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31 August 2016

ARCC News 31 August 2016

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Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates.
                                          _  Patrick Edgar, ARCC President
 
 
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation - September 1
Prayer for Care of Creation
 
A Christian prayer in union with creation 
 
By Pope Francis* 
 
Father, we praise you with all your creatures. 
They came forth from your all-powerful hand; 
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. 
Praise be to you! 
 
Son of God, Jesus, 
through you all things were made. 
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, 
you became part of this earth, 
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature 
in your risen glory. 
Praise be to you! 
 
Holy Spirit, by your light 
you guide this world towards the Father's love 
and accompany creation as it groans in travail. 
You also dwell in our hearts 
and you inspire us to do what is good. 
Praise be to you! 
 
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, 
teach us to contemplate you 
in the beauty of the universe, 
for all things speak of you. 
Awaken our praise and thankfulness 
for every being that you have made. 
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined 
to everything that is. 
 
God of love, show us our place in this world 
as channels of your love 
for all the creatures of this earth, 
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. 
Enlighten those who possess power and money 
that they may avoid the sin of indifference, 
that they may love the common good, advance the weak, 
and care for this world in which we live. 
The poor and the earth are crying out. 
O Lord, seize us with your power and light, 
help us to protect all life, 
to prepare for a better future, 
for the coming of your Kingdom 
of justice, peace, love and beauty. 
 
Praise be to you! 
Amen. 
 
* Pope Francis published this prayer in his Laudato Si'  encyclical, and is meant for us Christians to ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.
 
 
 
Some things we have been reading  

 

Pope Expresses "Heartfelt Sorrow and Spiritual Closeness" to Those Hit by Powerful Earthquake in Central Italy
Gerard O'Connell      Aug.24 2016
 
Pope Francis expressed "his heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness" to all those hit by the powerful earthquake and many aftershocks in central Italy very early this morning. The quake left at least 120  people dead, including many children, obliterated mountain villages and caused the collapse of countless private homes and public buildings.
. . . .
The 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck three regions-Lazio, Marche and Umbria-at 3:38 a.m. this morning, killing many people-with the death toll still growing-and wiping out some mountain villages including Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto. These towns normally have very small populations, but because it is the holiday season many had returned home to spend time with friends and relatives.
US Lutherans approve document recognizing agreement with Catholic church
Emily McFarlan Miller       Aug.16, 2016
 
Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has approved a declaration recognizing "there are no longer church-dividing issues" on many points with the Roman Catholic church.

The "Declaration on the Way" was approved 931-9 by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly held last week at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton called the declaration "historic" in a statement released by the denomination following the Wednesday vote.

"Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity. ... This 'Declaration on the Way' helps us to realize more fully our unity in Christ with our Catholic partners, but it also serves to embolden our commitment to unity with all Christians," Eaton said.

The declaration comes as the Lutheran and Catholic churches prepare to kick off a year of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
. . . .
Last November, Pope Francis sparked controversy when he seemed to suggest a Lutheran could receive Communion in the Catholic Church, saying "life is greater than explanations and interpretations." The pontiff is scheduled to visit Sweden on Oct. 31 to preside at a joint service with Lutherans.

And the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation released a joint document in 2013 titled "From Conflict to Communion" that focused on the progress made in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in the past 50 years, rather than centuries of conflict.
Vatican newspaper: 'Amoris Laetitia' is authoritative church teaching
Cindy Wooden       Aug.23, 2016
 
Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family is an example of the "ordinary magisterium" -- papal teaching -- to which Catholics are obliged to give "religious submission of will and intellect," said an article in the Vatican newspaper.

Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a well-known professor of ecclesiology, said that while Pope Francis did not invoke his teaching authority in a "definitive way" in the document, it meets all the criteria for being an example of the "ordinary magisterium" to which all members of the church should respond with "the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation."
. . . .
Accepting "Amoris Laetitia" as authoritative church teaching, Father Pie-Ninot said, applies also to the document's "most significant words" about the possibility of people divorced and remarried without an annulment receiving Communion in limited circumstances.
 
 
Will next synod address ordaining 'elders' -- both women and men?
Christine Schenk       Aug.25, 2016
 
Anytime Austen Ivereigh offers an opinion about an issue in the Catholic church, I pay attention.
 
His outstanding biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer, opened my eyes to what makes Francis tick. It also provided a fascinating window into why the pope's lived experience has given him a unique ability to negotiate delicate political issues and get stuff done.
What makes Francis tick is his passion about the pastoral care of people.
 

So when Crux recently published an article by Ivereigh headlined "Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men," I took notice. Not only because this is a founding issue of FutureChurch, the church renewal organization I served for more than 20 years, but because I know how important it is to honor all the ministries in the church, not just those of male priests.

I was dismayed by the title Crux gave to Ivereigh's piece because it sensationalized what he actually wrote. What he said is that burning "questions about ministry: access to the sacraments, the role of women and lay people, as well as the role of deacons" are leading some to say that pastoral ministries will be the topic for the next Synod of Bishops.

Pastoral ministries. Not just "ordaining married men." Hmm.
. . . .
As it turns out, [Brazil's Bishop Erwin] Lobinger's "interesting hypotheses" involve more than ordaining married men. In an intriguing 2010 U.S. Catholic article, he writes:
More than half the Catholic Church's communities [worldwide] have no resident priest. ...  A great number of these 'self-ministering' communities are ready or almost ready for the introduction of teams of ordained elders. ... Because the majority of proven local leaders are women, it is unavoidable that the question of their inclusion among ordained elders will arise, though present church law does not permit it.
Lobinger is proposing two forms of priesthood, citing the example of the early church (Acts 14:23) when Paul and Barnabas appointed local "elders" (presbyters) for churches in Asia Minor. "Both receive the same sacrament of Holy Orders," suggests Lobinger, but would exercise different roles:

The elders would lead the community and administer the sacraments in their own community, while the priests would be the spiritual guides of elders. ... The priests would thus serve the whole diocese but elders would serve only the community where they were ordained. Elders would not be transferred.
Stop shaming women for seeking equal power in the church
Jamie Manson       Aug.17 2016
 
In late June, on a flight back from Armenia, Pope Francis told a team of reporters that he was angry.

What made Francis angry wasn't the continued deaths of countless refugees, or the latest instance of environmental degradation or some grim statistics about rates of human trafficking. No, what angered him was the suggestion, by some in the media, that he had "opened the door to deaconesses,"  with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).
. . . .
"When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission," Francis joked to the journalists, quoting line from a former president of Argentina.

And, yet, on August 2, just weeks after this press conference, the pope appointed six men and six women to the "Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate."
. . . .
We do know that this commission will not resolve the neuralgic issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood. The reasons have been laid out. First, there is clear historical precedent for women deacons, where there isn't clear precedent for women priests. Second, women deacons are a matter of ecclesiastical law that can be changed, whereas women priests have been banned by church doctrine.

But the deeper reason that women will be denied the priesthood lies in the Catholic church's radical opposition to allowing women and men equal power in the realms of ecclesiastical and sacramental authority.
. . . .
I can appreciate those who see the creation of this commission as a small, important step towards integrating women into the decision-making positions in the church. But as we celebrate this incremental step, I think it is wise to bear in mind a sobering reality. We are dealing with a hierarchy that has an enshrined belief that God has ordered the cosmos and human relations in a way that de facto denies women power in the church that is equal to men.

The struggle for women's equal participation in the church will, therefore, continue to arouse a variety of emotions -- and Pope Francis is not the only one whose anger will get piqued by the topic.
. . . .
I've also heard more than one person suggest ( that women will be "clericalized" by ordination) that women who want the priesthood are power-hungry careerists who seek honors, and titles and status.

I find this argument particularly troubling, since we rarely hear anyone accuse a young man seeking the priesthood of such nefarious motivations. We tend to give male seminarians the benefit of the doubt, but it seems such good intentions aren't assumed of Catholic women who feel qualified to seek the priesthood.

There is a demonization, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, of women who want the same power afforded to men in the institutional church. That sort of shaming and blaming must stop. The only purpose it serves is to divide and conquer Catholics who want to see women treated with genuine justice and equality in the church.
 
Man confesses in killings of 2 Mississippi nuns
Associated Press |       Aug.27, 2016
 
A man suspected in the slayings of two nuns found dead in their Mississippi home confessed to the killings, a sheriff said Saturday, in the latest twist to a crime that has horrified people in the small communities where the women served.
 
Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, was arrested and charged in the deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said late Friday. Both women were 68.
. . . .
Dr. Elias Abboud, the physician who oversees the clinic in Lexington where the nuns worked, said Saturday that Sanders was not a patient there.

The Rev. Greg Plata, sacramental minister at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington where the women led Bible study for years, said Saturday he does not think people at the church knew Sanders.

The women's bodies were discovered Thursday after they failed to show up for work in Lexington, about 10 miles from where they lived.

The sheriff said they had been stabbed.
. . . .
Authorities said Sanders was being held in an undisclosed detention center pending a court appearance. They have not given any details on why they think Sanders killed the women or whether he knew them.
Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell is eager to take on new role in the Vatican
Sarah Mervosh and Clair Ballor      Aug.27, 2016
 
Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell has been called by Pope Francis to oversee a new Vatican department focused on the lives of ordinary Catholics around the world.

The appointment, effective Sept. 1, will make Farrell the highest-ranking American clergyman serving in the Vatican, the Diocese of Dallas said Wednesday.
. . . .
Francis chose Farrell to lead the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, a newly created office that combines the responsibilities of two existing pontifical councils. It will be part of the Roman Curia, an administrative body that advises and helps the pope carry out the church's affairs worldwide.

In his new role, Farrell, 68, will focus on the needs of laypeople, those everyday Catholics who are not part of the clergy.
. . . .
Farrell's new job will reunite him with his brother Brian, who is also a bishop and the secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Read more
Mongolia's first Catholic priest to be ordained in Ulaanbaatar
Vatican Radio      MAug.27, 2016
 
Joseph Enkh will be ordained to priesthood by His Exc. Mgr. Wenceslao Padilla, CICM, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar on August 28. The new priest has chosen for his ordination the motto: "Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9, 23). According to Fides, "More than 1,500 people have confirmed that they will participate in the celebration, which will be a very special moment for the Catholic Church in Mongolia and for the whole society", says  Fr. Prosper Mbumba, CICM a Congolese missionary in the Asian country.
. . . .
The Church has been growing in Mongolia following decades of Communist rule, during which the free exercise of religious freedom was not permitted, therefore restricting opportunities for the Catholic Church to spread the Faith. But the new democratic government of Mongolia established in 1992 has been welcoming the Church's presence and the work of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart (CICM) missionaries.
Ireland: Association of priests publicly criticise Papal Nuncio
 Sarah Mac Donald       Aug.22, 2016
 
The Papal Nuncio to Ireland has come under fire from a prominent group of Irish priests over his selection of a series of what they say are "like-minded" new bishops whom the priests claim are "inadequate" for the needs of the Irish Church today.

In a statement, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which has a membership of over 1,000 Irish clerics, charged Archbishop Charles Brown with choosing "narrow-minded" bishops whom the reform-minded priests say are out of sync with the majority of the faithful.

Speaking to The Tablet, Fr Brendan Hoban, a spokesman for the ACP, warned that Irish priests, and not just ACP members, have lost confidence in the process of selecting bishops and specifically with the lack of consultation.

According to Fr Hoban, the Nuncio has "drawn from a very narrow mind-set, out of tune with the theology of the Second Vatican Council and the realities of Irish Catholic life today".
. . . .
Archbishop Brown was appointed by Benedict XVI in November 2011 in the wake of the apostolic visitation to the Irish Church which was announced in March 2010. It followed the publication of the findings of the Murphy Report into the mishandling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin, as well as the Ryan Report into abuse in residential institutions run by religious.

The New York-born Nuncio, a former CDF official has, since his arrival in Ireland at the start of 2012, played a central role in the selection of ten bishops for the dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Cashel, Cloyne, Derry, Elphin, Kerry, Kildare, Killaloe, Limerick and Waterford.

The Archbishop is currently in the process of appointing six more bishops for Clonfert, Cork, Galway, Meath, Ossory and Raphoe. He will therefore have had a role in selecting new leaders for 60 per cent of the Irish church's 26 dioceses.
Maynooth to review policies in wake of allegations about seminarians' behaviour
 Sarah Mac Donald       Aug.24, 2016
 
Far reaching changes have been announced by the trustees of the national seminary in Maynooth, Ireland, aimed at tackling disquiet over "an unhealthy atmosphere", allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour and concerns about an inadequate complaints procedure.
 
On Wednesday, St Patrick's College announced that 14 new seminarians begin their training for the priesthood this week. However, the trustees of the college held a special meeting in Maynooth on Tuesday to discuss the crisis which engulfed the seminary earlier this month.
 
The storm erupted amid claims that seminarians were using the gay dating app Grindr and led to an announcement by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin that he was sending his seminarians to study at the Irish College in Rome.
 
In their statement the archbishops and bishops who act as trustees of Maynooth announced that the seminary authorities have been requested to evaluate and review policies regarding the appropriate use of the internet and social media.
 
They have also asked the Irish Bishops' Conference to commission an independent audit and report of governance and statutes in Irish seminaries.
 
In tandem with this, the bishops have been asked to "urgently" develop a uniform national policy for admissions to Irish seminaries while all prospective candidates applying to become seminarians will in future be required to undertake a pre-seminary year.
Priest suspects there is a 'great deal more' to Maynooth story
Vivienne Clarke      Aug.4, 2016
 
An American canon lawyer says he suspects there is a great deal more to the story of what is happening in  seminary.

Fr Tom Doyle told RTE's Morning  that he has great respect for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and his judgement.

His comments come after the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin said earlier this week that he had decided to transfer three seminarians to Rome after concerns emerged about "strange goings on" and a gay subculture at St Patrick's College in Maynooth.

Fr Doyle said he believed Dr Martin's decision to withdraw seminarians from Maynooth was "an excellent decision."

There is a toxic subculture in some American seminaries, he said, with a lot of backbiting. "If that's the discord in Maynooth then he was right to take the steps he took and I respect him for that.

"If there is a subculture going on then it has to be addressed immediately and decisively. In the US seminarians who reported were not believed and the subcultures continued."

Fr Doyle said that one of the problems of seminary life is that it is very closed. "You're bound to have subcultures with a different set of social values."

On the issue of orthodoxy in Maynooth, Fr Doyle said that there was "a whole crop" of very conservative and controlling bishops who were appointed under Popes John Paul II and Benedict.

"These bishops have very little pastoral understanding and they attracted a whole new breed of kids who want to play at being 1950s priests. They wanted to recreate an ultra clerical priesthood.

"They are not part of the real world and shouldn't be allowed in the real world. The result is a situation where clergy want control, which is nothing to do with following Christ."
Pope John Paul I to be honored with museum in northern Italy
Elise Harris       Aug,24, 2016
JP I
On Friday a museum dedicated to Pope John Paul I will officially be inaugurated in the hometown of the "Smiling Pope," whom Pope Francis has often quoted when speaking on the topic of mercy.

Though his papal reign is among the shortest in history, summing up to just 33 days, Pope John Paul I was in office long enough to leave a mark.
. . . .
Despite the fact that John Paul I's papacy is among the shortest in history, it will now be honored with a museum featuring important documents, personal items and objects used by the Pope.

Although there's been a temporary photo exhibit in Canale d'Agordo since 1978, the display has been renovated and expanded for the new museum, which is located in the city's old town hall and will be officially inaugurated by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin Aug. 26.

Called the "Albino Luciani Museum," the launch date was chosen to coincide with the 38th anniversary of John Paul I's election to the papacy.
Benedict says he quit because he couldn't face another trip
Inés San Martín       Aug.24 2016
 
Ever since February 28, 2013, when emeritus Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly, and in Latin, announced his resignation, theories regarding why became too numerous to count: scandals over leaked confidential documents, his health, an alleged "gay lobby" in the Vatican, and so on.

Benedict said at the time he was stepping down because he was 86 and lacked the strength to continue with his mission of leading an institution present in every corner of the world, with over 1.2 billion members.

In a recent interview he expanded on that explanation, adding more details. Among other things, he said that his March 2012 trip to Mexico and Cuba had taken such a toll that he knew he'd be incapable of making another grueling international trip. He says he agreed with his doctor it'd be better if he didn't make such a demanding outing.
. . . .
That snippet was shared by the emeritus pope himself in an interview with Italian Elio Guerrero, author of the upcoming book "Servant of God and Humanity: The biography of Benedict XVI." It'll be released in Italian on August 30, and no date for an English publication has yet been announced.
The book includes not only a preface by Pope Francis, but also an interview Guerrero had with Benedict.
. . . .
Personally, the emeritus pope says, he's been very touched by Francis' "extraordinary human availability."

Benedict XVI also thanks Francis for the gift of a "marvelous fatherly-brotherly relationship," with the Argentine pope often sending him small gifts or hand-written letters, and always finding the time to visit his predecessor before embarking on a long trip.
Last Testament
In  His Own Words
  
By: 
 
BXVI bookPublished: 11-15-2016 Format: Hardback Edition: 1st Extent: 224 
ISBN: 9781472944672 Imprint: Bloomsbury Continuum 
Illustrations: black and white illustrations in the text 
Dimensions: 5 5/16" x 8 1/2" 
List price: $24.00 
    
Cardinal Burke insists he is serving Francis, not opposing him
David Gibson       Aug.22, 2016
 
Ever since Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, he has faced strong opposition from traditionalists unhappy with his push for church reforms - and the face of that opposition has often been Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American prelate who has worked in senior positions in Rome for most of the past decade.

Francis eventually moved Burke out of key Vatican jobs and into a more ceremonial post as patron to the Knights of Malta, an apparent downgrade that both Burke and the pope insist wasn't tied to the cardinal's criticisms.

But Burke, a former archbishop of St. Louis who has a devoted following among conservatives, has continued to use his Roman platform to speak his mind.

He did that again most recently in a book-length interview in which he hits many of the themes that have drawn attention in the past: critiquing  "radical feminism" and homosexuality ("a wounding of nature," he calls it) as well as the "secularization" and moral relativism that he says have infected society and the Catholic Church.

The reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s are also a recurrent target, as he again champions a return to the old Latin Mass and voices nostalgia for the Catholicism of his boyhood (Burke says that he first felt a tug to the priesthood at the age of 8). The cardinal also has a provocative new take on Islam, which he said "wants to govern the world."

Notably absent from the book, however, and from direct criticism, is Francis himself.  . . . .  Burke approvingly and frequently cites Saint John Paul II, the pope who named him a bishop back in 1995, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who brought him to Rome in 2008 and made him a cardinal two years later.
. . . .
But Francis is mentioned only in passing, which seems just fine by Burke.

"I know about all these depictions. People call me 'the enemy of the pope' and so forth. I have never been and I am not presently the enemy of the pope," Burke told RNS by telephone recently from his home state of Wisconsin, where he was spending time this summer.

"I have never, in anything I've said, shown disrespect to the papal office, because the Catholic Church doesn't exist without the office of Peter," he said, referring to the apostle who Catholic tradition views as the first bishop of Rome and therefore the first pope in an unbroken succession up to the present day.

"I've said to the pope himself, in conversations with him - and these by the way are friendly conversations - I told him, 'Holy Father, the only way I can serve you is by speaking the truth in the best and clearest way possible.' His response to me is: 'That's what I want.'"
Society of St. Pius X (SSPX): What is and what is not negotiable for reconciliation with the Catholic Church?
Lisa Palmieri-Billig      Jul.28.dd, 2016
 
In an interview for the German language publication "Christ und Welt" (on newsstands as of July 28) Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical "Ecclesia Dei" Commission entrusted by Pope Francis to conduct conciliatory talks with the breakaway Catholic traditionalists of the priestly fraternity, "the Society of Saint Pius X" (commonly referred to as "SSPX") this high Curia official clarifies some key issues regarding the negotiations. No longer excommunicated, but not yet canonically re-integrated, the fraternity has made basic concessions but continues to reject important Vatican II documents. According to the interviewer, Archbishop Pozzo's report is likely to raise further questions. 
. . . .
Two main issues seem to be at stake. One is Pope Francis' ardent desire for pastoral unity within the Catholic Church together with the healing of theological rifts. The second concerns the serious implications for the future of key documents in Vatican II such as 1) "Nostra Aetate"- widely celebrated all over the world last year on the 50th anniversary of its publication - which refers to the nature of the Catholic Church's relations with the Jewish People, with Muslims and with other non-Christian world religions; and 2) Dignitatis Humanae - the Declaration on Religious Freedom. ''
 
Regarding the first issue, Archbishop Pozzo states, "I believe that everything that furthers encounter and unity lies close to the Pope's heart" Asked what he felt had changed in the Vatican's attitude towards the fraternity of SSPX under Pope Francis, he replied, "From 2009 to 2012 the main emphasis was on theological disputes. Doctrinal difficulties had hindered the canonical recognition of the fraternity. But we know that life is more than Doctrine. During the past three years the desire grew to learn more and better understand the concrete reality of this priestly fraternity... Whereas earlier, meetings took place in a lecture hall, so to speak, now we meet in a more easygoing and brotherly atmosphere, even if the discussions remain the same..." 
. . . .
Archbishop Pozzo recalled that Benedict XVI had declared the excommunication of the Fraternity was due not to the SSPX's arguments against Vatican II, but purely to their non-recognition of the Primacy of Rome. And this has now been remedied. 
 
However, canonical recognition of the SSPX has still not been granted, the main reason being, precisely, their continued opposition to accepting certain Vatican II documents. This remains the principle topic for ongoing negotiations and is the other main issue discussed in the German interview with the Vatican's envoy for mediation with the SSPX.  
Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem
Aaron Blake     Aug.28, 2016
 
Much has been made of Donald Trump's problems with a few voting groups - female voters, blacks and Hispanics, and young voters, in particular. And, to be sure, they are all problems.

But relatively speaking, his biggest problem actually appears to be with a different group: Catholics.

Yes, the man who once feuded with the pope (how soon we forget that actually happened) is cratering among Catholics.
. . . .
But Trump trails among Catholics by a huge margin. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released this week shows him down 23 points, 55-32.

Washington Post-ABC News poll released earlier this month painted an even worse picture for Trump's Catholic support. He was down by 27 points, 61-34.
. . . .
It's also hard to overstate just how significant Trump's poor performance among Catholics is. That's because they comprise about one-quarter of voters in the United States (25 percent in 2012 exit polls) and are about as big a voting bloc as non-whites (28 percent) and independents (29 percent).
Cardinal Marx faces accusations over handling of alleged abuse case
Anian Christoph Wimmer       Aug.19, 2016
 
Accusations have been raised in a number of German media that Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising failed to remove from office a priest accused in 2006 of sexually abusing a minor.

The alleged abuser, it appears, was allowed to stay on as parish priest for a number of years, even going on overnight excursions with youth.

A spokesperson for Cardinal Marx has said that the prelate had acted in accordance with relevant guidelines that were in place at the time.
. . . .
According to the German news magazine "Focus", state authorities initiated two further investigations into the priest's conduct, in 2013 and 2015. Both times, the lines of inquiry stalled and finally were abandoned due to a lack of evidence.  

Only as of May 2015, the alleged abuser is no longer allowed to be in contact with minors or to publicly say Mass, Focus reports, as both civil authorities and the Trier diocese are yet again investigating the matter under both legal and canonical auspices.
Pope Francis will await judgment on Cardinal Pell over sex abuse claims
Josephine McKenna       Aug.1, 2016
 
Pope Francis says he will not address sexual abuse allegations against the Vatican's finance minister, Cardinal George Pell, until Australian judicial authorities complete their investigation.

In a press conference on the papal flight returning from World Youth Day in Poland late Sunday (July 31), the pontiff said the allegations against Pell "are in the hands of the justice system" and the cardinal should not be judged "before the justice system judges."

"If I were to make a judgment in favor or against Cardinal Pell that would not be good because I would be making a judgment first," said the pope.
Pell, an Australian cardinal who as the Holy See's finance chief is third in the Vatican hierarchy after Pope Francis and Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.  He is the most senior figure in the Catholic Church to be accused of sexually abusing minors.
. . . .
The claims against Pell are an important test case for the pope as he has vowed zero tolerance for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and said he would sack bishops found guilty of committing abuse or covering it up.
Number of German priest ordinations plummets to new low
Anian Christoph Wimmer      Aug.18, 2016
 
Never before have so few Catholic priests been ordained in the Church in Germany: a total of 58 men joined the clergy in 2015, according to official figures published by the German Episcopal Conference this week.
 
Within the last decade, the number of ordinations has dropped by half. In 2005, a total of 122 diocesan priests were ordained. Five decades ago, in 1965, the number was 500.

While there were almost 20,000 Catholic priests in Germany in 1990, today their number has already dropped to 14,000. The drastic decline is set to continue, judging by the figures: last year also marked the first time in history that the number of new seminarians dropped to double digits. Only 96 new students were registered in 2015. At the same time, 309 priests passed away, and 19 left the priesthood.
. . . .
With over 23.7 million members, Catholicism is the largest religious group in Germany, comprising 29 percent of the population. However, people are leaving in droves: In 2015, a total of 181,925 people departed according to official statistics published in July.  By comparison, 2,685 people became Catholic, and 6,474 reverted to Catholicism.
Villages 'obliterated' as Christian persecution grows in eastern Congo
Catholic Herald       Aug,19, 2016
 
The persecution of Christians has escalated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), prompting fears that a jihadist group is gaining strength in the region.

At least 36 people were killed in the North Kivu region on Saturday. It is the deadliest attack there since November 2014, with some saying that casualties might be nearer to 50. The victims were reportedly tied up and hacked to death.

The Islamist Allied Democratic Forces-National Association for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) have targeted Christians in the north-east of the DRC for several years after their attempt to overthrow the Ugandan government failed.

The United Nations has urged the Democratic Republic of Congo to investigate the massacre. A statement from the UN's high commissioner on human rights said the death toll from the group since 2014 had risen to 645.

On Monday the Pope condemned the "shameful silence" over the violence in the region.
. . . .
"We do not understand why this is happening to us," said one pastor. "The rebels just take people into the bush to kill them or kidnap them. They attack one place for a while and cause people to run away. Then they strike the places people run to."
Mark Zuckerberg Met With Pope Francis And Gave Him A Drone
Jenna Amatulli     Aug.29 2016
Pope _ Zuckerberg
If only they had taken a selfie together...

Pope Francis met with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, at the Vatican on Monday.

The meeting was set up so the pair could discuss "how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and to communicate a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged," Vatican press office director Greg Burke told ANSA news agency.

Zuckerberg forewent his usual ensemble of a hoodie and T-shirt, wearing a full suit for the occasion. He also gifted a drone to the religious leader and shared a photo of the exchange on Facebook (of course). Zuckerberg added that he admired the pope and the meeting was unforgettable.
'Iron Nun' Proves Youth Is Unlimited In Nike Ad
Carol Kuruvilla       Aug.15 2016
With a nickname like the "Iron Nun," Sister Madonna Buder isn't the kind of lady you'd want to underestimate.
 
The 86-year-old appears front and center in Nike's new ad "," where she runs, bikes, and swims with a resilient ferocity that could outpace many who are half her age.  
 
"The Iron Nun" got her moniker from the Iron Man, a grueling triathalon race that packs together a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. 
 
Buder has done  of these races, proving to her fans that youth has no age limit.
 
The athlete started her running career when she was 47 years old, after listening to a priest talk about the benefits of the sport. She ran her first triathlon in 1982, when she was 52 years old. She became the oldest woman to ever complete an Ironman race at the age of 75. She's been on the move since then, often pushing races to open up a new age division so she can register to compete. 
Read more
Brazilian priest cited in 'Spotlight' hangs himself in jail
Reuters       Aug.9 2016
 
A Brazilian priest mentioned in the Catholic clergy sex abuse film "Spotlight" has been found dead in a prison cell after he was arrested again for suspected pedophilia.

The Rev. Bonifacio Buzzi, 57, hanged himself with a sheet in a jail in the state of Minas Gerais, where he was taken after his arrest on Friday, authorities said in a statement. His body was discovered on Monday (Aug. 8).

A decade ago Buzzi was convicted of abusing a 10-year-old boy in Minas Gerais and jailed from 2007 to 2015. He was arrested last week after criminal complaints that he had molested two boys aged 9 and 13.

Buzzi was cited among the pedophilia cases listed at the end of "Spotlight," the Oscar-winning 2015 film based on The Boston Globe newspaper's investigation of sexual abuses by Catholic priests and efforts by the Archdiocese of Boston to cover them up.
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