Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles responded to the Vatican’s summit on abuse by stressing the need for a renewal of fidelity within the entire Catholic Church.
“This crisis in the Church is an issue of accountability and transparency. But most importantly, at its heart, this is a crisis of personal fidelity,” he said in a Feb. 24 statement. “It is a crisis of not following Jesus Christ and not living the way he teaches us to live.”
The archbishop, who serves as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released his statement following the conclusion of a four-day Vatican summit that brought together heads of bishops’ conferences from countries around the world to discuss sexual abuse and child protection.
The summit discussed responsibility, transparency, and accountability, with video testimonies from sex abuse victims, working group discussions, a penitential liturgy, and a closing Mass with final remarks from Pope Francis.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, said in a statement that concrete follow-up measures in the United States will include an intensification of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Young People – known as the Dallas Charter – which currently governs how U.S. dioceses are to handle sexual abuse allegations against priests.
Gomez, who heads the largest archdiocese in the United States, said that he closely followed the Vatican summit and was “inspired by Pope Francis’ commitment to eliminate the evil of child abuse from the global Church and the wider global society.”
He pledged that he and his fellow bishops will be working in the coming months on the important task of “improving how we handle allegations against bishops and continuing to ensure that children are protected in our parishes, schools and other ministries.”
“Reform and renewal must begin with the bishops and clergy,” he said. “But all of us in the Church are called to a new conversion, to renewal of our hearts and minds — so that we live our faith with greater integrity, new devotion, and new excitement.”
Gomez noted that a relic of St. John Vianney is currently in the Los Angeles archdiocese, as part of a national tour. Praying in front of the heart of Vianney – known for his sanctity as a parish priest – the faithful are praying for a renewal of holiness, particularly among priests and seminarians, and for healing of all those who have been hurt by a member of the Church.
“Let us continue to pray and work for the healing of those who have been hurt,” the archbishop said. He called for the upcoming Lenten season to be a time of rededication, for the whole Church, “to leading truly Christian lives, returning to Jesus and opening our hearts to the holiness and love that he calls us to.”