On November 15, 2018, we held an Evening of Listening and Prayer about the Catholic Church abuse, misconduct and accountability crisis. During this session, we heard from parishioners who gave voice to their justifiable distress and anger on behalf of the innocent victims, the clergy who have been true to their vows and the Catholic faithful in general. We also heard their hopeful desires for the future of the Church. We then prayed together for justice and for healing.
For those unable to attend, we’ve established this webpage to provide information and resources to the extent the parishes within our Diocese are legally able to do so. As information becomes available for distribution, we will provide updates. Please believe that the priests and religious of this parish and the Diocese of Orlando are here to listen, to guide and to help.
Above all, please remember that the foundation of our faith comes not from the actions of fallible humans but from the unwavering love of our infallible God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Together, we ask for God’s strength so that those responsible be brought to swift justice, and those harmed find healing of body, mind and spirit through Christ’s abundant grace.
Yours forever in Christ,
Father John Giel, pastor; Father Raul Caga, associate pastor and Father Benjamin Lehnertz, associate pastor.
UPDATE January 18…
Brothers and Sisters, as we anxiously await the outcome of the upcoming Vatican Abuse Summit in Rome (February 21-24), we encourage our parishioners to join us in prayers for concrete and proactive steps that end clerical abuse and misconduct and bring justice and healing to the innocents who have been affected. To that end, in February we will be establishing a special novena prior to and during the Summit and will post information on our website and Facebook about how you can participate.
In the meantime, we’ve taken additional steps at Holy Family that demonstrate our continued commitment to maintaining a safe environment; namely, the addition of windows to the priests’ office doors in the administration building and to the confessionals in the church itself. These windows maintain the privacy of those seeking our counsel and absolution while allowing transparency of our actions. We wholeheartedly embrace these changes and pray that they will bring additional peace of mind of our faithful.
Yours in Christ,
Father John Giel, pastor; Father Raul Caga, associate pastor and Father Benjamin Lehnertz, associate pastor.
In the Words of…
Responses, insights and expressions of sorrow and healing from local, national and international religious clergy of influence.
- Pope Francis: “Grave scandals in Church, but light stronger than darkness” https://www.orlandodiocese.org/e-scroll/archive/pope-francis-grave-scandals-in-church-but-light-stronger-than-darkness/
- His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan: “A renewed commitment is part of our sorrow.” http://cardinaldolan.org/index.php/a-renewed-commitment-is-part-of-our-sorrow/
- Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, columnist for The Irish Catholic: “How to respond…” https://www.irishcatholic.com/how-to-respond/
- Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski: “Our people still do believe in God, but they don’t believe in us.” https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/miami-archbishop-our-people-still-do-believe-in-god-but-they-dont-believe-i
- Bishop Robert Barron, Word on Fire: “Q&A about the sexual abuse crisis.” https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/qa-about-the-sexual-abuse-crisis/5890/
- George Weigel, "Roots of Catholic Anger." https://thetablet.org/roots-of-catholic-anger/
- Veteran religion reporter Peter Steinfels commented on the Pennsylvania grand jury report, stating that the evidence in the Pennsylvania report, if looked at in an unbiased manner, suggests that the policies instituted in 2002 by the U.S. Church, known as the Dallas Charter, have worked, even if improvement is needed. “The Dallas Charter is decidedly not a recipe that can simply be transferred to any society or culture or legal and governmental situation around the globe,” he writes. “But American bishops should go to the Vatican’s February summit meeting on sexual abuse confident that the measures they’ve already adopted have made an important difference,” he concludes. (Read the full Tablet article by national correspondent Christopher White.)
On Aug. 16, the Executive Committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference announced the development of a concrete plan to address channels for reporting complaints against bishops and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. Their plan, which relies upon consultation with experts and laity, was released Sept. 19, and will be presented to the full body of bishops in November. http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-152.cfm
On September 12, Pope Francis scheduled a meeting from February 21-24, 2019 with the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men and women religious orders for a Vatican summit on the clerical sex abuse crisis and child protection.
On September 13, a delegation of American Bishops met with Pope Francis in Rome to discuss the abuse crisis in the States and to identify the next steps to addressing it most effectively.
On November 12, the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore convened. At the request of the Holy See, no concrete actions were to be taken regarding the clergy sex abuse crisis, pending the February meeting of the presidents of the worldwide episcopal conferences.
On January 17, The Vatican sets course for February 21-24 abuse summit. The meeting’s goal is to ensure bishops ‘clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors,’ a Vatican statement communicated. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/vatican-sets-course-for-february-abuse-summit#.XEC9gLA3yFY.email
Responding to the Most Commonly-Asked Questions
For more information, please visit these resource links:
Q: This is not the first time the Catholic Church has had to deal with a very public abuse scandal. Most notably, a number of high-profile sexual abuse cases came to light around 20 years ago. What measures did the Church initiate to actively try to prevent, and subsequently bring to light and to justice, abuses and cover-ups?
A: Over the last nearly two decades, the Church’s Charter to Protect Children and Young People, declared in 2002 in Dallas, has significantly aided in the reduction of clerical abuse and the increased accountability and transparency regarding accusations and punishment. Referred to as the Dallas Charter, it mandates:
- A “zero tolerance” policy so that no priest guilty of abuse can ever minister again;
- Full initial and ongoing cooperation with law enforcement;
- The decision regarding a clergy member’s guilt or innocence would be made by independent lay professionals from outside the Church, not bishops or other clergy;
- The names of priests proven guilty would be published;
ALL church employees, including priests and bishops, will be required to undergo background checks, fingerprinting and child safety education, with bi-annual audits by outside forensic experts to hold parish and diocesan leaders accountable.
Though the Dallas Charter certainly has helped, the clergy must pledge to adhere to a more rigorous enforcement of its mandates and additional safeguards and accountability standards from all levels of Church hierarchy, including bishops. See also: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/09/05/cara-study-indicates-decline-abuse-reports-worst-behind-us
Q: What measures are we using to ensure a safe environment within our parish?
A: The mission of Safe Environment Training and Fingerprinting (https://www.orlandodiocese.org/safe-environment/) is to prevent abuse of children and vulnerable persons through education and awareness. All church personnel and volunteers ages 15 and older must complete safe environment training in addition to a criminal background check and fingerprint clearance. Other safe environment awareness and prevention information is available on the Diocesan website in both English and Spanish at: https://www.orlandodiocese.org/safe-environment/english/awareness-and-prevention/ and https://www.orlandodiocese.org/safe-environment/espanol/educacion-y-prevencion/. These pages also include links to: Florida Statutes, Learning About L.I.F.E., Policies, Safe Environment Coordinators, Standards of Conduct, the Victim Assistance Coordinator and a video.
Q: What measures and programs are in place to address the victims of clerical sexual abuse?
A: Holy Family parish’s victims assistance program follows the guidelines set out by the Diocese of Orlando. The Diocese of Orlando maintains a strong safe environment policy. The Diocese of Orlando has been proactive since the early 1990’s by carefully checking the backgrounds of clergy, employees and volunteers who wish to minister to our children, youth and vulnerable adults. The Diocese of Orlando trains Church personnel (clergy, church employees and volunteers) on how to detect the warning signs of abuse, how to prevent abuse and how to maintain appropriate boundaries. No person, including clergy, who has been determined to have engaged in Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult, will be allowed to remain in active ministry. To report an issue of abuse, please contact: https://www.orlandodiocese.org/safe-environment/english/victim-assistance-coordinator/
For those in need of counseling, the Catholic Charities of Central Florida (CFLCC) has offered its services to anyone who has concerns that need to be addressed, or anyone in need of additional support. Please contact their Behavioral Health Services Director Catherine Galda (407-408-0280 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Program Assistant Kyle Osborn (407-969-8534 or email@example.com). You can also learn more on their website: https://cflcc.org/behavioral-health-services/
Q: What programs are in place, if any, to teach children about avoiding or reporting improper behavior by adults, including clergy, teachers and others they might come in contact with while at Holy Family?
A: The Diocese of Orlando participates willingly in an annual audit of safe environment practices and has received audit approval each year since the audits have been offered. Through the Diocese of Orlando, we have several programs that address these issues.
Learning about L.I.F.E. (Love, Infatuation, Friendship, and Exploitation) is designed to help parents talk to their children about relationships, sexuality, chastity, and abuse. The L.I.F.E. sessions are designed to cover these sensitive topics in an engaging, interactive manner, using language and activities that are appropriate to various age groups, from pre-school through high school. See https://www.orlandodiocese.org/safe-environment/english/learning-about-l-i-f-e/
Additionally, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) outlines several resources on the Child and Youth Protection page on their site: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/resources/index.cfm