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Most Reverend
Joseph G. Hanefeldt

About Column

Statement from Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt regarding
Archbishop Vigano's testimony

Statement from Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt,
supporting Cardinal DiNardo’s calls for an investigation of the testimony of Archbishop Vigano regarding Archbishop McCarrick

September 4, 2018

The crimes of sexual abuse by the clergy and the cover-up that followed has destroyed so many innocent lives and profoundly wounded the people of God, who so deeply love their Catholic faith.

Following upon both the accusations of the abuse committed by Archbishop McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, new questions have been raised in recent days by the former Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, implicating others in Church leadership in connection with Archbishop McCarrick. Because Archbishop Viganò held a unique and important position of leadership serving the Church in our country, the questions raised in his statement must be taken seriously.

On August 16th, Cardinal DiNardo called for “an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth in all of this.” Since then, he has further stated, “The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.” I want to add my voice in support of his call for a prompt and thorough examination of this entire crisis in leadership.

To all of you who are victims of these unspeakable crimes, I am so very sorry. Apologies are only words, but I abhor these abuses and pray for your healing and consolation every day. Those in positions of authority have violated your human dignity and covered up the truth. I pray that by God’s grace, truth and justice will soon prevail for you and your families, and for the entire Church.

There must be true accountability for bishops going forward. We must safeguard children and young people from this ever happening again. These are serous evils in the Church.  This is spiritual warfare.  Please join me in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and in offering acts of personal penance and fasting in reparation for these sins and for the healing and consolation of all victims of abuse and their families. 

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5.) As the Church undergoes this purification, let us remain in Christ and abide in him.  May our Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace, intercede for each of us in these difficult times.

In Christ, our Hope!

Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt
Diocese of Grand Island


Statement from Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt - August 17, 2018

August 17, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This past week I was sickened to learn about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailing the sexual abuse of children by priests across Pennsylvania over the past 70 years. Particularly devastating was the finding that bishops and other church leaders had covered up these crimes instead of reporting them.

I am deeply ashamed that those in positions of authority have acted in this way. Sexual abuse is about the most extreme violation that anyone could inflict upon another person. For a priest or bishop to do so is unspeakable. In the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the one entrusted to ensure the safety of others, was himself the problem.

This evil needs to be cast out of our church. I am committed to act upon any report of sexual abuse and misconduct by a member of the clergy or Parish staff member that I receive as bishop of this diocese.

Every person is precious, unique, gifted and graced.  Each of us is a never-to-be-repeated wonder in all of God's creation. Safe-guarding the dignity of every person, especially young persons, must be the paramount duty of the church, starting with me as Bishop.

If you are suffering this great evil or if you learn that someone is a victim of sexual misconduct, please encourage them to bring it forward. I am saddened that because bishops were a part of this problem, people may be hesitant to trust me with this information. If you are unable to tell me, instead please contact Beth Heidt-Kozisek, our Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 1-800-652-2229 or emailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or another member of our Diocesan Review Board, or report it to the police. If you are willing to meet with me, I want to hear your story and help you in anyway that I can to bring justice and healing to your life.

Only Jesus can heal this wound in our lives and in our Church. Turn to him with all that this stirs up in you. Speak to him of your anger, your sadness and your pain. Be courageous in your prayer and in your pursuit of what is good and right, what is pure and holy.


With equal strength I want to thank all our faithful priests for their genuine pastoral care of souls.  Their dedication to the support and healing of victims and their families, and their years of dedicated service to all of you, is a source of hope and encouragement in this dark time.  Let us remember that our hope is in Christ.

Please pray for me, that I may help bring love and mercy, healing and compassion to all who are suffering from this great failure of leadership in our Church.

Most Reverend Joseph G. Hanefeldt, Bishop of Grand Island


Victim Assistance

If you or someone you care about are suffering the pain of abuse, the Church wants to help.  Please contact our Victim Assistance Coordinators to report church-related incidents of abuse or to seek support and find resources.

Elizabeth Heidt, Ph.D.
Cheryl Albright, M.S.
En Espanol
Rev. Jose Chavez



Nebraska Bishops Speak on the Death Penalty

The Nebraska Bishops issued a statement following clarification to
the teaching on the death penalty made by the Holy Father: 

Click here to read full statement


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