Friday, August 31, 2018

15 Ways We Can Protect Against Abuse Right Now

A few of us ladies wanted to *do something* about the sexual abuse scandals and we wanted to make sure what was done included the needs and desires of Byzantines as well... so we went ahead and made the petition ourselves!

We included only issues all can agree on in the hopes of getting a huge number of signers. 

Facebook gave us a $30 boost credit but then they rejected our ad for being "political or of national importance." Go figure.

We need you to sign and share! Please note signees may choose to hide their names from view. It does not show their name to me or the public. Please let your priest and religious friends know that!

Add your voice by signing at The Petition Site: 15 Ways We Can Protect Against Abuse Right Now


FYI: It's a non-partisan platform. They don't rent/sell/loan your info. They know how to keep all your content safe and legal. All while being free. That means the small annoyance of having to click an almost invisible "more" text button in the lower right to reveal the full content was a worthwhile trade-off. Just in case you have any difficulties seeing it all, the full text of the petition is posted below.

Please click through and sign!



In response to deplorable revelations in the ongoing sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, we, concerned laypeople, seminarians and aspirants, religious, clergy, and people of good will recommend these 15 points of immediate change to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

These revisions to the Church's Safe Environment protocols are a first and immediate step toward addressing some of the more nuanced points that recent scandals have highlighted as problematic in the Charter's current state.

While additional and difficult work will be required in reconciliation and repentance, all people of good will can agree on the immediate and necessary implementation of these 15 actions.

As such, we call on the hierarchy to immediately make these amendments in the Church's policies and practice as we work to bring mercy and justice to all affected by abuses within the Catholic Church:
  1. AUDIT: An impartial external audit will be conducted in order to identify the areas and mechanisms of corruption, along with avenues for rehabilitation and prevention, in order to align the Church's institutional culture and practices with Catholic doctrine, morality, and its members' state of life.
  2. VULNERABLE ADULTS: In addition to protecting children and the elderly, the definition of vulnerable adult will be expanded to include seminarians and religious aspirants; employees and subordinates; those being threatened or coerced; those with a large mental or developmental disparity by age or by ability; those who were previously victims or trauma, neglect, or abuse which made them susceptible to grooming or other forms of coersion; those for whom a large disparity of wealth, access, or resources presents a situation of intimidation and coercion; victims of human trafficking; those who are unfamiliar with the culture or its norms and safeguards due to immigration or language barriers; and when the accused has a relationship of spiritual authority over the victim.
  3. SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY: We will recognize that clergy and religious have a relationship of spiritual authority over all who know them to be clergy or religious and they are, therefore, representatives of the Church in all such relationships.
  4. ALL ADULTS ARE EQUAL: All adults (and those functioning in adult roles such as teens providing independent supervision of children), from volunteers through hierarchs, will follow the same Safe Environment protocols while acting in the name of the church.
  5. LAW ENFORCEMENT FIRST: A report of sexual or other criminal abuse is to be properly reported to the civil authorities with notification given to the church.
  6. GOOD FAITH REPORTING: Any report of sexual abuse or other criminal activity that is only made to the church will be reported to law enforcement by the church herself.
  7. TRANSPARENCY: All reports of sexual or financial abuse--including the expanded definitions of vulnerable adults above--which were not previously turned over to law enforcement will now be voluntarily turned over to law enforcement by the church.
  8. VICTIMS' ADVOCATE: A victims' advocate will be available to all reporters of violence and abuse to compassionately act in the interest of the alleged victim as he or she navigates the reporting, testifying, and healing processes. If allegations or findings of abuse are made public, the advocate will arrange for the spiritual and psychological support of the scandalized. The advocate must have appropriate training, qualifications, and resources to act in this role.
  9. CLERGY FAMILIES: Advice on provisions specific to married clergy and their families will be sought from affected stakeholders in order to allow clergy families the highest degree of protection, flexibility, and freedom from onerous burdens.
  10. DUE PROCESS: A measurable system of due process will be instituted in order to protect the good name and reputation of the workers who labor ethically in the vineyard of the Lord, that they not have cause to fear the repercussions of any false accusations.
  11. THIRD PARTY REPORTING: A report of sexual, financial, or criminal misconduct by a third party will be able to initiate an investigation (ie someone who learned of the allegations indirectly, such as the catechist of an informant).
  12. WE'LL ACT EVEN IF YOU DON'T: A church investigation along with findings and recommended actions will be done to its fullest extent following a report of mismanagement or abuse even when the alleged victim, accused, law enforcement and/or other key players do not cooperate with the church's investigation.
  13. VIOLATION OF INNOCENCE: The classroom training given to minors and vulnerable adults through the Safe Environment program will be updated to catechize them in their Christian identity, biology, vocation, and community in a way that helps them to have healthy relationships, boundaries, and a Christian worldview without violating their innocence by introducing inappropriate or fearful thoughts, images, or abuses.
  14. IMMORALITY: All clergy and religious who have a pattern of immoral behavior concerning chastity appropriate to their state in life, financial mismanagement, or criminality will be permanently removed from all teaching, preaching, and public ministry.
  15. SANCTIONS: The bishop will publicly release the names of those who by internal investigation or legal proceeding are found to have likely or positively abused others, and/or when sanctions are placed on a person's preaching, teaching, confessing, traveling, or other aspects of public life.


    Friday, August 3, 2018

    Where to Find Me

    I am really bad at that "networking" thing. I would say I'm not a natural salesman but I won awards during my short stent wandering around Sears getting people to sign up for siding installation. They gave me a bonus for every person who confirmed the appointment with a phone call so I had a nearly 100% phone call rate, before the days of cell phones even. I'm told that was a highly unusual skill.

    There's a difference, though, between that kind of one-on-one salesmanship and making connections for their own sake. Maintaining connections as a social fabric. The kind of skill used in social networking. In maintaining multiple platforms to be where the people are.

    I love and appreciate the Sir Ken Robinsons of the world who can tuck morsels of truth into lighthearted, relatable banter. Have you seen his multi-tasking joke about the difference between men and women? It's at 13:47. Isn't he hilarious? And yet so seriously real?



    To be funny, I'd say the frying an egg portion describes me to a T. To be real I would say my multitasking is not so much external (though I do the same as any other woman in that regard) but an internal work of organizing people and ideas. I intuitively see the root needs undergirding the superficial presentations. While most people focus on the means, I focus on the end. It is hard to then add the everyday maintenance of the superficial or fleeting on top of that.

    I'm the kind of person people seek out when they're hurt or troubled, seething or confused. The kind who can be fully present, discussing the hopes and challenges of our human existence. Troubleshooting ways to meet their own goals. The ultimate realist. I'm told I paint a picture in my writing that makes others feel like they're there. That I can organize and clarify in a way that is unparalleled. And I'm also told that I'm a dreamer, an optimist, someone who defines our existence not just by where we are but also by what we are called to be.

    I start at the end and work back to the present. That isn't how most people think. "I didn't know where you were going with this and was a little overwhelmed and scared at first, but now I'm following and am on the same page," is a sentiment I frequently hear if I do not spend a great amount of time editing to be able to start a conversation with the now.

    There's a place and a need for voices like mine because we speak for the vulnerable who have entrusted their most intimate reality with us and we say to that inner self reflected in all of us that there is more, there is a way, there is hope.

    To my great sadness, being an introverted counselor-manager type doesn't garner many dinner party invites. You aren't ever likely to find a crowd gathered around me laughing uproariously like they did with Sir Ken's talk. Even when I put alcohol in others' hands, they somehow feel disinclined to drink. My presence, it seems, is a reminder of our end point, our telos in Christ.

    I struggle, though, with communicating this perspective when the modern methods to do so require that social networking skill. If I update Facebook regularly, I'm not on Blogger. If I'm on Blogger, I'm not on YouTube. If I'm on all three, I'm irritable and short-tempered with my family because I cannot also be present with them. I multitask ideas easily but it is frying-an-egg-serious when I'm with a person or his or her needs.

    Where have I been? With my family. They've needed me. People are being born, people are dying. It's that stage of life.

    It's a beautiful and worthy use of my time. But it is also steeped in the tedious ephemeral of the now. Without the opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level that grounds us in history and unites us in purpose, I am not able to return to those who need me replenished with a grounding of self.

    So I am online as well. But I am told that's not enough. I can't only be on Facebook. Or Blogger. Or YouTube. There's also Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and Google Plus. They all have dimensions and algorithms that need to be optimized. They want a picture. A story. A package. Unique presentations refined for their core demographics. Networking.

    The tedium only accelerates my burnout.

    People like me tend to be renewed through academic or professional circles. Circles they typically built before family life. I built no such circles then, when our society facilitates such things. None that lasted, at least. You might be shocked to learn that I was the kid who started the Catholic campus ministry at my university. And that it was not a move welcomed by the school's social or scientific staff who actively thwarted the work. Or that the priest assigned to campus ministry turned out to be highly troubled, driving people away and causing us to disassociate from the Newman network before his removal from public ministry the following year.

    I struggle to find the place for a person like me in this networked world. This world that archives everything you say and do and produce. This polarized world that guarantees vitriol that is ready to be slung at you, your spouse, your children, your friends. I feel a great need to protect my family and to guard my heart, to stay focused on God, and yet to do so not in the future but in the now. The ever-present now, which is all we really have. The now that has my to do list torn from my notebook and trampled on the floor that also holds laundry from the trip we just returned from too sick to address, videos to edit and relish and share, letters to write, meals and curricula to plan, doctors and medicines and therapies to organize, and so many people to love.

    You don't need me on Blogger, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, email... You just need me to be present. And I need the same from you.

    -Catherine

    My Facebook page often features information on the faith, travel, education, planning, inspiration. It rarely features politics or popular news.

    The Byzantine Catholic Facebook group is the most popular Facebook group in which I regularly participate (and help moderate). I'm also at Lynne Drozdik Wardach's Great Fast Meals and ByziMom.

    Your Word From the Wise YouTube Channel has interviews and other inspiring wisdom from others. It is updated when I get someone to give an interview. I do not produce content for it's own sake so there are no duds. It's asking the questions you want answered and then usually following through for a deeper understanding of the response. You'll need to subscribe to be notified. If you're connected to a larger Eastern Catholic network like a parish or eparchial or social network page, please share these wonderful nuggets so I'm free to just produce them.

    Rómen Catholic YouTube channel has videos from my travels. (The title is a play on words as Rómen means "of the east" in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.) Churches, monasteries, hikes, museums, travel trailer/RV life, conferences, that sort of thing. It will ebb and flow based on my travels. Brand new with under 100 subscribers, it is not yet eligible for a custom URL. So hit that subscribe button to help me out!

    Your Word From the Wise Facebook page has basically the same purpose of this blog and my news feed, except it is more refined to Eastern Catholic social content. Which in Facebook algorithm means not enough interaction for posts to be shared to the newsfeeds of those who don't ask specifically for notifications from it. It's a double-edged sword. I need more followers who engage to be able to get my content shown to them but can't get followers without people already present and engaged. This is why people have a whole career out of SEO.

    Catholic Means Universal is a project I want to see come into fruition. Check it out! It builds local intra-church awareness (Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Oriental Catholic, FSSP, Anglican Ordinariate, dioceses, eparchies, seminaries, parishes, schools, religious houses, monasteries...) and promotes respect among everyday Catholics and our leaders by holding a joint procession called This is Our Cross. It's the perfect opportunity to encounter one another in love, united in Christ. And it is so easy to implement on a single day. Contact me if you want to see it happen, too!

    I also make informational graphics. Things like prayer sheets, Confession guides, instructional or curricular text, that sort of thing. I make them available free of charge in response to an expressed need. Much of this work is not online as it is too unique to be of general value. For example, I made a year's curriculum based on the names of the students in a class, teaching them the faith through their patronal saints. Awesome but not useful to others, and potentially violating children's privacy to share their names online. I'd like to eventually re-work some of my guides to be able to offer a convenient purchase option for those who'd like to just buy a printed, laminated copy.

    I was asked last week to begin the process for what I hope could turn in to a huge project. It's a little daunting by its size but it is needed and I think my abilities will uniquely improve the work that could potentially affect every Catholic in our nation. I am humbled and determined to stay in the present, leaving any worry about the future to God who provides. I'm likely to share what I learn if the project flourishes. Please pray that it does so only because of the great need it would address.

    And then there's me, my family, our parish, our life. I don't share that online but it is full and blessed.

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    The Bible in the Domestic Church

    Catherine Speaking at the Eastern Catholic Bible Conference
    Photo by Nick Havrilla, Sr
    I spoke at the first ever Eastern Catholic Bible Conference yesterday on the topic of the Bible in the Domestic Church. Several asked me for the recording or transcript of my talk and for a copy of the documents I referenced, so here they are!

    Who is God?
    Part 1 of my talk, covering the Trinitarian communion of God and the incarnation and virgin birth of Jesus

    Who am I?
    Part 2 of my talk, covering personhood and being and rebirth through Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist

    To What am I Called?
    Part 3 of my talk, covering the vocations of celibacy and marriage and their associated spiritualities and communities

    How Do I Live Out My Calling?
    Part 4 of my talk, covering practical and attainable ways to grow within the domestic church, during which the below resources were mentioned

    Resources for the Domestic Church
    A short list of recommendations to share some of the options available out there to inform and support the work of the domestic church

    When Eastern Catholics Commune at a Roman Catholic Mass Pamphlet
    A single-page pamphlet addressing the most common questions and practicalities related to intra-Church communion including the canonical foundation, babies and young children receiving the Eucharist, and how the topic can be approached.

    Byzantine Morning Prayer for Adults
    A single-page morning prayer rule for adults which focuses on spiritual growth through the Byzantine tradition

    Byzantine Morning and Evening Prayer for Families
    A single-page morning and evening prayer rule for families which introduces the Byzantine tradition and encourages continued growth in a sustainable way

    Byzantine Examination of Conscience for Married Parents, Married Adults, Single Parents, Single Adults, Clergy and Religious, Youth, and Children
    A series of compatible examinations which encourage continued spiritual growth through the full life span, each on a single page and tailored to the needs of a different demographic.

    Byzantine Examination of Conscience in a Visual Format (pictures)
    A single-page examination that has a picture accompanying each point, followed by a series of cards that can be cut out (and laminated and/or placed on a ring if desired) to use one at a time, including the option of selecting only those that have been a challenge to take into Confession. Particularly helpful for pre-readers, those with learning differences or attention constraints, and those with disabilities.

    Byzantine Rule of Repentance with a Byzantine Confession Guide for Adults, Simplified, and in a Visual Format (pictures)
    A single-page prayer rule in preparation for Confession (most suitable for teens through adults) with a Confession guide for every age and ability, including a visual format which is particularly helpful for pre-readers, those with learning differences or attention constraints, and those with disabilities.


    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Church Ascription Upon Conversion


    Fr. George Gallaro is one of my heroes. In case you don't remember who he is, you can read his impressive credentials on this previous post. I've written him twice asking him to share his wisdom with all of us through this blog. Twice he has written me back almost immediately with a wealth of wisdom to share.

    This is a topic I've received several requests to cover and have seen a lot of confusion over. I'm grateful that Father George shared it here with us and think it will be referenced frequently. I'm also grateful that he took the time to put it into text because I suspect these words will be searched on a regular basis. He gives the canonical low-down on joining a church sui juris when converting.

    BAPTIZED NON-CATHOLICS 
    COMING INTO FULL COMMUNION 
    WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
    Fr. George Gallaro

    The Second Vatican Council declares in its Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) that, when those who have been validly baptized in non-Catholic Churches or Ecclesial Communities spontaneously ask to enter full communion with the Catholic Church, either as individuals or as groups, “it is necessary to impose no burden beyond what is essential.” (UR 18)

    The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (i.e. CCEO) in its canon 897 affirms that: “A member of the Christian faithful of an Eastern non-Catholic Church is to be received into the Catholic Church with only the profession of the Catholic faith, after a doctrinal and spiritual preparation that is suited to that person’s condition.” Since this constitutes a very delicate act, it is advisable to ascertain the weighty reasons why one asks for admission into the Catholic Church.

    The competent ecclesiastical authority to receive one into full communion is specified in the CCEO in the canons 898-899.

    The same Code in canon 35, following the Decree on the Eastern Churches (Orientalium ecclesiarum), declares that: “Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite and should observe it everywhere in the world as much as humanly possible.” In the case of Orthodox, the new Church of ascription shall be one of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches, the closest in its ritual approach.

    Protestants who enter into the full Catholic communion are to be ascribed to the Latin Church, since their Ecclesial Communities sprang from the Western/Latin tradition.

    The rationale of this norm is mainly ecclesiological: full communion with the apostolic Church of Rome does not imply alienation or loss of the rite, understood as liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony. Canon 35 was written with an ecumenical perspective in mind: to establish and to preserve communion one must “lay no greater burden than necessary” (Acts 15: 28).

    The Eastern Orthodox who joins the equivalent Eastern Catholic Church finds the surroundings in keeping with his/her Christian history and identity. That does not mean that he/she cannot continue to attend the Latin Church, even though it is desirable that he/she should be helped to uphold his/her own Church tradition.

    Since the text of canon 35 does not explicitly specify if the norm is for validity or for lawfulness, one may infer that this is not an irritating law.

    Canon 32 §1, dealing with Catholics who desire to transfer validly to another autonomous Catholic Church, requires the consent of the Holy See. Furthermore, insofar as legitimate ascription to another autonomous Catholic Church constitutes the basis for the validity or lawfulness of certain juridical act (e.g., the validity of a marriage or the lawful admission to a religious institute of another autonomous Catholic Church) one may conclude that canon 35 has a binding force, after all.

    Sometimes, a baptized member of an Eastern non-Catholic Church who enters in full communion with the Catholic Church wants to be ascribed into the Latin Church. If so, one must, with the prior approval of the local Latin bishop, seek an indult (i.e. permission) from the Holy See. The canonical reason for such a petition must be serious, e.g., the spiritual wellbeing of the petitioner or the unity of the family when the petitioner is married to a Latin spouse.

    The Year in Review

    I did this experiment of trying to blog in 2011 while waiting for opportunities to return to video. I thought it was worth trying because I could do more from home, since I needed to be home more this last year, and could provide the same quality information. It didn't work out so well.

    One major hurdle I had was in getting responses to interview requests. No one likes cold callers. I didn't know if my emails weren't going through or if the person on the other end was not interested. I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew so I'd wait on one person before asking the next and the lack of response slowed this process down considerably. Another major hurdle I faced was that those who responded favorably were often impressed with my questions and too busy to respond to them in text. Text is more formal, more detailed, more scrutinized, and more involved. After spending the time writing and editing the few interviews which were completed, I would send the final work for approval and it wasn't uncommon to not hear back. Dozens of hours of work sit ready and unpublished, much of which is no longer of particular interest because it was concerning current (at the time) events. People who have wisdom to share are, as an obvious correlative effect, very busy people. I need to be able to have 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 60 minutes or whatever it is that they're available for and then they need to be done, but I didn't accomplish that with the text model.

    On a personal front, I am able to write the best questions when I talk with a person and learn what is important and of interest to him or her. I'm also most motivated to work when I have personal connections. Working on my own at home with a computer screen and text was a personal challenge which I did not always conquer.

    All of this combined to an end product others were happy to see, but I didn't get requests for more of it. On the other hand, I continue to receive regular requests for my video interviews. This affirmation that the content is what people are interested in and the video medium is where it is best conveyed has brought me back to video interviews. It is obvious that my talents are best used in service to the church there.

    God willing, I will be taking videos in the coming weeks and I will be posting video interviews regularly throughout 2012. I've heard you loud and clear and I'm responding to your call! Please pray for me that I continue to seek God's will and that I conform to it so that whatever I do brings glory to Him.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Interview with His Beatitude Sviatoslav of the UGCC

    I am in the process of re-focusing on original video content, but this interview with the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was too huge not to post.
    Culture experts say there is no question more difficult than the question of identity. Greek Catholics hear many definitions of their church, for example, that we are Eastern rite Catholics, or Eastern Catholics, or Orthodox in communion with Rome, or maybe even other formulations. Which wording do you think is the most accurate? 
    Read the patriarch's response to that and numerous other questions Mariana Karapinka & Anatolii Babynskyi asked him in their article "His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk): 'I Will Continue to Build the Patriarchate'"

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Happy Mother's Day!

    By singing praise to your maternity, we exalt you as a spiritual temple, Theotokos. For the One Who dwelt within your womb, the Lord who holds all things in his hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all to sing to you...



    Step-mothers, single mothers, biological mothers, adoptive mothers, estranged mothers, birth mothers, natural mothers, first mothers, religious mothers, spiritual mothers, foster mothers, grand-mothers, godmothers, mothers whose children died in miscarriage or abortion, mothers who placed their children for adoption, mothers whose children live with others, mothers whose children live at home, mothers who made poor decisions, mothers who were not able or allowed to parent, mothers who have sacrificed greatly, mothers whose children are still growing in their wombs or are waiting for them around the world, mothers whose children are grown and gone, mothers whose sons and daughters are in harm's way as they protect and defend others, mothers who visit their children's graves, mothers whose children have no graves at which they can sit and grieve...



    However you came to be a mother and wherever your children now are, I pray today as the English world celebrates Mother's Day that our Lord shower you with graces just as He did for His own mother and that the Theotokos--she who bore and gave birth to God and who stood at the foot of the cross as He died upon it--will pray for the salvation of you and your children.

    O never failing protectress of Christians and their ever-present intercessor before the Creator; despise not the petitions or sinners who have recourse to you, by your goodness extend your help to us to call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Melkite patriarch tells West not to encourage Arab revolutions

    Damascus, Syria, May 5, 2011 / 07:47 pm (CNA).- Patriarch Gregorios III, the Syria-based head of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, is warning Western leaders not to encourage the revolutions currently shaking up the Middle East.
    Read about it here...
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