Five things for Catholics to keep in mind regarding the Independent Review

Denver Catholic Staff

When the three Colorado dioceses entered into an agreement with the Colorado attorney general to conduct an independent review of all files related to the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests, there was a commitment by all of the bishops to get everything out in the open in a spirit of transparency.

This means that horrible details of past sins by priests would be made public. Indeed, parts of the Independent Review are very hard to read and may leave the faithful feeling discouraged, angry, sad or hurt.

No matter what you may feel as you read through the report, there are a few important things we as Catholics need to keep in mind.

1.  It’s appropriate to feel hurt or anger.

While much of this report had already been disclosed, seeing the details from 70 years assembled in one place makes it especially terrible to read. We are certainly appalled, incensed and devastated by the incidents of abuse in the report and this horrible history ­— and no one in the current Church is making any excuses for what happened back then. The pain caused to the innocent can never be forgotten no matter how long ago it occurred in the past.

2. Our hearts are with the survivors.

Our primary concern is for those who were harmed — while no apology is sufficient, we are truly sorry on behalf of the Church and hope that we can assist in the healing process. We hope the independent reparations program will encourage others to come forward for healing.

3. We can always do better and must never get complacent.

We are committed to continuing to improve our response to all allegations — while we know we have made great strides and been able to help many people, nevertheless we will implement the recommendations in the report and we will learn from those who came forward and felt they weren’t treated appropriately.

4. Our culture has changed — thanks to many of you.

We are thankful for the tens of thousands of people who have made the commitment to ensure our children are safe and that the Archdiocese is a community where sexual abuse of minors will not be tolerated. Their work and continuing vigilance is one of the primary reasons that there has not been a substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by a diocesan priest in 20 years.

5. Support your priests.

We are grateful to our current priests — they have carried the cross for sins they didn’t commit, and humbly served while under the scornful eye of society. It’s important for everyone to know that the report found no substantiated allegations against any of our diocesan priests currently in ministry. Together we will persevere, rebuild trust within our community, and become stronger as we serve and love the Kingdom of God.

COMING UP: Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

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Despite no Masses, you won’t believe what parishes are doing

Livestreamed Masses, drive-through confession and more are sustaining the faithful during quarantine

Aaron Lambert

Nothing like creativity and some humor to make a tough situation a little easier to endure.

“It took generations, but they have succeeded where the rest of us have failed. Children, of all ages throughout the world, have successfully given up school for Lent,” St. John the Baptist Parish in Longmont posted on its Facebook page April 1. Quite a few “Haha” reactions ensued.

The post, of course, refers to the fact that because of the coronavirus pandemic, students are not attending classes in-person and are instead learning from home. This homebound engagement is true for pretty much every other public institution, including Catholic churches. Parishes across the Archdiocese of Denver are having to adapt to a temporary reality where Masses are empty.

Thankfully, that aforementioned creativity, strong communities and a little help from the internet are making it possible for parishes to still serve the faithful in plenty of ways. For many parishes, this means something as simple as livestreaming Masses for the faithful to participate in from home.

While it’s impossible to replace being physically present in the Mass, many seem appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to still engage with the sacred liturgy from afar.

“So grateful to have a Parish Staff that has responded to the current situation and found ways to continue offering sacraments and ministry,” wrote Jodee Hinton on Our Lady of the Valley’s Facebook page. “It was very special and much needed for my family to watch Mass today. My kids loved being able to see what actually happens on the altar.”

“Thank you Father, miss you and sharing Christ with you in person, but we will be with you soon with the help of Jesus Christ. Stay strong and safe,” wrote Judith Ann Aerne on Holy Cross in Thornton’s Facebook page.

Parishioners in their cars line up in the parking lot of Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora to have their confessions heard. Parishes are finding creative ways to offer the sacraments to the faithful while stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in place. (Photo provided by Queen of Peace)

Other parishes are also finding ways to continue providing other sacraments to the faithful. Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora, for example, has launched drive-through confessions on Saturdays to ensure people still have the chance to receive to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and they’re not the only parish to do so. It’s just one of the ways that they’re able to stay connected to their parishioners while their doors are closed.

“Since they can no longer gather here, we’ve tried to go to them,” said Queen of Peace pastor Father Felix Medina. “We’ve stayed busy. We livestream at least three liturgies a day: Morning Prayer and Adoration in the morning, English Mass at noon and Spanish Mass in the evening.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the Church is still open and it’s more present than ever before, that we will not be silenced, that we won’t stop reaching out to people now,” Father Medina said.

And by reaching out, Father Medina doesn’t mean that figuratively. Queen of Peace and other parishes such as Assumption in Welby and St. John the Baptist in Longmont have been calling their parishioners one-by-one to check in on them and see if they can help with anything.

“We’re essentially asking three basic questions: one, how are you doing; two, do you need anything; and three, can we pray with you?” Father Daniel Ciucci of St. John the Baptist said in an interview with Fox 31.

Volunteers at St. John the Baptist make phone calls to check in on parishioners. Outreach from parishes has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus outbreak, and they’re finding ways to rise to the occasion. (Photo provided by St. John the Baptist)

“As priests, we’ve maintained a life of prayer, but we’ve also been calling our parishioners,” Father Medina said. “We each try to call 50 or 100 a day. They’re very happy to hear us checking in on how they’re doing and how their family’s doing and whether they need anything – especially because we know some of them are lonely and are having a hard time.”

Of course, there’s a whole lot more that parishes do besides offer Mass, and they’re finding ways to keep those things going too. Nativity of Our Lord in Broomfield is offering assistance to parishioners who need it, whether it be delivering groceries or seeing a priest; Risen Christ in Denver is continuing its partnership with Food Bank of the Rockies and doing drive-up food distribution; youth ministers across the archdiocese are doing virtual youth group nights via Zoom. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The parishes of the Archdiocese of Denver will continue to find innovative and creative ways to serve the faithful through all of this. However, they need the vital support of their communities to do so. Many parishes have online giving portals set up through their own website, but you can also visit passthebasket.org to give to any parish in the Archdiocese of Denver.

Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.