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Hope for the Future at 5 Park Street… Hurt & Anger about the Past & Present Elsewhere

Fr Rich AndreRich Andre, CSP
November 11, 2022

Subtracting out the 5 weeks when I was completely overwhelmed by the fallout from Fr. Chuck’s sudden medical leave, I’ve now had about 90 days to observe the operations of the Paulist Center. I’ve talked with many community members informally, although I have a huge backlog of members and supporters to meet with. I’ve reviewed the strategic plans circa 2004 and 2010, the roundtable meetings of 2019, and the synod responses of 2022 with the Pastoral Council. The pastoral staff has spent time visioning together on retreat. While there are still many issues to consider, I think there is consensus about two “tweaks” we can make over the next few months. We hope to find ways (1) to make it easier for newcomers to build relationships within our community and (2) to continue to find ways to improve our communications. Stay tuned as we work on ways – and ask for your partnership – on both of these fronts!

Sadly and separately, we have painful Church news to share with you. This week, there have been more revelations about abusive Catholic clergy locally and abroad. Yesterday, it was revealed that 78-year-old Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, bishop emeritus of Bordeaux, France, abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. He is one of 11 bishops in France being investigated for abuse they committed or for their handling of abuses committed by others in their dioceses. The case against Cardinal Ricard is especially upsetting because he served on what is now called the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department in charge of investigating clergy abuse cases. Much closer to home, Msgr. Francis V. Strahan was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury for the alleged abuse of a minor in 2006. It is small consolation in these cases, but it seems clear that some sort of action will be taken against these men. Cardinal Ricard will likely be stripped of his privileges and responsibilities, and the Archdiocese of Boston placed Msgr. Strahan on leave 3 years ago after first learning about the allegations against him.

These news items shake many of us to our core. 20 years after the Spotlight investigation in Boston, and after a series of supposedly comprehensive Church reforms, how can such flawed pastors continue to lead hurting communities? If you are a survivor of any type of sexual abuse, we on the pastoral staff at the Paulist Center are here to listen and support you in whatever ways possible. We are committed to doing all we can to help you discern which next therapeutic or legal resources are available to assist you on your road to healing and justice. If you need to express your rage and grief about the Church abuse cover-ups or need help discerning the next phase of your relationship with the Catholic Church, we will listen to you with unconditional regard.

As we enter into the darkest months of the year, let us continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us to a future brighter than any past.