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Clergy Sex Abuse Transparency According to Cardinal George 
Thomas Doyle                                         January 20,  2014

The leadership of the Archdiocese of Chicago has a mediocre to poor track record in responding to reports of clergy sexual abuse and their honesty with the public. Cardinal George's recentstatement to the archdiocese (January 12, 2014 inThe Catholic New World) does nothing to change this pattern. This statement was issued to prepare the archdiocese for the release of the files of thirty priests confirmed as sexual abusers. His statement is defensive, misleading and insulting in addition to the fact that it does not reflect the reality of the key issues. A significant part of the statement is devoted to the defense of his mishandling of the Dan McCormack case. The McCormack files are not among those released! 


In 1982 the parents of a minor boy reported that former Fr. Bob Mayer had sexually abused their teenaged son. This was under Cardinal Cody's watch. They reported the abuse to the archdiocese and in return were intimidated and even threatened with excommunication by the chancellor at the time, Fr. J. Richard Keating who later became the bishop of Arlington VA. In 1988 they finally settled for a measly $10,000.00 that didn't even cover their legal costs. The boy's mother was not about to succumb to the scare tactics nor was she buying any of the dishonest mumbo-jumbo served up as excuses for their deliberate neglect. She went on to found the Linkup which quickly became one of the two most influential victim support organizations in the world. 

Knowing about Mayer's track record Cardinal Bernardin who had by then succeeded Cardinal Cody, gave him two more assignments as a parish associate and in 1990 made him pastor of a parish in Berwyn IL. During this period the archdiocese received other allegations and ordered Mayer not to be alone with anyone under 21. The infinite wisdom of the archdiocese in imposing this restriction was apparently not infinite enough. 

In 1991 Mayer was charged with sexual abuse of a minor girl. When confronted by the angry parishioners, the auxiliary bishop dispatched to deal with the incident lied to them about Mayer's background. In 1992 Mayer was sentenced to three years in prison. He has since been laicized. 

Cardinal Bernardin died in 1996 and Cardinal George replaced him in April 1997. He was ordained bishop in 1990 and served first as bishop of Yakima WA and then as archbishop of Portland OR. Both Portland and Yakima had their share of sexual abuse problems during George's time. Equally important, he was a member of the U.S. bishops Conference during the years they started to at least talk about clerical sexual abuse. During those years George and his fellow bishops received numerous documents from the conference headquarters that provided detailed information about clergy sexual abuse and the serious risks it posed the Church. He was also present, at least presumably, when a variety of outside experts addressed the assembled bishops on the very serious nature of sexual abuse of children. These included Fr. Canice Connors, at the time President of St. Luke Institute; Dr. Fred Berlin, Johns Hopkins University, on diagnostic concepts, treatment and ethical considerations; Dr. Frank Valcour, psychiatrist at St. Luke Institute on expectations of treatment; Bishop Harry Flynn on care of victims; Jesuit psychiatrist James Gill on priests, sex and power and Fr. Steve Rossetti on the parish as victim. During this period Pope John Paul II addressed his first public communication of clergy sex abuse to the U.S. bishops and that same year, 1993, the bishops established their first committee to deal with the problem. The claim voiced by the Cardinal and his auxiliary, Francis Kane, that "had they known then what they know now they would have handled the allegations differently," has become a mantra for bishops when they are confronted with their disastrous actions. It's also so worn out that one would think the conference spin-doctors would come up with a fresh excuse. 

If Cardinal George read any of the numerous documents sent by the conference and if he was awake for even part of the lectures given at their annual meetings he would certainly have known the serious nature of clergy sexual abuse. So what is it they did not know "then' that they know now? It's fairly obvious. 

They did not know that their duplicitous defenses and paper-thin excuses would gain them no traction. They did not know that the deference and unquestioned credibility they had taken for granted had eroded. They didn't know that the victims and their attorneys would not be intimidated or put off by the endless legal delaying tactics. In short, they didn't know they'd be caught! That's what they didn't know then that they surely know now. 

The Cardinal has apparently not learned that the excuses from the bishops' playbook have gone moldy. He invokes clericalism but applies it to the offending priests, claiming that it causes them to try to avoid accountability for their actions. That's not clericalism, its just plain fear. The cardinal is smart enough to know that the truly egregious examples of clericalism are not provided by the perpetrating priests but by the arrogant bishops and cardinals who insist they are above accountability and entitled to twist the truth to suit their own purposes. 

The next excuse, deemed not only historically and sociologically invalid, but actually ludicrous, is borrowed from the second John Jay Report. He tries to shift the blame to the social and cultural trends of the seventies and eighties as if these trends cause sexual dysfunction or hierarchical arrogance. 

The Cardinal's statement really breaks down and falls apart when he gets to his version of the Dan McCormack story. He claims the plaintiff's attorneys "fashioned" the story and distorted facts that would "mitigate the charge of archdiocesan neglect." The lawyers didn't have to do anything to demonstrate archdiocesan, i.e., the Cardinal's negligence. His documented actions do a sufficient job of doing that without any outside help. 

McCormack was first arrested in September 2005. It's true that the police questioned him but what the cardinal does not tell his readers is that his priest-personnel representative, who was called by McCormack from the police station, was also a civil attorney who told McCormack not to cooperate with the police investigators. He was released but if his ministry was restricted and if he was put under monitoring, this existed only in the Cardinal's imagination. 

The archdiocesan review board eventually received the results of the internal investigation, which came up with sufficient information to allow the board to make a solid recommendation to the Cardinal that McCormack be removed from the parish for the protection of children and not be put back in pastoral ministry. The Cardinal says, "no one involved in investigating the allegation, not even the review board that struggled with their justified concerns, told me they thought he was guilty." This is nonsense. It was no one's job to assess guilt or innocence especially the review board. The sole issue was suitability for pastoral ministry and probability that the allegation was true. On that the board members were clear. Guilt or innocence would be determined later. 

Against the review board's urging Cardinal George retained McCormack as pastor. He also kept him on as a regional dean. On January 20, 2006, he was again arrested and it was determined that more children were harmed, primarily because of Cardinal George's arrogance and willful negligence. 

On January 28, 2006 the review board sent the Cardinal a letter. Portions of it tell the real story. "The media statements that the board was unable to reach a decision because they did not have access to the alleged victim or his mother (Sun Times, January 25, 2006), and 'after the family made the accusation in August, the Archdiocese's Office of Professional responsibility referred the allegation to the Independent Review Board (Tribune, January 24, 2006), imply that we as a board chose not to act. Clearly this is not the case." 

Contrary to what the Cardinal would like people to believe, the review board made clear recommendations: "These included removing Rev. McCormack from St. Agatha's and suspending him from ministry pending further criminal investigation." 

The board presented their recommendation to the Cardinal on October 17, 2005. Instead of heeding them he returned McCormack to his pastorate. When questioned about his action at the time of McCormack's second arrest the Cardinal and the archdiocesan spokesperson came up with a convoluted and obviously misleading story that tried to spread the blame to the archdiocesan process, misunderstandings about national policies and canon law and finally lack of information. In a 2013 deposition he said, concerning the review board, "They gave me that advice, yes, I thought they had not finished the case investigation." All pure nonsense. The review board's letter tells what really happened: "Our recommendations were presented to you on October 17, 2005....You chose not to act on them, and now we have a situation that reflects very poorly, and unfairly, on the board." As to George's excuse that he thought the investigation was incomplete, the review board saw it much differently: "We resent the media implication that the Professional Review Board did not find Rev. Daniel McCormack to be a threat to the safety of children. These reports do not accurately reflect the situation, and we take offense at the lack of truth telling." 

In the second to last paragraph the Cardinal claims that the money for the multi-million dollars in settlements came from revenue "entirely separate from regular donations or investments." He then says that the sale of unused properties has provided funds for the settlements. Where exactly does he think the money came from to buy the properties? 

Attorney Jeff Anderson knows the detailed history of the Chicago archdiocese's response better than anyone else. His summary of why things happened the way they did applies to Cardinal George and his predecessors: We see this as a long-standing pattern of top officials of the archdiocese making conscious choices to protect their reputation and to protect the offenders," he said. "That means conscious choices were made to imperil the children over the years." 

It goes without saying that the Cardinal and the archdiocese would have been much better served had he said nothing. But he didn't remain silent. The McCormack fiasco was not the result of confusing or bungled procedures, incomplete information. It was the result of the Cardinal's arrogance, his over-riding concern for his and the Church's image and worst of all, his disdain for the victims. The attitude that underlies the Cardinal's statement is not unique to him. This attitude, painfully evident wherever clergy sexual abuse has been reported throughout the Church, shows that the bishops in general have a long, long way to go before their actions began to match up with their promises.

Fr. Tom Doyle is an ARCC Presidential Advisor and past board member    

Some things we have been reading  
Church must adjust to reality of co-habitation, divorce and remarriage, says cardinal
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt     Jan.31, 2014

In interviews on the eve of his departure for the Austrian bishops' ad limina visit in Rome, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said he was certain that under Pope Francis the Church would find new ways of incorporating remarried divorcees in the life of the Church.

"This Pope speaks so much about mercy, that I'm sure that a new way of coping with failure will be found," Cardinal Schönborn said.


"One thing is clear: the Church must pay far greater attention to those whose marriages fail and must reach out to them. No one must get the feeling that their life in the Catholic community has come to an end because their marriage has failed," the cardinal said.

Ninety-five per cent of Austrians who had filled in the Vatican questionnaire on the family were in favour of allowing remarried divorcees to receive the sacraments, Cardinal Schönborn said, adding that the Austrian bishops would be handing over the questionnaire results in Rome.

Read more

Didn't get memo
Pope Francis 'happy' women have greater role in church
UPI     Jan.25, 2014

Pope Francis, addressing an Italian Catholic women's group, said he is happy that women are taking a greater role in the church.

While Francis said the priesthood would continue to be men-only, he said the "feminine genius" has important contributions to make both in the church and in society at large, the Catholic Reporter said.


"I'm happy to see many women sharing certain pastoral responsibilities in accompanying persons, families and groups, and in theological reflection, and I've voiced hope that spaces for a feminine presence that's more capillary and incisive in the Church will be enlarged," the pope said.

. . . . 

The pope called the home and family "the domestic church" and said for many women there is tension between their public and private roles. He urged women to model themselves on Mary, who was with her son at many of the public events of his life. 

Read more

Legal Scholar and Theologian Kaveny Is New Libby Prof.
Kathleen Sullivan      Jan.30, 2014

Cathleen Kaveny, a legal scholar, moral theologian and nationally noted expert on the intersections of law, morality and religion, has joined Boston College as the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor. With an appointment in the Law School and Theology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences, Kaveny is the first person to hold a faculty appointment in two schools at the University.

The author of the award-winning book Law's Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society and a columnist for Commonweal magazine, Kaveny has written for America and authored approximately 100 journal articles and book chapters. She has also been interviewed by various media outlets, including the Washington PostNew York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe,National Catholic Reporter, and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," among others. She is currently at work on her next book, tentatively titled Prophesy without Contempt: An Ethics of Religious Discourse in the Public Square.

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Final Report on U.S. Nuns' Visitation 'Soon'
Cindy Wooden      Jan.31, 2014

Before the year dedicated to consecrated life begins in November, the Vatican congregation for religious hopes to release its final report on the 2009-2010 visitation of U.S. women's communities. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said, "We are working intensely on the final report, and after careful study and consideration, we think it will be made public soon. We're at a good point. I think we can conclude it before the beginning of the Year for Consecrated Life" in November.Be

. . . .

Cardinal Aviz said the visitation of U.S. communities of women was completely separate from the Vatican-ordered reform of the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The LCWR process, which is ongoing, he said, is not the responsibility of his office, but of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in 2012 ordered a reform of the group to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality. 

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Pope preparing major statement on ecology, Vatican says
Philip Pullella     Jab.24, 2014

Pope Francis, who took his name from the saint seen as the patron of the animals and the environment, is writing an encyclical on man's relationship with nature, the Vatican said on Friday.


The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed the project after French President Francois Hollande told reporters the pope had told him about it during a meeting earlier in the day.


Lombardi told Vatican Radio that the project was still in its early stages and that it was premature to say when it would be ready. 

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Pope tells Christians to put aside their divisions
AP         Jan.25, 2014

Pope Francis has led a prayer service in a Rome basilica attended by representatives of Orthodox, Anglican and other Christian communities in hopes of healing centuries-old divisions.


The service Saturday evening in St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica capped a week of efforts in Rome and worldwide to foster unity among Christians.

The pope told participants that divisions among Christians impair the work of spreading the Gospel in the world.  

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Vatican confirms Obama will visit pope in March
Cindy Wooden      Jan.21, 2014

Pope Francis will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Vatican March 27, the White House announced and the Vatican confirmed. 

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Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin' 
Mark Binelli     Jan.28, 2014 

   . . . .  Rolling Stone coverAgainst the absurd, impossibly baroque backdrop of the Vatican, a world still run like a medieval court, Francis' election represents what his friend Elisabetta Piqué, an Argentine journalist who has known him for a decade, calls "a scandal of normality." 


Since his election last March, Francis has consistently confoundeexpectations with the simplest of gestures: surprising desk clerks at the hotel where he'd been staying during the papal conclave by showing up to pay his own bill; panicking bodyguards by swigging from a cup of maté (the highly caffeinated tealike beverage popular throughout South America) handed to him by a stranger during a visit to Brazil; cracking up cardinals with jokes at his own expense hours after being elected (to those assembled at his first official dinner as pope, he deadpanned, "May God forgive you for what you've done").


After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis' basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic. But he had far more radical changes in mind. By eschewing the papal palace for a modest two-room apartment, by publicly scolding church leaders for being "obsessed" with divisive social issues like gay marriage, birth control and abortion ("Who am I to judge?" Francis famously replied when asked his views on homosexual priests) and - perhaps most astonishingly of all - by devoting much of his first major written teaching to a scathing critique of unchecked free-market capitalism, the pope revealed his own obsessions to be more in line with the boss' son.

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Pope Francis Promoted from Rockstar to Super Hero
Abby Ohlheiser    Jan.29, 2014

Pope Francis has been likened to a rock star before, but now that he's on the cover Rolling Stone, it's official. Oh, and he's also a super hero.   . . . .  A pretty cool graffiti of Pope Francis as "Super Pope" has earned the Vatican's approval. Francis, who became the head of the Catholic church in March, has won over almost everyone at this point. He was Time's Person of the Year. He's the cover story for this month's Rolling Stone. He's everywhere. Now he's swooping in to save the day, like the Man of Steel.  


Here's a closer look at the artwork, which popped up in Rome near the Vatican. The text on his bag translates to "values." The red and blue colors on his scarf might read as a reference to Superman, but they're also the color's of the football team the Pope favors, San Lorenzo.  

The Vatican liked the mural by Italian artist Maupal [Mauro Pallotta] so much that they tweeted out a photo of it from the church's official  communications  account.  

Super pope
Poof: Pope Francis superhero street art disappears
Associated Press      Jan.30, 2014

. . . .  Pope Francis' status as a superhero has bit the dust. Rome's decorum police early Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, scrubbed the wall near the Vatican where "SuperPope" had been displayed, showing Francis as Superman in flight and clutching his black satchel of values to spread to the world. Artist Mauro Pallotta had put the image up on Monday in homage to Francis. 

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C8's Cardinal Maradiaga castigates CDF prefect: 'He's German so he thinks in black and white'
 Christa Pongratz-Lippitt       Jan.24, 2014

Müller & MaradiagaThe leading member of the Council of Cardinals (C8) has sharply criticised the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Gerhard Müller.


In several recent statements Cardinal-designate Müller has ruled out any revision of church rules barring divorced and civilly remarried Catholics from the sacraments.


Asked about this in an interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a Honduran, said: "He's a German, one has to say, and above all he's a German theology professor, so in his mentality there's only truth and falsehood. But I say, my brother, the world isn't like this, and you should be a little flexible when you hear other voices. That means not just listening and then saying no." 

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Pope will make mark on US church through Chicago
Rachel Zoll       Jan.30, 2014

When he turned 75, Cardinal Francis George did what the Roman Catholic Church expects of its bishops. He submitted his resignation so the pope could decide how much longer the cardinal would serve.

 . . . .

Two years and one surprise papal retirement later, the decision now belongs to Pope Francis. The pontiff's choice will be closely watched as his first major appointment in the U.S., and the clearest indication yet of the direction he will steer American church leaders.


"Many signals for this relationship between the pontificate and the U.S. church will come from Chicago," said Massimo Faggioli, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota who studies the Vatican and the papacy. "I think this is going to be the most important decision by Pope Francis for the U.S. church."


The Archdiocese of Chicago serves 2.2 million parishioners and is the third-largest diocese in the country. The Chicago church has long been considered a flagship of American Catholicism, sparking lay movements of national influence and producing archbishops who shape national debate. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin remains a hero to Catholics who place equal importance on issues such as abortion and poverty. George, who succeeded Bernadin in 1997, is especially admired in the church's conservative wing as an intellectual who helped lead the bishops' fight against the Obama administration's health care overhaul. 

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Jesuit Priest Endorses Students 'Making a Mess' in Seattle 
Bob Shine      Jan.25, 2014

#KeepMrZ2013 is a movement of high school students in Seattle organizing for their gay vice principal fired for marrying his husband.  Now one more voice is speaking out in support of these youth. Father John Whitney, SJ, pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Seattle, spoke about the students from Eastside Catholic High School in his homily earlier this week.  He begins by describing the conflict in early Christianity about whether to accept Gentiles as members or only Jews, and he reflects on how this controversy was resolved:   

. . . .

 "Though it is a painful time, their teachers and their parents should be proud of the Gospel spirit that has been planted in these young hearts. Likewise, we in the broader Church should be grateful for the mess these young people bring, and should listen with compassion and openness to the Spirit that moves within them. Their love, their gentleness, their quest to make of the Church "the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people," demands more than the silence of authority; it demands communion and engagement with the Church-i.e., education, direction, dialogue-since their spirit is a sign of the Church and is life-blood for the Church. May we engage, with fearless love, at the side of our younger sisters and brothers; and may trust in the God whose Church we are all becoming."

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Gay Marriages Confront Catholic School Rules
Michael Paulson       Jan.22, 2014

 Eastside Catholic prides itself on teaching acceptance. At the end of Crusader Way, by the school's entrance, banners hang celebrating "relationships" and exhorting passers-by to "remember to take care of each other." Students use a sign-language gesture to remind one another of the school's emphasis on unconditional love.


But now the school is unexpectedly grappling with how it defines both love and acceptance. Last month, a well-regarded vice principal was forced to leave his job as soon as administrators became aware that he had married a man; in the weeks since, the suburban Seattle school has been roiled, first by protests in support of the vice principal, and then by the resignations of those who sought his departure.   

. . . .

This month, the band and choir director at a Catholic school in Ohio was fired hours after he told the school's president that he planned to marry his boyfriend; in December, a French and Spanish teacher at a Catholic school in Pennsylvania was fired days after telling his principal he was applying for a marriage license in New Jersey. Similar ousters have taken place at Catholic schools, universities and parishes in  Arkansas,  CaliforniaIllinoisMissouriNew York and North Carolina

. . . .

But for some young Catholics, the firings are mystifying, particularly given the new tone set by Pope Francis. At Eastside Catholic, some students have taken to crafting banners with the quotation "Who am I to judge?," words uttered by the pope when asked about gay priests; others have been trying to reach the pope via Twitter, hoping he will somehow intercede. 

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Mass mobs fill pews, lift prayers at NY churches
Carolyn Thompson      Feb.1, 2014

You've heard of flash mobs? Behold the Mass mob.

Playing off the idea of using social media to summon crowds for parties or mischief, mobs of Buffalo-area Roman Catholics have been filling pews and lifting spirits at some of the city's original, now often sparsely attended, churches.


It works this way: On a given Sunday, participants attend Mass en masse at a church they've picked in an online vote and promoted through Facebook and Twitter.


 Visitors experience the architecture, heritage and spirit of the aging houses of worship and the churches once again see the numbers they were built for, along with a helpful bump in donations when the collection baskets are passed. 

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Catholic Whistleblowers Website

We are a network of current and former priests, women religious, brothers, deacons, and laypersons who actively support survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

Many of us have reported instances of sexual abuse to civil or church authorities, and we all struggle to expose the cover-up of abuse by church leadership. 

We are aware of how difficult it is to speak out on this issue, and we support each other in that effort.  

Catholic Whistleblowers emerged from years of friendships and months of planning and conversation. Reporter Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times was present at some of those discussions. Her "Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse," published on May 20, 2013, gives a sense of our process and goals. 


In Sexual Abuse Hearing UN Calls Holy See on Girls' Reproductive Rights
Angela Bonavoglia     Jan.22 2014

In addition to calling Archbishop Silvano Tomasi and Bishop Charles J. Scicluna to account for a decades-long, worldwide epidemic of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee conducting this historic proceeding in Geneva last week also demanded responses to questions concerning the church's trampling on girls' reproductive health and rights.


Chairwoman Kirsten Sandberg and others wanted to know what the church was doing about uncovering the whereabouts of the children born to young, unmarried women who were essentially enslaved in Ireland's Magdalene Asylums or Laundries and forced to relinquish their babies to adoption, a situation brilliantly dramatized in the film Philomena, with Oscar-nominated Judi Dench playing the real Philomena Lee.

. . . .

The chairwoman also brought up the story from Brazil of "the nine-year-old girl who had an emergency life-saving abortion after rape by her stepfather," followed by the excommunication of mother and doctor, "with no measure taken against the father," aka, the rapist. "Explain this," Sandberg said. In that case, regional archbishops Jose Cardoso Sobrinho astonishingly admitted that the rapist had "committed an extremely serious crime," but that "abortion is even more serious."


Soon after, another committee member, Hungary's Maria Herczog, brought up a situation from Nicaragua, where the Catholic Church vigorously supports a ban on all abortions. The situation involved "a ten-year-old girl forced to give birth after being raped, with the full support of the Catholic Church and the local community. How do we challenge these unbearable situations in the name of the church?" she asked.  

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About those 400 defrocked pedophile priests: Where are they now?
Veronica S.     Jan.23, 2014

Pope Francis has captured the world's attention with his new-or as some might call it, radical-style of leadership.


Yes, it is a refreshing change to see the head of the Roman Catholic Church speak on issues and do things never done before. The pontiff has been so radical that some religious conservatives have taken offense to some of his teachings-especially his scathing criticism of poverty, inequality and capitalism.


But the biggest albatross around the church's neck is still a pressing issue that needs massive overhauling and an aggressive plan of action.


Reports credit the prior pope, Benedict XVI, for defrocking 400 priests over a two-year period between 2011 and 2012 for child sex abuse allegations, and though this is a marked improvement compared to previous inaction, the church does not go nearly far enough.

Where are those priests now-are they living as your neighbor?


For quietly banishing sex offenders by removing their "holy robes" is equivalent to kicking the bucket down the road. The sickness was removed from the church but these men are still out there where they can still hurt children. 

Read more

Secret accounts paid for clergy misconduct but left church open to financial abuse
Tom Scheck       Jan.23, 2014

The Rev. Stanley Kozlak served nearly three decades in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But then he fathered a child and the archdiocese needed him gone.

Removing Kozlak quietly wouldn't be cheap, but church leaders knew how to move money discreetly. The archdiocese held two secret accounts, controlled by the archbishop, designed to make problems like Kozlak disappear.


To get him out of active ministry, Archbishop Harry Flynn agreed in 2002 to pay the fallen priest $1,900 a month "disability" for life, plus $800 a month in rent for life, and $980 a month "to replace the social security payment until Father Kozlak reaches age 67 when he would receive his full social security."


Kozlak's package was part of a secret financial system that let archdiocese leaders divert millions of dollars away from traditional church work to deal with clergy misconduct.


Internal financial reports show the archdiocese used the stealth accounts repeatedly, paying nearly $11 million from 2002 to 2011 - about 3 percent of overall archdiocese revenues in those years - for costs tied to clergy misconduct under Flynn and his successor, Archbishop John Nienstedt.


The Rev. Stanley Kozlak was ordained in 1974 and served at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, St. John the Baptist in Montgomery, Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale and St. Ignatius in Annandale until he was forced to retire in 2003. 

The system allowed archdiocese leaders to remove priests who had committed child abuse or other infractions without attracting attention. Lax accounting controls let church leaders cut checks to make problems go away.

. . . .

The archdiocese says it can weather a financial storm. Local parishes, however, could be hardest hit over time. Pastors are already feeling the financial pushback from Catholics who donated to the church believing their money went to benevolent causes.

Millions, however, went for very different purposes.


Thousands of pages of private, internal archdiocese documents analyzed by MPR News detail a stealth financial system that included payments to persuade priests to leave active ministry, financial support for children fathered by priests and money for legal settlements. 

Read more

Irish Government Ordered to Compensate Abuse Victim
Douglas Daley       Jan.28, 2014

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that a 49-year-old Irish woman was entitled to compensation for the government's failure to protect her from sexual abuse as a child when she attended a publicly financed Roman Catholic primary school in the 1970s.

The ruling overturned a series of legal decisions by Irish courts over the past decade, which all found that the state could not be held responsible for inhuman and degrading treatment suffered by children in state-funded schools.


The Irish government had argued that despite its having underwritten the school, its liability did not extend to the school's management or the actions of its personnel. But the court found that there was an "inherent obligation of a government to protect children from ill-treatment, especially in primary education when they are under the exclusive control of school authorities, by adopting special measures and safeguards."


It noted further that Ireland "had to have been aware of the level of sexual crime against minors through its prosecution of such crimes at a significant rate prior to the 1970s."

Read more

Catholic Diocese Bankruptcy
Camilla Rambaldi      Feb.1, 2014

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection to settle 362 claims of children sexually abused by clergy members serving the Diocese.

Two lawsuits were filed in 2011 claiming the clergy members sexually abused the minors from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Helena Diocese victim Thomas A. Lozau Jr. says, "You know when being a kid and trying to tell when it was happening, like I said, you just tell me who you are going to believe." 

Diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson said in a statement the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case will help resolve the abuse claims. 

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Court upholds decision clearing bishop, diocese
Bill Sherman       Jan.31, 2014

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court's decision clearing Bishop Edward Slattery and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa of wrongdoing in connection with a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was molested as a child by a parish priest.


In June 2012, Judge Daman Cantrell ruled in favor of the diocese and Slattery in Tulsa County District Court. The appeals court found that the findings of fact and conclusions of law adequately explained that decision.


The suit was brought by Kelly Kirk, who says he was molested, and his father, Gordon Kirk, alleging that Slattery and the diocese inflicted intentional emotional distress on them. Kelly Kirk also alleged invasion of privacy.


The accusations stemmed from a 2002 slander lawsuit against the Kirks filed by the Rev. Paul Eichhoff, a priest in the diocese. As a result of that lawsuit, the Kirks' names were made public. The Kirks alleged that the diocese acted in concert with Eichhoff to file that suit. 

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Philly prosecutor appeals in landmark church case
Maryclaire Dale       Jan.26, 2014

Philadelphia prosecutors have urged Pennsylvania's highest court to restore the conviction of a Roman Catholic church official in a high-profile child endangerment case.


Monsignor William Lynn, 63, the former secretary for clergy in Philadelphia, had been convicted of endangering children by transferring an abusive priest in the 1990s to a new parish, where he abused an altar boy.

. . . .

But an appeals court threw out his case last month, saying Lynn should never have been charged because the law only applied to those directly responsible for the child victim. Lynn was freed after 18 months in prison and remains on house arrest at a rectory.

However, prosecutors appealed that Superior Court ruling Monday to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.


"The message sent by the Superior Court's published opinion in this high-profile case is therefore a dismal one - victims of child sexual assault at the hands of pedophile priests who reluctantly come forward may do so in vain," Assistant District Attorney Hugh J. Burns Jr. wrote in the 39-page appeal brief.


He said the trial judge correctly handled the case and said Lynn could have been convicted as an accomplice. 

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Vatican Bank overhaul to be completed in 2014
Rome Reports       Jan.22, 2014

The Institute for Religious Works, better known as the Vatican Bank, outlined its progress in reforming the institution. The reforms started in 2010, and some of the major components will be completed by the first half of 2014, according to the report.


In the first three months, the Vatican Bank will implement a "know your customer" application for individual and group accounts. It'll also introduce a "risk-based" client rating to help tackle money laundering.


By mid-year 2014, the IOR said they will have screened all of its accounts, in search of missing or incomplete information. The process started back in 2013. So far, they've looked through some 10,000 client records, or about 55 percent of their accounts.


In addition, the Bank will continue to close the accounts not associated with the Vatican, Catholic groups, or diplomats accredited to the Holy See. 

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Vatican cleric Scarano charged with money-laundering
BBC      Jan.21, 2014

A senior Italian cleric has been charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank, police say.


Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is already on trial and under house arrest on separate charges of plotting to smuggle 20m euros ($26m; £17m) into Italy.

The former Vatican accountant and two other people were served with arrest warrants on Tuesday, police said.

. . . .

Prosecutors allege that Monsignor Scarano got dozens of people to make contributions to a home for the terminally ill in Salerno, and used the money to pay off a mortgage on one of his properties.


Another Catholic priest has also been arrested on charges of laundering and making false statements, officials say. 

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Lay groups seek to offer input on bishop selection
Megan Fincher    Jan.28, 2014

Two East Coast Catholic groups, emboldened by the vision of Vatican II, are advocating for lay participation in the selection of bishops. The unexpected snag is figuring out how the laity are allowed to participate in this little-known process.


"I believe that people may be disinterested in the bishop search ... because they do not believe that [their participation] will make any difference given the hierarchical decision-making structure of the church," Dave Rowell, a member of the Albany (N.Y.) Bishop Search committee, told NCR.


Tom Severin, member of the Ambrosians of Greensburg, Pa., another lay bishop search committee, concurred. Their group is named after St. Ambrose, one of the early church bishops elected by popular vote

. . . .

The official procedure for selecting bishops is outlined in the Code of Canon Law: Using suggestions from other bishops, the apostolic nuncio recommends three candidates to the pope, who has ultimate authority over bishop appointments. However, Canon 377, Paragraph 3 offers this caveat: "The pontifical legate ... if he judges it expedient, is also to seek individually and in secret the opinion of others from both the secular and non-secular clergy and from laity outstanding in wisdom."


Both the Albany Bishop Search and the Ambrosians want to take advantage of that caveat, but they don't want to wait around for the apostolic nuncio's call, nor do they feel a need to keep their opinions secret. 

. . . .

The Minnesota-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform drafted a position paper in November 2012 titled "People's Participation in Selection of Bishops." The paper explains how the laity were involved in electing bishops during the time of the early church: "Bishops John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo, the great bishops of the Patristic era, were selected with the people's involvement." 

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See also 

Should laypeople have a role in choosing their bishops? 

Stephanopoulos to Paul Ryan: 'You Don't Think the Pope Would Endorse Your Budget, Do You?'
Evan McMurry      Feb.2, 2014

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) told George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning that Pope Francis' recent comments on economic inequality were actually a prompt to start a debate about the welfare state and free enterprise, but that the pontiff would have no opinion on Ryan's budget, which has come under criticism from Catholic organizations.


"I think he's starting a fantastic debate," Ryan said. "If you look at his comments very closely, [the Pope] always talks about the welfare mentality. He always talks about how to avoid creating a welfare state. Bring the poor in, create upward mobility, and free enterprise that gives opportunity to everybody, no matter who they are or where they are in life and in America. That's what we're for."


"You don't think the Pope would endorse your budget, do you?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"He's a pope; popes don't endorse budgets!" Ryan said. "Popes say, 'Let's have a conversation about how to fix the broken status quo, how to bring the poor in, how to not have a welfare state, how to produce upward mobility.' Popes don't endorse actual legislative change or budgets like that." 

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Court continues injunction protecting Little Sisters from HHS mandate
Patricia Zapor      Mar.24, 2014

 The Supreme Court Jan. 24 issued a three-sentence order affirming -- for the time being -- an injunction blocking enforcement against the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Christian Brothers of a mandate to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance. 

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Archbishop given Trotsky treatment in Vatican photo after abuse claims
Nick Squires      Jan,22, 2014

It is the sort of practice normally expected of paranoid regimes such as North Korea, Mao's China or the former Soviet Union, but a disgraced Polish archbishop who is being investigated for child sex abuse has been subjected to a Trotsky-style rubbing out in an official Catholic Church photo.


Archbishop removed
Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski (ringed, left) appears to have been 'purged' from a photograph of members of the bishops' conference in the Dominican Republic.

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Catholic Charities USA Statement on the State of the Union

Rev. Larry Snyder       Jan.28, 2014  


Catholic Charities USA was encouraged by President Obama's State of the Union address,  particularly his focus on creating ladders of opportunity that have the potential to raise up the most vulnerable in our nation, strengthening communities across the country and restoring the dignity of every American. As we mark the 50th Anniversary of President Johnson's historicWar on Poverty, we must decide as a nation that we can't wait any longer to act on behalf of those least among us.

We were also very heartened  by the President's discussion on immigration, the recognition of
the need to provide food for the poor, the need for increased access to quality early education and job training as important pathways to opportunity. We are also hopeful to see that the White House understands the importance of identifying proven results and evidence-based practice, as this is something CCUSA has advocated for since 2006.
However, we also feel an urgency to place a priority on addressing more effective methods for reducing  poverty for the more than 46 million Americans living in poverty today. At Catholic Charities USA we understand that poverty does not occur in a vacuum. That's why we've joined with the nation's leading charitable organizations to designate this year working together to educate, innovate and act to reduce poverty in communities across the country. 

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Francis: Church without nuns 'unimaginiable'
NCR staff      Feb.2, 2014

Pope Francis Sunday highlighted the great value women religious bring to the Church. "What would happen" - Francis said - "if there were no nuns? No nuns in hospitals, in missions, in charitable institutions, in schools... Can you even imagine a Church without nuns...? No it is unthinkable!". 

And speaking on the day in which we celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Pope said that nuns are great women. He said "they are a gift, the leaven that carries the message of Christ". "These women - he said - are great!" 

The Pope's words, reported by Vatican radio, came before the Sunday recitation of the Angelus in St Peter's Square, after having presided over Mass in the Basilica on the Feast Day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a Feast which is traditionally dedicated to Consecrated Life.

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Sex allegations follow pastor to Stratford
Daniel Tepfer     Jan.24, 2014

Two and a half years after he was removed as pastor of a New Fairfield church for allegedly sexually harassing a female church employee, Monsignor Martin Ryan was appointed pastor of a Stratford Roman Catholic church.


Ryan's appointment Saturday at Our Lady of Grace Church prompted numerous calls from parishioners who said they were shocked to learn that their new spiritual leader was a priest who not only had been removed from a prior job, but had previously been accused of molesting a teenage girl in Trumbull in the 1970s.


In that case, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport agreed to pay a settlement to the complainant, even though Ryan denied the allegations.


Diocese spokesman Brian Wallace said Ryan has been working as an administrator at the Stratford church for more than two years and replaces the church's former pastor, who died. 

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Pope Francis invited to watch controversial 'anti-Catholic' film Philomena in private screening
Katie Nicholl       Feb.2, 2014

It is the controversial movie that has enraged Catholics throughout the world. 

Now, in an extraordinary move, Academy Award-nominated Philomena, billed by one New York critic as a 'hateful' attack on Catholicism, may be screened in front of the Pope. 

A spokesman for the drama by Stephen Frears, about a woman forcibly separated from her child in the 1950s, said last night talks with the Vatican were under way about arranging a private screening. 

. . . .

'This has been done through an intermediary and we have had a very good reception.'

The movie has been nominated for Best Picture at both the Baftas and the Oscars. But the story - about shamed Irishwoman Philomena Lee's journey to be reunited with her son, who was taken from her by nuns and sold for adoption to a family in America at three - has deeply upset many factions of the Catholic faith. 

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Knights of Columbus redefine charity by giving to bishops
Nicole Sotelo      Jan. 23, 2014

I have always been impressed by the Knights of Columbus' dedication to charity. But over a period of four years, the Knights have donated more than $1.4 million of their "charitable contributions" not to the poor, but to sponsor Catholic bishops to attend medical ethics workshops that increasingly carry a political agenda.

 . . . .

Since the 1980s, the Knights of Columbus have sponsored biennial "workshops for bishops" under the auspices of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia to train the Catholic hierarchy in medical ethics. Workshop topics have ranged from euthanasia to hospital ethics committees. In recent years, however, the curriculum for these workshops has increasingly focused on anti-gay politics.
 . . . .

These anti-gay trainings for bishops continue beyond the workshops. The National Catholic Bioethics Center not only coordinates the workshops but distributes supplementary materials, including public policy reports, a quarterly journal and online resources.
 . . . .

For example, the NCBC advocacy office issues monthly public policy reports that update dioceses on anti-gay legislation. Another example comes from an article in the NCBC quarterly journal that suggests those who are transgender have a "disorder [that] begins in early childhood with an insecure mother-child relationship and tends to affect boys who are emotionally vulnerable" (NCBC Bioethics Quarterly, Spring 2009, 103).  

. . . .

The fact that these "workshops for bishops" and supplementary resources are actually thinly veiled conservative political coachings shouldn't come as a surprise. The Knights of Columbus vice president for public policy sits on the board of the NCBC, which runs the workshops and resource distribution. Additionally, a large majority of the NCBC's board of directors reads like a who's who directory of bishops known for their political work against LGBT equality.
 . . . .

The Knights of Columbus leadership themselves could benefit from an ethics workshop, one that focuses on the difference between politics and charity. 

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Judge gives green light to Legion inheritance lawsuit
Jason Berry       Jan.22, 2014

A Rhode Island federal magistrate judge has given a green light for a man's lawsuit against the Legion of Christ seeking more than $1 million for the alleged defrauding of his father's estate.


. . . .  For some longtime critics, who originally brought to light widespread corruption within the Legion, the ruling is the latest indication that serious questions remain about the Legion and the Vatican process employed to revive the order.


The suit accuses the Legion of preying on James Boa-Teh Chu and defrauding his son, Paul, of an estate with annuities valued between $1 million and $2 million. The suit seeks $10 million in punitive damages.

. . . .

In another case in which the Legion is accused of fraudulently deceiving an elderly donor, the late Gabrielle Mee, a state court ruled that the plaintiff, her niece Mary Lou Dauray, did not have legal standing to sue because the $30 million she seeks was not for herself, but to be given to Catholic charities in keeping with her aunt's beliefs.


That decision has been appealed by Dauray's attorney, Bernard Jackvony.

 RELATED: Ex-Legionary: Curial overseer neglects investigation of inner culture  


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Legion's record calls for criminal investigation
NCR Editorial Staff      Jan.24, 2014

The Legion of Christ has been an agency of almost unimaginable fraud, and that reality alone should be reason for civil authorities to pursue a criminal investigation of its U.S. activities and for the church to proceed with extreme caution in considering allowing the group to continue.


The Legion, which was of many things but certainly not of Christ, was built on the life of a man, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, who trafficked in deception, lies and crimes against children. The nature and extent of his fraud was only beginning to be acknowledged by way of Vatican investigation in the last years of his life.

. . . .

Based on the voluminous information about the Legion that has come from many countries, the pope has not, in our view, been well-served by the work of Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the canon lawyer appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as overseer of the Legion. Some of those who most enabled Maciel to perpetuate his deceptions remain in place, influencing the future life of the organization. The community has never publicly given an accounting for itself or dealt in any meaningful way with its past or the lies with which its members were either knowingly or unwittingly complicit.


On the civil side, the striking pattern of fraudulent fundraising tactics by a religious charity and the bilking of elderly Americans stands out as a matter demanding investigation. Elected officials should be aware by now that Catholics are as outraged as the rest by the scandalous behavior of some of our leaders. If the past is any indication, the revelations that have been forced out of the Legion by legal action are merely the beginning.

. . . . 

We deserve to know how the Legion's duplicity went unchecked for so long and how far such institutional behavior reached. How many others were deceived? We know from past experience that getting full accounts of the criminal activity of church leaders is only possible when civil authorities intervene with the power to demand evidence and testimony. The Legion has provided abundant reason for such intervention. We call on the Rhode Island attorney general to open a criminal investigation of the Legion of Christ. 

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Senior nun decries way Catholic church views women
Joanne McCarthy       Feb.2, 2014

The Catholic Church was ''patriarchal'', had regarded women as useful for ''cooking the Sunday lunch roast'' but not much else, and even today left women feeling ''fairly well overlooked'' , a senior Hunter nun has told the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry.


Former Lochinvar Sisters of St Joseph congregation leader Sister Lauretta Baker said she was not a feminist because the word was divisive, but in a short burst of evidence she laid bare how a nun felt about the church and its global child sex abuse crisis.


''I think it's true to say the Catholic Church is as good as it is today because of its religious women, not because of its religious men,'' she told the inquiry in evidence made public on Friday. ''We have endured much, put up with much.''

. . . .

Asked by counsel assisting the inquiry Warwick Hunt if that included ''cooking the Sunday lunch roast for priests'', Sister Baker replied: ''Yes, and never being part of any decision-making - even any kind of consultation, collaboration. I'm sure they didn't know the meaning of the word, really, in those days, the 1980s.''


''You know that the Catholic Church is basically patriarchal in its organisation and its systems,'' she said.  ''If you know anything about the Catholic Church and its system then you know that women are still today fairly well overlooked.'' 

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Silenced but not silent, these priests are moving right along
Iglesia Descalza      Jan.24 2014

All three men have spoken out or acted in ways that have drawn the ire and severe reprisals from Catholic Church authorities. They have been punished in various ways for their dissent from either Church teachings or policy or both. The one thing they have in common is that they will not be kept down or silent in the face of injustice.


Fr. Roy Bourgeois

  Roy Bourgeois. . . .  None of this has dampened his enthusiasm for advocating for church reform and this week, Fr. Roy published an open letter to Pope Francis in which he repeated his appeal for equal access of women to Holy Orders and added an appeal for the Church to be more welcoming to gays and lesbians. In his letter, he asks the pope straight up, "Couldn't God open the door to the priesthood for women, too? Isn't our all-powerful God, who created the cosmos, capable of empowering a woman to be a priest? Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God's call to women is not?" And he asks Pope Francis to "talk and listen to the women who have been called" and to "welcome them to the priesthood and give thanks to God for answering our prayers for more vocations."


Fr. Tony Flannery
 . . . .   Now Fr. Tony is taking a page from another priest/advocate for church reform, the Austrian Pfarrer Initiative's Fr. Helmut Schuller, and embarking on a speaking tour. In a statement posted on the ACP website, Fr. Tony says that after two years out of public ministry, he has "decided not to wait around for the Vatican (and in particular the CDF) to change its mind." He says his talks, which will be given in various cities in Ireland and England over the next few months -- but not on Church premises ("so as not to cause embarrassment to anyone") -- will focus on the historical background of the problems in the Church today and some ways it can move forward. He says that he still cares greatly about the Church, and wish that it could communicate the Gospel message more effectively to the modern world.


Fr. John Dear  

  John Dear. . . .  In the immediate future, he has decided to pursue his calling to work for peace and signed on as an outreach coordinator with Pace e Bene, a group working on education for nonviolence. Specifically, he will be organizing Campaign Nonviolence, nationwide nonviolent actions during the week of September 21-27, 2014.  And there are many speaking engagements lined up to promote Fr. John's latest book, The Nonviolent Life.

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Vatican's Pope-Protecting Swiss Guards Accused Of Secret Gay Lobby
Barbie Latza Nadeau       Jam.24, 2014

Accusations are swirling about a secret gay cabal inside the Vatican's pope-protecting forces and how much it knew about the departure of Pope Benedict.


For more than a year now, there has been ample talk around Rome about a powerful gay lobby at work inside the Vatican. When Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013, rumors were rampant that the alleged gay lobby was part of the reason he left the papacy. Apparently the gay lobby was so powerful it was given ample ink in a still-secret red-covered dossier presented to Benedict as part of a Vatileaks internal investigation after his butler was convicted of stealing his private papers.


The new Pope Francis even referred to the gay lobby at a June 6 meeting with Latin American prelates. "In the Curia there are holy people, truly holy people," Francis reportedly told the Latin American delegation. "But there is also a current of corruption, also there is, it is true ... They speak of a 'gay lobby,' and that is true, it is there."


Fresh allegations now point to the lobby extending deep into the Swiss Guard, the pope's elite protective security force, who are known for their striped yellow, red, orange and blue Renaissance uniforms. The elite troops are specially trained Swiss soldiers between the age of 19 and 30. The job pays around $1,000 a month and includes room and board. In 1998, an unknown guard apparently murdered a commander and the man's wife in what many inside the Vatican suspected was a gay love triangle. The case remains a mystery and was the biggest scandal to rock the Swiss Guard. Until now.

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Women's ordination group to meet in Catholic church for first time thanks to a supportive priest
Christopher Lamb      Jan.24, 2014

. . . .

Catholic Women's Ordination (CWO), which was founded in 1993, announced in their latest newsletter that their next annual gathering is due to take place at St Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Bristol.


They described the news that the gathering was taking place in a Catholic church for the first time as "historic" adding that their meeting, on 4 October, will focus on the theme of women in the diaconate.

. . . .

Fr Richard McKay, the parish priest of St Nicholas Tolentino, said he was happy for the parish to host the meeting and personally supported the ordination of women. 

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Pope Francis Urged To Stop Releasing Doves Of Peace By Animal Protection Group
Sara C Nelson       Jan.28, 2014

An animal welfare group has called upon the Pope to refrain from releasing his doves of peace after two were attacked in mid-air after a service on Sunday.


The two white doves were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis from the Apostolic Palace and were seized upon by a seagull and crow in front of tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square.

Crow attacks dove

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