Archdiocesan-wide novena prays for healing in church's abuse crisis

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, September 16, 2018

Archdiocesan-wide novena prays for healing in church abuse crisis

Cardinal Blase Cupich was the main celebrant and homilist Sept. 15, 2018 at Holy Name Cathedral during the last night of a nine day novena sponsored by Mundelein Seminary for the Healing of Our Church. The novena was held from Sept. 7 through Sept. 15 to unite Catholics in prayer for healing, justice and hope in light of the ongoing crisis within the Catholic Church. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich bows his head in prayer during the novena Mass Sept. 15, 2018 at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Mundelein seminarian Deacon Tyler Raymond from the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, proclaims the Gospel during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich delivers his homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich accepts the gifts during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich prays the Eucharistic Prayer as Deacon Tyler Raymond prays beside him. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
From left, Father John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary; Father Greg Sakowicz, rector of Holy Name Cathedral; Deacon Marco Franco of Mundelein Seminary; Cardinal Cupich; Father Thomas Baima, dean of Mundelein Seminary; Father Matt O'Donnell, pastor of St. Columbanus Parish; and Father Dan Folwaczny, associate pastor of Our Lady of the Brook Parish, participate in the Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Mundelein seminarians and staff lead the congregation in song during the Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Kartje addresses the congregation at the end of Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Front to back, Belen Morales, Sister Dominga Zapata and Ivan Lopez, all from St. John Bosco Parish, pray the novena prayer following Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

While it is naive to think that prayer alone will heal the pain and sin of the current crisis in the Catholic Church related to clergy sexual abuse, works not rooted in prayer are doomed to fail, said Father John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary, Sept. 15 at Holy Name Cathedral.

It was the last night of a Sept. 7-15 novena of Masses for the healing of the church. The Masses were hosted by seminarians in parishes throughout the archdiocese. Seminarians and seminary staff attended all the Masses and led the novena prayers.

Kartje encouraged people to continue praying the special prayer written for the novena in the months and years to come while working for change in the church.

Cardinal Cupich celebrated the novena’s last Mass at the cathedral and addressed the crisis in his homily.

“Yes, at this moment in the life of the church we find ourselves in crisis, a crisis of justice for those who have been victimized by clergy, a crisis of confidence in church leaders who failed to protect those in its care, a crisis of faith in the church itself,” he said. “This is a watershed moment.”

Scriptures for recent Sunday Masses have the apostles focusing on the question of who is Jesus and the answer to that question is relevant during this crisis, the cardinal said.

“Yes, we know him as our savior, as the one who has changed our lives, who abides with us in our frail humanity, frees us in the midst of oppressing forces and redeems our shameful ways,” he said. “But Jesus tells us to see him in the faces of those today who suffer greatly, who have been wounded and abused in twisted displays of power, who have been rejected by the very leaders who should have protected them, whose souls have been touched by death, whose faith in God and humanity has been shattered.”

The faithful are called to have a “mature” faith that doesn’t focus on the “sunny side” of Jesus to the exclusion of the suffering-servant side, he said, adding that Pope Francis is asking for that too.

“He is calling the church to a mature response to the question Jesus poses, by prioritizing the need to address the crime of abusive behavior by clergy and the abusive behavior of leaders who walked away from victim-survivors,” Cardinal Cupich said. “He has and will continue to remove bishops and cardinals who fail in their sacred duty to protect all people from sexual abuse. He is committed to accountability; has met with victim-survivors; and he has admitted his mistakes — ‘I was part of the problem,’ he has said.”

At this moment, Jesus is giving the church another chance to see him in the victim-survivors, he said. The church must decide if it will do that.

“We as a church, and especially we bishops, must decide. Will we grow up, or will we again just walk away?,” Cardinal Cupich said. “The answer is clear: We can never again abandon victim-survivors. We must confront the truth, confront our own failures, and act to bring healing and justice to those who have been robbed of both. Anything less would mean we really do not know who Jesus is. Anything less would make us phony Christians.”

During the fifth night of the novena, held at St. Julie Billiart in Tinley Park on Sept. 11, Father Lou Tylka, apologized to the people.

“I am sorry for those lives ruined by abuse and for the failure of the church to do right,” he said.

The church’s leadership must account for its sins and all the people of God must be part of the reform, said Tylka, who also addressed the crisis in a letter to parishioners in the parish bulletin Sept. 9.

“We all have a part to play. We have to share in the leadership that calls us to be a better people and a better church,” he said. “We are the church and we’re all in this together.

Parishioner Mark Kuta agreed.

“This novena unites everyone and brings everyone together,” he said. “It’s really hard to take what’s going on. Hopefully people will come back to the church instead of leaving.”

Mary Lee Noonan came from Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park to pray and to support the local priests.

“I feel grieved about what’s happening in my church,” she said. “How could it be that bishops are somehow not getting it?”



  • mundelein seminary
  • clergy sexual abuse

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