I hope that each one of you had a truly blessed and joyous celebration of Christmas. The child born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago was not just any ordinary human being. He is Jesus, (the name means “God saves”) and, as Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies of old. He is the king foretold, “… his dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice both now and forever.” (First reading, Christmas Mass During the Night)
Let us be ever mindful and thankful that, in baptism, through water and the Holy Spirit, we have been joined to Jesus and brought into the life of the Kingdom of God. Let us all endeavor to allow Jesus, our king, to rule over our lives more fully remembering that he “gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.”
May our doing good for others help them encounter Jesus, the king of the whole world.
UPDATE ON DEALING WITH SEXUAL ABUSE ISSUES
Work continues through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to follow through on the bishops’ discussion at our plenary session last November in Baltimore. The task force appointed by USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo continues the work. Consultation is underway with many persons and organizations familiar with the area of sexual abuse. Work continues to finalize “Standards of Accountability for Bishops”, develop a national hotline for reporting complaints involving bishops, and create a process for investigating complaints against bishops.
Preparations and consultation for the February meeting in Rome with the Holy Father and the presidents of the world’s conferences of bishops continues. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago has been named by Pope Francis as a member of the organizing committee.
Two suggestions from our conference are on the table for that meeting. First, the formation of a single, national, lay commission to deal with complaints made involving bishops to function in a similar way as diocesan review boards do now for dioceses; and second, that cases involving bishops be handled at the metropolitan level by that review board and metropolitan archbishop or, if it is a case of a metropolitan bishop, by the review board of the senior suffragan see and that bishop.
We bishops remain firm in our determination to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier and to develop a means of holding ourselves accountable that is genuinely independent, duly-authorized, and has substantial lay involvement.
On the local level, we have begun a review and update of the document “Policies and Procedures for the Protection of Children and Young People”. Work continues to slowly move forward dealing with the 17 cases involving the Diocese of Crookston. A mediation session with the judge was scheduled for Monday, December 17, 2018. We completed work in preparation for this session. The depositions of myself, Msgr. Mike Foltz, Msgr. Roger Grundhaus and Father Pat Sullivan were taken. However, due to a conflict in the judges’ schedule, the mediation session was canceled, and we are now waiting for a new date to be set. This is where things stand. I ask you to please continue to pray for a fair and swift resolution of all our cases.
WORLD DAY OF PEACE
Each year on January 1, we celebrate the great Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. As we gathered to celebrate God’s great gifts to Mary and Mary’s gifts to us, we also celebrated World Day of Peace. We were asked to pray in a special way for peace.
This year, Pope Francis asked that we pray especially for peace in the political arena. He noted that “Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal …” He invited us to ask God’s help for peace: peace with self: may we never be inflexible, angry or impatient with others; peace with others: family, friends, strangers, the poor, the suffering, being unafraid to be with them and listen to them; peace with all creation: knowing the grandeur of God’s gift and our responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.
Blessings to you on the New Year. We pray that peace may find firmer footing in our world in 2019.