Canadian bishops issue document on youth with same-sex attractions

The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document on Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction.

“While always insisting on respect and compassion for young people with same-sex attraction, the Church also reaffirms God’s plan for human sexuality,” the statement notes.

“Sexual relations belong within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, for it is only within this covenant that the two inseparable ends of marriage can be achieved: the deepening of love between spouses and the procreation and education of children. Any genital act outside the covenant of marriage cannot fulfill this twofold purpose intended by the Creator and thus is morally wrong … For this reason, the Church has consistently taught that homosexual acts can never be approved.”

The statement continues:

In her teaching, however, the Church never condemns persons with same-sex attraction. She carefully distinguishes between an individual’s inclinations or feelings – some of which are transitory and/or situational and others which are deep-seated or permanent – and one’s actions. While homosexual acts are always objectively wrong, same-sex inclinations are not in themselves sinful or a moral failing. To the extent that a same-sex attraction is not freely chosen, there is no personal culpability in having such an inclination. Nonetheless, when oriented toward genital activity, this inclination is “objectively disordered.” This does not mean that the person as a whole is somehow defective or “badly made,” or that he or she has in some way been rejected by God. Inclinations to homosexual acts in no way diminish the full human dignity or intrinsic worth of the person. For many people, same-sex attraction constitutes a trial. They therefore deserve to be approached by pastors with charity and prudence.

“For young people who experience a same-sex attraction and for whom marriage is not an option, choosing chastity as a positive value is even more of an ongoing challenge,” the statement adds.

“We must encourage them to live their single lives chastely as disciples of Jesus, who followed the path of sacrifice to the glory of eternal life. Responding generously to the call to chastity involves suffering and difficulty, but Christ invites us to place our burdens on him.”

“The moral and spiritual relativism of our society can make the Church’s teaching on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular appear bizarre, out of touch, and even intolerant,” the document notes.

“We ask that you promote support groups that foster chaste living, such as Courage for individuals with same-sex attraction and Encourage for families interested in learning more about how to help their children.”

Counselors “must be committed to the Christian vision of the human person and sexuality, as well as the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and chastity,” the document advises parents.
“It is imperative to present in a firm but charitable way the true nature and purpose of human sexuality in all its dimensions,” the statement adds in a message to educators.

“We ask you to pay particular attention to guiding adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction away from two specific dangers. First, help them see themselves as persons with a God-given dignity and not merely as individuals with sexual inclinations and desires. Second, help them avoid involvement in a ‘gay culture’ opposed to the Church’s teaching, with its often aggressive and immoral lifestyle.”

The document concludes by encouraging young people with same-sex attractions to “accept that God loves you,” pray constantly, frequent the sacraments, and cultivate virtuous friendships.

Church still not aiding child sex abuse audit

SENIOR FIGURES in the Catholic Church are still not co-operating with its own child protection watchdog, despite assurances from the Data Protection Commissioner that in doing so they would not be acting illegally.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children is conducting an audit of child protection practices in church institutions, announced at an emergency meeting of the bishops by Cardinal Seán Brady in January 2009.

A spokesman for the office of the Data Protection Commissioner said legal concerns expressed by the Catholic Church regarding its co-operation with the board “were fully addressed to the satisfaction of all parties” at a meeting last November.

That meeting was attended by representatives of the Catholic bishops, the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori), the Irish Missionary Union and representatives of the board.

He said it was pointed out then “that there are no obstacles” to the board “having full access to all relevant personal data for the purpose of comprehensive audits of the church bodies concerned”.

He also noted that on September 17th last, representatives of his office met separately with the board and Faoiseamh, a counselling service set up by Cori, to discuss data protection issues on the matter.

Despite that the bishops, Cori and the missionary union sought the meeting which took place last November at which assurances were repeated.

Quoting from the Data Protection Commissioner’s annual report for 2010, the spokesman said “we were contacted in early 2010 by the National Board for Safeguarding Children regarding data protection considerations associated with accessing personal data held by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.”

“We were advised that an auditing exercise had commenced in line with the functions of the board. However, shortly after the evaluation process began, data protection issues were raised. As a result, the audit process was suspended pending clarification and assistance from our office.

“We were asked to assist in finding a data protection compliant mechanism to allow the board to assess the church’s current policies and practices on the safeguarding of children and to ensure that allegations of abuse were handled appropriately.”

Last month, in its annual report for 2010, the board chairman John Morgan said its sponsoring bodies (the bishops, Cori and the missionary union) “still have unresolved data protection issues pertaining to ongoing contact situations between the board/national office and dioceses and religious congregations which take place regularly outside a formal review process.”

It is understood this remains the position.

Some bishops have co-operated fully with the board. At that launch last month it was disclosed that three unnamed dioceses co-operated fully with the board in its audit on each.

Cardinal Brady’s announcement of the audit followed an emergency meeting of the Catholic bishops on January 23rd, 2009. It followed revelations in a report by the board, published the previous month, that child protection practices in Cloyne diocese were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

That led to the remit of the Murphy commission being extended by the previous government to include Cloyne.

The commission’s report on Cloyne was submitted in December to the then minister for justice Dermot Ahern and has yet to be published.

Despite priest’s dark past, he was given ample time to find new victims

Early in 2001, a young priest arrived in Southern California after being asked to leave his diocese near Rome.

The Rev. Fernando Lopez Lopez first went to the San Bernardino diocese, where a monsignor found it odd that he would show up unannounced, with no letter of explanation from his bishop.

The monsignor checked with church officials in Italy and was told Lopez Lopez had been asked to leave his post. When the monsignor confronted Lopez Lopez with this information, the priest admitted he had been asked to leave because of complaints from parishioners in Tivoli that he was involved in drug activity with young men in the church. There were also reports the priest was “homosexually involved with some of the young men of the youth group.” Lopez Lopez denied the allegations and also said the youths in question were over 18.

The monsignor in San Bernardino refused to assign the priest to duties in the diocese and suggested he go back to Italy. Instead, Rev. Lopez Lopez headed farther west and decided to try his luck with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

This time, even as L.A. church officials were trying to stem a spreading sexual abuse scandal, he wasn’t met with the same level of suspicion and didn’t admit to his past. And for unknown reasons, the same Italian bishop who told San Bernardino that Lopez Lopez had been asked to leave, this time signed a form for the L.A. Archdiocese indicating there were no problems in the priest’s past.

Rev. Lopez Lopez got the job and was assigned to St. Thomas the Apostle near Koreatown, where he was routinely in contact with minors. It was there, over the next three years, that he repeatedly molested three teenagers, including two minors. He was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to prison, then deported upon his release to his home country of Colombia.

All this bubbles back up now for two reasons. First, a lawsuit against the priest, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and the archdiocese is scheduled to be heard in October. And second, “Dan Rather Reports” aired an investigative piece Tuesday night claiming that Lopez Lopez had an even darker past than was previously known.

Rather reported that according to an Italian court official, Lopez Lopez pleaded guilty in 2000 to “repeated sexual violence on a minor.”

If true, it’s morally shocking that such a priest would have been allowed to stay in ministry, but not surprising. If anything has been more reprehensible than the decades of sexual abuse by priests, it has been the attempts by the Catholic church to shuffle pedophiles to new parishes and cover up as much of the mess as possible.

So Rev. Lopez Lopez ends up in California, where he seemed to have no trouble finding new victims.

Attorney J. Michael Hennigan, speaking for Mahony and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, argues that his clients did no wrong and said they tried to check on Lopez Lopez’s past. But even if you give them a pass for not being as suspicious as the monsignor in San Bernardino, there’s another little bombshell in this story.

The San Bernardino monsignor, Gerard Lopez, sent a letter to one of Mahony’s key deputies on Jan. 8, 2004, after learning that the same priest he turned away in 2001 had been working in Los Angeles. The monsignor warned L.A.’s vicar of clergy about what he had learned of the priest’s background.

But it wasn’t until nine weeks after the letter was sent to Los Angeles that Mahony’s staff sent a letter to the bishop in Tivoli, asking about Lopez Lopez.

“If your Excellency would be so disposed, may we inquire as to whether there are any issues … that would cast any shadow of doubt upon Father Lopez’s priestly integrity and ministry while serving in the Diocese of Tivoli?”

Would his Excellency be so disposed?

Why are church officials so sickeningly polite with each other about the business of children being abused?

How about picking up the phone, instead of sending a letter to Italy, and demanding an immediate explanation?

How about calling the pope?

And how about yanking Lopez Lopez out of the ministry immediately when a warning letter arrives from San Bernardino, until the entire matter is settled?

Hennigan tells me there was nothing to go on but unsubstantiated allegations involving people 18 or over. He said church officials questioned the principal at St. Thomas and also Lopez Lopez, who suggested the monsignor in San Bernardino had misunderstood him regarding what happened in Tivoli. Hennigan also said the church immediately removed Lopez Lopez from ministry when it received an allegation that the priest had molested a kid, and church officials called the police too. That was on July 13, 2004.

The half a year between the arrival of the letter from San Bernardino and the removal of Lopez Lopez is when “some of the worst of the abuse took place,” said Vince Finaldi, the attorney who represents the unnamed victim who has sued the church.

When Lopez Lopez was convicted in 2005 of four felony counts of lewd acts with a child and one felony count of sexual battery, among other counts, Cardinal Mahony wrote a letter to the Vatican suggesting it might be a good idea to dismiss him from the priesthood.

Mahony, never shy about polishing his own image, specified in the letter that Lopez Lopez certainly wouldn’t have been hired in Los Angeles if Tivoli had mentioned his past. Mahony told the Vatican the church’s investigation of Lopez Lopez “began promptly following the initial accusation” of abuse.

Yes, and it took only six months after the letter from San Bernardino to get him away from children.