Hello and welcome!
In keeping with Pope Francis’ desire to promote safeguarding in the Church, substantial revisions to the Code of Canon Law have been announced this week. I suspect that there will be more changes going forward, but we are very grateful for the important changes that have been promulgated at this point.
The reform of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law is a significant and welcome step forward for the whole Church. In the apostolic constitution “Pascite gregem Dei” and in the revised canons, Pope Francis has provided important principles and norms for the safeguarding of all persons, with particular attention to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable persons.
The provisions for mandatory reporting of suspected crimes, the involvement of the laity in penal processes, and the accountability of bishops and Church leaders for these processes are, for example, essential elements to achieving Pope Francis’ stated goal of a new “way of thinking” that leads to the faithful “observance of the Church’s law” (Pascite gregem Dei). The sexual abuse of minors is now properly recognized first of all as an “offense against human life and dignity” and the new canons provide the means for addressing cases in which a bishop or other leader abuses his or her office or power in order to commit a canonical crime.
Our Commission gratefully receives these documents and looks forward to studying them together and to offering our advice to the Holy Father for their effective implementation.
You may recall that last week I was in Ohio for the funeral of the father of one of our Capuchin brothers, Brother Tommy Piolata. On my way back to Boston, I stopped in New York to attend a small gathering of friends to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the priesthood of Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros.
Bishop Cisneros and I have been friends for decades, so it was a great joy to be with him and congratulate him on this happy occasion.
I returned to Boston on Memorial Day, and on Tuesday, I participated in a virtual meeting of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. During our meeting, we discussed the materials that the committee has prepared for the special Year of St. Joseph that we are currently observing.
We also had a great deal of discussion about the efforts to prevent passage of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal money from being used to pay for most abortions. Last week, I issued a letter on the need to mobilize our people around this important issue, and I once again encourage you to add your name to the petition at NoTaxpayerAbortion.com supporting the Hyde Amendment.
There were about 30 communities represented at our gathering, which we began with midday prayer. Afterward, we heard a lovely talk by Mother Sofia, the abbess at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, on the seven Trappist monks who were martyred in Algeria in 1996.
We then had a time of dialogue and sharing of information among the different communities.
It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the consecrated men who contribute so much to the life of the Church and thank them for their charisms and the witness of consecrated life they give through their ministries, which touch the lives of so many people in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Thursday, we held a meeting of the bishops of the province to discuss the timeline for lifting the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Of course, we were caught somewhat unawares when Governor Baker announced last month that pandemic restrictions in Massachusetts would be lifted as of May 29 since it had originally been said that they would remain in place until August.
The Diocese of Worcester is lifting the dispensation this weekend, and the rest of the dioceses of the province will be lifting the dispensation on the weekend of June 19 and 20. A letter from the bishops to that effect will be published soon. This is a good moment for all of us, and a real cause for celebration.
However, we know that, for some, there will also be a period of adjustment. So, we are preparing catechetical materials to help people to understand the meaning, importance and centrality of the Sunday Eucharist in our lives as Catholics.
I look forward to sharing those resources with you as they are available.
Until next week,