Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Aquila call Catholic laity and clergy to be ‘faithful echoes’ of the Church

Faithful Echo campaign aimed to energize priests, laity at Oct. 31 event

Roxanne King

Last week the Archdiocese of Denver served as a launch-pad for a movement to rally Catholic laity and clergy in rekindling their zeal for holiness and evangelization in response to the controversies and abuse crisis dominating media headlines about the Church.

“The Faithful Echo movement … is directed to drawing clergy and the lay faithful in ever closer unity to combat the darkness of the present confusion, error and division in the Church,” Cardinal Raymond Burke told more than 200 laity and priests attending the Faithful Echo Dinner Oct. 31 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver. “[We] are all called to recognize the purity and beauty of the doctrine and discipline of the Church and to work together as living members of the mystical body of Christ, to safeguard and defend our Catholic faith.

“All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”

Cardinal Burke is a member and prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority of the Church. He keynoted the dinner, which followed a three-day priest conference attended by 80 clerics. The conference included talks by Cardinal Burke, by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by Father John Trigilio, president of the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy, and by Curtis Martin, founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Cardinal Burke also addressed Denver’s seminarians. Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla for whom the saint gave her life, was a special guest of the dinner and conference.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also addressed the guests, telling them that the Church today has the “same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations…” (Photos by Brandon Young)

The events were co-sponsored by Catholic Action for Faith and Family, the Napa Institute, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the Archdiocese of Denver.

In today’s climate of rampant relativism, it is critical for Catholics to faithfully carry out the Church’s mission, which is to give witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospels by word and action — to evangelize, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said, addressing the dinner guests.

“We have the same mission the apostles had in the early Church when they were commissioned to go out and make disciples of all nations and to teach them all that the Lord has taught,” he said.

Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, served as emcee for the dinner.

“The response God always gives to a suffering Church is the holy people who are striving to be saints,” McKenna said in his opening comments, quoting a Denver seminarian whose remarks McKenna asserted capture the spirit of the Faithful Echo campaign. “The challenge is for [the] laity to become saints and [for the] clergy to become saints. With that we will overcome this crisis we’re experiencing today.”

McKenna said the seminarian, Deacon Christian Mast, was speaking to youths and young adults following the recent release of the independent review by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office of the Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo dioceses on clergy sex abuse going back to 1950.

Father Trigilio, who is also an author, EWTN personality and director of pastoral formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., affirmed those remarks.

“We want holy priests, we demand holy priests at the seminary, and we want holy faithful. Because that’s what our faith is about — the sanctification of souls,” he said. “And it’s a team effort [of] the mystical body of Christ.”
After last year’s grand jury report on clergy sex abuse going back 70 years in six Pennsylvania dioceses, Mount St. Mary’s expected a drop in seminary enrollment, Father Trigilio said. The opposite occurred as men of all ages enrolled.

“Lots of young, middle-aged, older men with zeal,” Father Trigilio said. “They were afraid that if they didn’t step up to the plate, who would take their place?

All of us … are called to be a faithful echo. A faithful witness of Our Lord in the world.”
– Cardinal Raymond Burke

“As I mentioned to the priests this week: The two things that are important for the priests are important for the faithful: You must have clarity of thought; know what the Church teaches and defend it. We also need sanctity of character.”

Cardinal Burke described the crisis in the Church today as one of “general confusion and error,” likening it to the fourth-century Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

“Without doubt the Church is presently experiencing one of the most serious crises she has ever known,” he said. “There is a strong perception that Rome herself is no longer secure and firm.”

To confront the gravity of the situation, on May 31 Cardinal Burke was among a group of cardinals and bishops to sign an eight-page “Declaration of Truths” reaffirming Church teachings in response to confusion that has occurred under the current pontiff.

“In the quite alarming situation of the Church, I’m frequently asked by both priests and the lay faithful who love the Church and the truths of our faith transmitted to us by Christ alive in the Church, What ought we be doing?” Cardinal Burke said. “My response is simple…pray with all your heart and give witness to the truths of the faith in the Church and in the world.

“With the help of Divine grace,” he added, “let us go forth, let us fight the good fight, let us stay the course, let us keep the faith.”

COMING UP: Working to make our schools safer

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By Carol Nesbitt

The issue of school safety is always on the minds of parents. Parents want to know that schools have a plan in place for all types of emergencies, from fires to intruders to staff or students feeling unsafe for various reasons.
The Archdiocese of Denver is excited to share that they now have someone directly supporting the safety preparedness and plans of the 37 Catholic schools under its watch and care.

Matt Montgomery is a former police officer and award-winning school resource officer (SRO). He’s also a chemistry and forensic science teacher as well as Director of Security and Safety at Holy Family High School. And, as of Nov. 13, he is the new Interim Director of Schools Security and Safety for the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools. The position is new and the first of its kind for the Archdiocese of Denver, but important.

“As a Catholic school community we believe the safety and wellbeing of our students comes first. Time and again we hear our parents rate school safety as one of the top reasons why they entrust the care and formation of their children to our schools. As such, we believe we have a duty and moral obligation in our schools to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure our children are safe from any type of harm,” said Elias Moo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Historically, each of our schools has had to take on the crucial task of defining and implementing their own safety and security plans and systems. While our schools have certainly gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of their school community, we believe it is critical in our current reality that we provide our schools with the expertise and qualifications of someone like Matt to support them in really analyzing their plans and assisting them in ensuring best practices are being implemented. It’s the least we can do for our school communities.”

“My role is really to lead a task force with the intention of identifying needs around school safety,” said Montgomery. He says there are a number of great models for school safety around the area, so it’s more about bringing it all together. “All public schools have someone overseeing safety and security, usually with staff members doing threat assessments, suicide assessments and emergency drills, building security, fire drills, and those kinds of things, but there really isn’t a position like this in other dioceses that we are aware of.”

Montgomery says that his job will be taking the variety of practices at schools and helping to bring consistency in efforts across the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic School community. He also says that the term ‘school safety’ is more broad than people realize. “When people think about school safety, they always gravitate to school shootings, but I think we really have to step away from that and realize that school safety and security is an umbrella. It encompasses everything from events prior to an incident all the way through recovery (post-incident).”

The five areas Montgomery is focusing on include:

Prevention
What do we do to create a loving and responsive Catholic community where students and staff feel safe and are empowered and given resources to report any behaviors or activity that is unsafe and counter to our values?

Protection
What systems and proceses do we have to vigilantly monitor for behavior or activity that is harmful to our Catholic community?

Mitigation
What procedures and policies are in place to mitigate issues?

Response
If an incident occurs, how do we respond to that incident? How do we support that school from an archdiocesan perspective? What tools are we able to provide to that school? What relationships do we have with law enforcement and first responders in that community?

Recovery
Recovery begins the second an incident occurs. How do we reunite students with families, provide counseling support and address staff issues in the case of a crisis?

Montgomery says his work will also help establish a plan for the archdiocese in the case of a larger emergency.

“What is our incident command structure going to look like so that we can respond to an incident, while also keeping in mind the unique structure of the various schools beneath the Office of Catholic Schools?”

He’d like to see the Standard Response Protocol — created by the I Love You Guys Foundation — used throughout the school system.

“One of the issues I noticed is that there are a lot of different agencies who respond to various incidents and they don’t know what the other ones are doing,” Montgomery said. “The crisis plan needs to be uniform, created for a specific age group. We need to standardize our crisis plans throughout the AoD and work with the schools to create private plans for each school that is specific to that school, simple plans that outline for administration on how they implement the plan at the moment of crisis.”

One of the biggest things Montgomery will be doing is identifying policies and procedures and training. “This is uniformly saying ‘This is what we’re doing, this is how we’re going to do it, and these are the amount of times we will practice it each year.’” This also includes training of staff on mandatory reporting, the importance of documenting things, and threat assessments that ask the right questions to get a non-biased, vetted approach to assessing threats. “There are a lot of things we can do to mitigate the chance of someone being hurt at a school. That’s by good training, good policies and procedures, and hardening our targets, meaning the physical security of our school buildings,” said Montgomery.

As a teacher, Montgomery says he has a unique perspective. “I’m not just some cop or just an SRO. My heart is in the classroom. I’m a Catholic educator who used to be a cop. My goal is to make sure kids can focus on being a kid and learning, not having to worry about being hurt at school or being bullied or having thoughts of suicide. I want them to feel that school is a safe place. That’s why I do it. I really love doing school safety.”