Monday, January 17, 2011

Between "Both Great Scandals," the Visitation Continues

It might've been his 64th birthday, but yesterday saw Archbishop Thomas Collins faced with a less-than-celebratory task -- leading a penance service for the Irish clergy sex-abuse scandals on his Apostolic Visitation to the country's southern province.

During the rite at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles, Co. Tipperary -- seat of the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly -- the Toronto prelate revisited the lone-voiced approach to the crisis that he first employed during its European eruption last year: a line of thought that, among others, won plaudits from no less than the New York Times....
“What does the most persistent journalist who reports priestly evildoing have in common with St John Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests?

“They both expect priests to be holy.”
...and more:
Collins said a practical way in which the Catholic Church could show its concern was by "doing all that we can to learn from this experience of evil, and so to try to be sure that it never happens again"....

"We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that the great majority of priests serve faithfully, with integrity and compassion....

"[E]ven one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priests have done unspeakable evil, sometimes within the very sacramental setting which should above all environments be most sacred and safe.

"But it is the sacred responsibility of us all, but most especially of the authorities in the church, to do what we can to prevent such evil, and to deal with it effectively whenever it is found.

"The crimes themselves, and the failure of church authorities to respond adequately to them, are both great scandals.

"We recognise the courage of the victims and their families who came forward and shone the cleansing light of truth on their suffering."
* * *
On a related note, with the seminary leg of the Visitation begun over the weekend as Archbishop Timothy Dolan arrived at the Irish College in Rome, it's emerged that, in tow, the Gotham prelate has brought along a "dream team" of prelates with top-shelf formation cred to aid him in the process.

Beyond the previously-reported addition of Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore -- Dolan's predecessor as rector of the Pontifical North American College (as well as a two-time rector of New York's St Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie) -- the group likewise includes President Tim's top protege, Bishop Bill Callahan OFM Conv. of LaCrosse (a highly-regarded spiritual director at the NAC before being dispatched back to the States as Dolan's auxiliary in Milwaukee); Msgr Francis Kelly, a priest of Worcester currently serving as rector of the Casa Santa Maria (the NAC's home for priest grad-students), and two sons of Pittsburgh: the once-longtime head of the USCCB's vocations desk, Bishop Ed Burns of Juneau, and Bishop Bernie Hebda of Gaylord, a former #3 at the Vatican's canon-law council, who doubled as a spiritual director atop the Gianicolo while in the Curial post.

From Rome, the team heads to the Isle's four domestic seminaries, beginning with St Patrick's, Maynooth, on 31 January.

While the seminary look-in's lead is, of course, no slouch it comes to articulating a gold-standard of formation, as yardsticks go, it could be said that the guiding vision for what Dolan & Co. will be seeking was given on Irish soil last year: the address the Visitor gave last May at Maynooth, only hours before the Holy See announced the unprecedented inquest.