A new apostolic letter issued today by Pope Francis, Vox estis lux mundi, expands the Church’s response to abuse by establishing worldwide standards for reporting abuse against minors and vulnerable adults, including by bishops and religious superiors.
CMSM welcomes the guidance provided by the document and will undertake a review to ensure the national safeguarding standards for religious institutes of men in the United States reflect the new provisions in this document.
CMSM is committed to prevention, accountability, healing and reconciliation, and has worked since 2002 through its members, the leaders of men’s religious institutes, in partnership with other national organizations, to promote the protection of minors. Efforts include education, awareness, the development of national standards for religious institutes, a National Advisory Council of experts, and a Director of Safeguarding Initiatives.
May 1 is the third annual Religious Brothers Day. In anticipation of this annual celebration of the life and vocation of Catholic religious brothers, CMSM has launched a new website, religiousbrothers.org. This site includes information about brothers, links to community websites, profiles, and upcoming events, such as the 2020 National Brothers Symposium.
Religious brothers and their supporters are invited to join in the conversation on social media. Share your prayers, vocation, celebrations, and thanks to Brothers who have made a positive difference in your life. #religiousbrothersday
Pope Francis issues new guidelines this week on members of religious orders who leave their community without permission and also on child protection for Vatican City-State.
“Communis Vita” amends canon law (Canons 694 and 729) to allow dismissal of a religious who is “illegitimately absent” from his or her community without permission and without contact for 12 months. The new law, which is not retroactive, goes into effect on April 10, 2019. Read more: Vatican News article and text (in Latin) and Catholic News Service article
On March 29, the Vatican released new safeguarding law plus guidelines for Vatican City-State. These include reporting, formation/education, pastoral care, a statute of limitation, and more. Catholic News Service gives a good overview and list of what is included here. The Vatican announcement is here.
Br. Larry Schatz, FSC, and Fr. Mark Padrez, OP, arrive in Rome.
The executive committee of CMSM’s Board of Directors is in Rome for CMSM’s annual visit. Over the next week, the leadership team will meet with leaders of several Vatican offices whose work relates to the life and ministry of men religious. They will share updates and concerns from CMSM members in the United States and get updates from the dicasteries.
On the trip this year are Fr. Mark Padrez, OP; Bro. Larry Schatz, FSC; Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ; and Br. Sean Moffett, CFC.
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.
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 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:
Also, follow CMSM on Facebook and Twitter.
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.