“In the name of the Church, I apologize once again to the victims.”

Cardinal Ouellet and Archbishop Brown at Lough Derg

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and these days the papal delegate to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, yesterday apologised once again for the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. He did so in a homily given at Station Island in Lough Derg, an ancient pilgrimage site in the north of Ireland.

Prior to the Mass and homily, Cardinal Ouellet met for two hours with various victims of sexual abuse, which was a deeply moving encounter, as the cardinal said. He stayed overnight at the island, together with Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, the diocese in which Lough Derg is located. At the time of his ordination, in July of 2010, Bishop MacDaid said about the abuse crisis, “We [the church] have been brought to our knees but maybe that is no bad thing,”  which is exactly what the delegation did at Station island. They fasted and joined other pilgrims in acts of penitence.

Following the homily, the following intercessions were prayed:

  • For the Church: that its leaders be bestowed with wisdom and courage to strengthen people’s faith and nourish them on their journey. Lord, hear us.
  • For all of us here present: that we may be the salt of the earth for those around us and a light to guide people on their pilgrim way. Lord, hear us.
  • For the failure to love, respect, nurture and cherish young people, particularly the most vulnerable, we ask your forgiveness. Lord, hear us.
  • For the crimes and sins of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated against children and young people, especially in Church-run institutions, by clergy and other servants of the Church. Lord, hear us.
  • For the inadequate response often given by Church leaders when abused people told their stories, we ask forgiveness. Lord, hear us.
  • That all whose lives have been broken by abuse of any kind may experience support and lasting healing. Lord, hear us.
  • For personal intentions, for intentions of other pilgrims and for all who are sick. Lord, hear us.
  • For all who have been bereaved, and for our dead, especially family members and other loved ones; for those who died recently, all who have been pilgrims to Lough Derg and for those who died tragically or through violence. Lord, hear us.
  • Lord God, through the intercession of Patrick our Patron, hear the prayers of your people gathered here in faith and hope.  As you nourish us with your word, give us also the bread that gives us life – Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

On the world stage, Cardinal Ouellet is becoming the Church’s point man when it comes to personal account with victims and internal reparation for the sins committed. In February, he led a penitential liturgy in Rome, and as the responsibility of bishops in cases of sexual abuse is ever under scrutiny in and outside of the Church, it is sensible for the prelate in charge of appointments of bishops to be closely involved.

A translation of the Cardinal’s homily is available here.

Photo credit: Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

“The great star, the true supernova” – Pope Benedict on the feast of Epiphany

Every year on the feast of Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor, ordains several new bishops himself. These are almost always bishops who will be working in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps. Yesterday, two men where ordained in St. Peter’s: Archbishop Charles Brown, the new Nuncio to Ireland, and Archbishop Marek Solczynski, who will be the Nuncio in Georgia and Armenia.

The pope’s homily, available in Dutch here, is once more an excellent reflection on the nature of the feast and what is has to  say about the ministry of bishops. A worthwhile read, which also delves into the Magi and the incarnation of God.

Archbishop Brown and the holy father after the former's consecration

Photo credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

With apologies for being late, Pope Benedict announces 22 new cardinals

After a busy morning in which he consecrated Archbishops Charles Brown and Marek Solczyński during today’s Epiphany Mass, the Holy Father appeared a bit later than usual for his noon Angelus address. He quickly moved to the big event that was already causing a considerable buzz among Catholics – journalists and otherwise – on Twitter: the announcement of a consistory on 18 February in which no less than 22 new cardinals – among them 18 electors – will be created.

Soon swapping the purple for red, Archbishop Eijk will be in need of a new official portrait

There are a few big names in the list, but standing out for us here in the Netherlands is that of Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk. Three years after his arrival in Utrecht, he will become the metropolitan see’s fifth cardinal in a row. Turning 59 in June, Cardinal-designate Eijk will be able to participate in at least two conclaves, I would think (unless the sucessor of Pope Benedict will pull a JPII and remain on the seat of St. Peter for 20 years or more).

The selection of Archbishop Eijk was not unexpected. His name was already mentioned in the run-up to the November 2010 consistory, but the 80th birthday of Cardinal Simonis, the only Dutch elector, cleared the way for Eijk to succeed him in the College of Cardinals. With the title of cardinal comes, of course, a title church in Rome and a whole bag of expectations. And certainly the local media, which has been seeing the Church and the archbishop in the light of the abuse crisis, will be asking a whole heap of questions about Eijk’s suitability for the red hat. But these are questions being asked too late. A candidate’s suitability as cardinal flows from his suitability as bishop or priest. Added to that is the issue of the College of Cardinals reflecting the world Church and the importance of a see or curial position reflected in a cardinal title. The Archdiocese of Utrecht under the guidance of Archbishop Eijk is, in the mind of the pope and most likely also in light of the future, deserving of a cardinal at the helm.

Here is the full list of future cardinals:

  • Fernando Filoni, 65, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People
  • João Bráz de Aviz, 64, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
  • Manuel Monteiro de Castro, 73, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (only appointed as such yesterday!)
  • Giuseppe Bertello, 69, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State
  • Domenico Calcagno, 69, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of theApostolic See
  • Giuseppe Versaldi, 68, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  • Santos Abril y Castelló, 76, Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber and Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
  • Edwin Frederick O’Brien, 72, Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
  • Antonio Maria Vegliò, 74, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
  • Francesco Coccopalmerio, 73, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
  • Giuseppe Betori, 65, Archbishop of Firenze
  • George Alencherry, 66, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly
  • Thomas Christopher Collins, 65, Archbishop of Toronto
  • Willem Jacobus Eijk, 58, Archbishop of Utrecht
  • John Tong Hon, 72, Bishop of Hong Kong
  • Rainer Maria Woelki, 55, Archbishop of Berlin (the youngest member of the College of Cardinals)
  • Timothy Michael Dolan, 62, Archbishop of New York
  • Dominik Jaroslav Duka, 68, Archbishop of Prague
  • Prosper Grech, 86, Priest of the Order of St. Augustine
  • Karl Josef Becker, 83, Priest of the Society of Jesus
  • Lucian Muresan, 80, Major Archbishop of Fagaras si Alba Iulia (Romanian)
  • Julien Ries, 91, Priest of Namur, Belgium

This consistory is a fairly Italian affair. With 7 new cardinals, Italy easily overtakes the United States and Germany, which each gain two cardinals (Dolan and O’Brien; Woelki and Becker), Brazil (Bráz de Aviz), Portugal (Monteiro de Castro), Spain (Abril y Castelló), India (Alencherry), Canada (Collins), the Netherlands (Eijk), China (Tong Hon), the Czech Republic (Duka), Malta (Grech), Romania (Muresan) and Belgium (Ries) each have one new cardinal.

Four of the cardinal-designates: Filoni, Ries, Woelki and Duka