Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 
Bishop Samra at the Entrhonement

August 23, 2011

As reported by Justin Bell in PilotCatholicNews.Com

with additional photography from Kathleen Laplante's Blog Taste and See

A New Jersey native was installed as the first American born eparchial bishop in the United States for the Greek Melkite Catholic Church on August 23.

Bishop Nicholas J. Samra, 67, was installed as the Eparch of Newton during an elaborate service, called an Enthronement Liturgy, at the Melkite Cathedral of the Annunciation in West Roxbury.

The Melkite Church is an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Samra was first ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Newton in 1989 and went into retirement in 2005, until his appointment as eparch this June.

After an entrance procession that included many bishops, priests, and deacons, Exarch Joseph Haggar read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI, called the Papal Bull of Designation, which declared the appointment of Bishop Samra.

Bishops at Enthronement

Bishops and Heirarchs at the Enthronement

"May the lights and joy of the Holy Spirit and under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, be always with you and with your ecclesial community which is so very dear to us," stated Pope Benedict in his letter.

The previous Eparch of Newton, Metropolitan Archbishop Cyrille Bustros of Beirut and Jbeil, thanked Bishop Samra for his work as a priest and auxiliary bishop. He also thanked the clergy, religious, and laity of the Newton Eparchy and pledged his prayers for them, while asking for their prayers in turn.

Archbishop Bustros then read a letter from Patriarch Gregory III, the head of the Melkite Church who resides in Damascus, Syria.

The patriarch wished Bishop Samra "a successful pastoral ministry founded on strength and faith in the hearts of the believers in your vast country."

"We pray that he will continue to find those we call the hidden Melkites, whom we do not know, so we can serve them the holy mysteries and that they will not feel lost in their Church, but have one Church to belong to," stated Patriarch Gregory.

Following the letter, Bishop Samra approached Archbishop Bustros to receive the shepherd's staff, escorted by various clergy. Prayers were then invoked by a deacon and the choir that the new bishop may be preserved by God for many years.

Clergy at the Enthronement

Preists and Deacons at the Enthronement

In the vesting ceremony of the liturgy, Bishop Samra received and blessed seven distinct vestments, a pectoral cross, and medallion called an engolpion. He also blessed his crown--similar to a bishop's miter in the Roman rite -- and his staff.

Following these rituals, the Divine and Holy Liturgy of John Chrysostom began. After a Gospel reading, Bishop Samra addressed the congregation.

He noted that the date was the closing of the eastern feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, marking the death or "falling asleep" of Mary. Bishop Samra called it probably the most important day of commemoration for Mary. In the Roman rite, the Dormition is celebrated as the Assumption, when Mary was taken into heaven.

In his remarks, he repeatedly pointed to Mary as an example for Christians to follow in giving flesh to Jesus. Bishop Samra cited Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist as ways for the faithful to bring Christ to others.

"Not only should we hear it, but we should digest it into our hearts and then when we leave the church, we become the word of God to the community outside," said Bishop Samra.

He noted that when the bread and wine are brought to the altar prior to the consecration, these items also represent the gifts of the people assembled.

"We say thank you to God for life and for all the aspects of life that he continues to give us -- each day of our lives -- and we take those gifts and place them on the altar, you are now there," said the bishop.

He said that God in turn gives the gifts back to the people transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

"Now Christ flows through you, but it's not over. That's nice, we're transformed, we become one body because we're one bread and one cup. It unites us together, but something more important happens, we leave the church...Now that we are transformed we go back into the world in which we live to transform it," said Bishop Samra.

Following his homily, the liturgy proceeded into the eucharistic consecration and distribution of communion. The overall ceremony incorporated English, Aramaic, and Greek words and chants.

Toward the end of the liturgy, Bishop Samra expressed thanks and signaled the dismissal of the people with a blessing gesture with two long candles, called a dikerion and trikerion.

Cathy Moody, whose grandfather came to Massachusetts from Lebanon and was one of the founding members of the cathedral, described the event as "incredible" and said she was "excited for the future of the Melkites in America."

Eric Alaimo, 27, a religion teacher from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, is a Latin Catholic who attends the Latin Rite Mass on Saturday evening and the Melkite liturgy on Sunday morning.

"To quote Blessed John Paul II, I like to breathe with both lungs," said Alaimo, referring to the late pope's description of the Churches of the East and West as the two lungs through which the universal Church breathes.

Alaimo said the event had an extra special significance with Bishop Nicholas being American born.

"I'm curious to see where that's going to lead the Melkite Church in America," said Alaimo.

 

Axios!

Great Honors

and

Wonderful News

For the People of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton

June 15, 2011

The Rt. Rev. Exarch Joseph Haggar, Administrator pro tempore of the Eparchy of Newton, announces the following:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given assent to the canonical election by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church of the Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros as Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon, and, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church, has named the Most Rev. Bishop Nicholas James Samra as Eparch of Newton.

In addition, His Holiness has also given assent to the canonical election of the Most Rev. Bishop Issam John Darwish as Archbishop of Zahleh and Furzol, Lebanon, and has named the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Robert Rabbat as Eparch of St. Michael the Archangel of Sydney (Australia and New Zealand).

The Patriarchal Web Site announced the joyous news this way . . .

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given his assent to the election of two archbishops, canonically elected by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, at Ain Traz on 25 June 2010.

They are:

The Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, hitherto Eparch of Newton (USA), elected Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon; and The Most Rev. Bishop Issam John Darwish, B. S., hitherto Eparch of St Michael the Archangel of Sydney, (Australia and New Zealand), elected Archbishop of Zahleh and Furzol, Lebanon. 15 June 2011

As of today, 15 June 2011, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, has named two hierarchs for the eparchies of our expansion vacant as a result of the transfer of their respective eparchs to other eparchies.

They are:

The Most Rev. Nicholas James Samra, hitherto titular Bishop of Gerasa and former Protosynkellos of the Eparchy of Newton, (USA), named Eparch of the same Eparchy of Newton; and The Rt. Rev. Archim. Robert Rabbat, hitherto rector of the Eparchial Cathedral of Newton and editor-in-chief of the eparchy’s journal Sophia, named Eparch of St Michael the Archangel of Sydney (Australia and New Zealand).

 
Bishop Nicholas Samra

The Rt. Rev. Exarch Joseph Haggar, Administrator pro tempore of the Eparchy of Newton, on June 15, 2011 announced the following:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has given assent to the canonical election by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church of the Most Rev. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros as Metropolitan of Beirut and Jbeil, Lebanon, and, at the proposal of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church, has named the Most Rev. Bishop Nicholas James Samra as Eparch of Newton.

Biography of Bishop Samra

Bishop Samra, who is widely recognized for his many accomplishments, has just attained another "First." Bishop Nicholas will be the first American-born Eparch of the Melkite Church in the United States. While Bishop Nicholas is well known and loved by the flock of the American eparchy, the following Wikipedia biography sketches out some of his history.

Nicholas Samra (born August 15, 1944) is the former auxiliary bishop and protosyncellus of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton in the United States. He has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, he was appointed Bishop, or Eparch, of the Eparchy (Eastern Rite Diocese) of Newton by the Holy Father, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, replacing His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros.

Samra was born in Paterson, New Jersey to George H. Samra and Elizabeth Balady Samra. His grandparents and his father were immigrants to the United States from Aleppo, Syria. He was ordained a priest for the Eparchy of Newton on May 10, 1970 and served as a pastor in Melkite parishes in Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey. Bishop Samra has a B.A. from St. Anselm's College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, and a B.D. from St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts.

On April 21, 1989 Samra was appointed Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton, and Titular Bishop of Gerasa, by the Holy Father, His Holiness Blessed Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated and installed on July 6 of that year by Archbishop Joseph Tawil as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus of the Eparchy of Newton and Titular Bishop of Gerasa. Samra served as Auxiliary Bishop and Protosyncellus until his retirement on January 11, 2005.

An active speaker and author, Samra has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism, Christian leadership and stewardship. He has also published a multi-volume history of the Melkite Church and a book on the legacy of Archbishop Joseph Tawil. He is the past president of the Eastern Catholic Association of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 
Safeguarding our Children

Program Overview

Guide for Pastoral Conduct with Minors

Policy for Sexual Abuse

Video Course and Assessment

GUIDE FOR PASTORAL CONDUCT WITH MINORS

"Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives Me..." (Mt 18: 5)

Christ our God established His holy Church, through the shedding of His blood and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as the Kingdom of God on earth and the means of Divine Life for all who believe. Through the Mysteries of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, the members of the Church renounce sin and are made "temples of the Holy Spirit" and "partakers of the Divine nature." They share in the mystical life-blood of Christ that flows through His body, the Church.

Those set apart by Ordination serve as ministers of the Holy Mysteries for the salvation and sanctification of God's people and the building up of the Body of Christ. (canon 367) By virtue of their baptism, the Laity also can serve in roles of pastoral ministry for the building up of the Kingdom of God. (canon 11)

All who serve in any capacity in the Church—Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and the Laity—are bound always to be models of Christian living and Christ-like action, holding themselves the highest standards of conduct. Indeed, the admonition of our Divine Savior, "…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Mt. 18:6), is all the more forceful for those who serve in the Church.

Provided for in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and required by the Policy of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons of the Eparchy of Newton, the following Code of Ethics specifies basic standards of conduct for all who serve in pastoral roles—clergy and laity alike—in parishes, religious communities, church institutions and organizations.

CODE OF ETHICS

Clergy, lay staff, and volunteers working with minors assist the parents in their God-given obligation to provide their children with the means of salvation and sanctification. Therefore, they are duty-bound to be vigilant at all times in providing for children environments that lifts the mind and heart to God and to the "things that are above." In addition, those working with children shall always avoid even the appearance of impropriety in their dealings with these "little ones."

Physical contact with children must always be pure, gentle, and loving (completely non-sexual and otherwise appropriate) and never in private. One-on-one meetings with young people are best held in a public area, or if that is not appropriate, then the door to the room is left open. The parents should be made aware of all meetings with their children and typically be waiting in another room for them.

When working with children, it is never appropriate to use alcohol or illegal drugs, nor should alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or inappropriate reading material or videos ever be provided to them. The use of such things in working with minors is never appropriate.

Clergy should never allow minors to stay overnight in the cleric's private residence. Youth ministers, teachers, and any adult should always meet with young people in areas that are visible and accessible. It is always good practice to have two adults present in the meeting area and when driving with minors in the car.

Clergy, lay staff, and volunteers should never provide minors with private or overnight accommodations without other adult supervision present in any Church-owned facility, private residence, hotel, or any other place.

In rare, emergency situations, when accommodation is necessary for the health and well-being of the minor, the clergy, staff or volunteer should take extraordinary care to protect all parties from the appearance of impropriety and from all risk of harm. Using a team approach in managing emergency situations is recommended.

Clergy, lay staff, and volunteers are bound to be models of celibate or married chastity (depending on their state in life) at all times in all their dealings with God's people. (cf. canon 373) Clergy, lay staff, and volunteers who work in any capacity with minors assume the full burden of responsibility for establishing and fastidiously maintaining clear, appropriate, and virtuous boundaries with children and young people.

A grave offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, it is always morally reprehensible to exploit a minor for sexual gratification. This includes all physical, psychological, verbal and written communications of a sexual or inappropriate nature. The use of profanity, off-colored humor, and the like, as well as giving and accepting gifts from minors without the parents' knowledge is to be completely avoided.

Allegations of sexual misconduct that are credible should be taken seriously and reported to appropriate ecclesiastical and civil authorities according to the policies and procedures of the Eparchy of Newton. Clergy, staff and volunteers should review and know the child abuse regulations and reporting requirements of the particular state and locality where they serve. When there is an indication of any illegal action the proper ecclesiastical and civil authorities should be notified.

When an uncertainty exists about whether a situation or course of conduct violates this Code, consult the Eparchial Chancery.

Confidentiality

The confidentiality of the Mystery of Holy Confession (seal of confession) is inviolable. (canon 733) Under no circumstances whatsoever can there ever be any disclosure of information received solely through the Mystery of Holy Confession.

Information obtained in the course of counseling or spiritual direction shall be confidential, except for compelling professional reasons or as required by law. In counseling or spiritual direction with minors, if there is reasonable cause to believe that there is a serious threat to the minor's health or welfare, including sexual abuse or neglect, or a disclosure is made indicating that the minor is being abused in a any way, the counselor/spiritual director should contact the appropriate ecclesiastical and civil authorities and make a report according to the policies and procedures of the Eparchy of Newton.

The Health and Well-Being of the Clergy

"Clerics are bound in a special manner to the perfection which Christ proposed to his disciples, since they are consecrated to God in a new way by sacred ordination, so that they may become more suitable instruments of Christ, the eternal Priest, in the service of the people of God, and at the same time that they be exemplary models to the flock." (canon 368) This awesome responsibility borne by those who minister in the Household of God requires that they live lives of complete fidelity to Christ in all piety and honesty. Fervent prayer, regular use of Mystery of Holy Confession, spiritual direction and retreats are all vital in living lives of purity and holiness. (canon 369) Daily invoking the abundant mercy of God in weakness and failings is the means by which we receive the grace to accomplish the ministry of Christ our God.

 

Safeguarding our Children

Program Overview

Guide for Pastoral Conduct with Minors

Policy for Sexual Abuse

Video Course and Assessment

Program Overview

Bishop Nicholas is committed to continuing to ensure that all the churches, institutions, and organizations of our Eparchy remain the means of sanctification for all our beloved children. The Eparchy publishes a Guide for Pastoral Conduct with Minors and a Policy for Sexual Abuse which articulate basic standards of conduct for all adults in the Eparchy who serve children on a regular basis, both clergy and laity alike, such as Sunday school teachers, youth coordinators, NAMY and MAYA directors, etc.

Additionally the Eparchy has a required Video Course and compliance Assessment that this required of all who minister or deal with youth.

May the Holy and All-Pure Mother of God

protect, guide and guard all our children and families.

 

Safeguarding our Children

Program Overview

Guide for Pastoral Conduct with Minors

Policy for Sexual Abuse

Video Course and Assessment

Eparchy of Newton Policy of Sexual Abuse of Minors By Priests or Deacons

As Christians and as Melkite-Greek Catholics, we consider the welfare and protection of our children a sacred responsibility. The Particular Law of the Eparchy of Newton and The Melkite Greek Catholic Church, promulgated in 1999, contains reference to a detailed policy regarding reports of inappropriate behavior of the clergy. Both the policy statement and procedures have been in force since 1995 and have been implemented by the Eparchy of Newton. It is now being revised in the light of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Revised Edition, approved by the American Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. in November 2002. These Eparchial norms are an implementation of Essential norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons approved by the Congregation for Bishops on December 8, 2002.

Reporting:
All cases of alleged or suspected or known child abuse committed by a cleric will be immediately reported to civil authorities. Any cleric, who knows from the external forum that a minor has been sexually abused, is required to report the knowledge or suspicion to civil authorities. Allegations of sexual abuse will also be immediately reported to the eparchial bishop.
Investigation:

When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon is received, a preliminary investigation in harmony with canon law will be initiated and conducted promptly and objectively (CCEO, c. 1468). The purpose of the eparchial investigation is to ensure that the bishop has a complete, thorough, and accurate report of the alleged incident. The investigation will be conducted by an investigator appointed by the eparch in consultation with the review board. The investigator will report his findings to the bishop and to the review board. The accused will immediately be called by the eparchial chancery and made aware of the allegation against him and the identity of the accuser. The accused will remain in his position until the initial investigation is completed. All appropriate steps shall be taken to protect the reputation of the accused during the investigation. The accused will be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel and will be promptly notified of the results of the investigation.

When there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred, the eparchial bishop will notify the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The eparchial bishop shall then apply the precautionary measures mentioned in CCEO, canon 1473 - that is, remove the alleged offender from the sacred ministry or from any ecclesiastical office or function. The bishop may impose or prohibit residence in a given place or territory, and prohibit the public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist pending the outcome of the process. In every case involving canonical penalties, the processes provided for in canon law will be observed, and the various provisions of canon law will be considered. (cf. Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal form the Clerical State, 1995; Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001). Unless the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, having been notified, calls the case to itself because of special circumstances, the eparchial bishop will follow the directions of the Congregation on how to proceed (Article 13, "Procedural Norms" for Moto proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, AAS, 93, 2001, p. 787).

If the case would otherwise be barred by prescription, because sexual abuse of a minor is a grave offense, the eparch shall apply to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a dispensation from the prescription, while indicating appropriate pastoral reasons. For the sake of due process, the accused is encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel. When necessary, the eparchy will supply canonical counsel to a priest. The Eparchy will conduct a judicial process of the case according to the appropriate canons and practice of the Church. The alleged offender may be requested to seek, and may be urged voluntarily to comply with, an appropriate medical and psychological evaluation at a facility mutually acceptable to the eparchy and the accused.

The Eparchy will comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and will cooperate in their investigation. In every instance, the Eparchy will advise and support a person's right to make a report to public authorities.

Response:

The healing of victims, their families and their community from the effects of sexual abuse by church leaders begins when the allegations of such abuse are received. Victims of sexual abuse experience a profound sense of loss and betrayal by someone from whom they had the right to expect protection and guidance. This is even more true when the offender represents spiritual authority and one's connection with God. As a result, victims frequently have difficulty trusting others, fearful that they will be blamed for the abusive acts. Therefore, when victims decide to disclose the abuse, it is important that the response they receive is compassionate and non-judgmental. Anyone receiving an allegation of abuse will respond in a pastoral, supportive manner, leaving investigative concerns to those who serve in that role. An allegation will be received without initial judgment as to the truth of the complaint. No intimation of blame will be made by the initial recipient of information. Individuals making allegations will be supported positively in their decision to disclose.

The eparch will designate a competent person to coordinate assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused when they were minors by priests or deacons. This "assistance-coordinator" will assess and respond to the immediate and long-term needs of the alleged victim and family, the alleged offender, parish communities and others that are affected by the disclosure of sex abuse. The assistance-coordinator will serve as a consultant to the eparchial bishop and the review board regarding the treatment needs of clients.

Ministry/service:

No cleric removed from an eparchial position for allegations of sexual abuse of a minor will return to ministry or service before their case is assessed and his fitness is determined by the bishop in consultation with the review board.

The safety of children is the paramount consideration governing the formation of recommendations regarding the future ministry of one accused of abuse.

An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor made against a cleric will be deemed established if, with due respect for the provisions of canon law: The accused individual admits to conduct defined by this policy as sexual abuse. A civil court of criminal law finds the accused guilty of a crime that consists of conduct defined by this policy as sexual abuse, or the accused pleads guilty or no contest to a crime that consists of conduct defined by this policy as sexual abuse. The appropriate church tribunal finds the accused guilty of the crime. When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants.

If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g., for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the offender ought to lead a life of prayer and penance. He will not be permitted to celebrate the Divine Liturgy publicly or to administer the Sacred Mysteries. He will be instructed not to wear clerical garb, or present himself publicly as a priest. At all times, the eparchial bishop has the executive power of clerical governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric form office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of priestly ministry. Because sexual abuse of a minor is a crime in all jurisdictions in the United States, for the sake of the common good and observing the provisions of canon law, the eparchial bishop shall exercise this power of governance to ensure that any priest who has committed even one act of sexual abuse or a minor as described above shall not continue in the active ministry.

The priest or deacon may at any time request a dispensation form the obligations of the clerical state. In exceptional cases, the eparchial bishop may request of the Holy Father the dismissal of the priest or deacon form the clerical state ex officio, even without the consent of the priest or deacon. Care will always be taken to protect the rights of all parties involved, particularly those of the person claiming to have been sexually abused and the person against whom the charge has been made.

When an accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken by the bishop to restore the good name of the priest or deacon falsely accused. No priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor will be transferred for ministerial assignment to another eparchy/diocese or religious province. Before a priest or deacon is transferred for residence to another eparchy/diocese or religious province, the eparch shall forward, in a confidential manner, to the local eparch/bishop or religious ordinary of the proposed place of residence any and all information concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and any other information indicating that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people. The eparchial bishop will not consider receiving any priest or deacon into the eparchy from another jurisdiction without previously obtaining the necessary information regarding the moral and civil record of the priest or deacon in question.

Review Board:
The review board is a predominantly lay board composed of a variety of professionals duly appointed to assist the bishop in a strictly confidential consultative capacity. It will have no final, decision-making authority, which authority will continue to reside exclusively with the bishop.
Board Functions:

1. To advise the eparchial bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of suitability for ministry;

2. To review eparchial policies for dealing with sexual abuse of minors;

3. To offer advice on all aspects of sexual abuse cases, whether retrospectively or prospectively.

Membership:
The review board, established by the eparchial bishop, will be composed of 5 members of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church. The majority of the board will be lay persons who are not in the employ of the eparchy. These will include: a person with particular expertise in the treatment of sexual abuse of minors; a parent; a parish priest; an attorney; an individual with investigative experience; The bishop may deem it desirable that the Promoter of Justice participate in the meetings of the review board.
Appointment:
Members appointed by the eparchial bishop will serve a five-year term. All board members will adhere to the rules of strict confidentiality with regard to all deliberations and information received.
Prevention:

The Eparchy of Newton will publish a code of ethics and integrity in ministry to be adhered to by all the clergy and persons in positions of trust in the Eparchy. The Eparchy in cooperation with parents, civil authorities, educators and community organizations will establish and/or recommend established "safe environment" programs. These will include programs of education and training for parents, ministers, educators, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for minors. All eparchial programs designed to certify clerics, eparchial employees, and volunteers who serve children on a regular basis will include segments that address child sexual abuse.

The training curriculum will include information concerning: signs and symptoms, dynamics of child abuse, impact of child abuse, intervention strategies, reporting requirements and community resources. Youth programs in Catholic parishes and institutions, that teach personal health and development or human sexuality, are to include a discussion on this topic at the appropriate age level. Concern for the innocence of youth will be paramount in any program and the guidelines issued by the Holy See found in "On the Teaching of Human Sexuality" will be adhered to rigorously.

Child abuse prevention and recognition programs will be offered and/or recommended to parents and the community at the parish level. Collaboration with local programs established by nearby dioceses of the Latin Church will be recommended.

Screening:

The background of all eparchial and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors will be evaluated. Applicants for employment or volunteer work which will involve contact with children in parishes and institutions of the eparchy must provide the hiring agent personal information adequate to assess their suitability for contact with children. They must sign a waiver to conduct a criminal background check.

The Eparchy will study the psychological screening currently undertaken to assess potential candidates for the priesthood and diaconate. The tests given will be reviewed from the perspective of identifying, to the extent possible, potential problems in the area of sexuality. Problem candidates will be disqualified.

Criminal background checks will be required of all candidates for ordination to the priesthood and diaconate. A protocol or procedure is to be developed to screen clerical personnel from outside the Eparchy before an assignment is given or confirmed by the eparch to minister within the Eparchy of Newton. All applicants for service to the eparchy must present both a letter of recommendation from their bishop or Religious Superior a quo together with a recent criminal background check.

Definitions:

Sexual Abuse of a minor includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a minor and other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. Sexual abuse has been defined by different civil authorities in various ways, and these norms do not adopt any particular definition provided in civil law. Rather, the transgressions in question relate to obligations arising from divine commands regarding sexual interaction as conveyed by the sixth commandment of the Decalogue. Thus, the norm to be considered in assessing an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is whether conduct or interaction with a minor qualifies as an external, objectively grave violation of the sixth commandment. (USCCB, Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995, p. 6). A canonical offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue need not be a complete act of intercourse. Nor, to be objectively grave, does an act need to involve force, physical contact, or a discernible harmful outcome. Moreover, imputability [moral responsibility] for a canonical offense is presumed upon external violation unless it is otherwise apparent. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the bishop, with the advice of the review board, to determine the gravity of the alleged act. Sexual Conduct means vaginal intercourse between a male and a female, anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus between persons regardless of sex; and, without privilege to do so, the insertion, however slight, of any part of the body or any instrument, apparatus or other object into the vaginal or anal cavity of another. Sexual Contact means any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including, without limitation, the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.

Supplement Policy of Sexual Abuse of Minors By Seminarians, Religious, Eparchial Employees or Regular Volunteers

The Norms listed above regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests or deacons, with the exception of those that deal specifically with priests or deacons according to canon law, are also to be applied to seminarians, Religious, eparchial employees and regular volunteers of the Eparchy. In addition, there are these following norms.

Reporting:
All cases of alleged or suspected or known child abuse committed by a seminarian, Religious, eparchial employee or volunteer of the eparchy, will be immediately reported to civil authorities. Allegations of sexual abuse will also be immediately reported to the eparchial bishop.
Investigation:
Besides any actions taken by the civil authorities, the Eparchy will conduct its own investigation of the alleged abuse. Based on the results of the civil disposition, the eparchy's own investigation, and the advice of the Review Board, the eparchial bishop will determine the continued working relationship of the accused with the Eparchy. During the investigation, the accused will be relieved from his or her responsibilities, and removed from any contact with minors.
Screening:

Administrators must take due precautions to assure that only persons who are psychologically and temperamentally suited are chosen to work with children. No applicant with a history of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense conviction will be considered for placement or hire. Applicants for employment or volunteer in a position with children contact in parishes and institutions of the eparchy must provide the hiring agent personal information adequate to assess their suitability for contact with minors. They must sign a waiver to conduct a criminal background check. They must supply names of three references, at least one from the most recent employer and none from close friends or relatives. And they must complete the screening interview process. Hiring agents and/or volunteer coordinators must speak with all references provided by applicants for employment and examine and verify the employment history. The hiring agent is to conduct a criminal records check of any person seeking employment or to volunteer at their facility.

Any applicant who has not lived continuously for five years in the state of the eparchial parish or institution must also provide an FBI identification record or a waiver allowing the hiring agent to obtain it. Pastors will require that any person or group who are hired through a third party contract, and who will have responsibility for the care, custody, or control of a child, must provide proof of a criminal background check.

Each parish or institution of the eparchy must establish procedures for gathering the information and completing the reference checks mentioned above. All information gathered will be retained in a confidential file at the location of employment for as long as legally required. The provisions of this policy are applicable to all agencies and institutions located within the eparchy where ministry is performed under the canonical supervision of the eparch including institutions and or centers owned and operated by exempt Religious.

 
Icon of the apostles at Pentecost Group photograph of all the Melkite Clergy surrounding Archbishop Cyril Bustros

It was a beautiful, bright, and balmy afternoon, August 18, 2004, when the lengthy procession of some thirty-three Archbishops and Bishops and over seventy Priests and Deacons solemnly made its way into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Mother Church of the Eparchy, for the Divine Liturgy of Enthronement. With great anticipation, the Faithful, representing many churches in the Eparchy, filled the Cathedral.

After the solemn vesting of the new Archbishop by the Deacons, Father Eugene Mitchell, B.S.O., Rector of the Cathedral, called upon His Excellency Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the Pope's personal representative to our country, to come forward to read the Papal Bull proclaiming Archbishop Cyril Bustros as the Fourth Eparch of Newton. Then, His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III, Father of Fathers and Shepherd of Shepherds of the Melkite Church, imparted the pastoral staff of authority to Archbishop Cyril instructing him to rule, govern, and guide the Eparchy of Newton with firmness and love. The Pontifical Divine Liturgy then followed.

After the congregation had received the Precious Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion and the Divine Liturgy had concluded, Bishop John Elya, now Eparch Emeritus of Newton escorted his successor, Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, from the Holy Doors to ascend the Hierarchical Throne of his new Cathedral for the first time. From his Eparchial Throne, the new Eparch solemnly blessed the clergy and people with the Dikirion and Trikirion, the two and three-branched candles that symbolize the two Natures of Christ and the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. Then, the Clergy and the people came forward to kiss the hand of the new Eparch as a sign of loyalty and obedience.

Eastern bishops attending the enthronement

Patriarch Gregorios III Archbishop Montalvo, Papal Nuncio, Bishop John and Archbishop Cyril pause for a moment before entering the Cathedral

The procession into the church before the enthronement of the new Eparch of Newton

The Patriarch blesses the clergy and people

Eparchial Clergy in attendance at the Enthronement

Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Montalvo read Papal Bull proclaiming Archbishop Cyril Bustros Fourth Eparch of Newton.

Archbishop Cyril, Eparch of Newton

The Patriarch blesses the clergy and people

Archbishop Cyril receives the obeisance of clergy and people after his Enthronement

 
Formal protrait of Archbishop Cyril Bustros

Announcement -

New Eparch for Newton

by Exarch Joseph Hagger

His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend John A. Elya from pastoral governance of the Eparchy of Newton and has appointed the Most Reverend Cyril Salim Bustros, most recently Archbishop of Baalbeck in Lebanon, as the new Eparch of Newton.

Archbishop Cyril was born at Ain-Borday, near Baalbeck in Lebanon on January 26, 1939 . After his primary and secondary studies at the Minor Seminary of St. Paul at Harissa, he pursued his philosophical studies at St. Paul Institute in 1956 and 1957, and made his novitiate at the White Fathers in Gap, France. Then, he studied theology for four years (1958-1962) at the Major Seminary at St. Anne of Jerusalem. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in the Society of the Missionaries of St. Paul on June 29, 1962 .

From 1962-1970, he was Professor of Classical Greek and of French Literature at the Minor Seminary. Then from 1972-1974 Professor of Philosophy and Theology at St. Paul Institute in Harissa.

Interrupting his teaching, he pursued a Doctorate of Theology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and received his degree in 1976. Then for eleven years he was Director of the St. Paul Institute of Philosophy and of Theology of the Paulist Missionaries at Harissa, and at the same time Professor at St. Joseph University in Beirut, and in various lay centers.

It was in 1988 that the Holy Synod of the Melkite Church elected him Archbishop of Baalbeck, succeeding the Most Reverend Elias Zoghby. He was ordained to the Holy Episcopate on November 27, 1988, in the Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa, by His Beatitude Maximos V, assisted by Archbishops Elias Zoghby and Joseph Raya.

Plans for the Installation of Archbishop Bustros will be forthcoming as soon as they have been formulated.

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