Bishop Calvo’s Homilies

Chrism Mass Homily

Right after this homily, the priests ordained to serve you the Church will stand and renew our commitment.  I will ask them to confirm “those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination.”  We renew these promises on various occasions and every year at this Chrism Mass when we gather to bless the oils we will use in our sacramental ministry.  This year we make them against the backdrop of the events that have shaken our Church and have called into question among many faithful Catholics their trust in their priests and bishops and even the very institution of the Catholic Church.

The priests here present have also suffered from this scandal.  The crimes of our confreres have left them feeling humiliated, sad and vulnerable.  The perception that bishops have not advanced far in appropriately handling abuse cases makes them angry and frustrated.  Yet, despite these feelings, they have gathered together with you to renew their commitment of service to you and to God.The first reading and the Gospel cite passages from Chapter 61 of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  They tell of the Anointed One who declares that God has sent him to proclaim glad tidings to the lowly, to heal and uplift, to free and console, to bestow the oil of gladness.  He is Jesus the Christ—the Anointed One.  We turn to him, our hope and salvation, and stand ready with you to receive the oil of gladness.The reading from Isaiah says, “They shall rebuild the ancient ruins, the former wastes they shall raise up and restore the ruined cities, desolate for generations…You yourselves shall be named priests of the Lord, ministers of our God shall you be called.”Who are these “priests of the Lord”? 

They are the people to whom the Anointed One is sent.  And what are they to do?  They are to rebuild and restore.  And this is what we are to do today.  In the face of the crisis in the Church, our response is to rebuild and restore.  That’s our mandate.  The alternatives are to deny and maintain the status quo, or to shut down and walk away.  The first is to neglect the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the second to abandon our faith which is lived out in the communion of believers.  This moment of grace calls us to rebuild and restore.The place to start is the upholding the primacy of the Sacrament of Baptism. 

In its saving waters we were given new life in Christ, anointed with Chrism and made members of his priestly people.  The readings and prayers for this Chrism Mass make reference to the priesthood, but not only to ordained ministers but to all the baptized—the entire Church.  It is important that we acknowledge and take this to heart more than ever.  Though we make a distinction between clergy and laity, we all share in the “royal priesthood of Jesus Christ”.  Though we have different gifts and vocations and their corresponding commitments, we all are anointed and sent to bring the Gospel to the world.

In the past there was a sharp separation between clergy and laity.  The clergy lead, teach and sanctify; the laity pray, pay and obey.  It was a delineation that neglected the gifts of women religious and lay women and men and their rightful place in the Church’s mission.  And it fostered clericalism, placing the clergy as an elite class and raising the Sacrament of Holy Orders above the Sacrament of Baptism in importance.But the most important of all the sacraments is Baptism. The mark of distinction is not whether a person is a priest or a nun or a lay man, but that one is a baptized Christian.  All of us are anointed with Chrism and thus share in Christ’s mission; all of us—without distinction—are accountable for our actions; and all—clergy and laity—need to pray, pay or make contribution with our gifts, and obey—obey the will of God.There are many analyses of the causes of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.  One I find very compelling and needs to be dealt with is clericalism.  Why?  Because it puts priests on a dangerous pedestal.  Priests need respect and affirmation as all of do, but clericalism is different. 

Remember on the First Sunday of Lent we heard in the Gospel the temptations Jesus encountered in the desert?  They were temptations to power, fame, and the illusion that bread or material goods can satisfy the deepest hunger of our soul.  Worse, the temptations tried derail Jesus’ mission, get him off track from what he was sent to do.  This is what clericalism does.  It gets our priorities all wrong, imbues a sense of entitlement, gives a false sense of exemption from accountability, and perverts the way we relate to the people we serve.  And it creates a mystique about priests.  It hides their human side, forgets they have human needs and feelings, that they are men made of clay feet and in need of God’s grace as is true for everybody.The clergy sexual abuse scandal has pushed priests off the pedestal.  But let’s go further.  Why don’t we just smash the pedestal of clericalism to bits. 

Let’s tear it down so as to rebuild and restore the ordained ministry of priests.  Let priests stand on the foundation of trust and respect, not on a false sense of self-importance.  Let us be trusted because of our personal integrity, evident commitment to service and vocation, consistent acts of compassion, wisdom and courage, and a life of holiness.  This is what we priests and bishops are called to be and do and what we will now express as we renew the promises of our ordination.

Statements

Clergy and Religious Credibly Accused

April 5, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

For the past sixteen years, in compliance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, we have had in place protocols for reporting abuse to law enforcement, background checks for anyone working with youth, ongoing training in awareness and prevention of abuse, and policies to ensure appropriate interaction between youth and adults in all our programs.  In the wake of recent national reports of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, on August 18, 2018, I informed Catholics in northern Nevada that I wanted a review of our commitment as a diocese to safeguard all minors. I asked the Diocesan Review Board, comprised of lay women and men, to conduct this review. Since then the members of the board have diligently undertaken this task. In addition to an examination of current policies and procedures, I also asked them to review the clergy files because I decided, as a measure of transparency and accountability, to make public the names of clergy and religious who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

As a result of this review, the Diocesan Review Board recommended the following list of names of priests and religious who have been credibly accused. The determination of a “credible” accusation was based on such factors as corroborating evidence or criminal prosecution or admission of guilt by the accused.  The process of determining credibility was not a formal legal process. In publishing this list, it is our hope that it may bring some healing to those who have been abused. We can read the names of the perpetrators, but what is not seen in print are those men and women who have suffered the harm inflicted and the pain they have carried through their lives.  That clergy inflicted such grave injury on minors fills me with shame and sorrow. In the name of the Diocese of Reno I offer my profound apology to them and to their families.

The clergy files examined extend back over eighty years from the inception of the Diocese of Reno. The following list includes names of clergy and religious who served in the twelve counties that currently comprise the diocese: Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, and  Washoe. In the first three categories, the priests and religious were accused of committing sexual abuse of minors in the state of Nevada. Those listed are:

1. diocesan priests who formally belonged to the Diocese of Reno, i.e., permanently dedicated to its service (the technical term is “incardinated”):

Robert Anderson (deceased)
Edmund Boyle (deceased)
Eugene Braun (removed from ministry)
Robert Despars (deceased)
William Duff (deceased)
Florence Flahive (deceased)
Harold Vieages (deceased);

2. diocesan priests incardinated in another diocese who worked on a temporary basis in the Diocese of Reno:

Carmelo Baltazar (deceased)
Timothy Ryan (deceased);

3. religious order priests who worked in the Diocese of Reno:

David Brusky SDS (deceased)
Stuart Campbell OP (deceased);

4.a diocesan priest who was ordained for service in another diocese and then transferred to and was incardinated in the Diocese of Reno.  Many years after his incardination in Nevada, his diocese of origin (the Archdiocese of Louisville) found credible allegations of sexual abuse committed by him when he was part of the Archdiocese of Louisville and has posted his name on its list of credibly accused:

Robert Bowling (deceased).

Most of the priests on the list are deceased and for some of them, an accusation of sexual abuse was made after their deaths.  Nevertheless, the Diocesan Review Board found evidence to conclude the accusation was credible.

Recently, allegations have been investigated regarding Philip Napolitano FSR, a member of the Brothers of the Holy Rosary here in Reno.  These allegations concerned incidents that took place at St. Christopher’s School in Las Vegas between the years 1964-1974. In accordance with the Essential Norms promulgated pursuant to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a canonical process will be initiated to determine Brother Philip’s guilt; at its conclusion, the results will be made public.

The Diocesan Review Board will continue to evaluate all information as it is received and thus the list of names may be updated or expanded in the future.

Anyone who has been sexually abused by a member of the clergy, a church employee or volunteer is encouraged to contact civil authorities and/or the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator (Eastern Nevada): Marilyn Janka  at 775-753-9542, or (Western Nevada): David Caloiaro at 775-450-3618 or the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Hotline at 1-844-669-8911).

Attached to this letter is the list of assignments of each of the priests named above.

May God strengthen our resolve as a church to protect children from abuse and to uphold the dignity of every human being.

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Randolph R. Calvo
Bishop of Reno

Members of the Diocesan Review Board:
Ms. Rota Rosaschi, MPA, LSW (Chair)
Mrs. JoAnn Baird, MFT
Mr. Frank Flaherty, Esq., Attorney & Counselor at Law<
Mrs. Margaret Graham, Coordinator of Marriage, Annulments and Funerals, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Member of the Diocesan Seminary Board
Mr. Stacey Hill, Retired Law Enforcement
Mrs. Annabelle Kozel
Hon. Joanne C. Parrilli (Retired)
Ms. Linda Remington
Mrs. Marna Zachry
Rev. Joseph Abraham, JCL
Mrs. Karen Barreras, M.Ed., Superintendent Diocesan Schools
Rev. Robert Chorey, Chancellor, Diocese of Reno

SB 165

February 20, 2019
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
With some urgency I bring to your attention a bill that is rushing through the Nevada legislature to make doctor prescribed suicide legal in our state. The bill is SB 165. It provides that a person over 18 years of age may request a doctor to give a prescription designed to end his or her life, provided there is a diagnosis of a terminal illness and the opinion of two physicians that the person will live six months or less.

While people may view this bill as allowing for personal choice to end one’s life, there are consequences that could actually take away from patients their choice to sustain their lives or to seek further medical treatment. For example, it is a fact that in states such as Oregon and California that have enacted doctor prescribed suicide, insurance companies have denied payment for potentially life-saving medical treatments, offering instead to pay for assisted suicide. What will be next? Will people with disabilities be similarly vulnerable to pressure to utilize the assisted suicide option over funding for necessary equipment or treatment? And will the elderly face a choice to take a deadly poison so as not to be a burden on family? When does the “right to die” turn into a “duty to die”?

What message would passage of this bill send? Suicide among teenagers is on the rise; what impact would this have on young people struggling with emotional issues or, for that matter, persons battling depression or suffering from traumatic brain injury? What about our veterans, approximately 20 of whom are committing suicide each week? Do we give up on them? Will we say there’s no help or that life with tough challenges is not worth living? In Oregon the general suicide rate increased by more than twice the national suicide rate in the fifteen years since assisted suicide was passed. Some may view this as success for their law; I think it is a defeat for human compassion.

I rarely write a letter asking your help to inform our lawmakers about a particular bill. But our conviction in the value of human life compels me to make this urgent request. Go to the official website of the Nevada Legislature and click on the 80th Session (2019). Scroll down to “Share Your Opinion with Your Legislators.” On the Select Bill, click SB 165, go to “Your Opinion of the Bill” and click on “Against” and then fill in the “Your Information” section. Or call your legislator. Thank you.

In Christ,
Bishop Randolph R. Calvo Diocese of Reno


Pennsylvania Grand Jury

Letter from Bishop Randolph Calvo To the Faithful of the Diocese of Reno     August 18, 2018

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The release this week of the report of the Grand Jury investigating clergy sex abuse of minors in six dioceses in Pennsylvania was extremely painful for me to hear.  I am filled with deep shame and disgust to hear and read about the terrible injury inflicted on so many innocent children and young people by priests and how church authorities handled these incidents.

The report impels me to review our commitment as a diocese to safeguard all minors and vulnerable adults in our church.  We have in place protocols for reporting abuse to law enforcement, background checks for any adult working with youth, ongoing training in awareness and prevention of abuse, and policies to ensure appropriate interactions with youth and adults in all our programs.  Now I want a full review of all our protocols, practices and policies to determine how effective they’ve been and how to improve our commitment.  I also want a review of the mechanisms of accountability of anyone who holds a position of authority and responsibility in the diocese, and this will include me the bishop. I will be asking our Diocesan Review Board, comprised of lay women and men of diverse expertise, to lead this review.  It will be a concerted effort that will involve all the institutions of our diocese.  At the conclusion of this review, a report will be published.

Finally, let us turn to the Lord in prayer for all who have suffered the terrible devastation of sexual abuse by the church’s ministers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Randolph R. Calvo

Bishop of Reno