Cardinal celebrates Mass recognizing 20th anniversary of charter

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cardinal celebrates Mass recognizing 20th anniversary of charter

Cardinal Cupich was the main celebrant during a Mass to celebrate the 20th anniversary for the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, 6955 N. Hiawatha Ave., on Nov. 20, 2022. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Program books for the Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
(Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Dan Stapleton proclaims a reading. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Betty Kudlinski, a parishioner and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, stands during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Chuck Thompson presents the Gospel to the congregation. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich gives the homily during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich blesses the gifts. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich prays at the altar. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Deacon Thompson assists Cardinal Cupich. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Father Jesudas Gudime, associate pastor at St. Mary of the Woods, distributes Communion. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich and Michael Hoffman, founding member of committee of clergy-abuse survivors, embrace after Hoffman presented the cardinal with a pinwheel during a Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Altar servers lead the recession at the end of Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)

In his homily on the feast of Christ the King, Cardinal Cupich said the church must be like the good thief in the Gospel of Luke who listens to Jesus on the cross, repents and asks forgiveness and has the courage to ask Jesus to remember him.

The cardinal celebrated Mass on the Nov. 20 feast at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, 6955 N. Hiawatha Ave., to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its Essential Norms.

In approving the charter two decades ago, Cardinal Cupich said, the U.S. bishops had to learn, like the good thief, to ask forgiveness of the people of God for the mishandling of cases of abuse of young people within the church.

“They had to realize that by asking forgiveness, they truly could bring about healing in the life of the church,” the cardinal said, noting that some bishops made “terrible mistakes.” “Forgiveness of God is there for them too. It is important, once again, always, in the church to ask forgiveness of the Lord, but also of those who have been harmed. And not to be afraid of it, not to be afraid to own it.” 

By asking forgiveness, Cardinal Cupich said, people can seek a new way forward.

That’s what happens at the beginning of every Mass, when participants ask forgiveness for their sins.

“It’s an opportunity for us to realize that the Lord is inviting us to live our lives in a new way,” Cardinal Cupich said. “As bread and wine are offered and broken and poured out in a cup, so too our lives can be broken and poured out for others. We don’t have to live in an ongoing cycle of selfishness, of taking care of ourselves, of protecting ourselves.”

That, he said, was what the leaders of the church were doing before approving the charter, trying to protect the church’s reputation and wondering about lawsuits.

“That is not who we are,” the cardinal said. “We claim to be a community, and those who stand at the altar proclaim that we are a community that breaks the bread and pours out the cup, and that is the image of our lives that we should have: being willing to be broken for others, having our lives poured out for others, not just taking care of ourselves.”

After Communion, parishioner Mike Hoffman shared his story of disclosing the sexual abuse he suffered as a boy at the hands of a priest, first to his wife, then to his pastor and then to the archdiocese in 2006.

Hoffman, now chairman of the archdiocese’s Hope and Healing Committee, said he was terrified that his wife would see him differently, or that his then-pastor, Father Greg Sakowicz, would think that Hoffman had a problem with him.

His wife offered compassion, love and understanding, and Sakowicz, now rector of Holy Name Cathedral, “heard the depth of my sadness and sorrow.”

Sakowicz encouraged him to disclose the abuse to the archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, starting the Independent Review Board process and getting help from the Assistance Ministry.

Since then, he has become active in survivor communities and in efforts to prevent child sexual abuse, serving for the past eight years on the board of Prevent Child Abuse-Illinois.

One of the best ways to prevent abuse from happening is to talk about child safety regularly, Hoffman said, wherever children are cared for. That includes events like the Archdiocese of Chicago’s annual Pinwheels Prayer Service. In that service, blue pinwheels — the national symbol of child abuse prevention — are planted by adults and children together in the Healing Garden, a space dedicated to healing those impacted by abuse.

“From my perspective, as a clergy abuse survivor, this kind of public outreach that supports the dignity, safety and well-being of children is real progress from when I was a little boy,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t have any messages like that at my school, or any after-school programs when I was little.”


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