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US archbishop: Viganò is ‘man of integrity,’ we must ‘ascertain the truth’

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September 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The incoming head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life efforts, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has released a lengthy statement on the ongoing clerical sex abuse crisis.

Archbishop Naumann called Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Vigano “a man of integrity,” adding that “we cannot ignore” the fact that the majority of the victims described in the Pennsylvania grand jury report were post-pubescent males. He said that priests must be able to articulate Church teaching on sexuality “in a convincing and compelling way.”

Naumann was elected last November to lead the U.S. Bishops' pro-life office, and will begin his tenure this November.

“It is inconceivable to me that the bishops who were involved with the settlements for McCarrick’s misconduct did not bring these matters to the papal nuncio (the Holy Father’s ambassador to the United States) and the nuncios failed to inform the pope at that time and those who assisted him with the care of bishops,” Naumann commented.

“Just this past week, the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, released a statement that claims he and his predecessors, Archbishop Pietro Sambi and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo (both now deceased), did inform the respective popes,” he explained. “In my experience of Archbishop Vigano during his tenure as apostolic nuncio, he was a man of integrity. There are also respected sources that are contesting elements of Archbishop Vigano’s statement.”

Vigano testified that Pope Benedict XVI privately sanctioned McCarrick, but Pope Francis removed those sanctions and made the predatory prelate a trusted advisor, particularly when it came to episcopal appointments.

Naumann endorsed the investigation Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has proposed.

“This development makes it even more imperative that we embrace Cardinal DiNardo’s commitment to pursue the truth of why McCarrick was allowed to continue to exercise public ministry and continue in the College of Cardinals, when his sexual misconduct and abuse of power were already known,” said Naumann. “We must do all that we can to ascertain the truth and then allow the chips to fall where they may.”

Commitment to celibacy and chastity must be a ‘priority’ for potential priests

“This is a moment for conversion and renewal of the entire church, but especially for bishops and priests,” Naumann said. “Both the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the earlier national study by John Jay College commissioned by the U.S. bishops in the wake of the 2002 scandal reveal that a high percentage of victims of clergy sexual misconduct were post[-]pubescent males. In other words, much of the misconduct involved homosexual acts. We cannot ignore this reality.”

Naumann reminded Catholics that Pope Benedict XVI “gave guidance to seminaries and vocation ministries regarding the non[-]acceptance for priestly formation those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

“All candidates for the seminary have to be able to give evidence for their capacity of living celibate chastity with both integrity and joy,” continued Naumann.

He went on to defend priestly celibacy, explaining that it allows priests to be completely available to their parishioners and that it shows priests are willing to make a tremendous sacrifice for God:

The requirement of celibate chastity for Catholic priests is not because the church does not value marriage and the importance of family life. No, just the opposite! The church asks her priests to relinquish what is arguably most precious and most dear, precisely because it is most precious and dear. The priest’s willingness to commit to a life of celibacy makes no sense if Jesus did not suffer, die and rise from the dead for us. The church asks her priests to stake their entire life on the truth of the paschal mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus.

Celibacy is first and foremost to be a witness to the truth of the Gospel. The priest’s life is meant to be a living symbol that challenges his parishioners to place God first in their lives above everyone and everything else. Celibacy also allows the priest to be available and accessible to his people. A priest is able to go wherever his gifts are most needed by the people of God without having to weigh the necessary question of a husband and biological father whether this ministry is good for his marriage and children. It is this embrace of the charism of celibacy that increases a priest’s ability to become a true spiritual father to his parishioners.

It is not enough for those seeking ordination to the priesthood to accept reluctantly celibacy as a necessary burden to become a priest. If our heart is not into embracing the challenges and beauty of celibacy with joy, then we are setting ourselves up for failure and wounding our people.

Nor is it sufficient for priests to live celibacy faithfully, but not be able to teach with conviction and enthusiasm Catholic sexual morality as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Our Catholic understanding of human sexuality is beautiful and guides those who embrace it to the path to authentic love and happiness. The priest needs to be able to articulate, in a convincing and compelling way, why heterosexual intimacy outside of the marital covenant is gravely immoral, as well as why homosexual activity is also always seriously sinful.

Naumann said his “priority” in evaluating seminary candidates and the “suitability” of priests is “their commitment and capability of living celibate chastity with fidelity and joy.”

‘Failures of the accountability of bishops’ are primarily to blame

“The reason for this current crisis is not primarily one of individual weakness, but failures of the accountability of bishops,” Naumann concluded, asking for prayers for bishops.

He said he has hired a law firm to examine the Archdiocese of Kansas City’s personnel files dating back to 1950 “to ensure that we have an accurate historical knowledge of how the archdiocese has responded to allegations of misconduct.”

Catholics’ first, but not only, response should be prayer, he said.

“I invite every Catholic to adopt some additional practices of prayer and penance for victims and for the purification of the church. I also intend to offer communal prayer opportunities for these intentions.”

Correction: This article originally identified Archbishop Naumann as the current head of the U.S. Bishops' pro-life office, but he will begin his tenure in November.

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