Topic: Official Releases

Media Release: New Chair and Vice Chair Elected to the CMSM National Advisory Council

Jesus with the Children

 

Board and Officers of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) announce that the National Advisory Council (NAC) has elected a new Chair and Vice Chair

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary quality, expertise and generosity of these two new officers of the National Advisory Council. The NAC is similar to the National Review Board (NRB) of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The NAC is an independent panel of nationally recognized experts who volunteer their time and which advises CMSM on all matters related to the protection of minors for religious institutes of men in and throughout the United States. Dr. Len Sperry will replace Dr. Kathleen McChesney as Chair and Steve Levatino will replace Dr. Rolando Diaz.

Len Sperry, M.D., Ph.D., D.Min. is Professor and Director of Clinical Training at Florida Atlantic University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board certified in psychiatry, preventive medicine, and clinical psychology. He has consulted with religious orders and dioceses throughout the U.S. on the health and well-being of priests and other ministry personnel. Among his 1000+ professional publications are Sex, Priestly Ministry and the Church: Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction and The Inner Life of Priests, both of which received best book of the year awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Steven Levatino, Esq. has practiced law since 1991 and has a wide breadth of experience in business law, litigation, and church law. He practiced as a partner in one of the largest firms in Texas for 13 years. He has had extensive experience prosecuting and defending sex abuse claims in state and federal court. He is rated as an AV Preeminent® attorney. AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional ability and ethical standards. He also has been elected as a Fellow to the Texas Bar Foundation. Membership in the foundation is reserved for the top 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys. Election to the Fellows is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Fr. Brian Terry, President of CMSM stated, “These are extraordinary and talented experts who have graciously offered their services to the religious of the United States and to the mission of the Church. The good work that happens here creates a ripple effect elsewhere throughout the world.”

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Official Release: CMSM Sick with Grief and Disgust Over Ending DACA 

DACA Puzzle image

September 11, 2017

As Catholic religious leaders in the U.S., CMSM is sick with grief and disgust at the recent decision by the administration to put children and young people in abrupt uncertainty by ending DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation to about 780,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. We have already heard reports of DACA students so disoriented by this decision that they have risked suicide. Further, the decision not only puts these children of God at risk of deportation in the near future but also even death in unknown, often dangerous countries.

Over 90% of these youth have graduated high school and nearly 90% are employed. If a legislative fix is truly desired then the administration should work with Congress rather than throw these children and young adults into turmoil. Our leaders should be asking what is justice rather than exact a narrow obsession with the apparent rule of law. It is simply not justice to further marginalize the vulnerable. God calls us to care for immigrants and treat them “no differently than the natives born among you.” (LV 19:34).

CMSM Executive Director, Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap. proclaims, “The President and Congress are playing the welfare and the lives of children, young people, and families against legislators who have shirked their responsibilities to provide the citizens of the United States an immigration policy worthy of the principles on which our society and our government are based. The moment to act justly and rightly is now.”

We see once again that we can no longer rely solely on phone calls, emails, statements, meetings with politicians, and spirited vigils or rally’s. We need to tap further into the creativity of prayer driven nonviolent resistance. In accord with our recent CMSM resolution on Gospel Nonviolence, we lift up our commitment to “solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for vulnerable immigrants.”

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CMSM Celebrates the Common Brotherhood in Religious Life, Elects Officers, and Approves Resolution on Nonviolence

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA (August 16, 2017).   The annual assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), whose leaders represent more than 17,000 Catholic religious brothers and priests in the United States, was held August 1–4, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  At the opening event participants heard the first of four spiritual reflections presented by the Brother Stephen Glodek, SM, of the Marianist Province of the United States in St. Louis, MO, who provided daily spiritual reflections on the theme of the assembly, “All Brothers – Mediators of God’s Love.” Beginning with a reflection on the foundational vocation of the Brother as men “abiding in God,” Br. Glodek asserted that brothers serve as doorkeepers of male religious life.  On each of the following days, he then referred to brothers as a face of the covenant with God’s people, to the identity and mission directly reflected in the very name “brother,” and to brothers encountering persons at the peripheries of grace who may “appear to us as the foreigner and the enemy.”

In the first of the two keynote addresses at the assembly, Brother John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, delivered a presentation entitled, “The Mission and Charism of the Religious Brother:  An Uncomplicated Witness.” Br. John Mark challenged major superiors to examine how they might put the charism of their institutes in the primary place as an “uncomplicated witness,” musing on the rightfully positive commitment of members both for identity and for mission and speculated about how institutes of both lay and clerical members might benefit if all special formation for ministry were delayed until new members make a final commitment to communion in the charism. He admonished brothers in institutes “to be aware of the dignity of your call as consecrated religious in the Church, but to strive to live it with the greatest zeal.”

Father James Heft, SM, formerly chair of the Theology Department at the University of Dayton and now president of the Institute for Advance Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, was the second major speaker at the assembly. His talk was entitled “The Common Brotherhood of Religious Life.” With reference to the development of religious charisms, Father Heft provided the attendees with a reflection both upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit imparted to founders of institutes and upon the dynamic role of laity in the development of religious institutes for the sake of mission. He cited two recent influential Church documents, one from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the importance of charismatic and prophetic gifts in the Church and a second document issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the identity and mission of the religious brother. The second document strongly supported the importance of the quality of community life in the vocation of the lay religious. Fr. Heft concluded with reference to five areas pointing to a more positive future for religious brothers which single out the great charismatic gift that the brotherhood is for the Church: the centrality of Baptism; vibrant communities of prayer; prophetic ministries; uniform dress that distinguishes the role; and, a “Marian style of evangelization” which is both prophetic and contemplative.

In his address to the assembly as President of the Conference, the Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA, spoke of his conviction regarding the mission and purpose of the Conference as it serves leadership and thus enables strong mission in relation to a multifaceted, universal Church that embraces a “coessential charismatic dimension of faith” witnessed to in religious institutes. He invited two members of the Executive Committee, Very Rev. Joseph Rodrigues, SDS, and Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, to contribute their observations on the workings of the CMSM as a Conference in relation to the other dimensions of the Church.

Brother Sean D. Sammon, FMS, a Marist Brother of the Schools, facilitated a panel discussion at the conclusion of the assembly in which the theme of the assembly was explored in conversation with three young men who, having experienced education with Marist Brothers, articulated both what they saw and what they learned about this way of living discipleship. Their comments allowed a new generation of young Catholics to address leadership and share what they see in the Church, in their peers, and in the men committed to religious life who taught or interacted with them.

A pre-assembly workshop entitled, “Model Procedures for Review Boards: A Practical Application,” was led by Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, CFC, Ph.D., who facilitated a conversation between the participants and a number of panelists. The workshop sought to help assure consistency in the utilization of Review Boards and to insure the highest level of confidence that child-care industry standards regarding the protection and safety of children and young people are being utilized.

At the membership meeting of the assembly, the members considered and overwhelmingly approved a resolution on nonviolence entitled “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church. The resolution states: “The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) resolves to use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

During the elections which were held at the membership meeting of the assembly, CMSM members chose the Very Rev. Mark Padrez, O.P., Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, as President-Elect of the Conference. He will be installed as President at the conclusion of the 2018 assembly. Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, Provincial of the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest Province, was chosen as Vice President and he immediately began a two-year term. The CMSM membership also elected an At-Large member of the National Board: the Very Rev. Michael Thompson, CJ, Superior General of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephites). He begins a three-year term.

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CMSM National Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution on Gospel Nonviolence

Dove

On August 3, 2017, the national assembly of the leaders of U.S. Catholic men’s religious institutes overwhelming approved the resolution “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church.” Extending the fruit and work of the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome 2016, this resolution commits and calls members of the CMSM to “use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

Many of our members have religious brothers courageously serving and creatively practicing nonviolence in zones of violent conflict in the U.S. and around the world, such as South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and El Salvador. We see the violence in our streets, the structural violence of massive inequality and preparations for war, and the cultural violence of some political discourse, all white supremacy, and lack of basic respect for others who disagree with us.

CMSM President, Very Rev. Brian Terry, SA says “We need always to remember the words of Pope Francis which reminds us that if we are not giving witness to the Gospel of Christ we are giving testimony to something else.”

The resolution celebrates Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace Message which affirmed that “true followers of Jesus embrace his teaching about nonviolence” and called us to “make active nonviolence our way of life.” The resolution commits members and calls the broader Catholic Church to regularly pray for conversion and confess our own violence; to educate about Gospel nonviolence and a just peace approach; to train, advocate, and invest in building up nonviolent practices such as restorative justice, unarmed civilian protection, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent civilian-based defense; as well as to offer solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for immigrants, oppressed religious and ethnic minorities, and other marginalized persons. Finally, it commits us and calls the Catholic Church to de-legitimate war by building up alternatives to the violence of lethal force and moving away from justifying war. Further, it commits us to advance Vatican II’s call to “outlaw war” by moving away from just war reasoning and toward a just peace approach for transforming conflict.

Read the full resolution text.

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See the new Implementation Guide

CMSM Inaugurates a New Position for the Protection of Minors

 

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men is pleased to announce the hiring of the Rev. Gerard J. McGlone, S.J., Ph. D., to serve as Associate Director for the Protection of Minors. The appointment was announced today by the Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., Executive Director. This newly created position responds to the Conference’s desire to designate a person singularly devoted to serve as a primary resource person of the Conference for its Member Institutes as they participate in and develop programs for the protection of minors. Fr. McGlone will assist institutes in addressing their common commitment to make the Church and the Member Institutes places of safety for children and to stand in unity with the efforts of the universal Church to create safe environments.

Fr. McGlone will formally begin his position in mid-August.

In August of 2016 the leadership of the CMSM accepted a series of recommendations made by a specially formulated National Advisory Council composed of professionals and experienced leaders after a two-year study of the efforts of its member institutes in and through their programs, policies and procedures to fully affirm and collaborate with the ecclesial hierarchy of the United States in applying the values and principles articulated in the Charter for the Protection of Children. One recommendation of the Advisory Council held that the Conference of Major Superiors designate one person to singularly serve the members in these matters, and especially to offer assistance to small institutes with limited resources so that compliance might be achievable by all institutes, regardless of size. The National Board of the CMSM determined that the person hired for this new position should be tasked to gradually implement the ten recommendations of the National Advisory Council announced last summer. Since the autumn of 2016, the Conference worked to define the tasks to be undertaken by the Associate Director, to find funding for the position, and to conduct a broad search for candidates for this position.

Fr. McGlone will leave his current position as Director of Counseling Services, Staff Psychologist, and a member of the Faculty at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, to accept this role on behalf of men entrusted with leadership in religious institutes in the United States. Because Fr. McGlone has previously served the Church and religious life in the United States through a position at St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, PA, and as a consultant on formation of new members, and as a retreat director, he is well known to both leadership and members of individual institutes.

The leadership of the Conference will formally introduce Fr. McGlone as director at the August 2017 National Assembly and will present a vision for this new position. Executive Director, Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., stated: “I look forward to collaborating closely with someone I have grown to admire for the breadth and depth of the expertise and knowledge he brings to the field of promoting the safety of children within the ecclesial community. Jerry knows religious life very well, and will, I am certain, generously serve our members to advance the cause and the practices of both safety for children and a balanced and healthy lifestyle for members of religious institutes.”

CMSM President, Very Rev. Brian Terry, SA, Minister General of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, stated: “The Conference is deeply grateful to Fr. McGlone for joining us in our commitment to provide safe environments for all children. Fr. Jerry brings a wealth of experience which will assist our members and the Church.”

Download a PDF of this media release.

Download a PDF of Fr. McGlone’s biography.

CMSM Statement on U.S. Bombing in Syria

Syria and Iraq

U.S. Bombing in Syria: We Must Break Free from Retaliation

President Trump recently launched 59 cruise missiles at an air base in Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack within Syria. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, mourn for all those that died in both of these incidents, and we denounce this use of violence which only exacerbates the habits and structures of violence. In fact, these habits and structures are part of the core root causes of this conflict, which has already killed over 300,000 people and led to almost 5 million refugees and 7 million internally displaced persons.

The President has continuously emphasized the “rule of law” and yet in this case it appears that he obtained no congressional approval, nor did he allow for formal due process investigating the facts of the incident. We strongly support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ investigation into this incident and call on all parties to provide access.

As Christians, we go deeper and turn to the example of Jesus who courageously resisted injustice, even with his very life, and offered compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. This week we enter into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus facing the violent structures of Jerusalem, risking his life, and providing a way to overcome through his nonviolent cross.

Pope Francis has clearly said that, “countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all” (Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace, Jan. 1, 2017). Thus, he called on all persons, especially government officials to use the Sermon on the Mount as the manual for peacemaking and to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their responsibilities.

CMSM Executive Director Fr. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., says, “Our hearts were broken as we learned of the suffering inflicted upon Syrian families and children with chemical weapons. And our hearts were wounded a second time in a violent response with cruise missiles bombing, destroying, and killing yet more. The US response manifested strong military power but showed nothing of a united will to lift, rescue, and save suffering people from the ravages of war. The US can be so much better than this.”

The issue we must face is not simply chemical weapons, but war itself along with the habits and structures of violence that enable it. The U.S. has too often been involved in killing thousands in recent wars, especially civilians and children, as we have seen most recently in Mosul, Iraq and our direct support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” on April 4th, we are reminded of his words that “war is not a just way of settling differences,” and it cannot be “reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.” Hence, we recommit to Vatican II’s call that “it is our clear duty to strain every muscle to outlaw war” (Pastoral Constitution, 81). Further, we commit to Pope Francis’ call to make “every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence” (Nonviolence: Style of Politics for Peace) as we create a “culture of nonviolence…that has produced decisive results” (Letter to Bishop Cupich, Apr. 4, 2017).

Download this statement as a PDF.

Previous CMSM statement on use of chemical weapons and alternative responses – Sept. 6, 2013.

Media Release: ICE Must Respect Places of Worship and Ministry

ICE Logo

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials apprehended six men exiting a hypothermia shelter on February 8 at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia — violating ICE’s own policy not to conduct enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” like houses of worship. We, who are called to be Catholic religious leaders, are deeply troubled by the pattern of deportations of those seeking refuge who do not pose a “significant threat to national security and public safety.” We are outraged when a government agency breaks its commitment to religious respect and invades and violates holy ground. No action of a government should ever bring fear into any person who seeks worship or aid at a religious house of worship or religious sponsored place. Our constitution guarantees our freedom of worship and religion even when it embraces acts of mercy.

As Christians, we turn to the example of Jesus who often had a compassionate and merciful justice humanity could not imagine. The very soul of our country is based on being free from religious oppression. Are we so blind as to not see how many frightening moments in our world’s history began by the erosion of a universal belief in dignity for all and oppression of religion? We choose to remind all people of our long standing Catholic social teaching on the poor and Pope Francis renewed call to all humankind to encounter the other, build bridges with relationships, and resist injustice.

CMSM President Fr. Brian Terry, SA says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ The very words of Jesus’ parable ring in my ears. I cannot imagine the pain filled eyes of the six vulnerable men who joyfully escaped the death of a cold night because of the care of a loving Church, only to be imprisoned as they exited… by the cold steel of handcuffs, a freezing cold steel of terror and despair which would go right into your soul.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is implementing President Trump’s recent executive orders to increase immigration enforcement by targeting all undocumented immigrants, including a Methodist lay leader in Kansas, a mother in Arizona, and now, men coming out of a church ministry that provides shelter in extremely cold conditions. People are increasingly afraid to go to school, hospitals, and places of worship. We promote the value of law and order, but we also recognize the greater values of merciful justice and compassion.

We invite others to join us in denouncing these deportation efforts that harm the “least of our brothers and sisters.” We especially denounce the irreverence, disrespect and violation of sensitive locations, such as houses of worship and ministry which belong to God and the erosion of our Constitutional right to be free from religious oppression by our government.

For more information about this media release, contact Eli McCarthy or call 301-588-4030.

Download a printable copy of this media release.

Joint LCWR and CMSM letter to President-Elect Trump

White House

SILVER SPRING (January 18, 2017). The Presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) representing the elected leaders of more than 55,000 Catholic religious sisters, brothers, and priests sent a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump reminding him of the gift and responsibility of leadership. LCWR President, Mary Pellegrino, CSJ and CMSM President, Brian Terry, SA write out of their concern for the critical needs facing the country and the world today, and the call to respond through the service of leadership. They express deep concerns about the “fractures and divisions” that “threaten the wellbeing and freedom of all Americans and those who have fled in fear to our shores and borders.” They urge all of us to commit to “respectful and dignified civil discourse.”

View the Full Release.

View the Letter.