“We’ll be at this for a while”

Bishop tells Los Angeles Religious Education Congress recovery from abuse scandals will take generations

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, speaking at the 2019 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress March 22 in Anaheim, California. (Tamara Long-Garcia/Angelus News)

In his debut at America’s largest annual Catholic gathering, one of the rising stars of the U.S. hierarchy warned that full recovery from the clerical abuse scandals, including a new style of leadership in the Church, will be a “generational” task.

“We’ll be at this for a while,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who made a splash at last fall’s Synod of Bishops in Rome with his blunt, forceful language on the abuse crisis.

“We have become a society that sees everything in terms of power, as an authority or force over you, rather than a service in support of you, which is what the Lord defines authority and power,” Caggiano said in a March 22 interview with Crux.

“That’s going to be a generational amount of work to get to,” he said. “You’re going to need the few saints to lead the rest of us to figure out how to do it.”

Caggiano was speaking on the margins of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, an annual gathering held at the Anaheim Convention Center that regularly attracts in excess of 30,000 youth, catechists, religion teachers and other leaders in the Church.

The Bridgeport prelate, who’s originally from Brooklyn, was on hand to deliver two talks on Friday, one to youth and another to catechists, before taking a red-eye flight back to his diocese on Saturday to preside over a confirmation ceremony.

In his conversation with Crux, Caggiano stressed the need not just for improved structures and procedures to combat clerical abuse, but also “spiritual conversion.”

“If the sexual abuse crisis is, in part, an abuse of power, there is no mandate, procedure or process on earth that can avoid an abuse of power unless there’s a change of heart, a change in priority, a change in the way we exercise leadership, and the spirit with which you exercise leadership,” he said.

“I mean episcopal leadership, pastoral, lay leadership, leadership in families … there has to be a change,” Caggiano said.

Right now, Caggiano said, reform is happening in fits and starts among communities that foster both hope and joy in the Christian life despite the pain, which he described as characteristic of how the Church works.

“Reforming the Church never happens when everyone does it simultaneously,” he said. “Reform always starts in certain places that begin to grow, whether it’s in the Patristic era, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the same is happening here.”

Full story at Angelus News.

Comments

  1. Born in 1959, per his bio, the Bishop might well be around ‘for a while’ He, and the [relatively] younger Bishops, have much to do to restore a degree of credibility to the heirarchy after the mess the predecessors left us.

  2. Silent Observer says

    We needn’t have a panel of rising stars of the US hierarchy to tell us that there is/has been something rotten all along in the state of our Catholic institution. The Holy Family should be the example: Father, Mother, Child. If there is no virtuous woman in a male’s life, no feminine input, no motherly nurturing, then man will flounder and resort to baseness and iniquity. Similarly, if there are no feminine balancing influences in a priest’s formation or throughout his priestly life and he receives only accolades, then he will become arrogant and despotic.

  3. Anonymous says

    What Catholics always need, in every age, with all its problems– is a good Pope! That is always where good spiritual leadership starts! Will the next Pope decide to abandon permissive, worldly beliefs, teach authentic Catholic Faith and Morals worldwide, re-establish good discipline for teachers (no immorality or heresy!) in all Catholic schools, colleges and seminaries, form good, orthodox priests — and follow the Code of Canon Law?? And follow the new Guidelines established for protection of children and minors?? Where are the devoted, inspiring, orthodox priests, living prayerful, selfless, poor, humble, chaste lives for Christ– and preaching Christian morality and virtue, daily??

  4. Like many churches, the Catholic Church in America and Europe is going to continue to shrink. The Church will close schools, hospitals, monasteries, parishes, seminaries, colleges and universities as a result of dwindling financial resources and a much smaller flock. Maybe in four or five centuries the Catholic Church will start to grow again…if humanity has not destroyed itself.

  5. “We have become a society that sees everything in terms of power, as an authority or force over you, rather than a service in support of you, which is what the Lord defines authority and power,” Ah yes, the problem is “clericalism.” just as Cupich and Francis have declared all along. I’m relieved to hear it has nothing to do with homosexual predation. Thanks, now I can sleep at night.

    • Yes, Dan it is about homosexuality and homosexual “Clericalism”. I’m afraid “denial” won’t help us sleep better at night….

  6. Anonymous says

    Events like the REC aren’t helping things.

    • Anon, how do you know? I listened to Bishop Baron’s presentation on how to evangelize better. Almost everything he suggested is what is happening at Star of the Sea in San Francisco. He calls for better catechesis, better liturgical music, better sermons, better classical education, better holiness in saying Mass, etc, etc. The real point, however, is that the auditorium was packed with people from around the world who got a message that will help them back home. He called for an end to the watered-down teaching of the faith and an increase in traditional approaches to the faith. If the REC is so bad, 40,000 people wouldn’t attend each year.

      • I listened to that workshop too. Barron has been saying the same thing for years and nothing has gotten better. Of the 4,000 in the arena to hear him, maybe 200 have read Aquinas and could teach it to people. Barron was one good thing of about a dozen good things at a conference that is mostly awful. The fact is most catechists aren’t capable of doing what Barron is suggesting and the fact is the Church doesn’t want to pay what it would take to attract people with knowledge and talent to do parish work. Barron’s bread and butter is complaining about lousy catechesis while making videos that catechists who can’t teach play for classes as a substitute for doing the teaching themselves.

        • Anonymous says

          Chris, we need a good Pope, to begin with! And a strong, “practicing-Catholic” Church! Then, we will be able to do all the good things mentioned by Bishop Barron! Good parishes struggle miserably, when trying to build up a truly “practicing -Catholic” parish! The Catholic Faith has become so lost and confused in today’s world! Very little support from our Shepherds, too!

        • Chris, using the videos, etc. is better than letting untrained teachers teach what they don’t understand. Your point, however, is well taken. Your point about not hiring educated people to do parish work is also valid. I know a local Catholic church with nearly 1500 families that hired a part-time music director who doesn’t have an advanced degree in church music or any kind of music. They claimed they couldn’t afford more. Down the street ten blocks, a Protestant church with 900 members has a full-time Music Director, three types of choirs, an organist with a doctorate. The place is packed all week with services, concerts, etc. Then there are the youth ministers with masters degrees, faith formation directors, etc. You get the point…

          • You ought to see Rev. Robert Schuller’s grandson, Rev. Bobby Schuller, at his famous, smaller church, not far from the Anaheim Center, in Orange County! They, too, have a full professional staff, despite huge cut-backs, since the end of the elder Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral ministry. Although Protestants, too, have become unstable in the modern world– they dd not undergo the same degree of upheaval that we did, with Vatican II!! Vatican II tremendously destabilized the Catholic Church! Plus– orthodox, well-educated, “practicing- Catholic” intellectuals are today– unwanted.

      • Oh, and 40,000 don’t attend. Registration has been lagging and declining. Of that number, 12,000 are teenagers who get a day off school on Thursday to go to a half-day of infotaintment. So at max about 28,000 adults have attended/registered at least one day. Many of those are schoolteachers in the archdiocese who are required to go on Friday as a day of work. Quite a few of those check in with their supervisor in the morning and then go to Disneyland across the street. Lots of grey hair for the rest of the weekend, as the departure of young Catholics from the church has taken its toll.

      • Don’t forget that Catholic school teachers are required to attend.
        Gomez and Vann have been repeatedly asked not to allow speakers who ignore or demean the Faith – the laity are always ignored.

  7. Anonymous says

    Bob One, I bet this “Anonymous” wrote this, because over the years, the REC has had many immoral and heretical speakers!

  8. anonymous says

    Did he mention part of the root of the current crisis is the homosexual priests and bishops?
    If not, it sounds like just more PR and spin. And, the lay faithful aren’t “buying it.”

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