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We pray for those who have been devastated by recent tragedies
Boston massacre
God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds        
'You will run again,' Obama tells Boston at interfaith service at the Cathedral of The Holy Cross 
Apr. 18, 2013
Boston's grace and strength stressed in interfaith service
Catholic News Service   Apr. 18, 2013
Dear Dzhokhar, I Can't Hate You 
Michael Rogers, SJ     Apr.21, 2013 
Boston strongOne fund
Prayers and messages of support after Texas plant explosion
Mark Caplin     Apr.20, 2013 

Pope Francis expressed his "heartfelt condolences" in a message to the families of those who died in the explosion. The Pope's message was sent on his behalf by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Bishop Joe Vàsquez of Austin, Texas.

In it, the Pope said he was "saddened" by the destruction caused by the explosion, which damaged dozens of homes. He gave assurances of his prayers for victims and "those who mourn", as well as those who "generously aid in the continuing work of relief".

. . . .

The St Mary's Church of the Assumption in West, Texas, is holding several prayer services for the community.  

A non-denominational service and candlelight vigil held at the church on Thursday was attended by several hundred people.  

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Some things we have been reading  
Catholic Bishops: Don't Let Boston Attacks Derail Immigration Reform
David Gibson      Apr.22, 2013

Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Monday (April 22) denounced efforts to use the Boston Marathon bombings to derail the push for immigration reform, saying it is wrong to brand all immigrants as dangerous and that a revamped system would in fact make Americans safer.

"Opponents of immigration ... will seize on anything, and when you've got something as vivid and as recent as the tragedy in Boston it puts another arrow in their quiver," New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters.

"To label a whole group of people -- namely, the vast population of hard-working, reliable, virtuous immigrants -- to label them, to demean them because of the vicious, tragic actions of two people is just ridiculous," he said. "Illogical. Unfair. Unjust." 

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Confusion over kidnapped prelates
Tablet      Apr.24, 2013

There was uncertainty today over the whereabouts of two Orthodox archbishops who were kidnapped in Syria on Monday.

The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi were driving back from a "humanitarian" visit to the village of Kfar Dael near the Turkish border when they were met by an armed group that forced them out of their car. The deacon who was driving them was killed.

Yesterday evening Greek Orthodox Bishop of Damascus, Tony Yazigi, told Reuters that Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yaziji had been freed and that both men had been returned to Aleppo.

But a statement posted late on Tuesday on the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America said the report was false, and the archbishop, or metropolitan, of the North American jurisdiction had had this confirmed by the Damascus-based Greek Orthodox Patriarch. "His Eminence Metropolitan Philip spoke by phone this morning to His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, who said that these reports are false, and that the release of these two hierarchs has NOT taken place. We ask you to continue to pray for their safety, and eventual release."

Pope Francis today said he was praying for the release of the pair and an end to the bloodshed in Syria. "The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering.

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Pope Francis Meets Vatican Administrators Ahead Of Appointment Of Secretary Of State
Philip Pullella     Apr.12, 2013

Pope Francis held his first meeting on Friday with staff of the Vatican department that was at the centre of last year's scandal over leaked documents alleging corruption, ahead of expected changes to its leadership.

The person he chooses to succeed Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone as head of the Secretariat of State will be among his most important decisions because he will be instrumental in helping Francis set the tone for a humbler Church following a period of scandals.

Bertone has been widely blamed for failing to prevent the many mishaps and infighting in Church government during the eight-year pontificate of now-retired Pope Benedict. 

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Pope names advisers to revamp Vatican bureaucracy
Associated Press       Apr.13 2013

PopemobilePope Francis marked his first month as pope on Saturday by naming nine high-ranking prelates from around the globe to a permanent advisory group to help him run the Catholic Church and study a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy - a bombshell announcement that indicates he intends a major shift in how the papacy should function.

The panel includes only one current Vatican official; the rest are cardinals and a monsignor from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australia - a clear indication that Francis wants to reflect the universal nature of the church in its governance and core decision-making, particularly given the church is growing and counts most of the world's Catholics in the southern hemisphere.

. . . .

Francis' advisory group will meet in its inaugural session Oct. 1-3, the Vatican said in a statement.

The members of the panel include Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican city state administration - a key position that runs the actual functioning of the Vatican, including its profit-making museums. The non-Vatican officials include Cardinals Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano, will be secretary while Maradiaga will serve as the group coordinator.

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Vatican: Pope Francis' first encyclical might be out this year
Carol Glatz     Apr.25, 2013

Pope Francis may publish his first encyclical this year, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said he "would not exclude" the possibility of the publication of the pope's first encyclical "within this year," Vatican Radio reported.

The spokesman told reporters Thursday that retired Pope Benedict XVI had already "fleshed out material on the theme of faith" for an encyclical.

Vatican officials had said Pope Benedict completed work in late 2012 on what would have been his fourth encyclical -- a letter on the theological virtue of faith. Its release was expected in the first half of 2013, but the pope resigned Feb. 28 before its publication.

It is not unusual for a pope to pick up work begun by his predecessor, make changes and publish it in his own name. 

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Cardinal Pell speaks on advising Pope Francis on church reform
Thomas C. Fox       Apr.23, 2013

After meeting with Pope Francis yesterday, one of the eight cardinals who will be advising him on questions of church governance and reform of the Roman Curia, spoke on Vatican radio:

Australian Cardinal Francis Pell, considered by many the most conservative of the eight advisors, said, "I can tell you what we are not. We are not a cabinet, the Pope does not answer to us. We are not a policy making group we are not an executive group. We are there as advisors to the Holy Father. Now, how that will work I am not quite sure. 

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Pope Francis 'to appoint more women to key Vatican posts'
Tom Kington      Apr.20, 2013

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras said he was backing more posts for women after the Pope named him this month to lead a task force of eight cardinals from around the world to reform the Roman Curia, an alleged hotbed of intrigue, infighting and corruption.

The cardinal's comments, made to The Sunday Times, were backed by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Sunday.

"It is a natural step - there is a move towards putting more women in key roles where they are qualified," he said. 

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Papal thumbs up


Francis 'unblocks' Romero beatification, official says
John L. Allen Jr.       Apr.22, 2013

A Vatican official responsible for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador announced Sunday that the cause has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis, suggesting that beatification of the assassinated prelate could come swiftly.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia spoke Sunday in the Italian city of Molfetta at a Mass honoring the 20th anniversary of the death of Bishop Antonio "Tonino" Bello, known as one of Italy's premier "peace bishops."

In addition to being the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Paglia also serves as the postulator for Romero's sainthood cause.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been studying the Romero case since 1996, after the church in El Salvador formally opened the procedure in 1990.

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Francis 'will open files on Hitler's Pope', says friend
John Bingham       Apr.18, 2013

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who has known the Argentine former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio for 20 years, said he had discussed the role of Pius XII - the man long dubbed as "Hitler's Pope" - at length with the new pontiff.


The Rabbi, who recently co-authored On Heaven and Earth, a book of interviews with his friend, said he had made clear that he thought Pius's legacy ought to be "investigated thoroughly".

"It's a terribly sensitive issue, but he says that it must be investigated thoroughly," he said. "I have no doubt that he will move to open the archives."

In an interview with The Tablet, Rabbi Skorka said he was convinced his friend - who he predicted would be a "revolutionary" Pope - favoured opening the archives to clarify once and for all Pius's role. 

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Pope Francis says Catholics still need to enact teachings of Vatican II
Cindy Wooden    Apr.16 2013

While some Catholics would like to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, others basically are trying to build a monument to it rather than fully live its teachings, Pope Francis said.

. . . .

"To speak plainly: The Holy Spirit annoys us," he said. The Spirit "moves us, makes us walk, pushes the church to move forward."

. . . .

While Catholics today may be more comfortable speaking about the Holy Spirit than they were 50 years ago, it doesn't mean the temptation to tame the Spirit has diminished, he said.

Pope Francis said reactions to the Second Vatican Council are a prime example.

"The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit," he said. "But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?"

The pope asked if Catholics have opened themselves to "that continuity of the church's growth" that the council signified. The answer, he said, is "no."

Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council's opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by "building a monument" rather than by changing anything.

At the same time, Pope Francis said, "there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming 'foolish and slow of heart,'" like the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus. 

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Senior cardinal says Francis will bring new life to Vatican II
Alessandro Speciale       Apr.13, 2013

Pope Francis has ushered in a new phase in the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, shifting the focus of the Catholic church from the concerns of the industrialized North that dominated debates of the past 50 years to the "problems of the Southern Hemisphere," according to a senior churchman.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper's comments in an article in Friday's edition ofL'Osservatore Romano seemed to signal a return to a positive view of the impact of the council, away from the more pessimistic interpretation that often prevailed under Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Kasper stressed that since the first day of his pontificate, Francis "has given what I would call his prophetic interpretation of the council, and has inaugurated a new phase of its reception. He has changed the agenda: at the top are the problems of the Southern Hemisphere."

. . . . 

The council generally adopted a more positive and open attitude toward the world than the church had ever taken, but its reception has been deeply divisive. Conservative Catholics say that the church's crisis of the past decades is a consequence of Vatican II's modernizing reforms, which included sidelining the ancient Mass in Latin and introducing a new rite in local languages.


But for Kasper, the "progressives," those who pushed for reforms in the council "were the true conservatives, those who wanted to renew ancient tradition."

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Will Pope Francis listen to voices calling for change in the church?
Bryan Cones     May 2013 issue of U.S. Catholic

Media coverage of the election of Pope Francis has returned over and over to his humility and simplicity, noting a bit obsessively his choice of regular black shoes over Pope Benedict's red ones. Left for now is another, more serious question about Pope Francis' new direction: When the honeymoon is over, how will he approach the difficult issues facing the church, especially Catholics who advocate change?

. . . .

This failure to listen is, to my ears, the correct diagnosis of the difficulties the church and the new bishop of Rome now face. While the Second Vatican Council insists in Lumen Gentium that the baptized "by reason of the knowledge, competence, or outstanding ability which they may enjoy" should express their opinions on the needs of the church "through the organs erected by the church for this purpose," there simply are too few official structures of listening to the movement of the Spirit among God's people-including priests. Those that do exist are merely advisory, and, short of a diocesan finance council, a bishop is under no obligation to use them.  


While it is hard to know how the new pope will approach matters of conscience and obedience, he did give an interesting signal when he blessed the press covering the Vatican after his election.

Noting that many in the room weren't believers, he said, "I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God." Let us hope he is guided by such lights as he encounters Catholics whose conscience leads them to advocate for change in the church.

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The New Pope's Real Business Challenge: Supplying Accountability Is Francis' Defining Job
David Reimer       Apr.17, 2013

Much has been said about new Pope Francis being, essentially, a CEO. What hasn't been aired is what will be the real test of his tenure: He has to restructure the business. More specifically, he has to revamp the operating standards of the organization. Nothing changes until there's a system for accountability that compels managers to act in concert with the new papal vision.

. . . .

Much has been said about new Pope Francis being, essentially, a CEO. What hasn't been aired is what will be the real test of his tenure: He has to restructure the business. More specifically, he has to revamp the operating standards of the organization. Nothing changes until there's a system for accountability that compels managers to act in concert with the new papal vision.

  1. Ask the questions no one else dares. . . . . 
  2. Surround yourself with people who see the world differently. . . . .
  3. Hire for agility and resilience. . . . .
  4. Set giant milestones. . . . .
  5. Demand specific, measurable results. . . . 
  6. Be honest with yourself.  . . . .

Overall, this Pope has said all the right things. He has demonstrated that, like many new CEOs, he has a compelling vision and a strong personal values set. Now he needs to get the world's oldest and largest business acting on that new vision day-by-day. The way to do that is to create a system for delivering the dream, with measurable actions for every job in the organization. 

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Catholic rebel group begins criticizing new pope
Tom Heneghan      Apr.18, 2013

A rebel Catholic group at the heart of major controversies that plagued formerPope Benedict has begun criticizing his successor Pope Francis for the popular approach he has taken since his election last month.

In a letter to supporters this week, [Bishop Bernard Fellay] the head of the ultra- traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) asked whether the new pontiff's focus on serving people could be only "man-centered philanthropy" rather than true religious leadership.

. . . .

In his letter, Fellay urged Francis "not to allow souls to perish because they no longer learn sound doctrine", by which he meant the ultra-traditionalist views the SSPX advocates.  

. . . .

Soon after his election, the SSPX head for South America, Rev Christian Bouchacourt, denounced Francis's simple style as humiliating and undignified for the Church. 

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Pope hints at possible changes to scandal-ridden Vatican bank
Philip Pullella     Apr.25, 2013

Pope Francis has indicated for the first time that he may make changes to the Vatican's scandal-ridden bank as part of a broad review of the Holy See's troubled administration.

. . . . 

In an impromptu sermon at a Mass for Vatican employees including staff from the bank, the pope said they should concentrate on the true mission of the Church and that Vatican departments were needed "only up to a certain point".

"The Church is not an NGO (non-governmental organization). It is a story of love," he said, according to a transcript published by Vatican Radio.

"I know that people from the IOR are here, so excuse me. Offices are necessary but they are necessary only up to a certain point."

It was the first time Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, had mentioned the Vatican bank in public since his election.

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Pope cancels salaries of cardinals overseeing bank
IANS      Apr.20, 2013

In a further sign of his desire for a "poor church", Pope Francis has cancelled the annual stipend of 25,000 euros (around $33,000) paid to each of five cardinals who oversee the Vatican Bank. The Vatican Bank has come under fire in recent years for alleged money laundering, Italy's AKI news agency reported.

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Pope Francis redirects employee bonuses to charity
Alessando Speciale       Apr.19, 2013

Vatican employees won't receive the special bonus they are traditionally awarded when a new pope is elected, the Vatican confirmed on Thursday, under orders from Pope Francis to give extra money to charity instead.

"On account of the difficult situation of the general economy, it seemed neither possible nor opportune to burden Vatican institutions with a considerable unforeseen extraordinary expense," the Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in an emailed statement.  In place of the employees' bonus, Pope Francis ordered Vatican officials to make a donation to some "charitable organizations."

The money will be drawn from the pontiff's personal charity budget "as a sign of the church's attention for the many people who are suffering" from the global economic slowdown, Lombardi said.

In 2005, some 4,000 Vatican employees received a 1,000 euro bonus upon the death of Pope John Paul II, and another 500 euros ($650) upon the election of his successor, Benedict XVI.

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Entry denied

Would your family have made it to America under today's strict laws? Or would their visas have been stamped Entry Denied?

Choose a relative who immigrated to America and find out. 

Catholic bishop to gay marriage supporters: Keep communing
Amy Lange    Apr.12, 2013

GumbletonThe Detroit archbishop's recent comments about communion and support for same sex marriage is still sparking debate among Catholics. Now a local priest is speaking out publicly against the archbishop's approach.

"Don't stop going to communion. You're okay," said Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton.

Long a progressive voice in Detroit's Catholic community, Gumbleton is breaking with Archbishop Allen Vigneron days after Vigneron declared that supporters of same-sex marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion, comparing it to perjury.

"If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you're trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves," Gumbleton said.

The bishop says the church's approach should be pastoral not punitive. 

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Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Speaks Out For Sexual Abuse Victims; Reflects on Lifetime of Activism

Amy Goodman & Juan González   Apr.12, 2013
Video and transcript

Shift in tone
Tablet Editors      Apr.13, 2013

Straws in the wind they may be, but signs are that the election of Pope Francis may have freed some Catholic prelates to depart from the party line on the issue of same-sex relationships. The line was established by Pope Emeritus Benedict when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  . . . .

Speaking in London this week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna urged that same-sex relationships should be respected and recognised in law. Meanwhile in Colombia, Cardinal Rubén Salazar said in the context of the gay-marriage debate in that country, "Other unions have the right to exist - no one can ask them not to."  . . . .

In each case, it seems, the Church's agreement to the legal recognition of civil partnerships is now being tacitly offered as a compromise, short of gay marriage as such. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, has expressed this proposal explicitly, though it is clear not all United States bishops agree with him.  . . . .

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Vatican adult stem cell conference seeks to promote 'ethical' science
Euronews      Apr.13, 2013

The Vatican is bringing top scientists together for its second international adult stem cell conference. The organisers say they want to counter misconceptions and prove that the Church is not "anti-science", but "anti-unethical science".

 . . . .

The Vatican stresses its belief that stem cell research does not have to involve the destruction of human embryos.

Under Pope Francis, a science graduate himself, it wants to build bridges with the scientific community. But differences in many fields remain - not least over issues such as reproductive technologies and contraception.

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The new pope and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Economist      Apr.12, 2013

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, recently expressed  hope that the new pope, Francis, will continue the policy of rapprochement with the Orthodox Church and will not support, what he calls the expansion of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics. "The union is the most painful topic in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, in relations between the Orthodox and the Catholics. If the pope will support the union, then, of course, it will bring no good," he said.

The metropolitan is worried: it is said that the new pope has an affinity for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). So much so that one Russian commentator claimed that in Francis, "we have a Ukrainian pope". This may worsen relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Church Greek Catholics.

. . . .

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new pope, had a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest as his mentor and is familiar with the Church's rites, says Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the UGCC. Mr Shevchuk previously served in Buenos Aires and got to know the future pope there. Many in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church hope that Francis will elevate it to a patriarchate, from its current status as a Major Archbishopate.  

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Oakland priest holds vigil for church reform while on voluntary exile
Monica Clark       Apr.24, 2013

Every Sunday morning for the last three years, Tim Stier, former pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont, Cailf., has stood outside Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light to call attention to the need for what he calls "structural reform" within the church. Sometimes he is alone, holding a large sign that reads, "Include the Excluded: Women, Gay Persons, Abuse Survivors." At other times, a handful of supporters joins him in the two-hour vigil.

 . . . . 

Stier, 64, went into voluntary exile from active priesthood in 2005, taking inspiration from Walter Brueggemann's "The Prophetic Imagination," which explores the biblical call to be a prophetic voice within society. His decision emerged during a six-month sabbatical that included time at Weston School of Theology. He said he'd become "increasingly frustrated and hopeless" about the inability or refusal of church authorities to talk openly about such topics as married priests, women priests and clerical sexual abuse.


He'd already had a life-changing meeting in his rectory with a man who was abused as a child by the late Fr. James Clark, who was pastor at Corpus Christi Parish for 21 years.

. . . .
 A few days prior to his vigil's third anniversary, Stier met with Archbishop Alex Brunett, apostolic administrator for the Oakland diocese. Stier told NCR he asked the archbishop to release the names and files of all priest abusers who served in the diocese and to provide full disclosure of all financial costs related to the abuse settlements.

. . . .

Stier said he urged Brunett to be transparent instead of waiting for the courts to make the abuse files public, as happened recently in Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Joliet, Ill.

. . . .

Stier, who lives on Social Security while caring for his 92-year-old mother, said he plans to continue his weekly vigil. "I need for my soul to keep doing something public." 

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Recently retired Dubuque archbishop to testify in sex abuse cases
Joshua J. McElwee     Apr.12, 2013

A Catholic archbishop in Iowa who retired Monday will be deposed in upcoming weeks in two lawsuits brought against the Benedictine abbey in Missouri where he was abbot for 10 years.

Two men who say a Benedictine priest sexually abused them as minors in the 1980s filed the lawsuits against Conception Abbey in northwest Missouri. Jerome Hanus, the retiring archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, was abbot there at the time.

The lawsuits, filed in Missouri circuit court in the summer of 2011, say that before the priest, Bede Parry, allegedly abused the two minors, he had previously reported to Hanus other "inappropriate sexual relationships" with minors.

Upon receiving notice of the previous relationships, the lawsuits say, Hanus allowed Parry to remain as a youth choir director while receiving psychological treatment.

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LA cardinal called 'obstructionist'
Tom Roberts     Apr.23, 2013

In 2003, with the country newly focused on the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church, a senior U.S. church leader attempted behind the scenes to head off the investigation of the crisis by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, disparaging the institution and its researchers as inadequate.

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, in a strongly worded letter to then-Bishop Wilton Gregory, at the time president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, complained at length about the forms that John Jay researchers produced. He described them as "designed by people who apparently have no understanding of the Roman Catholic Church, ecclesiastical culture, hierarchical structure, or the language of the Roman Catholic Church."

The previously unpublished letters that circulated among Mahony, Gregory, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, Justice Anne Burke and others provide a behind-the-scenes view of some of the tensions in the air the year after the U.S. bishops formulated their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People during their June 2002 meeting in Dallas. Public outrage had forced the bishops to take a dramatic step to deal with the scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests and the cover-up of the abuse by scores of bishops across the United States.

The letters are part of Burke's archives, held by DePaul University in Chicago. Burke, a member of the Illinois Supreme Court, initially served as vice chairperson of the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, established under the charter. She later took over as chairperson when Keating resigned. The correspondence provides a window into the high-stakes tensions of that period, as questions swirled regarding the board's independence and whether bishops would cooperate with or undermine investigations.

Catholic religious order abuse files may go public
Gillian Flaccus      Apr.16, 2013

Less than three months after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released the files of priests accused of sex abuse, attorneys for victims are back in court seeking similar records kept by more than a dozen religious orders.

. . . . 

The continued legal battle comes after the Los Angeles archdiocese unsealed under court order the files it kept over the years on 120 of its priests who have been accused of sex abuse in civil lawsuits. The church agreed as part of a $660 million settlement to release the documents, but attorneys for individual priests fought for five years to keep them under wraps, citing privacy issues.

A number of religious orders signed off on the settlement agreement and contributed significant amounts to it because up to one-third of the named priests belonged to religious orders, said J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney representing the interests of the orders at the hearing.

Those orders assigned priests to work in the archdiocese but are separate entities with their own hierarchy and disciplinary processes, he said.

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Numerous complaints made against suspended Wauwatosa priest, report shows
Annysa Johnson       Apr.18, 2013

The Wauwatosa Catholic priest suspended after a teacher reported what she considered sexually inappropriate contact with a child has been the subject of numerous complaints by parents and others over the years, according to a Wauwatosa police report.

Father Robert Marsicek, who is also under investigation in Sacramento, Calif., had been repeatedly counseled by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his religious order, the Society of the Divine Savior, about "boundary issues" and was told to stop hugging and touching children.

. . . .

Two Milwaukee archbishops had been made aware of other complaints over the years, Archbishop Jerome Listecki in June and then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan - now cardinal and archbishop of New York - in 2005.

Yet there appears to have been no attempt to remove Marsicek from the two Catholic schools he served until Wauwatosa police banned him from the schools while they investigated the latest complaint in March. 

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Catholic abuse victims 'receive threats'
SBS World News      Apr.15, 2013
A group representing victims of child abuse has revealed that several survivors have received death threats, warning them against giving evidence to the Royal Commission. The group says the threats have come from individuals inside the Catholic Church, and are yet another barrier to survivors coming forward.
Catholic hierarchy 'failed to stop' child sex abuse by priests in Clogher
Henry McDonald,      Apr.24, 2013
The Catholic hierarchy failed to step in and prevent ongoing child sex abuse by priests in a Northern Ireland diocese, one of seven internal church reports has admitted.

Irish Catholicism's National Board for Safeguarding Children found on Wednesday that there was "an unacceptable delay" in taking action against one priest after what it describes as "a credible allegation" in the Clogher diocese, which covers the border counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh as well as Cavan and Donegal in the Irish Republic.

. . . .
The Clogher report is the latest in a long line of damning investigations both within the Irish Catholic church and by independent judges that have exposed decades of abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests and other clergy of children across Ireland. 
Catholic Protesters Return for Broadway Opening of The Testament of Mary
Adam Hetrick     Apr.23, 2013

Protesters from a non-profit Catholic organization returned for the April 22 Broadway opening night of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, starring Fiona Shaw as the mother of Christ.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property protested the first Broadway preview of The Testament of Mary on March 26, and returned in larger numbers for the April 22 Broadway opening night. Read about the initial protests here. 

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Catholic members of royal couples won't have to raise kids Catholics
Catholic News Service       Apr.23, 2013

Church leaders have told the British government that members of the royal family who marry Catholics under recently passed legislation will not be obliged to bring up their children in the Catholic faith.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the government, said he had been assured personally by Msgr. Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, that the canonical requirement of Catholics to raise their children in the faith was not always binding.

. . . .

For the first time in more than 300 years, legislation would allow British monarchs to marry Catholics. The sections of the 1701 Act of Settlement that insist on the sovereign being a member of the Church of England will, however, remain in place.

The bill will also end the rule of male primogeniture and permit female first-borns to have the right of succession over any young brothers.

The bill means that if the child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, due in July, is a girl, she will have the right to rule ahead of any younger brothers -- and will also be free to marry a Catholic 

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Gonzaga University: No club status for the exclusive
Caitlyn Schmid|      Apr.18, 2013


Recently Gonzaga University, a Jesuit run university in Spokane, Washington, denied club status to a group of students who wanted to restart the Knights of Columbus organization on campus.   . . . .

The Knights of Columbus, a men's organization founded in 1882, is an organization devoted to service. In order to be an official member, however, one must be male, over 18, and a Catholic. These criteria root from the original founding of the organization and are not up for debate.

That being said, the Gonzaga University Club Manual states that GU is an affirmative-action, equal opportunity institution that does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, nationality, and a number of other factors.

. . . .
A final decision for the fate of the Knights has not been made by the administration. The university has agreed to review the decision it has made because of the protests surrounding its original decision. 
Religious women press for change
James Carroll       Apr.15 2013

Mormon women cannot be priests. Catholic women cannot be priests. Muslim women cannot lead prayers in mixed-gender congregations. Jewish women are restricted in praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But Mormons have the "Let Women Pray" campaign. Catholics have the "Women's Ordination Conference." Muslims have "Muslims for Progressive Values." Jews have "Women of the Wall." What is going on here?

. . . . 

One can argue that the only true solution to the intractable problem of mass poverty is the global empowerment of women. One can argue, equally, that the most direct route to such a goal runs through religion, because of its near universal reach and its hold on the human imagination. Religion has sanctified male supremacy. Now that the cost of female powerlessness is openly calculated in the suffering of billions, religion must generate the empowerment of women. Poverty falls as women rise. Those are the stakes in Salt Lake City, Jerusalem, mosques around the world, and Rome.

"To protect Creation . . ." This is how Pope Francis defined his purpose in his papal installation sermon. ". . . and to protect every man and every woman." Whether Francis sees it clearly yet or not, that vow can only be fulfilled by gender equality - inside the Catholic Church, and out. And, yes, creation does depends on it.

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Catholic Church withdraws subpoena to Obama on birth control
David Ingram     Apr.23, 2013

Scaling down a legal fight with the White House, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has agreed to drop a request for documents about the government's requirement of insurance coverage for birth control, a court filing on Monday said.


The archdiocese sent a subpoena to President Barack Obama's administration in February asking for documents from White House staff, including Obama himself, for use in a church lawsuit against the contraception mandate.

Citing the burden involved and calling a subpoena of the president's office inappropriate, the White House asked a federal judge to toss out the subpoena on April 4.

A notice filed in U.S. District Court in Washington late on Monday said the archdiocese agreed to withdraw its subpoena. It did not say why. 

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Signs of a rethink within Catholic Church and CofE on approach to gay relationships
Maria Exall       Apr.15, 2013

Last week saw signs that both the Church of England and the Catholic Church are attempting to balance conservative theological positions on same-sex partnerships with the lived realities of the faithful.

The substance of last week's report from the CofE's Faith and Order Commission led to an outcry from LGBT Anglican clergy and church members unhappy that the co-author, the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, explicitly ruled out official services of blessing or public recognition of same-sex partnerships. But some saw hope in the fact that the report emphasises the need for clergy to 'devise accommodation' in pastoral practice for same-sex couples, including 'prayer, care and compassionate attention'.   . . . . 

. . . .
There are signs of a similar shift in the Catholic Church with the recent attempts of Cardinals Schönborn, Salazar and McCarrick to apply principles of tolerance and some respect, to the situation of Catholics in civil partnerships. This step, alongside proactive pastoral initiatives which engage with the realities of LGBT Catholics' lives, could contribute to the development of church thinking. 

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Another Vatican voice backs civil unions for same-sex couples
John L. Allen Jr.     Apr.21, 2013


Another veteran Vatican figure has signaled openness to civil recognition of same-sex unions, in the wake of similar comments in early February from the Vatican's top official on the family. It's a position also once reportedly seen with favor by the future pope while he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The latest expression of support for civil recognition as an alternative to gay marriage comes from Archbishop Piero Marini, who served for 18 years as Pope John Paul II's liturgical Master of Ceremonies.

"There are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren't recognized," Marini said. 

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Catholic bishop returns petitions to ousted gay man
David Gibson     Apr.25, 2013

The story of a Long Island Catholic ousted from his parish jobs for marrying his male partner generated headlines, outrage and an 18,000-signature petition to Bishop William Murphy to have Nicholas Coppola reinstated. 

But now the tale has an odd coda: Murphy, who heads the Diocese of Rockville Centre, mailed the petitions back to Coppola with a one-line cover letter on the bishop's stationery that reads: "FROM YOUR FAITHFUL ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP."

No signature, nothing else. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict 'relieved' he is no longer pontiff
Tom Kington      Apr.23, 2013

Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told the Daily Telegraph his younger brother was "very happy" to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years.

Fr Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict's 86th birthday with him on April 16, said his brother "still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders."

. . . .

He is due to move back to the Vatican when conversion work is completed at the residence he will live in.

Last week, as Benedict celebrated his 86th birthday, a controversial, new, warts-and-all portrait of him was unveiled in Rome. 

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Pope Francis and the LCWR
Todd Flowerday       Apr.16, 2013

It was likely too much to expect a new pope to pull the plug on the Rodé/Levada/Dolan fiasco. As the episcopacy shifted under the weight of new appointments in this country, many bishops found themselves standing alone in a field, rather than steering the ship. Women religious were an easy target. The Temple Police, still smarting from their traditional knuckle raps, were all too willing to provide "enhanced" reports on what those radical feminists were doing.


My sense with yesterday's news is to shrug. Pope Francis may have missed an opportunity to pull the plug, but the ball is still in the American sisters' court. If they think there's too much of an echo from the witchhunt, they can just walk away and take the regard of the laity with them. Archbishop Sartain and his assistants surely must know this. They are in face-saving mode at this point. Pope Francis may have declined to give the thumbs-down to the investigation/takeover, but depending on how the curia gets reformed and what shakes down from the CDF and the Congregation for Religious Life, anybody on a campaign against any internal group within the Church might find the rug pulled out from under them later on.

As for the sisters, they can dissolve the LCWR. They can meet for conferences and handle leadership however they see fit amongst themselves. Simple subsidiarity. The sisters, unlike clergy, and especially bishops, have a more focused regard for authority. They are responsible for the chain of authority within their respective orders. Individual sisters work for pastors and a few for bishops. But most are oriented toward service to the people. And often the poor and needy. 

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Did Pope Francis get enough information on the LCWR mandate?
Maureen Fiedler      Apr.16, 2013

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has posted a statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in which Archbishop Gerhard Müller of the doctrinal congregation said he talked to Pope Francis about the LCWR mandate and claims the pope affirmed it.

I am frankly very skeptical of that information. First, I doubt this issue is on the top of the new pope's agenda or that he had much knowledge of this when he was an archbishop in Argentina.

And what does "affirm" mean? Affirm what? Some general, vague report? Did Müller give him a full explanation, talk about the opposition to it among U.S. Catholics or give him an outline of the actions proposed? Did he talk about the accusation that says U.S. women religious spend too much time on social justice and not enough on other issues? I frankly doubt the new pope would "affirm" that.

Did he even mention the questions raised by LCWR at the meeting several months ago? I doubt he gave both sides. 

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Pope Francis' LCWR reaffirmation leads sisters to hard questions
Joshua J. McElwee       Apr.17 2013

Within hours of the Vatican's announcement Monday that Pope Francis had reaffirmed a controversial takeover of the primary group of U.S. Catholic sisters, reactions from prominent American sisters ranged from "wait and see" to the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

It may be too early to tell what the news means for the country's 57,000 Catholic sisters, said several former leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Others said it could signal it is time to reconsider their energy in trying to tamp down potential tensions with bishops.

"LCWR has spent an enormous amount of energy in conversations and in preparation materials and in actual meetings" with Vatican prelates, Mercy Sr. Helen Marie Burns, a former LCWR president, said. "The question becomes, How fruitful is the continued use of that energy for the church as well as for the LCWR organization?"

"It's a question of limited energy and what's the best use of that energy in the present moment," said Burns, who served in LCWR's presidency from 1988 to 1990. 

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Pope Francis and the American Sisters
Mary E. Hunt     Apr.16 2013

The jury is still out on Pope Francis in a pontificate that may well be shaped by women.  . . . .

. . . .

It is early in a pontificate to make definitive judgments. Jesuits, I am informed, usually wait 100 days before making major decisions in their new positions. Perhaps Francis is observing the custom, hence some warrant for the bated-breath approach of some progressive pundits. As an inveterate pope-watcher and advocate for justice for women, let me offer a few insights to guide future evaluation.
. . . .

I expect a good deal more from Francis than the friendly but still largely cosmetic changes he has instituted. Gradualists will disagree with me, but I think it is time for Catholics to grow up and realize that royalty does not become us. The Church is a service organization whose primary stakeholders are people who are poor. Their needs, and not the whims of pampered prelates, are the priority. Nothing less is acceptable. Raise the bar for heaven's sake.

. . . .

Rather than washing feet, I suggest looking Catholic women in the eye and saying, "You are my sister, equal in every way to me," and then changing structures accordingly. To atone for centuries of discrimination against women will take more than four clean female feet. I despair of those who say, "It is a start," to which I respond, "Obviously, but how pitifully inadequate."


Naming a committee of nine Cardinals to advise Pope Francis on reforming the Curia and administering an unwieldy bureaucracy is also touted as a big change. However, this sort of kitchen cabinet looks to me like a kind of steering committee of the cardinals, hardly a revolutionary idea. Note the lack of lay people, women, and, God forbid, young people on the list. I am hard pressed to think that certain cardinals did not have a pope's ear before this. The Vatican's spokesman emphasized the advisory nature of the group, further assuring that nothing has really changed. I am getting ready to rest my case though I long to be proven wrong. 


Third, the meeting with the LCWR presidents needs to be read critically in light of the theo-politics of the moment. I can imagine that the Archbishop Mueller's of this world are scrambling to figure out where to go next. This is a crowd accustomed to taking orders from the top, and when they cannot be sure just what the top wants they must be very nervous.

Nonetheless, I take the man at his word that he had some communication with the pope, which gave him the impression that it was fine to go full steam ahead with the hostile takeover of LCWR. What we do not know is the nature of the conversation.  . . . .  For now, the bureaucracy grinds on with the women's organization still under a cloud.


More telling, perhaps, will be the action or lack of it against women religious more broadly. The doctrinal investigation of LCWR was insult, but injury came in the form of an Apostolic Visitation (something akin to a convening a grand jury with the presumption that something is wrong) of virtually all of the communities whose leaders belong to LCWR.

. . . .

If the Vatican under Pope Francis is smart, they will conveniently forget that this unfortunate chapter of Church history ever took place. If they are wise, they will thank Mother Mary Clare Mallia, A.S.C.J., and her collaborators, who did their bidding and move on, and apologize to the women's communities for intruding on their space and time. Then I will say there is hope for this papacy. But if LCWR is left to twist in the wind, if the rest of the active communities that were subject to the indignity of a visitation are left hanging, can we say this pope is different from any other pope?

I urge that if women are not welcomed into all forms of ministry, decision making, and administration of the Roman Catholic Church in the very near future-I mean a year, max two, not a lifetime-then the jury find this pope as guilty as the rest in the 'disappearance' of half of the Catholic community. Maybe we will be surprised, and I will be the first one to rejoice that my skepticism was unwarranted.

Meanwhile, as one who is not accustomed to drinking the Kool-Aid, I suggest that the nuns lawyer up and all Catholic women go on with our ministries as we have been doing for decades, as if nothing has happened.

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Editorial: Vatican, LCWR approaching critical crossroads
NCR Editorial Staff       Apr.19, 2013

. . . .

The takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the result of an extended "doctrinal assessment," knowledgeable Catholics understand has much less to do with core beliefs than with episcopal obedience.

Our women religious are among those who understand this firsthand. We have all come to see too many of our prelates feel uncomfortable around women. The result is they stay away from them. This results, over time, in more fear and almost certain misunderstandings. Only open, sustained discussions -- on equal footing -- can set a new course toward church health.

. . . . 

It would be a healing experience and needs to take place in dioceses across the country. This would be a step. 

. . . .

Even more fundamentally, then, the Vatican/LCWR issue is really about whether the current male clerical decision-making system can sustain church life in the 21st century. Huge numbers have concluded it cannot.  

. . . . 

At issue, in the final analysis, is not obedience. It is rather the dignity of every person and the rights of every person in the church, stemming from his or her baptism.

We are coming perilously close to a point of rupture. Some, of course, would relish such a break. However, their satisfaction would be short lived. For such a break would send out a loud signal, one that would echo through history, that the most significant U.S. women religious body had concluded fidelity to conscience and fidelity to the values of the Gospels required separation. It would be a stunning blow to all Catholics. 

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'Tainted by radical feminism'? More like 'living the Gospel'
Joan Chittister      Apr.24, 2013

Joan ChittisterThe BBC just called, an incident that in itself may well be a measure of the larger import of the situation. It's a strange moment in history: Suddenly everyone in the world, it seems, wants to know what is happening to the nuns and what they can do next. "Next," of course, means what they can do now that the Vatican is back to questioning both their intelligence and their faith.

. . . .

At another level, what is going on now is a mysterious work in progress. This so-called "evaluation" of the life of women religious and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States is a process begun long before this papacy and so, perhaps, difficult to stop midstream.

. . . .

On the other hand, the announcement has some very worrisome dimensions. Instead of planning to "complete the evaluation" or "continue the dialogue," the report says this new pope has reviewed and condoned the present "plan of reform." So it seems the plan is for the church to set up a dummy receivership that leaves a woman's organization of 57,000 women being run by three men. Case closed. Spiritual criminality determined. Hostile takeover complete. The membership disenfranchised. The body merely another extension of Rome. Its creativity suppressed; its blinders secured; its study of new issues and ideas monitored; its voice for the poor muted by the personal agendas of three men.

. . . .

And what is the reason given for continuing the external control of the LCWR? Because, they say, the work of the nuns has been "tainted by radical feminism." Well, if working to elevate the role and status of women around the world is tainted work, then we are obviously guilty as charged.

. . . .

It is simply impossible to be really committed to the poor and not devote yourself to doing something to change the role and status of women in the world.

As the developing The Shriver Report on women, to be released in January 2014, demonstrates with sobering clarity that to invest in women is to strengthen their husbands and children, their families and nations, their economic level and social status, their institutions and their intellectual contributions to the world at large.

From where I stand, if that's what it is to be "tainted by radical feminism," then finally, finally, let the Gospel begin in this entire church.

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New Grand Rapids bishop: David John Walkowiak, 59
Matt Vande Bunte      Apr.18, 2013

David John Walkowiak will be the 12th bishop of Grand Rapids. The successor to Bishop Walter A. Hurley is a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, according to an announcement from the Diocese of Grand Rapids.


Walkowiak (pronounced wall-COE-vee-ack) is set to be introduced to the public at a 10 a.m. Thursday, April 18, press conference at Cathedral Square, 360 S. Division Ave. He is scheduled to be ordained as a bishop and installed in Grand Rapids on June 18, which is when Hurley will retire.

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Whistle blowing priest
Kristy Wettenhall     Apr.23, 2013 

. . . .

Victor Buhagiar has recently quit his post as a Catholic priest, walking away from the faith after 12 years leading parishes across Victoria.

Buhagiar claims it has became impossible to continue after he found out the Church was deleting records relating to child sexual abuse.

"I saw the Archbishop and I heard the Archbishop telling the secretary to turn off the recorder," Buhagiar said.

Alarm bells first began to ring for Buhagiar at a council meeting of the state's most powerful priests last April.  "As soon as the recording was turned off, the Archbishop started talking about the sex abuse situation," Buhagiar said.

According to Buhagiar, the Archbishop Denis Hart went on to discuss two priests who he'd suspended but there was no mention of their names or any details to reveal their identities

. . . .

Buhagiar's concerns about the Church's 'no names' policy deepened when he called the Victorian Archdiocese to report a man in his parish who'd volunteered but failed the working with children check.  


He wanted an alert sent to other parishes, to warn them of the potentially dangerous man in their midst but Buhagiar's request was flatly refused.

"The secretary told me we cannot do that because we have a policy of no names. If I don't put the name of the person, how are the other priests going to know who I'm talking about?" Buhagiar said.
. . . .  

Buhagiar is among those in line to tell the Commission what he saw from the inside.

"As a priest I am part of the hierarchy but then I'm a very, very, very little fish in the whole scheme of things, and by staying in I have my hands tied. The only way I could do this was by actually walking out," Buhagiar concluded.  

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New Translation of the Roman Missal 

Bishops Bar Papal Missal Change 

 Tablet     April 19, 2013 

The Austrian bishops have stipulated that the only permitted translation of the Latin words "pro multis" in the Eucharistic Prayer is "for all", despite Pope Benedict XVI one year ago informing the German-speaking bishops that their new translation of the Missal would use the phrase "for many".

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