Bishop gathers senior team to examine processes for reporting abuse

NOTE: The following letter was published in the August 9, 2018 edition of The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen.

Since becoming your bishop just over two years ago, I have been regularly uplifted – and affirmed in my own ministry – by so many faithful and committed priests, religious and lay people. I am constantly amazed to learn about new initiatives here which strive to deepen our friendship with Christ, and the numerous efforts that so many undertake to provide genuine responses to tragic situations that call upon us to show the mercy of God to those in need. I also feel strengthened by the examples of generosity that I have experienced when I have called upon you to help me respond to building up our local Church, in order that we can meet so many needs together. The people of the Diocese of Metuchen are an inspiration.
I continue to be saddened and ashamed, however, by reports of the abhorrent events we have been learning about in regard to Archbishop McCarrick – and I know you must be, too. Our efforts to evangelize, and spread the Good News of Christ, have been hobbled by these atrocities.  
I am praying for all those who have been hurt and praying that God’s mercy will bring healing and consolation. My heart also breaks for our faithful people, and the clergy and religious of our Diocese, as we face another tragic situation within the Church that we love. Nonetheless, I am grateful that the processes the Church has in place regarding child sexual abuse have been shown to work. The case of Archbishop McCarrick demonstrates that the culture of the Church is changing and that no one is exempt from its censure – regardless of a person’s rank or status, or the number of years that have passed since an incident occurred. As I have done in the past, I continue to urge anyone who has been abused to bring the situation to the attention of law enforcement officials. Also, I want to reiterate that the Diocese stands poised and ready to help any who have been abused.
I am also working to address how we can ensure that similar abuses, especially of seminarians or young priests, would not happen again, particularly by those in positions of authority over them. I have begun to bring together a senior team of advisors to examine reporting processes. Clearly, the safety of an independent reporting structure that allows for anyone to bring an allegation forward without the fear of retribution of any kind is needed. Accountability on all levels helps to ensure that a healthy, wholesome environment prevails to form and train our future priests. I know that I do not have to reiterate to the people of this Diocese that proper priestly formation is central to renewal in the life of the Church.
In the Diocese of Metuchen, we are seeing a new springtime with men studying for the priesthood. We are blessed with the most seminarians we have had in 25 years. They are good men, striving to make over their hearts like the Good Shepherd’s own caring heart. Of course, years ago it might have been relatively easy to enter the seminary, and receive the accolades of family, parish and society at large for deciding to become a priest. That is not the case now. Our young men seek to join in this life of service to God and His people at a time when it would be easy to ignore the call and choose another path. Yet, they choose to listen to the quiet call of the Lord, asking them to “follow me” just as our Lord asked the apostles two thousand years ago. I thank God for them, as I thank God as well for you, who support these dedicated young men in their response to God's call in these challenging times.
I ask for your prayers as the Church faces so many challenges in our world today. We know that the Holy Spirit protects the Church by ensuring the truth of the presence of Christ who is its keystone, its heart and its foundation. The Holy Spirit wraps the Church in this protection in spite of our sinfulness — and, it must be said in candor, in spite of the sinfulness of some of its leaders. Despite the failings of the past, however, we remain steadfast in hope. This hope anchors our faith in the credibility of this sinful yet holy Assembly of Believers, a living paradox of unity in diversity, as we endeavor to build the Kingdom of God established through the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) 
In the midst of the trials we currently face, I do not want to miss pointing out that Christ is still at work in His Church! This summer, in addition to my weekend visits to parishes for Mass, I have been taking advantage of the lighter weekday schedule to visit some vacation bible schools, religious communities of sisters, nursing homes, prisons and some parishes for daily Mass. It is an honor to be with you, and it is evident that people everywhere are still yearning to see Christ in us – a willingness to place their hope in the many ministries and initiatives through which the Lord Himself uses our humble humanity to touch us with His grace. We must never forget that, in every age, the antidote to the ills that beset the Church is for men and women everywhere to rise up in sanctity.  Let us not lose our vision: to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith.” (Heb 12:12) To Him be glory and praise forever.
Be assured of my prayers for you and know of my gratitude for you. Please remember to pray for me too. God bless you!

Since becoming your bishop just over two years ago, I have been regularly uplifted – and affirmed in my own ministry – by so many faithful and committed priests, religious and lay people. I am constantly amazed to learn about new initiatives here which strive to deepen our friendship with Christ, and the numerous efforts that so many undertake to provide genuine responses to tragic situations that call upon us to show the mercy of God to those in need. I also feel strengthened by the examples of generosity that I have experienced when I have called upon you to help me respond to building up our local Church, in order that we can meet so many needs together. The people of the Diocese of Metuchen are an inspiration.

I continue to be saddened and ashamed, however, by reports of the abhorrent events we have been learning about in regard to Archbishop McCarrick – and I know you must be, too. Our efforts to evangelize, and spread the Good News of Christ, have been hobbled by these atrocities.  

I am praying for all those who have been hurt and praying that God’s mercy will bring healing and consolation. My heart also breaks for our faithful people, and the clergy and religious of our Diocese, as we face another tragic situation within the Church that we love. Nonetheless, I am grateful that the processes the Church has in place regarding child sexual abuse have been shown to work. The case of Archbishop McCarrick demonstrates that the culture of the Church is changing and that no one is exempt from its censure – regardless of a person’s rank or status, or the number of years that have passed since an incident occurred. As I have done in the past, I continue to urge anyone who has been abused to bring the situation to the attention of law enforcement officials. Also, I want to reiterate that the Diocese stands poised and ready to help any who have been abused.

I am also working to address how we can ensure that similar abuses, especially of seminarians or young priests, would not happen again, particularly by those in positions of authority over them. I have begun to bring together a senior team of advisors to examine reporting processes. Clearly, the safety of an independent reporting structure that allows for anyone to bring an allegation forward without the fear of retribution of any kind is needed. Accountability on all levels helps to ensure that a healthy, wholesome environment prevails to form and train our future priests. I know that I do not have to reiterate to the people of this Diocese that proper priestly formation is central to renewal in the life of the Church.

In the Diocese of Metuchen, we are seeing a new springtime with men studying for the priesthood. We are blessed with the most seminarians we have had in 25 years. They are good men, striving to make over their hearts like the Good Shepherd’s own caring heart. Of course, years ago it might have been relatively easy to enter the seminary, and receive the accolades of family, parish and society at large for deciding to become a priest. That is not the case now. Our young men seek to join in this life of service to God and His people at a time when it would be easy to ignore the call and choose another path. Yet, they choose to listen to the quiet call of the Lord, asking them to “follow me” just as our Lord asked the apostles two thousand years ago. I thank God for them, as I thank God as well for you, who support these dedicated young men in their response to God's call in these challenging times.

I ask for your prayers as the Church faces so many challenges in our world today. We know that the Holy Spirit protects the Church by ensuring the truth of the presence of Christ who is its keystone, its heart and its foundation. The Holy Spirit wraps the Church in this protection in spite of our sinfulness — and, it must be said in candor, in spite of the sinfulness of some of its leaders. Despite the failings of the past, however, we remain steadfast in hope. This hope anchors our faith in the credibility of this sinful yet holy Assembly of Believers, a living paradox of unity in diversity, as we endeavor to build the Kingdom of God established through the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) 

In the midst of the trials we currently face, I do not want to miss pointing out that Christ is still at work in His Church! This summer, in addition to my weekend visits to parishes for Mass, I have been taking advantage of the lighter weekday schedule to visit some vacation bible schools, religious communities of sisters, nursing homes, prisons and some parishes for daily Mass. It is an honor to be with you, and it is evident that people everywhere are still yearning to see Christ in us – a willingness to place their hope in the many ministries and initiatives through which the Lord Himself uses our humble humanity to touch us with His grace. We must never forget that, in every age, the antidote to the ills that beset the Church is for men and women everywhere to rise up in sanctity.  Let us not lose our vision: to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith.” (Heb 12:12) To Him be glory and praise forever.

Be assured of my prayers for you and know of my gratitude for you. Please remember to pray for me too. God bless you!

The Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Bishop of Metuchen

 


 

El Obispo reúne un equipo directivo superior para examinar los procesos de reporte de abusos

Desde que me convertí en su obispo hace poco más de dos años, constantemente, he sido edificado por tantos  sacerdotes, religiosos y laicos fieles y comprometidos quienes han sido una fuente de inspiración para mi.  Sus ejemplos de vida han sido una afirmación en mi propio ministerio.  Me continúan sorprendiendo con las diversas iniciativas que tienen profundizar su amistad con Cristo, y los numerosos esfuerzos para proporcionar respuestas genuinas a situaciones trágicas que nos incitan a  mostrar la misericordia de Dios a los necesitados.  También me siento fortalecido por los ejemplos de generosidad que he experimentado cuando los llamé para ayudarme a responder a la construcción de nuestra Iglesia local, a fin de poder satisfacer tantas necesidades en conjunto.  La gente de la Diócesis de Metuchen son una inspiración.

Estoy entristecido y avergonzado por los informes de los hechos abominables que se han sacado a la luz  con respecto al Arzobispo McCarrick, y sé que ustedes deben estarlo también.  Nuestros esfuerzos por evangelizar y difundir la Buena Nueva de Cristo han sido obstruidos por estas atrocidades.

Estoy orando por todos aquellos que han sido heridos y rezo para que la misericordia de Dios traiga curación y consuelo.  Mi corazón también esta destrozado en el nombre del clero y los religiosos de nuestra Diócesis, mientras que enfrentamos otra situación trágica dentro de la Iglesia que amamos.  No obstante, estoy agradecido de que los procesos que la Iglesia ha implementado con respecto al abuso sexual infantil sean efectivos.  El caso del Arzobispo McCarrick demuestra que la cultura de la Iglesia está cambiando y que nadie está exento de su censura, independientemente del rango o la condición de la persona, o la cantidad de años transcurridos desde que ocurrió el incidente.  Como lo he hecho en el pasado, sigo exhortando a todos los que han sido abusados a presentar su reclamo ante los funcionarios de la ley.  Además, quiero reiterar que la Diócesis se mantiene firme y lista para ayudar a cualquier persona que haya sido abusada.

Además sigo trabajando para poder garantizar que abusos similares, especialmente entre los seminaristas o los jóvenes sacerdotes, no se repitan, principalmente por parte de aquellos que ocupan cargos de autoridad sobre ellos.  Acabo de iniciar la organización de  un equipo de asesores para examinar los procesos de presentación de reclamos de abuso o acoso sexual.  Obviamente, se necesita la seguridad de una estructura independiente que permita a cualquier persona presentar una acusación sin temor a represalias de ningún tipo.  La responsabilidad a todos los niveles ayuda a garantizar que prevalezca un entorno saludable y sano para formar y capacitar a nuestros futuros sacerdotes.  Sé que no tengo que reiterar a la gente de esta Diócesis que una formación sacerdotal adecuada es central para la renovación en la vida de la Iglesia.

En la Diócesis de Metuchen vemos una nueva primavera con hombres estudiando para el sacerdocio.  Estamos bendecidos con el numero más grande de  seminaristas que hemos tenido en 25 años.  Son hombres buenos que desean que sus corazones sean transformados en el corazón bondadoso del Buen Pastor.  Por supuesto, hace años podría haber sido relativamente fácil ingresar al seminario y recibir los elogios de la familia, la parroquia y la sociedad en general por su decisión de convertirse en sacerdote.  Ese no es el caso ahora.  Nuestros jóvenes buscan unirse a esta vida de servicio a Dios y a su pueblo en un momento en que sería fácil ignorar el llamado y elegir otro camino.  Sin embargo, eligen escuchar el llamado silencioso del Señor, pidiéndoles que "me sigan" tal como nuestro Señor les preguntó a los apóstoles hace dos mil años.  Doy gracias a Dios por ellos, y también agradezco a Dios por ustedes, que apoyan a estos jóvenes dedicados en su respuesta al llamado de Dios en estos tiempos difíciles.

Pido sus oraciones en estos momentos en que la Iglesia enfrenta tantos desafíos en nuestro mundo de hoy.  Sabemos que el Espíritu Santo protege a la Iglesia al garantizar la verdad de la presencia de Cristo, que es su piedra angular, su corazón y su fundamento.  El Espíritu Santo es la fuente de la protección de la Iglesia a pesar de nuestra naturaleza pecadora, y debe decirse con sinceridad, a pesar de los pecados de algunos de sus líderes.  A pesar de los errores del pasado, sin embargo, permanecemos firmes en la esperanza.  Esta esperanza ancla nuestra fe en la credibilidad de esta Asamblea de Creyentes pecadores pero santos, una paradoja viviente de unidad en la diversidad, mientras nos esforzamos por construir el Reino de Dios establecido a través de la encarnación, sufrimiento, muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo que es "el mismo ayer, hoy y siempre". (Hebreos 13: 8)

En medio de las pruebas que actualmente enfrentamos, ¡no quiero dejar de señalar que Cristo todavía está trabajando en Su Iglesia! Este verano, además de mis visitas de fin de semana a las parroquias para la misa, he aprovechado el horario más ligero de la semana para visitar algunas escuelas bíblicas vacacionales, comunidades religiosas de hermanas, hogares de ancianos, prisiones y algunas parroquias para la misa diaria. Es un honor estar con ustedes, y es evidente que las personas en todas partes todavía anhelan ver a Cristo en nosotros—colocan su esperanza en los muchos ministerios e iniciativas a través de las cuales el Señor mismo usa nuestra humilde humanidad para tocarnos con Su gracia. Nunca debemos olvidar que, en todas las épocas, el antídoto contra los males que aquejan a la Iglesia es que los hombres y las mujeres de todas partes vivan su llamada a la santidad. No perdamos nuestra visión: "mantener nuestros ojos fijos en Jesús, quien inspira y perfecciona nuestra fe" (Hebreos 12:12). A Él sea gloria y alabanza para siempre.

Cuenten con mis oraciones por ustedes y sepan de mi gratitud por ustedes.  Por favor, recuerden orar por mí también.  ¡Dios les bendiga!

Reverendísimo James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Obispo de Metuchen