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Heads Up about the Bishops Gathering

Director’s Reflection

Dear Companions on the Journey,

As some who follow this column know, attention to the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis has been a recurring topic, both in Paulist Center Community actions and this column. I return to it again here, with a “heads up” and an invitation:

The Heads Up:  During the third week of February, in Rome, Pope Francis will gather bishops from around the world. Already public expectations are way too high for this meeting, thereby leading to an inevitable sense of frustration and disappointment. Indeed, even Pope Francis has warned against high expectations for this meeting.

For many bishops from diverse parts of the globe, there is a sense that the clergy sexual abuse crisis is a peculiarly American problem.  Other bishops feel that Americans are proposing solutions for this problem without seeking input from them.  And for still others, American solutions (e.g., turning in Church workers, including priests, over to the police) would not be welcome.  One can well imagine that, in some Muslim or Hindu or communist countries, the last thing that Catholics would do is turn their priests – even if guilty – into hostile officials’ hands.

No, it is Pope Francis’ hope and intention to educate bishops from around the world to the terrible scourge of child abuse and to require Church leaders to be on the forefront of educating and fighting against such terrible, sinful acts, especially among its own leaders. And Pope Francis will be holding them to account for doing this.  To get to such a point will be, for some countries, a goal far beyond where they are right now.  Please pray for the Holy Father and the success of this meeting.  And pray for holiness for our Church.

The Invitation:  In 2013, Paulist Center community member Michael Mack performed his marvelous “Conversations with My Molester.”  By chance, I was here at the Paulist Center for one of the performances.  At first, the idea did not attract me, but I went anyway…and I am so glad that I did.  The title may sound a bit morose.  But as one who has seen it, I can assure you that the play is complex, thought-provoking, engrossing, entertaining, and, in the end,

hopeful. As many of you have noticed, I have insisted in all my speaking and writing on this topic that we keep the plight of the victim at the center of our concern. This one-man play does it. I invite you to join us. When?  7:30pm, Saturday, February 16th and 23rd. Where? Here at the Paulist Center.  How much?  $10 donation requested (but don’t let finances keep you away. If you don’t have the $10, come anyway!).

What do you think?

And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center