Scandals, Clergy Abuse, Focus of DPC Agenda
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
September 13, 2018
DIOCESAN—The revelations of conduct and cover-up by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the release of the grand jury report involving six dioceses in Pennsylvania and inquiries by the Illinois State’s Attorney regarding abusive priests was the main topic of discussion at the regular meeting Sept. 8 of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
 
The function of the Diocesan Pastoral Council is to assist the Bishop of Rockford with issues of concern for the local and Church universal and of the laity it serves.
 
After the group convened for their 9 a.m. prayer, the meeting began with reports on the Faith Forward Strategic Planning Process for Catholic Schools in the Rockford Diocese and on the annual Ministry Day, for priests and parish staffs to be held Oct. 4 at St. Mary Parish in Huntley. 
 
Following the reports, Bishop David Malloy addressed the recent scandals of abuse and alleged cover-ups by providing some context. 
 
He talked about the scandals that broke in the church prior to 2002 and the subsequent work done by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas at their meeting that year. 
 
Bishop Malloy, who was general secretary of the USCCB in 2002, outlined the work done by the bishops at the time and the effect of that work in today’s church.
 
Bishop Malloy also outlined the timeline of recent events including the accusations against Archbishop McCarrick, the grand jury report, the letter released by former Vatican nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the silence of Pope Francis in regard to all of this and Bishop Malloy’s own public statements about all of it.
 
“You have heard my anger,” the bishop told council members as he invited them to share their thoughts. 
 
Members present shared their perspectives on the current scandals along with some of what they have heard at their parishes. DPC members also shared thoughts on what the bishops and the church in general should consider for the future in regard to bishop transparency, vetting seminarians, encouraging vocations and giving hope to the faithful. 
 
Some members also expressed great concern about the bishops themselves being divided on what the truth is and that the church is politicizing itself in this matter.
 
“I am always grateful for your candor and advice,” Bishop Malloy told the group, explaining that their comments are of great help to him as he and his fellow bishops prepare to take up the work asked for by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB. 
 
Cardinal Dinardo plans to request an Apostolic Visitation, and, with the bishops to:  
 
– develop a third party mechanism to make reporting of abuse by a bishop easier;  
 
– make concrete proposals to resolve complaints against bishops promptly, fairly and with transparency; and,  
 
– to assemble a commission of lay experts with independent authority to seek the truth in matters against bishops.
 
The listening session with the DPC was part of Bishop Malloy’s promise, as stated in his Aug. 28 letter to diocesan faithful, to “take your voices with me as we bishops take up the work of assuring transparency and insuring moral judgement in all parts of church leadership. This will be difficult work but it is vital to heal the wounds of our past and to create a healthier and holier future for the Catholic community.”
 
“The councilors were very appreciative of Bishop Malloy’s willingness to listen and hear some very honest feedback on the current controversies in the church,” said Kevin Fuss, executive secretary of the DPC and diocesan director of Research and Planning.
 
New members seated
 
New members of the DPC began their three-year terms at the Sept. 10 meeting. They are:
 
Armando Regalado, representing the Permanent Deacons
 
Jan Thornton, representing the Rockford Deanery
 
Joanie Williams, representing the Freeport Deanery
 
Jill Zolfo, representing the Aurora Deanery
 
Briana Collins, representing the Elgin Deanery.