Prayer for Victims

Please join us in prayer, penance, and fasting
for healing of the victims
and the purification of the Church.

Letter from Archbishop and Communications from the Archdiocese

Nov. 18, 2018

Dear Friend in Christ,

These past few days and for good reason, all eyes have been on Baltimore and the meeting of the U.S. bishops which has just concluded. Many Catholics here in our own Archdiocese, as well as many across the country, are rightly dismayed by what they perceive as a lack of decisive action to strengthen protocols of accountability for bishops accused of sexual abuse or misconduct. Understandably, there is a sense that this was a missed opportunity – and one unnecessarily so.  

Soon after we bishops were advised of the request by Holy See to defer a formal vote on new accountability requirements at the opening of the first session, I advocated for a vote to convey the broad consensus of the attending bishops that we must be held fully accountable – as are priests, deacons, lay employees and volunteers of the Church – in matters of moral and professional conduct. I am confident that our determination to enact such standards in the United States will be expressed at the meeting in Rome next February, when the heads of the world’s episcopal conferences meet with the Holy Father to discuss global accountability measures.

In the meantime, I wish to assure God’s people of this local Church that here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, there is already in place “zero tolerance” for any deacon, priest, bishop, lay employee or volunteer who is credibly accused of sexual abuse or harassment of any kind. Moreover, the bishops of Baltimore (myself included along with Bishop Adam Parker, Bishop Mark Brennan and Bishop Denis Madden) already sign and agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct, the same that applies to all clergy, religious and lay employees and volunteers. Furthermore, I have called for the expansion of the purview of our Independent Review Board so they receive directly any allegation of misconduct by a bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Last Sunday, the Baltimore Sun featured my guest editorial in which I outlined what I believe is a viable path to reform and renewal. Without question, a commitment to utmost transparency and accountability is a non-negotiable requirement in this long and arduous journey. You can read the full editorial HERE.  

I shared many of these same sentiments in a recorded homily (CLICK HERE TO WATCH) that I asked be shared at Masses throughout the Archdiocese this weekend.

Our Holy Father is committed to the protection of children, and he expects that all bishops will be holy and faithful shepherds of God’s people. I join the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Baltimore – especially those survivors of abuse – in urging strong, decisive and swift action that leads to universal transparency and accountability.

Each and every day I am inspired by the remarkable witness that you provide to God’s saving grace and His abiding presence among us. Each and every day there is abundant evidence of the lively and active faith that sustains us and enables us to see a path through this crisis, asserting Christ’s Gospel of unconditional love, forgiveness, healing and constant care for those most vulnerable in our midst. I ask you to not lose heart and to stay with us as together we strive to bring about the healing and restoration of trust that is so urgently needed.  

I will continue to communicate often with you on these difficult and important matters. I ask humbly for your prayers that I may be faithful to my own calling as your shepherd, mindful of my own weakness and dependence on Jesus Christ who alone is the source of all goodness that we reflect and accomplish.

Faithfully in Christ,

+William E. Lori

– WBAL-TV interview: Archbishop Lori addresses church sex abuse scandal

Catholic Review: Archbishop Lori reflects on completed bishops’ meeting 

Official Statement: Though delayed nationally, Code of Conduct for Bishops and plans for independent reporting of allegations against bishops in place in Archdiocese

Archbishop’s Letter & Communications

To participate in “Archbishop Lori’s Town Hall”
connect to MyParish App (search in your app store or myparishapp.com; from the app you can connect with Our Lady of Grace in Parkton)
In the MyParish App, tap GROUPS button and join “Archbishop Lori’s Town Hall.”

Sexual Abuse FAQ_Revised_2

Abuse in the Catholic Church_RV7

Reports

The John Jay College Report:
The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s
List of Clergy Credibly Accused of Abuse

Parish Communications

Review of Our Lady of Grace Listening Session
Sunday, September 23
When Available

Other Communications & Resources

Statements and Articles

Talking with Children and Teens

Discussion and Prayer

Letter from the Pastor

8/25-26: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

“As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?””

  The living of the Gospel is not easy.  The scripture readings this week remind us of the jarring truth.  Joshua reminds the people that God freed them from slavery and challenged them not to return to slavery by serving false gods. 

  Paul’s words to the Ephesians are some of the most misunderstood and underappreciated words of Scripture.  Listeners often fail to swallow the words “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands…” Well-intentioned explanations often speak of the cultural norms of marriage and family of the Mediterranean world at the time of Paul. But these interpretations miss the mark by failing to understand Paul’s intention, not to teach us about marriage but to use marriage to teach about Christ and the Church: “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” Paul is teaching us about submission as a means to true freedom.  Rather than submission to urges or desires, Paul implores us to submits our wills to the will of God.  Follow God’s plan.  Not our own.

  And, Jesus in the Gospel concludes his teaching on the “bread of life” recognizes the difficulty and challenge of discipleship.  God’s will is not easy.  Jesus gives us the Eucharist not as a magical food source which will make living the Gospel easy but as the gift which calls us to mission.  We are to live up to the immense challenge of being the Body of Christ.

  And that leads to the question, “Who is the Church?”  Karl Marx waning philosophically described the Church as an opium of the people.  Along with a number of modern and contemporary thinkers, he looked to a world without religion as the next advancement of human civilization.  This cry was at the heart of communism and rise of the Soviet dictatorship; this cry too was at the crux of the Nazi message and Hitler’s subversion of the Christian message for the ideology that lead to massive loss of life.  And proudly, I look to those saints and the Christian Churches that faced martyrdom rather than succumb to the lies.

  Rather than faltering, this subtle message has often become overt in the attack on the Church and people of faith.  We are accused of stalling human “advances” and being behind the times.  And sadly, rather than witnessing to the power of the Gospel and the eternal life offered by Christ as witnessed by the best of us, we have faltered.  We as a Church have failed to stand with the victims of sexual abuse.  Too often those in leadership… and the people in the pews have assumed that our enemy is outside the Church.  We assumed we could do no wrong.  And in our pride, we have become the latest enemy that has tried to silence the Gospel.  Too many people have turned away from the Church because of our actions.

  This past week, I have recognized in myself some of the stages of grief.  The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report is tragic – not because the sin, corruption, and criminal abuse is coming to light but because it shakes our trust in the Church as the Body of Christ.  In the midst of working for a rebirth and momentum to grow our parish, while attempting to set the sail moving forward along path of Jesus’ mission, we keep getting stuck in this depressing muck.  We seem to be losing.

  Pope Francis’ words this week have been a small consolation, based on the teaching of St. Paul: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26).  How do we cope?  How do we heal?  How do we continue to build God’s kingdom?  I encourage adult parishioners to read the Grand Jury Report directly: www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/  But be prepared, as it is sad and disheartening.  Reading the report is not about knowing statistics or data, but the report does a beautiful job at telling the story of victims, giving their lives a voice.  Reading the report should lead us to prayer for and with the victims.

  Second, as Archbishop Lori is calling upon of the Archdiocese in conjunction with the guidance of Pope Francis, to atone.  We ought to fast and pray for forgiveness.  The Archbishop has encouraged all parishioners to join bishops and priests in a day of reparation on Friday, September 7.  The Archbishop will celebrate mass at 12:10pm at the Basilica and at 5:30pm at the Cathedral.  At Our Lady of Grace, we will extend this to include Friday, September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  As we look to the tragedy of the cross, let us continue our prayer and fasting for healing.  I will celebrate mass on Friday, September 14 for the victims of abuse at 8:30am in the Church and we will adoration following mass until 10am Benediction.

  Lastly, I encourage families to discuss the tragedy at age appropriate levels.  We are saddened.  We are culpable as the Catholic Church.  But we can be so much more.  There is hope… as we submit our own desires to the Will of God.  Freedom is found for those who commit to the path of discipleship.  I encourage you in that light to prepare for conversation by reading Pope Francis pastoral letter (Pastoral Letter) and the Archdiocesan communications (www.archbalt.org/accountablility) with letter by Archbishop Lori.

  And we will keep moving forward.  We strive to improve our mission of helping all parishioners and our entire neighborhood an encounter with the living Christ.  Our new mass schedule begins September 8-9, with a prayer for new revitalization: Saturdays 5pm, Sundays 8:30am and 11am.  Adoration will be available each Sunday in our Chapel after the 8:30am mass and before the 11am mass.  Religious Education for preschoolers and kindergartners will take place at 8:30am, with religious education for 1st to 5th grade from 9:45am to 10:45am.  Middle School religious education will take place on Monday evenings and Confirmation and High School formation will center on Sunday evenings.  Please help us strengthen our parish to live out the mission entrusted to us.

In the Lord,
Fr. Mike