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Cardinal Stafford blames church crisis on dysfunctional parishes

The clergy sexual abuse crisis has highlighted the longstanding need to renew parish life, according to Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

In an interview with Boston archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot, Cardinal Stafford put forward ecclesial renewal movements, such as Focolare and the Neocatechumenal Way, as an answer to the crisis.

Last week Sydney Archbishop George Pell also commended these groups for their ability to offer a "clear sense of direction and support".

Referring to a proposal among the US bishops to convene a plenary council to face deeper issues behind the crisis, Cardinal Stafford said any such meeting ought to address the issue of whether faith is compatible with contemporary culture.

"Many of the problems that we are experiencing in the priesthood, especially the sexual abuse, are due to a crisis, not just an acute crisis, but a long-term crisis in the parish," the cardinal said.

"Part of it is rooted in the fact that people do not really experience love within the parish but it is a place in which they do not trust one another enough to be able to experience the forgiving love of Jesus as that is mediated by the community," he said.

Catholic News Service

Cardinal Stafford: Church crisis is a crisis of parish life (The Pilot 8/8/03)
Pontifical Council for the Laity
Neocatechumenal Way
Pell sees larger role for lay leaders (14/8/03)
Lay Ministry Update (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
James Francis Cardinal Stafford (

20 Aug 2003