Bishop Ronald. W. Gainer in a statement shortly after the document's release. "I am saddened because I know that behind every story is a child precious in God's sight; a child who has been wounded by the sins of those who should have known better."

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie appeared in a news conference and took questions shortly after the report's release, saying he wanted to address the victims and spoke of their "unimaginable pain" and suffering.

"You were betrayed by people holding themselves out as servants of God," he said. "Each one of you has your own story with pain and grief that is unique to you I don't know presume to know ' I want to assure you that you are not responsible in any way for what happened to you."

He said he offered "sincere apologies" for each of victims.

"Because of the report, the public will begin to understand your pain in a new way," he said, pledging that the Diocese of Erie would not "shroud abusers in secrecy no matter who they are and how long ago it took place."

Bishop Zubik said in a statement, "We are sorry, I am sorry. I take this report to heart. It is a story of peoples' lives."

"No one who has read it can be unaffected," he said, including many who are themselves victims of child sexual abuse and its details would reopen wounds. But no doubt some would feel "betrayed" by the church, too, he added.

"Today, I again apologize to any person or family whose trust, faith and well-being has been devastated by men who were ordained to be the image of Christ," he wrote. "Ever since I first met victims of clergy child sexual abuse in 1988, I have seen the immense pain that this crime causes to its victims, to their loved ones and to the heart of Jesus. Their words break my heart. I have cried with them and for them over the damage done to them and their families by men whose lives should have been committed to protecting their souls from harm. I dedicate myself to helping them and to doing everything possible to prevent such abuse from happening again."

He said the report points out instances in the past when the church did not respond effectively to victims.

"Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did," he said. "For that I express profound regret."

The grand jury said it found in its investigation that those who claimed sexual abuse of their own or of their children by Catholic clergy or other church workers were "brushed aside," and officials became more concerned with protecting the abusers because they wanted to protect the image of the church, the report says.

Some of those named in the report had their names redacted, or blacked out, after challenging the inclusion of their identities in it without having the legal opportunity to defend themselves. They are scheduled to have a hearing with the court in September.

Some of the dioceses involved said they would release the names of those facing "credible allegations" in the report when the document was made public and some of them did so immediately.

The Diocese of Erie added five names to its list Aug. 14 and those names were not included in the grand jury report, said Bishop Persico. Some, such as the Diocese of Harrisburg, made its list public Aug. 1, updating it Aug. 6, adding the name of an accused priest to it after receiving "additional information."

"We again emphasize that this is a list of accusations; we did not make assessments of credibility or guilt in creating this list," a statement from the diocese said.

Not all who are accused of sexual abuse or of covering it up in the report are priests. Some on the lists released by dioceses are deacons, some are seminarians, teachers or other church workers, and some are no longer alive. Some are accused of being in possession of child pornography, others of inappropriate touching, kissing, soliciting a child for sex, but most are listed as "sexually abusing a child."

Following the sex abuse crisis in 2000, the U.S. bishops in 2002 approved procedures and protocols for addressing allegations of abuse. But Shapiro seemed to cast doubt that it was enough.

"They claimed to have changed their ways," he said.

The development comes as the Catholic Church in the United States finds itself grappling with the late July resignation from the College of Cardinals of a beloved and respected retired prelate, now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, 88, of Washington, following decades-old allegations that he sexually abused seminarians and at least two minors. He has been removed from public ministry, as of June 20, and is awaiting a Vatican trial.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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