Category: 2013
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  • Pierre Teilhard De Chardin  
  • on the Modern Church     
                Letter to Christophe de Gaudefroy         Oct.7, 1929       
  • "It has sometimes seemed to me there are three weak stones sitting dangerously in the foundations of the modern Church: 

    first, a government that excludes democracy;

    second, a priesthood that excludes and minimises women; 

    third, a revelation that excludes, for the future, prophecy."

Some things we have been reading  
Appointment full of promise
Tablet     Sep.14, 2013

PareolinThe newly named Secretary of State at the Vatican, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, has begun to indicate how he sees his task. His thinking seems to be identical to the man who appointed him. With the election of Pope Francis, he said in an interview with a Venezuelan journalist in late June, "a new climate of hope took hold, of renewal, of a future that beforehand seemed irreparably blocked. I truly consider this a great miracle ..." 


He has since put down several markers, including using the term "democracy" in connection with the reform of the way the Church is governed. That does not mean the next conclave to elect a pope will consist of 1.2 billion Catholics. But it does mean reconnecting the centre with the periphery, a "collegial management of the Church in which all opinions can be expressed" with the aim of uniting, not dividing - in which connection he specifically mentioned clerical celibacy.


Archbishop Parolin is likely to prove as much a breath of fresh air as his chief, perhaps even more so as the Secretary of State handles matters of day-to-day detail - which is where, as the saying goes, the devil is. There is a great deal of remedial plumbing to be done in the Vatican pipework, sorting out the blockages which arose as the Vatican started to be at odds with itself. China is an obvious case. In his previous work at the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Parolin was behind a ­rapprochement with China that held out considerable promise of a thaw. But it ran into opposition and came to a stop. Such things happened because of weak leadership from the top. Pope Benedict did not impose his will on the warring internal tribes of Vatican City, which were left to fight it out.  

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Right-hand man 
Robert Mickens      Sep.7, 2013

The assignment of Archbishop Pietro Parolin to the key role of Secretary of State confirms that Pope Francis remains committed to his project of reform at the Vatican. It is also likely to revive Rome's status as one of the most sophisticated players in global diplomacy.


Pope Francis may have finally convinced sceptics that his pontificate will be more than just a change of recent papal style. His selection last weekend of the 58-year-old Archbishop Pietro Parolin, one of the Vatican's savviest new breed of diplomats, as his Secretary of State could prove to be one of the most astute choices since 1979, when John Paul II appointed the now legendary Agostino Casaroli to this key position of "prime minister" of the Vatican.


Parolin, who has spent the past four years in Venezuela in his first posting as an archbishop and papal nuncio, has been for all but 10 of his 27 years as a Church diplomat at the Secretariat of State in Rome. When he officially takes over the reins of this key department on 15 October, there are hopes that he will be able to restore and re-define its sense of purpose and role, both at home and abroad.  

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Vatican looks into German "luxury bishop" charges 
Tom Heneghan      Sep.9, 2013

The Vatican launched a rare review of a German Catholic diocese on Monday following accusations its bishop spent lavishly on a new residence, putting him out of step with the new "church of the poor" promoted by Pope Francis.


The inquiry is officially called a "fraternal visit" to Limburg diocese by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican nuncio (ambassador) in Berlin, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst said in a statement he was looking forward to it.


Limburg diocese, which includes Germany's financial capital Frankfurt, has been in turmoil for months as reports of high cost overruns put pressure on Tebartz-van Elst, 53.

A growing number of critics had already accused him of staging pompous church services and communicating poorly.


The visit marks a new willingness by the Vatican to get involved quickly when a bishop's management is under fire.


Mismanagement by bishops and the Vatican's slow response were at the root of the sexual abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church over the past decade. There are no sexual abuse allegations in the Limburg controversy. 

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Dominican cardinal says Vatican to investigate ex-envoy over sex abuse claims 
Associated Press     Sep.11, 2013

The Dominican Republic's Catholic archbishop has confirmed that the Vatican will investigate the country's recently removed papal envoy over allegations of child sex abuse.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez told reporters late Tuesday that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski will be investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that deals with abuse allegations.


"This is an extremely serious issue, very serious, the most serious of its kind for the Holy See," Lopez said.


It is believed to be the first known sex abuse investigation against a high-ranking Vatican official in recent times, though former Vatican officials have also been accused after they left Rome.


Lopez said he personally traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis to talk about the allegations involving the 65-year-old Wesolowski.3

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Vatican willing to hand over accused nuncio to civil authorities 
CNA       Sep 12, 2013 

A Vatican spokesman has said that the Holy See is willing to hand over a former nuncio accused of sexual misconduct to civil authorities in the Dominican Republic if requested to do so.


Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that the Holy See continues to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations into Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic.


Because there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, the Holy See is not required to return the nuncio to Dominican officials. In addition, the Vatican has a legal right to invoke diplomatic immunity in protection of the nuncio.


However, Fr. Lombardi told CNA on Sept. 12 that the Holy See has declared "our intention to cooperate with the Dominican authorities whenever they require it."


The recall of the nuncio to the Vatican "by no means implies the desire to prevent him from assuming his responsibility for whatever may come out of the investigations" in the Dominican Republic," Fr. Lombardi explained.


Accusations of sexual misconduct reported in the media led to the resignation of Archbishop Wesolowski on Aug. 21. 

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Pope calls for 'another way' for Catholic divorcees
AFP     Sep.17, 2013

Pope Francis on Monday called for "another way" of treating divorcees who remarry - a thorny issue since Catholics who wed a second time are currently not allowed to receive Holy Communion at mass.


Catholic faithful should "feel at home" in parishes and those who have remarried should be treated with "justice", the pope was quoted as saying by Romasette, the local newspaper for the diocese of Rome. 

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Pope meets with heads of Vatican Dicasteries, ahead of his meeting with Curia Reform Commission
Rome Reports      Sep.10, 2013

One by one, Pope Francis greeted the department heads of all the dicasteries within the Roman Curia. The meeting was called, so that the Pope could listen to all their concerns and even advice they'd like to give Pope Francis, about the strengths and needs of their respective departments.  

. . . .

The Vatican says Tuesday's meeting will serve as a foundation for the Pope's first meeting with the Commission of eight cardinals.  

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Pope scales back honorifics
Robert Mickens      Sep.12, 2013

Pope Francis has temporarily stopped the practice of naming priests "honorary prelates", which allows them to take the title "monsignor".


The only exception is for those clerics who work in the Holy See's diplomatic service. The Rome daily, Il Messaggero, reported the decision today.


The Tablet has learned that the Pope communicated the decision on 12 April, shortly after his election, to top officials the Secretariat of State, the office that grants approval to bishops around the world who propose priests for the honorary title.


During that meeting, Francis said he wanted the granting of such onorificienza to be put on hold at least until October, after he had met his group of eight cardinal-advisors to discuss reforming the Roman Curia and governance of the universal Church.


It is not clear if the discontinuation of permitting priests to take the title "monsignor" will remain just temporary provision, or if the title will be made obsolete permanently. 

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Pope Names Legionary Priest To No. 2 Spot At Vatican Governing Office
CNS      Sep.2, 2013

A Legionary priest who led a major overhaul of the Vatican's telecommunications infrastructure and set up public email addresses for two popes has been named the new secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City.


Spanish-born Legionaries of Christ Father Fernando Vergez, 68, fills a vacancy recently left by Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, whom the pope named Aug. 24 to the Vatican's supreme tribunal as adjunct secretary under U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.


Father Vergez, who is director of the Vatican's telecommunications department, will continue to hold his old post while serving in his new capacity at the governor's office.


His appointment is seen as part of the pope's efforts to reorganize how the Vatican operates. The secretary-general's post is critical because he coordinates and manages the daily operations of Vatican City State and is in charge of making all "fundamental working decisions," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. 

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Departing papal prime minister lashes out at Vatican 'crows and vipers '
Tom Kington      Sep.2, 2013


Defending his record despite a series of scandals on his watch, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, also appeared to suggest that any blame for errors should shared by Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed him as secretary of state, effectively his number two, in 2006.

. . . . 

"On balance I consider these seven years to have been positive," he said. "Naturally there were problems, particularly in the last two years, they have made many accusations against me... A mix of crows and vipers."


He said while it may seem like the secretary of state "decides and controls everything", he insisted that was not the case.


"There were matters that got out of control because they were problems which were sealed within the management of certain people who did not contact the secretary of state."

. . . . 

 On his relationship with Benedict, who made history earlier this year by stepping down from his post as head of the Roman Catholic Church, he said: "An honest assessment cannot but take note of how the secretary of state is the first assistant of the pope, a faithful executor of the tasks with which he is entrusted. Something I did and will do."

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Syria's Nuncio Sees Positive Response to Pope Francis' Initiative
Junno Arocho Esteves      Sep.9, 2013

Archbishop Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, reflected on this weekend's prayer vigil led by Pope Francis. Various Christian communities and other faiths held similar vigils around the world in solidarity for the Pope's call for peace in the region.


According to Vatican Radio, Catholic and Orthodox Bishops, members of the government, parliament and Muslim community, took part in a prayer vigil held in the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church in  Damascus. Archbishop Zenari stated that many have approached him to "thank the Holy Father for this beautiful initiative."

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Syrian Christians say Western attack could make things worse
John L. Allen Jr.     Sep.4, 2013

Although President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are consulting their own legislatures before using force in Syria, there's a constituency with far more at stake they might also poll that would likely deliver a resounding no: Syria's Christians.


Those Christians may be no fans of the regime of President Bashar Assad, but they generally prefer it to what they see as the likely alternative -- rising Islamic fundamentalism and Iraq-style chaos, in which religious minorities such as themselves would be among the primary victims.


"We heard a lot about democracy and freedom from the U.S. in Iraq, and we see now the results -- how the country came to be destroyed," said Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo in a recent interview.

 "The first to lose were the Christians of Iraq."

"We must say that, what the U.S. did in Iraq, we don't want repeated in Syria," Audo said. 

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The Devil They Know 
Gabriel Said Reynolds      Sep.2, 2013

In the summer of 2011 ongoing protests against the rule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria turned into an armed rebellion. By the fall rebels had taken control of Qusayr, an important town in the hills between the city of Homs and the Lebanese border in western Syria. At first, rebel forces in Qusayr were controlled by the officially secular Free Syrian Army, led mostly by defectors from Assad's military. Yet over time Islamist fighters (or "jihadis") became increasingly powerful. On June 13, 2012, Islamists looted the Melkite Catholic church of Qusayr and posed for pictures dressed in clerical garments. When the Syrian army, with the help of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, took control of the town almost a year later, on June 5, 2013, Christians hung the Syrian flag of the Assad regime from churches and joined public celebrations. Televised interviews featured Christians thanking Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the charismatic leader of Hezbollah, for saving them from the rebels.


Other events over the past year have given Syrian Christians new reasons to root for the Assad regime. On April 22, 2013, Gregorius Ibrahim, bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Boulus Yazigi, bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church, were abducted by rebels near Aleppo as they were returning from a joint visit to refugee camps in Turkey. Their driver (also a Christian) was killed. The two bishops are still missing.


Grimmer still is the story of Fr. François Murad, a Franciscan priest who served in Ghassaniyah, a town in northwest Syria between Latakia and Idlib. Ghassaniyah was a popular vacation spot for Syrians, and before the current troubles it was home to 10,000 residents, almost all of them Christian. During the fighting, however, it fell under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, an increasingly powerful Islamist militia with links to Al Qaeda. The town's Christian inhabitants fled and its churches were desecrated. In late June 2013 news spread that one of the few Christians to remain, Fr. Murad, had been beheaded by rebels. A grainy video of a beheading went viral on the internet. In the video Islamist militants shout, "God is greater!" (Allahu akbar), before savagely beheading two people with a kitchen knife. In the video, one of the victims is identified as Murad. The Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land later announced that Murad was not one of the victims in this video. Instead, he had been shot dead inside a church in Ghassaniyah. For Christians in Syria, this is what counts as good news these days.


As stories like that of Murad have spread wildly through social media, the Christian community in Syria has moved ever closer to the Assad regime. 

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A 'crisis of authority' in Lincoln's Catholic diocese?
Erin Andersen      Sep.7, 2013

The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln long has considered Nebraska Wesleyan University Professor Rachel Pokora and her fellow Call to Action members as heretics - and members of an anti-Catholic sect, as now retired Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz repeatedly referred to them.


But Pokora, 45, sees herself differently - a lifelong Catholic and woman of conscience - she said she loves the church and believes it needs to change, to become less hierarchical, more inclusive of women and more accountable to its parishioners.


In 1996, Bruskewitz excommunicated all Call to Action members in the Lincoln diocese - as well as members of 10 other organizations - forbidding them from participating in diocese churches, from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion and denying them a Catholic funeral. According to Bruskewitz's decree: membership in Call to Action, Planned Parenthood, Eastern Star, Freemasons and seven other organizations was "perilous" and "incompatible" with the Catholic faith.


Pokora's newly published book, "Crisis of Catholic Authority: Faith and Power in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska" ($19.95 paperback, Paragon House), details the 17-year struggle Call to Action and Pokora have had with what she deems was a largely authoritarian leadership within the diocese.

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AUSCP logo
AUSCP to Pope: "Insist on open process in selecting bishops"
Rev. David Cooper & Rev. David Cooper      Sep.11, 2013


The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests(AUSCP) has urged Pope Francis to insist on including local clergy and laity in the discernment process for the future selection of
bishops. Letters from AUSCP were recently sent to both Pope Francis and the United States Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò in Washington DC, urging that the participation of priests and laity in those selections is vital to the effective presence of a truly evangelizing, Gospel-driven local church.
. . . .
The letter to Pope Francis from AUSCP emphasizes that opening the process of selecting bishops has historical precedence in the church. The Church has allowed governments-sometimes friendly, sometimes not so friendly-to vet and oversee the appointment of bishops in the past.  . . . .   "How much more fitting for actual lay and priest members of the Church to have a share in the process that selects their shepherd?"
Arrested prelate tells magistrates of secret accounts in Vatican
Philip Pullella       Sep.16, 2013

The Vatican department in charge of paying salaries and managing real estate acted improperly as a parallel bank, providing accounts to outsiders, an arrested prelate who worked there for 22 years has told Italian prosecutors.


The latest allegations of misdoings come as Pope Francis struggles to tackle years of financial scandals involving the Vatican bank, which has long been in the spotlight for failing to meet international standards against tax evasion and the disguising of illegal sources of income.

. . . .

A key suspect in a widening investigation by Italian magistrates looking into alleged money laundering through the Vatican bank told them that officials at APSA allowed the office to be used by outsiders even though it was against its regulations, according to a transcript of his questioning. 


The prelate, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, 61, is under investigation by magistrates in his home city of Salerno, where he is suspected of using his close ties with the Vatican bank to launder money. He is under arrest in a hospital in Salerno.

Scarano's lawyers say he did not launder money. 

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Bp Paprocki Blames the World 
Michael Sean Winters    Sep.10, 2013 

My colleague Brian Roewe reported yesterday on an interview given by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. There is much that is - how to put this as kindly as possible - jarring about the bishop's comments. His comparison of the situation of the Church today in America to that of the early Christians in imperial Rome was histrionic to say the least: Whatever one thinks of Obama, he is not Nero or Diocletian. Paprocki's comments on  homosexuality exhibited a fifth grade understanding of the issue. But, what was most alarming were the bishop's remarks about the sex abuse crisis. Those who criticized the Church's handling of the issue are dismissed as anti-Catholic bigots. 

. . . .

Paprocki is an embarrassment, not to me, but to his brother bishops and his cavalier comments and histrionic casting of aspersions on everybody else undermines the hard work of those bishops who really have tried to right the wrongs that were done and put the Church on a better path. He is like a character out of an opera - "the gods are against me!" - except, of course, this is not an opera, or even a stage, it is the Church. 

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Bishops refuse to meet with silenced priests
Claire O'Sullivan     Sep.12, 2013

Fr Tony Flannery, one of the six priests censured by Rome, has just published a book highlighting the "inhumanity" of the secret process used against him by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's watchdog on theology.


Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist, is also harshly critical of the country's bishops saying they consistently fail to provide leadership and are incapable of standing up to clericalism in the Vatican. He says they provided no support to the six silenced priests who have suffered much private torment since taken to task by Rome.


"One of the big frustrations has been trying to deal with the bishops. Trying to deal with them is impossible, " he said. "There is no possibility of the bishops taking a stand, the Irish Bishops Conference is a dysfunctional body and there is no real leadership. The one amongst the bishops that has the most capacity to lead is Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin but for whatever reason he has not assumed this role," he said.


Describing the CDF's attitude to him and its lack of due process, Fr Flannery said: "They didn't seem to have the slightest interest in meeting me or hearing my side of the story, I was clearly of no consequence to them as a person," he writes.


The CDF never directly dealt with Fr Flannery, using the Redemptorists' Superior General Michael Brehl as messenger. They also ordered that their grievances with Fr Flannery, over writings in the order's Reality Magazine that they say were contrary to the teachings of the Church, were to be kept entirely secret. 

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Whistleblower Catholic priest sacked after sex revelations to Observer
Catherine Deveney    Sep.7,  2013

A Scottish Catholic priest, who has fought for 17 years to force the hierarchy to act against a fellow priest who abused him, has been dismissed from the diocese of Galloway while recovering from cancer and issued with a formal warning for talking to the Observer.


Father Patrick Lawson, who spoke out in the Observer in July using the pseudonym "Father Michael", was sent a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham last Wednesday, forcing him to hand over the keys of his parish house within two days. The bishop had consistently refused to accept Father Lawson's pleas, on the advice of doctors, to drop one of his two parishes - St Paul's, Hurlford - while convalescing.


The case is a potentially explosive development in an increasingly tense relationship between the Scottish hierarchy and the laity over abuse and cover-up. There is now a standoff in Father Lawson's other parish - St Sophia's, Galston - with many parishioners telling the Observer that they will walk out of masses this weekend in protest, cancel their church subscriptions, and refuse to return unless the priest is reinstated. 

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Cuban artist points the finger at the Catholic Church in controversial child crucifixion art project
Merope Ippiotis      Sep.11, 2013

The paedophilia scandal continues to haunt the Catholic Church, this time through the realm of art - though some may disagree about how appropriate the use of the term "art" is in the case of Cuban artist Erik Ravelo's project "Los Intocables" (The Untouchables).


Ravelo recently published a controversial photo collection, featuring images of children "crucified" to the backs of a number of symbolic figures representing different contexts in which violence is notoriously inflicted on children.

. . . .

Abuse imageThe image which points the finger at the Catholic Church, depicts a young boy in nothing but his underwear, pinned to the back of a Catholic cardinal. It is a painful reminder of the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church in recent years. 

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Documentary about child abuse in Catholic church wins three Emmy awards      Sep.16, 2013

An Irish-American film about child abuse by a Catholic priest in a US school has won three Emmy awards.


Documentary film Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God tells the story of four deaf men who were abused by a priest in the 1960s, and who sought to expose the Catholic Church's cover-up of paedophilia around the world.


The film was directed by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and was partially funded by the Irish Film Board.


At an awards ceremony in Los Angeles last night, the film won Creative Arts Emmys for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking, outstanding writing and outstanding picture editing.


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Missouri: Priest Gets 50 Years in Child Pornography Case 
Associated Press      Sep.12, 2013

A Kansas City-area priest whose child pornography case led to a misdemeanor conviction against a Roman Catholic bishop was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in federal prison. Prosecutors had asked that the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, be sentenced to 10 years for each of five young victims after he pleaded guilty last year to producing and trying to produce child pornography. Father Ratigan, 47, was charged in 2011 after the police received a flash drive from his computer with hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas. 


Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was convicted last year of failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors said church officials were alerted to the photos on Dec. 16, 2010, after a computer technician found them. The priest attempted suicide a day later. Instead of reporting the photos to law enforcement, as required by law, Bishop Finn sent the priest out of state for counseling. The diocese made a report in May 2011 after learning that Father Ratigan had violated Bishop Finn's order to avoid contact with children.

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Church braced for new child abuse complaints
Ben Heather      Sep.17, 2013

The Catholic Church has accepted five fresh claims of child abuse, including allegations against a former priest already convicted of violating children.


It comes amid warnings that a child abuse inquiry that began in Australia yesterday is likely to reveal further allegations of abuse involving New Zealand priests.


Bill Kilgallon, who heads the Catholic Church's national office handling complaints of abuse in New Zealand, said that since late June the church had accepted five additional claims of abuse as genuine.


It had also investigated two new allegations from people who say they were sexually abused by priests as children.


One accusation is levelled against a former priest who is still alive and has already been convicted of sexually abusing another child.


The complainant had not yet gone to police, and Mr Kilgallon declined to provide further details. "If he [the complainant] does go to the police, we are better off with an element of surprise," he said.

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Drogheda priest takes sabbatical over 'ecclesiastical politics'
Elaine Keogh      Sep.15, 2013

A priest has hit out at what he called, "the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics," at his final mass before he begins a 'sabbatical.' 


Close to 1,500 people, including members of the Muslim and Bahai faiths, attended Fr Iggy O'Donovan's final mass at the Augustinian Church in Drogheda today, and heard the Mayor claim that "ultra conservative" elements have forced the Augustinian's to "push" Fr Iggy out of Drogheda.


While Fr Iggy has denied reports he has been silenced by the Church hierarchy in Rome, many see the decision to move him from Drogheda to Limerick, where he will be on sabbatical, as a move taken in response to complaints about his liturgy.

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6 more files shed light on Catholic Church abuse scandal
Barbara Jones      Sep.11, 2013

One priest admitted to fathering a daughter, while another was hustled off to a treatment center after confessing to having sex with a teenage boy.


Yet another reportedly failed a lie-detector test when he was asked about sexual misdeeds with male students.


Those details are among many contained in a new set of confidential personnel files of six more priests who were accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religion orders - the Vincentians, the Norbertinese and the Augustinians - while assigned to parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The files are the second set to be released this summer and at least a half-dozen more are expected in the coming weeks as religious orders comply with a 2007 settlement with hundreds of clergy abuse victims. 

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RI bishop 'disappointed' with pope on abortion
Associated Press      Sep.17, 2013

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence said he is ''a little bit disappointed'' that Pope Francis hasn't addressed abortion since being elected six months ago.


''I'm a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn't, at least that I'm aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that,'' Tobin said during an interview published by the Rhode Island Catholic diocesan newspaper last week.


He went on to say that it would be helpful if Francis would more directly address what he called ''the evil of abortion'' and to encourage those involved in the anti-abortion movement.


''It's one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children,'' Tobin said. 

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Church abuse case in Peoria raises questions in North Jersey 
Jeff Green     Sep., 2013

Complaints about the Rev. Thomas W. Maloney - that he dressed sloppily, made inappropriate remarks during Mass, and was seen kissing a teenage girl - began piling up within months of his assignment as pastor to an Illinois parish in 1995.


The most serious was contained in a memo written that year that documented a woman's claim that Maloney sexually abused her when she was 10. Diocese of Peoria officials took no action on her report, and a month after they received it Maloney allegedly molested an 8-year-old boy, according to a lawsuit filed years later by the boy's attorney.


At the time, the Peoria Diocese was headed by John J. Myers, now the archbishop of Newark, who is facing criticism from state lawmakers and others that he has failed to adequately protect church members from clergy in New Jersey who have been accused of inappropriate behavior.


How those complaints in Peoria were handled - detailed in the lawsuit which was settled for $1.35 million in June - heighten questions about Myers' methods there and whether they may have carried over to his tenure in New Jersey. 

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Myers says he wasn't close to accused priest, but records reveal gifts, trip invite 
Jeff Green     Sep.2, 2013

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said in sworn testimony that a priest accused of child sexual abuse in the Illinois diocese he once led was "not a close personal friend."


And in a letter to clergy last month, Myers dismissed press accounts that Monsignor Thomas W. Maloney vacationed with him and gave him gifts of gold, silver and cash. He recalled receiving only one gift from Maloney, a collector's coin he said was of "minimal value," and he defended any gifts he received as bishop as tokens of appreciation customary from all his priests.


But a trove of documents, released last month after a lawsuit against the Diocese of Peoria was settled for $1.35 million, show that their relationship lasted from the 1960s to 2009, when Maloney died.


Over the course of the relationship, Myers received numerous gifts from Maloney, including on his birthday and on holidays. The two dined together and visited each other informally on several occasions. And Myers also invited Maloney on vacation at least two times, the documents show. 

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Diocese of Stockton Considers Bankruptcy after Sex Abuse Lawsuit Settlements
Ian McDonald       Sep.6, 2013

The Catholic Diocese of Stockton said Friday that it may file for bankruptcy after sexual abuse lawsuit settlements have "depleted" their funds.


"I feel, however, that it is important to tell you that options other than filing for bankruptcy protection have not emerged," Bishop Stephen Blaire said in a written statement. "It appears likely to me that the Diocese will need to re-organize [sic] financially under the protection of Bankruptcy Court."


No final decision has been made, however.


The Diocese serves 250,000 Catholics, it says. Bishop Blaire says he will keep everyone informed once a financial decision has been made. 

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Judge Is Asked by Creditors of Archdiocese to Leave Case 
Laurie Goodstein      Sep.3, 2013

A federal judge who ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee in bankruptcy proceedings, and against sexual abuse victims and other creditors, is being asked by the creditors to recuse himself because they say he has a conflict of interest.

Judge Rudolph T. Randa ruled in late July that the archdiocese did not have to turn over the millions in its cemetery trust fund to a group of creditors who include hundreds of abuse victims.
 But lawyers for plaintiffs say the judge has a conflict of interest because many of his family members are buried in archdiocesan cemeteries.
. . . .

A lawyer for the team representing the creditors said they discovered only after Judge Randa issued his ruling that at least nine of his relatives, including his parents, sisters and in-laws, are buried in the cemeteries. After obtaining a court order to compel the archdiocese to turn over records, they found that Judge Randa had bought the contract for the care and maintenance of his parents' burial crypts.


"He is, in effect, a creditor himself," lawyers for the creditors argued in their memorandum asking for the recusal of Judge Randa, who sits on the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

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Diocese of Gallup, N.M., poised to file for bankruptcy protection
Joseph J. Kolb    Sep.3, 2013

When James Wall was installed by the Vatican as Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup in 2009, he knew there were festering issues regarding allegations of priest sex abuse, but not to the extent that has brought the sprawling southwestern diocese to the doors of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.


At Masses throughout the diocese Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, shocked parishioners were pre-emptively read a letter from Bishop Wall that in the face of insurmountable law suits the diocese intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Bishop Wall set no date for the court filing in his letter.


Seven other U.S. dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection in the aftermath of sexual abuse lawsuits. 


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The Cardinal on Colbert: Dolan does Comedy Central 
David Gibson    Sep .4, 2013 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the most famous funny man in the American hierarchy, went on "The Colbert Report" last night to trade quips with another funny guy - and another well-known Catholic - host Stephen Colbert.


Indeed, as Colbert - inhabiting his onscreen persona as a blowhard rightwing pundit - said in welcoming Dolan: "You're the second most famous Catholic in America - after myself."


But it was actually Dolan who got the first gag, and giggles, as he walked onto the set and ostentatiously bowed and kissed Colbert's hand as if he were greeting the pope.

. . . .

Dolan was Colbert's only guest on the show, and he ended the interview asking Dolan what would happen if Francis retired and Dolan were elected pope - what name would he take.


The cardinal-archbishop laughed, along with the audience, and after a long pause, said simply: "Stephen."


It was well-timed, and Dolan got in the last laugh even as he got the first one. 

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Dolan & Colbert
Lasting Tributes Meet Early End in Bankruptcy
Ian Lovett       Sep.5, 2013

The inscribed granite stones that form the Walk of Faith outside the Crystal Cathedral here were supposed to last forever, sustained in perpetuity by the thousands of dollars churchgoers paid for them. Or so parishioners were told.


But like so much else at the Crystal Cathedral, the stones, many of them memorials to dead loved ones, have become expendable since the church, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, filed for bankruptcy protection three years ago.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which bought the enormous glass and steel church last year, has begun ripping out the memorial stones as it begins major renovations to modernize the campus and convert the nondenominational megachurch to a Catholic place of worship. Over the next several years, most of the 1,800 stones will be removed, diocese officials said, and there are no plans to reinstall them.  

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Pope names new Canberra archbishop
Big Pond News      Sep.13, 2013

Pope Francis has named a new archbishop to head Canberra and Goulburn's archdiocese. Bishop Christopher Prowse of Sale will replace Mark Coleridge, who was appointed Archbishop of Brisbane in April.1


The 59-year-old Prowse was ordained to the priesthood in August 1980 and has served in a number of parishes around Melbourne.  He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in May 2003.  He has been bishop of Sale, in Victoria's Gippsland region, since mid-2009. 

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