Priesthood and Mutual Support
The Mutual Support Work Group of the AUSCP was established over three years ago to provide assistance to priests as they experience challenges in their ministerial and personal lives. Although it was initially envisioned as a way to support priests who had been accused (falsely or otherwise) of inappropriate sexual behavior, the group has been called upon to provide a listening ear and wise counsel to priests who are facing other challenges in their lives. The WG is made up of 9 priests from around the USA and draws upon the combined wisdom of many years of compassionate ministry as well as the assistance of Canon Lawyers.
Assembly 2023: What We Heard
At the annual meeting of AUSCP in San Diego, the Mutual Support Working Group held two listening sessions as part of the Thursday morning colloquia. Two articles are submitted in regard to the sessions, on “How can we better support priests?” and “What do I say When a Brother Priest calls me?” These colloquia were organized to listen and share with one another the expressed needs of our membership. These two reports are intended to inform all members of AUSCP about the conversation and the challenges that were surfaced.
Mutual Support for Gay Priests
The following statement concerning the AUSCP’s support of our brothers in ministry was offered by the Mutual Support Work Group, and affirmed by acclamation June 14, 2023. The statement is being released to the media and will be distributed to members of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Retreat and Sabbatical Opportunities
Retreats and sabbaticals provide opportunities for us to re-focus and recharge our ministerial energies. Here is a sampling of offerings found on the internet. It is not a comprehensive list and AUSCP does not endorse any program offering. You can find the listing here.
Guidelines in Response to Accusations
What to do when yourself or another priest is accused of sexual abuse? Abuse is a terrible sin. It is horrifying to the victims, to bishops, to fellow priests and to the alleged perpetrator.
This past year the AUSCP Mutual Support Committee has put together a list of things an accused priest can do when accused. And a list of things that priest friends can do when a brother priest is accused.
After consultation with lawyers, diocesan officials and canon lawyers, the committee has put together the document “Guidelines in Response to Accusations.”
Priests and the Right to Due Process
Today’s essay is on the Rights of Priests and the Due Process required by Canon Law. It was written by Fr Kevin McKenna, a Canon Lawyer and former Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester. Kevin has written several books on Pastoral applications of Canon Law and has served as the President of the Canon Law Society of the United States. Please give this short essay a read as a help to better understand our rights as Priests.
Rights of Priests
The Mutual Support Committee of the AUSCP has prepared a document delineating the rights of priests. It was prepared with the input of several canonists, bishops, and members of the Leadership Team. Along with the document is the text of a wallet card which the committee asks priests to print copies for themselves and their friends.
“You probably know of one or another priest who has been accused of sexual abuse, perhaps even yourself,” the document begins. “The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) is aware of such situations among its members and beyond. Some have been accused but exonerated. Others have been accused and convicted. Many others have been accused but ill-defined and protracted civil and ecclesial investigations leave them hanging for months and years. Some are never convicted or exonerated.”
Other Resources For Priesthood Issues
Since the December 8, 2016 Congregation for the Clergy’s release of The Gift of the Priestly Vocation (Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis—3rd Edition), with its mandate that each conference of bishops update its Program of Priestly Formation, we of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) have felt called and duty-bound to contribute to this important process. Our 2017 Assembly in Atlanta made addressing it one of our three top priorities for 2017-2018. A Working Group was established and has worked diligently since August 2017 to prepare observations, concerns, and proposals regarding five crucial components of priestly formation.
For a wealth of knowledge on the most pressing issues facing the Priesthood, please visit our Past Assembly Videos page. There you will find historic presentations from our annual AUSCP Assembly dating back to 2012.