CMSM released the following statement this week following Pope Francis’ remarks on abuse against women religious by some clergy:
We are grateful to Pope Francis for shining a light on the tragic mistreatment of women religious by clergy wherever it has occurred. This abuse against our sisters in faith and service is inexcusable and indefensible. We call for an end to abuse wherever it occurs. We stand in solidarity with women religious who give so selflessly to raise up those in need across the globe. May we also always raise up their gifts and dignity.
New CARA research released for the World Day of Consecrated Life on Feb. 2, suggests good news for religious vocations. Catholic News Service reports that CARA researchers found 240 men and women had professed religious life in 2018, up from 200 in the prior survey. Seventy-one percent of CMSM major superiors responded to the annual survey this past fall.
Among the findings for men religious:
- Average age of responding religious of the 2018 Profession Class of 2018 was 38 years old
- Average age when they first considered a religious vocation: 18
- 78% of men and women religious were encouraged to consider religious life. For men, 51% were encouraged by a parish priest, 46% by a friend, 39% by a religious brother or sister, 38% by their mother, and 37% by their mother
- Ethnicity: 61% Caucasian; 17%, Asian/Pacific Islander; 12%, Latino; and 10% African/African American/Black
- 90% grew up Catholic
- 54% finished college before entering religious life
In releasing the report, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, spoke to those discerning a vocation to consecrated life: “Oftentimes, those discerning a vocation search for the perfect community. The Lord, who created every heart, knows of the way he is calling each person to serve him. Trust that he will lead you to the vocation that is perfect for you.”
Read the full report and press release.
CMSM is launching a new safeguarding webinar series in mid-February. Open to CMSM member institutes and their staffs, the free monthly webinars will cover communications, pastoral care, the use of restorative justice for community healing, and file reviews. Email us for details and registration information. The first webinar is Feb. 14.
Mark your calendar now for 2019. Join us for these national events, and check for an email from your region chair with spring region dates.
This year, our National Assembly will be an extraordinary gathering so major superiors of men and their councils are encouraged to attend. We will gather to look ahead: who religious are today within our charisms and as a “symphony of charisms,” what we are called to be, and how best to move forward at this moment in religious life. This convocation will replace the usual pre-assembly workshop and assembly format.
If you have questions about any of these events, or need to check your region or get your region chair’s contact information, please contact us at 301-588-4030 or by email.
In light of recent public discussion regarding the publishing of names of clergy accused of sexual abuse, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) has issued a letter to the leaders of U.S. institutes of men religious on the topic.
The letter, signed by Dominican Father Mark Padrez, CMSM president, and Capuchin Father John Pavlik, CMSM executive director, noted, “Since 2002, CMSM has sought to encourage best practices of members in the area of child protection.” The letter went on to say that CMSM recognizes each institute must make its own decision, and offered several points to consider in that discernment:
- Revisit this issue with consideration about what disclosure would mean for victims as well as your institute. You may wish to consult civil and canonical counsel.
- Reach out to and engage with bishops in areas where men who have been accused have served.
- Be cognizant of CMSM’s Standards of Accreditation and the USCCB’s Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchical Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacon that require that major superiors communicate information regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to the bishops where the abuse occurred and where the men reside.
- If publishing a list, consult with your canonical and civil counsel in its development. Please note that Praesidium’s Standards of Accreditation distinguish clearly between allegations that have been established and those that have not. An allegation is established when “there is objective certainty that the accusation is true and that an incident of sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.”
CMSM has actively worked to support healing and child safety policies since 2002. Its child protection efforts include education, a National Advisory Council composed primarily of lay experts, a commitment to prevention and healing, and standards of accreditation for religious institutes developed in partnership with Praesidium.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (cmsm.org | @cmsmshares | @cmsmtweets) is the national organization supporting U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.
Media contact: Susan Gibbs, 202.525.9554 and firstname.lastname@example.org
The Senate hearings this week have brought to the forefront the dignity of women.
A statement developed by CMSM notes, “In collaboration with women, we must help to create space so that women are heard, can participate equally, and many more can become leaders. As Jesus lifted up the value of women in his cultural times, we commit to continuing to engage with and for women to build a more just society and culture.”
Executive Director, Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap, commented: “While refraining from the politically divided dimensions of a difficult process, hearing the intense pain of a woman deeply wounded in an experience of sexual assault, we must join our collective voices to those who seek not to allow ourselves to pass over this moment which opened the minds and hearts of women and men everywhere to new awareness of the suffering inflicted. The moral imperative of the Holy Scriptures as well as the values of our Constitution ask for nothing less, to say nothing of the pleas from the hearts of parents grieving for their daughters and sons so scathed.”
The statement is here.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) responds to the revelation of abuse allegations in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in recent days:
Recent news out of Pennsylvania, Washington and other places regarding past abuse by clergy and religious is devastating to us, the major superiors of men religious in the United States, because these actions harmed innocent young people, and betrayed the mission and person of Christ.
We wish to stand in solidarity with those who were abused. For the men and women who have been harmed, we offer you our support. We renew our personal and organizational commitment to do all that we can to keep young people in our own ministries safe now and into the future.
We also stand with the faithful who are feeling a deep loss of trust resulting from the revelations and the scale of the reports covering the past 70 years. We share in this pain.
We affirm our commitment to the protection of young people, to creating safe environments where young people are able to flourish as children of God and people of faith.
We pledge to continue to implement child safety education, background checks, reporting, and external reviews of our child protection efforts, as we have for the past 16 years. To this end, we will continue to collaborate with other organizations on implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Young People and to be vigilant in the screening and formation of applicants for the priesthood and religious life.
We recognize a need for all of us to use the power entrusted to us because of our ministry for good. We pray in sorrow for our sins.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (cmsm.org | @cmsmshares | @cmsmtweets) is the national organization for U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States. CMSM is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Media contact: Susan Gibbs, email@example.com | 202.525.9554
The 2018 CMSM National Assembly and Pre-Assembly Workshop were featured in articles by the St. Louis Review and the National Catholic Reporter:
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Rev. Frank Donio, SAC
Pallottine Father Frank Donio was elected to the National Board of CMSM as an at-large member during the organization’s 2018 National Assembly, July 31-August 3, in St. Louis, Missouri. Three other Board members were re-elected for second terms: Fr. Jim Gannon, OFM; Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ; and Bro. Sean Moffett, CFC.
Fr. Mark Padrez, OP, president of CMSM, and Bro. Larry Schatz, FSC, recognize Fr. Brian Terry, SA, as he concludes his term as president.
Dominican Father Mark Padrez, who has served as president-elect for the past year, was installed as president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men during an August 2 Mass. He succeeds Father Brian Terry, SA.
This year’s National Assembly focused on young adults and discernment, in preparation for the Synod on Young People. Speakers included Tulsa Bishop David Konderla; Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS; and a lively discussion panel with Jesuit Father Tom Gaunt, president of CARA; Dr. Mary Hess of Luther Seminary; and three young adults: Br. Javier Hansen, FSC, Andrew Paulsen, a high school teacher in Newark, and Brian Miller of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Marist Brother Sean Sammon facilitated the panel and Assembly.
Participants also heard from Fr. Joseph Brown, SJ, professor of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University, who challenged religious in a luncheon talk on racial justice and religious institutes. On August 1, nearly 50 participants gathered with local clergy, activists and young adults at St. Alphonsus “Rock” Church in N. St. Louis for a racial justice dialogue and prayer.
The week concluded with a Mass celebrated by St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.
As the national board for the leaders of U.S. Catholic religious brothers and priests, we are called to discern wisely the signs of the times and to act courageously in our response. Gathering as a national assembly in St. Louis, MO this week, we continue to see the deep scars of racial injustice, white supremacy, and exclusion of many types of people of color in our country. We acknowledge our own sin and responsibility for racism in our lives, our religious communities, and our Catholic Church.
“Every proper conscience cannot help but decisively condemn racism in whichever heart or place it lurks. Unfortunately, it shows up in forms ever new and unexpected, offending and degrading the human family. Racism is a sin which constitutes a grave offense against God.” Pope John Paul II
Today, we revive our 2014 national assembly commitments to racial justice and to follow the Holy Spirit into new territory. We need to walk with Jesus into Jerusalem.
Thus, we commit to a long-term process of listening, dialogue, and accountability. This process will enable us to thoroughly discover the historical reality of racism, exclusion, and white privilege in our religious communities. Through such discovery we will generate concrete actions toward racial justice and solidarity.
This process will include engaging these stories and issues at our regional meetings leading up to a focused 2020 national assembly on this topic. We will provide key resources to our members to enable a fruitful and transformative process. We will also explore an anti-racism training for our upcoming board meeting.
Broad Goals of the Initiative
1) Courageous conversations about race and privilege: enable leaders to facilitate these
2) Generate concrete actions