Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Letter from my Bishop concerning abuse allegations against the Pope

April 1, 2010

Dear People of God,

These past few months have brought to light revelations of clergy sexual abuse of minors beyond our borders, especially in Ireland, Germany and Italy. Hearing the news accounts of such allegations brings intense sadness to many Catholics as well as outrage. The sexual abuse of minors is a hideous crime. Not only does it inflict incredible harm on an innocent child, it also causes the faithful to distrust the men ordained to serve you and lead you to Christ. I commend to your prayers our many priests who have served you so faithfully over the years for their continued wellbeing and holiness.

Distrust and outrage has also been directed toward bishops and Church officials, especially when there is news of secrecy or inaction related to clergy sexual abuse in order to prevent scandal. Some news reports claim that this is the case with Pope Benedict XVI. While there have been instances of hiding abuse by some bishops in the interest of maintaining a good reputation, it is also the case that much of the current reporting is erroneous. The recent accusations labeled against the Holy Father by some news agencies especially the New York Times, is an example.

The record shows that the Pope has been an active international Church leader in combating the scourge of clergy sexual abuse. It is not possible to enumerate the ways his record has been misconstrued but one example may be helpful. The media has generally stated that the then Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005, presided over all cases dealing with the sexual abuse of minors by clerics. In actuality, any such case was sent to the Roman Rota (Vatican Court) until 2001. Prior to 2001, the Holy Father had nothing to do with the vast majority of such cases. I recommend looking up the current blog entitled Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis by John Allen, a reporter from the National Catholic Reporter. His blog may be found at There is an even more direct response from Cardinal Levada entitled, “The New York Times and Pope Benedict XVI,” which may be located at

I also note that allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors, usually are about incidences that occurred 20 to 30 years ago. The Causes and Context study being accomplished by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice has demonstrated conclusively that the level of such incidences (roughly 3% to 4% of priests from the 1970’s), is highly unlikely to happen again. My point is not to diminish the harm done, but to hold up the priests who serve you today. Unfortunately, a few bad priests of the past can cause much damage to the priesthood as a whole.

Remember to pray for victims of abuse that they may know healing. Remember too to pray for the great number of faithful priests who have suffered their own form of victimization as a result of a few. The stain of sexual abuse by a few bad priests has caused much harm to the image of the Church, yet the Church remains as the means by which Christ offers us salvation. This is, after all, what we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

I pray that you all may have a blessed Easter and that these next 50 days of Easter be a time to celebrate the new life we receive as a result of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

In the risen Lord,

Michael W. Warfel

Thursday, March 25, 2010

God's Call to Evangelize

Here is my final talk of the series

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God's Call to Priesthood/Religious Life

Here is the fourth talk of five

Highlights from the USCCB Fact-sheet on Community Health Centers

You can find the whole document here

Fact #1: A long and consistent series of federal court rulings since Roe v. Wade requires that broad statutory mandates for provision of health services must be construed to include mandated provision of abortions, unless the statute specifies otherwise.

Fact #2: In line with this legal precedent, the Community Health Centers program would be required to provide abortions now if not for the Hyde amendment.

Fact #3: The new funding appropriated for community health centers by the Senate health care bill is not covered by the Hyde amendment.

Fact #4: The Senate health care bill itself contains no relevant provision to prevent the direct use of federal funds for elective abortions.

Conclusion: In line with longstanding federal jurisprudence, the authorizing legislation for Community Health Centers creates a presumptive mandate for funding abortions without meaningful limit. Currently such funding is prevented only by the fact that funds under the Labor/HHS appropriations act are governed by the Hyde amendment. By appropriating new funds not covered by Hyde, and by failing to include any relevant abortion limitation of its own, the Senate health care bill as presently worded would disburse billions of dollars in federal funding that no one could prevent from being used for elective abortions.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

God's Call to Marriage

Here is the third talk in my Lenten series

Solid priestly identity essential

I think this is an important message addressing something we've lost in the identity of our priests.

Solid priestly identity essential as secularism grows, Pope tells priests
Vatican City, Mar 12, 2010 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict met with priests and bishops participating in an international theological convention on Friday and spoke with them on the importance of understanding what it means to be a priest. This awareness of their identity is all the more important as secularism advances and some try to reduce the priesthood to being almost a 'social worker.'

Speaking of priestly identity in the modern "policentric" context, which often fades our idea of identity, "it is important clearly to bear in mind the theological specificity of ordained ministry, in order not to surrender to the temptation of reducing it to predominant cultural models," the Pope began.

In the presence of "widespread secularization which progressively tends to exclude God from the public sphere and from the shared social conscience, the priest often appears 'removed' from common sense," Pope Benedict said, adding that it's often a result of “the most fundamental aspects of his ministry."

For this reason, he explained, "it is important to avoid a dangerous reductionism which, over recent decades... has presented the priest almost as a 'social worker,' with the risk of betraying the very Priesthood of Christ."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

God's Call to Healing

Here is the second of my Lenten talks

Friday, March 5, 2010

Called to Conversion

This is the first of a five part series of Lent reflections on our call by God.

Watch for the others in the coming days.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Care & Share Homily

This is a version of the homily from this past weekend.