Church Reform Primary Source Documents

St Vincent De Paul Church
Ad Hoc Committee on Church Reform 2018
Primary Source Documentation

Primary Source Documents which may help contribute to a better understanding of many areas of influence that led to the Child Abuse Crisis along with what might be done to move forward to Church Reform.

October 10, 2018

In September 2018, the Parish Council sent out a list of specific actions indicated by parishioner surveys to be prioritized for Council action. One of these actions was for the parish to create and maintain an information repository (including hard facts and thoughtful opinion pieces and networking resources). Below are the results of that effort. This is to help provide the broadest possible understanding of the situation of the Church today in our quest to design a plan for appropriate action by the parish itself and individuals themselves. There are many more articles that could be shared. These, however, seem to be fairly comprehensive. These resources are separated into NINE sections below.


The environment that has produced the current state of affairs in the Church, and recommended actions for change.

Church Documents and Actions that address the issue of abuse.
1. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Documents
2. Archdiocese of Baltimore Documents Prior to “Listening Sessions”
3. Pope Francis’ upcoming Actions

Archdiocese of Baltimore Ongoing Conversation with Parishes after Listening Sessions

Reporting of Sexual Abuse – All Maryland Jurisdictions & 50 States & Statute of Limitations

History of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Child Abuse and its Effects on Victims

Clericalism, Patriarchy

Organizations working for Church Reform from Various Points of View

The initial brief written responses by the Parish of St. Vincent’s, gathered at town meetings and in letters and emails. This compilation was shared with Archbishop Lori and the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops).


Articles That Analyze the Theological, Sociological, Political, And Scientific Environment Which Has Led to the Current State of Affairs with Observations about Moving Forward.

by Ilia Delio
“The Church has a deep structural problem which is entirely bound to ancient metaphysical and philosophical principles, not to mention imperial politics that at this point require either a radical decision towards a new ecclesial structure or accept the possibility of a major schism.”

For real change, we must get at four roots deeper than church structures
by Joan Chittister
“I do not agree that a change of structures alone will really change anything much at all. Not in a church whose theology of exclusive papal authority comes from Pope Gelasius in the fifth century. On the contrary: We are going to need a great deal more than structures. As Pope Francis himself said to the Chilean bishops’ conference in May: “It would be a serious omission on our part, not to delve into the roots … the dynamics that made it possible for such attitudes and evils to occur.”

Trent’s Long Shadow: The Abuse Crisis and Seminaries, Dioceses, and the Laity
by Massimo Faggioli
“If this is, as many believe, the most serious crisis in the Catholic Church since the Protestant Reformation, then the analysis of this systemic failure of the institutional church needs to take the long view, comparing this period in the church’s history to others in order to discover where exactly things went wrong.”

It’s time to choose the painful path of purification
NCR Editorial
“The Catholic community has arrived at a point in its history so seared by raw reality that we are all left with nothing to lean against or hide behind. Our leaders, drained of authority and credibility, can only follow as we move beyond overburdened expressions, beyond even the content of our normal prayers. We grasp for some new psalm of lamentation to fit this horrid moment and search for a new way to live as a Catholic community.”

An Appeal to U.S. Bishops and Pastors
A Petition
“The time of necessary action is now and the task is urgent. We implore you, as siblings in Christ and as co-workers in the vineyard, to be accountable to and transparent with the entire People of God, to seek true renewal inspired by Vatican II that goes beyond cosmetic institutional reforms, and to follow Pope Francis in practicing a radical discipleship.”

Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, & Lay Leaders on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States
A Petition
“If we are to say “never again” to this catastrophic epidemic of sexual violence within the Church, then structural change on a scale previously unimaginable is required.”

A Proposed Constitution for the Catholic Church
from Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
“We the people of the Catholic Church hold that because all men and women are created in God’s image and likeness and that the same divine teaching on how they should live is written in every human heart, all persons are to be treated with dignity and equality, each person having the same fundamental rights and responsibilities.”

We can only move forward when we name the evil of clericalism
by Thomas Rosica
“It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.”

Why the Catholic Church can’t move on from the sex abuse crisis
by Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ
“The continuing problem, in other words, is not that the precautions aren’t working. It’s that the bishops have forfeited their credibility. People don’t believe a thing the bishops say, and people are not going to let the church move on. Things might have been different if bishops in the past had been more forthcoming, taken responsibility for their actions and resigned.”

What happened to the Catholic Church?”
Parishioner and former NCR Editor Arthur Jones’ two-part Series in the National Catholic Reporter.
Part One: How the Vatican culture created a church that feels as if it is dying of shame.
Part Two: Money, sex and absolute power corrupting absolutely

Failure at the top  
By , and , Inquirer Staff Writers / and , The Boston Globe Saturday, November 3, 2018
“The analysis shows that the claims against more than 50 bishops center on incidents that occurred after a historic 2002 Dallas gathering of U.S. bishops where they promised that the church’s days of concealment and inaction were over.”

University panels ask how church should emerge from abuse crisis
by Peter Feuerherd, NCR
At Fordham University as well as Georgetown University in Washington, experts in church life and psychology offered possible pathways out, after describing the depths of the issues which confront the church. Their consensus included calls for:
1) Increased lay involvement in all levels of church life; 2)An end to secrecy, and welcoming the involvement of civil authorities; 3) Getting survivors involved; 4) Appreciate the benefits of anger; 5) Change formation of seminarians; 6) End clericalism; 7) To see courage as the prime virtue, not obedience


Church Documents and Actions That Address the Issue of Abuse

Click link to go to a special page of Primary Source information generated by the Conference.

Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People 
A Statement of Episcopal Commitment (The “Dallas Charter”)
“Since 2002, the Church in the United States has experienced a crisis without precedent in our times. The sexual abuse of children and young people by some deacons, priests, and bishops, and the ways in which these crimes and sins were addressed, have caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion for victims, their families, and the entire Church. As bishops, we have acknowledged our mistakes and our roles in that suffering, and we apologize and take responsibility again for too often failing victims and the Catholic people in the past. From the depths of our hearts, we bishops express great sorrow and profound regret for what the Catholic people have endured.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals; Committee Releases Actions to be Taken Within Its Authority
Published September 18, 2018
“Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.”

Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People (CPCYP)
The committee assists the bishops, both collectively and individually, on all matters related to child and youth protection, and it oversees the development of the Conference’s plans and programs for child and youth protection. The committee provides the bishops with comprehensive planning and recommendations concerning child and youth protection by coordinating the efforts of the staff and the National Review Board.

USCCB’s National Lay Review Board
The purpose of the National Review Board is to advise the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church.

Archdiocese of Baltimore Sexual Abuse Accountability site
Everything you might want to know about the AoBs response to sexual abuse with proper procedures for reporting.

Archdiocese of Baltimore’s FAQ Sheet on Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Document on How the Church Responds When…Among other things, amounts paid by AoB for settlements and counseling.

Archdiocese of Baltimore – Attorney General Investigation – Document Preservation

For Francis, February bishops’ meeting will be a defining moment 
by Dennis Coday
Pope Francis has called all of the presidents of the world’s various conferences of Catholic bishops to Rome for a February meeting on clergy sexual abuse, in the first such global summons by a pontiff. Francis has a deep belief in the need for the church to act as a body. He knows that he cannot act alone and that he cannot impose corrections and reforms from on high.

The John Jay Report
The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the US 1950-2002

The John Jay Study: What it is and what it isn’t
“I began this analysis stating that no one research study or narrative about the causes of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis can be definitive and criticisms can be lodged against any effort. Terry and her John Jay colleagues have made a valuable contribution to the literature, one that combines excellence and rigor with incompleteness and omissions. Such is the nature of research. The bishops, therefore, cannot point to this as the consummate and final analysis of their sexual abuse crisis nor should critics devalue the entire report because of its failings. Rather, we can appreciate that it is what it is and it is not what it is not.”


Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Ongoing Documents with Parishes after Listening Sessions

Pastoral Staff Day 2018 Table Discussion Summary The AoB released this document to our Pastor. A summary taken from the notes of participants’ conversations during the small group process at Pastoral Staff Day on September 26, 2018. NB: This is not a summary of comments from the Archdiocesan Listening Sessions held in September, 2018, with a Pastor and two Lay Leaders from each parish.

Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Responses to Issues Raised in Listening Sessions The AoB released this document to our Pastor along with other unrelated documents.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily at the Priests’ Convocation St. Ignatius of Antioch October 17, 2018. This homily is well worth a read. It is based on the scriptures of the day which you might read before his homily to get context.

Archbishop Lori’s Op-Ed in Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2018 This Op-Ed appeared in the Sunday Sun the day before the Bishops’ Meeting began.

Archbishop Lori addresses Baltimore media at bishops’ meeting, November 13, 2018
“I think the thing to keep your eye on is not the formality of whether it’s a resolution or a formal vote. The thing to keep our eye on is getting the job done and America, the United States, has been the world leader in this….I think we will exercise a lot of leadership when the pope gets the bishops together for this worldwide meeting in February. I think the American bishops, led by Cardinal (Daniel N.) DiNardo (USCCB president) will bring a lot to the table.”

Email from Sean Caine sent to pastors regarding a video/talk of the Archbishop to be played at all Liturgies this weekend, November 17 and 18, 2018



Reporting of Sexual Abuse – All Maryland Jurisdictions & 50 States & Statute of Limitations

State of Maryland Child Protective Services Main Reporting Site to obtain the proper your local jurisdiction’s Attorney General’s office. Includes reporting sites for all 50 States.

State of Maryland Attorney General’s Reporting Site

State of Maryland Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse
by St. Vincent’s Parish Council President Michael Jacko


History of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, July 27, 2018
“This site serves as the holding ground for the results of a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania and the systemic cover up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at The Vatican.” This is the site to go to to download the report. The report is very vivid and explicit in the details. However the first 12 pages serve as an important summary. It also contains video testimony of some of the survivors. There is another site, Bishop Accountability Web Site, which is the most comprehensive site for abuse across the United States and is continually updated. It contains among other things 1) source documents of major investigations, 2) files of the Bishops such as documents on church administration and the abuse crisis, including major collections of diocesan and investigative files from various Dioceses 3) Database of Publicly Accused Roman Catholic Priests, Nuns, Brother, Deacons, and Seminarians in the United States.  The following sites below detail the long history of the abuse within the Catholic Church in other places and through the centuries. 

University report lifts the lid on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
by Kieran Tapsell
Summarizes the very thorough August 2017 study on the systemic reasons behind child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It examines 26 commissions of inquiry, scientific research and literature since 1985 to find common features in the culture, history and structures of the church and the psychological, social and theological factors that contributed to tragedy. The pattern of abuse and cover up was the same all over the world. It can be viewed by clicking the link below or from within the above article itself. It is titled Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Reports
By Desmond Cahill & Peter Wilkinson, Centre for Global Research, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT UNIVERSITY, MELBOURNE

  • Two principal research questions have guided this study:
    What individual dis-positional attributes and Catholic Church organizational policies, practices, processes and attitudes have pre-disposed, influenced and facilitated individual priests and religious in their perpetration of sexual and physical abuse against children? (Chapters Eight and Nine).
  • How have the theological frameworks, organizational structures, governance processes, and institutional cultures contributed to the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious and the inadequate responses of the Holy See, the Catholic bishops, the leaders of religious institutes, and other responsible Church personnel? (Chapters Nine and Ten).

(Fourth Century to 2004)
Rev. Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
“In spite of claims to the contrary, the canonical history of the Catholic Church clearly reflects a consistent pattern of awareness that celibate clergy regularly violated their obligations in a variety of ways.  The fact of clergy abuse with members of the same sex, with young people and with women is fully documented.  At certain periods of church history clergy sexual abuse was publicly known and publicly acknowledged by church leaders.  From the late 19th century into the early 21st century the church’s leadership has adopted a position of secrecy and silence.  They have denied the predictability of clergy sexual abuse in one form or another and have claimed that this is a phenomenon new to the post-Vatican II era.  The recently published reports of the Bishops’ National Review Board and John Jay College Survey have confirmed the fact of known clergy sexual abuse since the 1950’s and the church leadership’s consistent mishandling of individual cases.

The bishops have, at various times, claimed that they were unaware of the serious nature of clergy sexual abuse and unaware of the impact on victims.  This claim is easily offset by the historical evidence.  Through the centuries the church has repeatedly condemned clergy sexual abuse, particularly same-sex abuse.  The very texts of many of the laws and official statements show that this form of sexual activity was considered harmful to the victims, to society and to the Catholic community.  Church leaders may not have been aware of the scientific nature of the different sexual disorders nor the clinical descriptions of the emotional and psychological impact on victims, but they cannot claim ignorance of the fact that such behavior was destructive in effect and criminal in nature.”

 An overview of the history of this scandal in the United States 
By Our Sunday Visitor
An overview of the history of this scandal in the United States, for the benefit of people trying to make sense of it all. It’s a perspective the bishops themselves will need as they gather in Baltimore the second full week of November for their fall general meeting. This issue is expected to dominate the agenda.


Child Abuse and Its Effects on Victims 

The Effects of Child Abuse on the Developing Brain
from Keep Kids Safe If your child has been molested, or you are an adult survivor of child sexual abuse yourself, you may have experienced the effects of child abuse on healthy development without ever understanding why or how these consequences take shape.

Long-term health outcomes of childhood sexual abuse
from American Nurse Today, Official Journal of the ANA
The mind and body interact on every level. The ripple effect of early childhood trauma has more than psychological effects. Biology of the brain and immune function are influenced. The child is forever changed. Here we examine the influence of childhood sexual abuse on the long-term health and the nursing care of adult survivors.

What Is Pedophilia?
from WebMD
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has included pedophilia in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1968. A pedophile is a person who has a sustained sexual orientation toward children, generally aged 13 or younger. Not all pedophiles are child molesters (or vice versa). “Child molesters are defined by their acts; pedophiles are defined by their desires,” Blanchard says. “Some pedophiles refrain from sexually approaching any child for their entire lives.” But it’s not clear how common that is.  Can pedophilia be treated?  Yes. Although most experts do not think a person’s feelings of pedophilia are curable, therapy may help them manage those feelings and not act on them.

From Wikipedia
Covers a whole range of information such as: signs and symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, epidemiology and other considerations.


Clericalism, Patriarchy

Clerical Culture Among Roman Catholic Diocesan Clergy
By “Voice of the Faithful”
Many Catholics are unaware of the extensive consequences of the clerical culture in which priests and the hierarchy spend most of their adult lives. From specified educational paths to socialization opportunities, from living conditions to financial remuneration, in working relationships restricted by oaths of obedience and isolation enforced by celibacy, priests typically live aside and apart from the people they should serve—they are culturally and often physically far removed from the realities of the communities that surround them.

Patriarchy, not nature, makes women unequal
by Joshua J. McElwee
The Patriarchy of our culture and the Patriarchy of the Church sustain each other rather than the Church being a sign of contradiction to the culture. “Bishop Felix Toppo, another contributor to the volume, suggests that the very structure of the Catholic Church, with men in all decision-making roles, leads to wider acceptance of discrimination and violence against women. “One of the main reasons for inequality and discrimination against women is universal Patriarchal Culture,” writes Toppo, head of the Jamshedpur Diocese in the northeast Indian state of Jharkhand.


Organizations Working for Church Reform from Various Points of View

Future Church
FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life, ministry, and governance.

Association of the Rights of Catholics in the Church
Was founded in 1980 by lay and clerical Catholics in the wake of Vatican condemnations of such theologians as Edward Schillebeeckx, Jacques Pohier, and Hans Küng. The Association seeks to put into practice the statement of the 1971 Synod of Bishops….. “We trust that, as you search through the works of ARCC, you will find yourself becoming aware of your rights and responsibilities as a Catholic, not just in the world, but within the Catholic Church. We trust, too, that you will find yourself empowered, provided the tools needed to lift all Catholics out of childish servitude to full adult participation, before God, in the life of the Church.”

Call to Action
Catholics for Equality and Justice. Call To Action educates, inspires and activates Catholics to act for justice and build inclusive communities through a lens of anti-racism and anti-oppression principles. CTA Maryland

Catholic Reform International
Our Mission is (1) to embrace our baptismal rights and responsibilities by speaking out with a united voice, thereby actualizing transformative change in the Catholic Church; and (2) to work towards the creation of a Church Community based on the Gospel values of inclusivity, justice and love.

Catholic Church Organizations and Reform Groups USA
A listing by Catholic Reform International of Catholic Church Organizations and Reform Groups in the USA

Voices of Faith
Voices of Faith aims to bring together leaders in the Vatican with the global Catholic community, so they can recognize that women have the expertise, skills and gifts to play a full leadership role in the Church.

The initial brief written responses by the Parish of St. Vincent’s, gathered at town meetings and in letters and emails. This compilation was shared with Archbishop Lori and the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops).  These documents can be found on the Ad Hoc Committee for Church Reform 2018 page.



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