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Some things we have been reading  
Pope Francis La Repubblica Interview Rocks Church!
David Gibson       Oct.1, 2013

Pope Francis has done it again: Just two weeks after the publication of a lengthy, detailed interview in which he expounded on his new vision for the church he has given another interview, this time with the atheist editor of an Italian daily.


Francis had recently written an open letter to Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica, and then called the editor up out of the blue - as is his habit. The exchange, Scalfari wrote, went like this:


"Hello, this is Pope Francis."

"Hello Your Holiness," I say and then: "I am shocked. I did not expect you to call me."

"Why so surprised? You wrote me a letter asking to meet me in person. I had the same wish, so I'm calling to fix an appointment. Let me look at my diary: I can't do Wednesday, nor Monday, would Tuesday suit you?"

"That's fine," I answer.

"The time is a little awkward, three in the afternoon, is that OK? Otherwise it'll have to be another day."

"Your Holiness, the time is fine."

"So we agree: Tuesday 24 at 3 o'clock. At Santa Marta. You have to come into the door at the Sant'Uffizio." 

Read more

"This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal."
Grant Gallicho       Oct.1, 2013

Last week, Pope Francis sat for another interview--this time with the atheist co-founder of La Repubblica,Eugeio Scalfari, whom the pope recently replied to in writing. The headline of the conversation, "The Pope: How the Church Will Change" (not "I Will Change the Church"), is obviously pinned to today's opening of the Council of Cardinals, and for good reason. Here are some highlights:

"The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old."
"Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs."
"That is the purpose of our mission: to identify the material and immaterial needs of the people and try to meet them as we can."
"Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy."
The curia is "Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it."
"When I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-clerical."
"Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something."
"The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously."
"I have already said that the Church will not deal with politics.... Politics is the most important of the civil activities and has its own field of action, which is not that of religion."
"We need great freedom, no discrimination, no demagoguery and a lot of love. We need rules of conduct and also, if necessary, direct intervention from the state to correct the more intolerable inequalities."

Read the whole thing here. And don't miss the conclusion, in which the pope promises Scalfari that next time "we will also discuss the role of women in the Church. Remember that the Church is feminine." 


More articles about Pope Francis
Benedict XVI emerges to defend record on sex abuse
Eric J. Lyman       Sep.24, 2013

 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, responding to a noted atheist mathematician and philosopher who had criticized his handling of sexual abuse scandals, on Sept. 24 released a long letter that defended his record and criticized the logician's reasoning. 

Read more

Popes Francis And Pope Benedict XVI Alleged Latin Mass Clash
Huffington Post       Oct. 3, 2013

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI allegedly feels that his "Summorum Pontificum " decree has been "wounded" by Pope Francis' decision to restrict the Latin Mass , which Benedict's 2007 apostolic letter had explicitly allowed. Italian journalist Sandro Magister reported that in "conversations with his visitors" Benedict has revealed his private opinion of the Francis-initiated limitation.

. . . .

This is the first report of any discord between the two popes, as Benedict announced his intention to keep a low profile by living a life mostly devoted to prayer when he resigned. He also stressed his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to Francis. 

Read more

Gänswein 'tried to stop Benedict resigning'
Tablet       Oct.11, 2013

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, says he tried to persuade Benedict to stay on and continue his work as Pope.


Asked in an interview in the German weekly  Bunte whether then Pope Benedict had talked to him about his intention to resign, Archbishop Gänswein said he had known about the Pope's intention for "quite some time beforehand" and had tried to change his mind, but failed. "Pope Benedict had reached a decision. He was not to be shaken", he said.

Read more

U.S. Catholics Back Pope On Changing Church Focus,Catholics Support Gay Marriage, Women Priests 2-1
Quinnipiac University National Poll        Oct.4, 2013

American Catholics agree 68 - 23 percent, with little difference between more observant and less observant Catholics, with Pope Francis' recent observation that the Church has become too focused on issues such as homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

. . . .

American Catholics support same-sex marriage 60 - 31 percent, compared to the 56 - 36percent support among all U.S. adults. 

. . . .

"American Catholics liked what they heard when Pope Francis said the Church should stop talking so much about issues like gay marriage, abortion and contraception," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
. . . .

Support for women priests grows with age, from 57 - 32 percent among Catholics 18 to49 years old to 68 - 28 percent among those over 65 years old.


Catholic opinion on abortion is similar of the opinions of all American adults:
  • 16 percent of Catholics say abortion should be legal in all cases, compared to 19 percent of all Americans;
  • 36 percent of Catholics say abortion should be legal in most cases, compared to 34 percent of all Americans;
  • 21 percent of Catholics say abortion should be illegal in most cases, compared to 23 percent of all Americans;
  • 21 percent of Catholics say abortion should be illegal in all cases, compared to 16 percent of all Americans.
Read more
Catholic elites' finery flouts Pope Francis' call for humility
Jason Berry     Oct.7, 2013

In trying to live up to Jesus's message about solidarity with the poor, Pope Francis has called for a church geared to social justice. This pope wants church officials to live more mode.


As he told newly-named bishops in Rome on Sept. 19, according to The Tablet, "We pastors must not be men with a 'princely mindset.'"

. . . .

But will the pope's biting rhetoric mean fundamental changes in the Vatican, where cardinals are accustomed to being called, "Your Eminence" or "His Grace," as an assistant to Burke once referred to him while explaining that the cardinal was away? 

Read more

The Church must address the role of women
VIS News      Oct.12, 2013

This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the study seminar "God entrusts humanity to women", promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication ofBlessed John Paul II's apostolic letter, "Mulieris dignitatem", dated 15 August 1988. The seminar was attended by experts and representatives of ecclesial movements, from twenty-five countries and from diverse professional fields.

The Holy Father remarked that "'Mulieris dignitatem' is an historical document, the first of the pontifical Magisterium entirely dedicated to the theme of women", and with reference to the title of the seminar, he observed that in his opinion the key to understanding John Paul II's phrase is maternity.
"Many things can change and have changed in cultural and social evolution,but there remains the fact that it is the woman who conceives,carries and gives birth to the sons and daughters of men. And this is not simply a biological fact, but also gives rise to a wealth of implications both for the woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for the way in which she positions herself with regard to human life and life in general. In calling the woman to the role of maternity, God has in an entirely special way entrusted the human being to her. 

Read more

Has Pope Francis a major blind spot regarding the role of women in the Church?
Association of Catholic Priests       Oct.4, 2013

Father Greg Reynolds is the first priest to be excommunicated during the first six months of Pope Francis's pontificate. At one stage as stated on the NCR website (Sept 27), one of the reasons put forward for his excommunication was that he had given communion to a dog. This allegation is totally untrue and accepted as such by the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart. This reported incident only serves to divert attention from the primary reasons as outlined by the Archbishop  and presented in a letter of excommunicated from  the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith which was approved by Pope Francis.


The letter, in Latin, stated that the 'decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr. Reynolds  from the clerical state  and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made for his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church and his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not have the faculties to act publicly as a priest. This is a final and unappealable decision' 

. . . .

Pope Francis as with his predecessors have a major blind spot when it comes to the place of women in the Catholic Church.  What are they afraid of in a woman on the altar that they forbid Catholics even to discuss, under the threat of excommunication, the possibility of women priests ?  It is acceptable  to discuss the role of woman as virgin and mother but not as lover and priest. How many more priests /theologians must suffer needlessly because they say what the rest of the people of God are saying openly. Not only are clerics expected to keep their eyes  cast down but their mouths shut as well.  

Read more

Reflections on Theology of the Body
Questions from a Ewe     Oct.15, 2013

. . . . By JPII's 5th lecture in Theology of the Body we learn that God created women because men were in solitude, and in the 6th lecture we read, "You can't understand the creation of woman unless you understand man's solitude."

. . . .

By lecture #8 JPII explains that woman is man's helper and in the 9th lecture that woman is made for man.  He then provides protracted explanations as to why God created female humans.  Male and female cats, dogs, elephants and dik-diks (African antelopes) all can just be accepted as givens, but not male and female humans, I guess.

. . . .

In lecture #10 we learn that "femininity finds itself in the presence of masculinity while masculinity is 'confirmed' through femininity" and that women are to submit their whole humanity to "the blessing of fertility."  We also learn that a woman's motherhood "has origin" in men though this defies human biology.  Evidently according to JPII, a woman can't be a woman unless there is a man to define her as such and a man does this by impregnating her and making her a mother.  This in turn, makes him a man.  Wow, fascinating sexism based upon nothing other than JPII's imaginative interpretation of a few verses in the book of Genesis.  


The next few chapters continue the sexist themes, sexist language and sexist assumptions of other lectures so I won't bore you with details.  However, we soon arrive upon lecture #17 where JPII explains that woman is a "gift" to man therefore she is forever to be "received" by man and "discovers herself because she was accepted by man."  "Man above all else receives the gift."  "Woman is entrusted to his eyes, consciousness, to his sensitivity, to his heart."  Well my, my...evidently I was just created to sit by the roadside like a pretty little rose waiting to be picked by some gent who will give my life meaning.   
It not only seems to escape JPII that he spouts degrading sexism, he seems to think that women should just be leaping around him sprinkling flowers at his feet thanking him for giving us this definition of ourselves.  Oddly and ironically, in other writings likeMulieris Dignitatem, JPII keeps referring to women as "a mystery." 
 . . . .

The 21st lecture is a veritable treasure trove of sexism.  JPII repeats, "The mystery of femininity is manifested and revealed completely by means of motherhood."  I guess he thinks that women without children aren't women.  This would come as a surprise to many fine women.  But fear not, in several later lectures he tells us that virgins are actually superior to women who have sex; I guess he thinks they are "superior" but just aren't really women. 

. . . .

Here are a few other charmers from the 21st lecture.
"The one who knows is the man, and the one who is known is the woman-wife. It is as if the specific determination of the woman, through her own body and sex, hid what constitutes the depth of her femininity."  There she goes hiding her femininity again until some man boinks her so she can know she's a real woman.
I like to call this next quote, "JPII must have flunked biology."  "The constitution of the woman is different, as compared with the man. We know today that it is different even in the deepest bio-physiological determinants. It is manifested externally only to a certain extent, in the construction and form of her body."
. . . .
But really, we should stop having so much fun with JPII because someone might rightfully say that his Theology of the Body lectures ended in 1984, almost 30 years ago.  We could have more fun reading Mulieris Dignitatem, "Dignity of Women" written by JPII in October, 1988 but that still is 25 years old.  So, let's fast-forward to today's papal darling of the press, Pope Francis.  On Saturday October 12, 2013, we have Pope Francis uttering these humdingers:
He ties the entire existence of women to maternity and women's entire identity to it. "Many things can change and have changed in cultural and social evolution, but there remains the fact that it is the woman who conceives, carries and gives birth to the sons and daughters of men.  And this is not simply a biological fact, but also gives rise to a wealth of implications both for the woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for the way in which she positions herself with regard to human life and life in general.  In calling the woman to the role of maternity, God has in an entirely special way entrusted the human being to her. "

. . . .

He also said that the "type of emancipation" allowing women to enter traditionally male roles "mortifies" women and their vocations.  Women, " order to occupy the spaces subtracted from the male, abandons the female, along with her valuable characteristics." 

. . . .

But, the really comical statement is this, "And here I would like to emphasize that women have a particular sensibility for 'matters of God', especially in helping us to understand mercy, tenderness and the love that God has for us."  This is ridiculously sexist, painting women as fluffy clouds billowing around giving all the hugs, rainbows and smiley faces of the world.  But, it also makes one question if he thinks women are so gosh-darned superior at "matters of God", why aren't they priests?  Seems like they are the natural choice if you accept Francis' statement.
O.K., this is all a bunch of sexist claptrap and we can laugh about it or groan and roll our eyes.  However, Theology of the Body is what is being taught to an abundance of Catholic school children.  It is what is being taught to Catholic religious education students.  It is what is being taught to couples in marriage preparation.  It is the new Holy Grail housing the "updated" version of Catholic sex education. 

Read more

Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka make history in the Vatican
Gerard O'Connell      Oct.8, 2013

Never before in the history of Christian-Jewish relations have a Pope and a Rabbi celebrated their friendship by living in the Vatican together for several days, sharing all meals, including on two Jewish festivals and the Sabbath at which the Rabbi said prayers in Hebrew, and discussing what more  they can do together to promote dialogue and peace in the world. 


That is what actually happened over the past four days at the Vatican guesthouse (Santa Marta) where Pope Francis lives and where his friend from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, has been his guest from September 25 to this day.


"I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.  He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to makes sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition.  These are festive days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals and, I expand the last prayer and translate it. He accompanies me together with the others at table -his secretaries and a bishop, and they all say 'Amen' at the end", the Rabbi said. 

Read more

Pope Francis: Let anti-Semitism be banished from every heart 
Vatican Radio     Oct.11, 2013

Pope Francis on Friday met with members of Rome's Jewish community to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the city's Jewish population during the Nazi occupation. Among those present was the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, the President of the Jewish Community of Rome , Dr. Riccardo Pacifici, and the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities , Dr. Renzo Gattegna.


Pope Francis began by expressing his closeness to Rome's Jewish community, which is the oldest in Western Europe, having a continued presence in the city of over two thousand years.


"For many centuries...the Jewish community and the Church of Rome have lived in our city , with a history - as we well know - which was often transversed by misunderstandings and even true grievances," Pope Francis said. "However, it is a story , that with the help of God , has for many decades experienced the development of friendly and fraternal relations."


The Pope then turned to the occasion of the visit. The deportation of over one thousand Roman Jews on October 16, 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Rome. They were sent to Auschwitz, and only 16 ever returned to the homes.


"We will remember in a few days the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Rome. We will remember and pray for the many innocent victims of human barbarity , for their families," said Pope Francis.


"It will also be an opportunity to keep vigilant so that, under any pretext, any forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism in Rome and the rest of the world not come back to life," the Holy Father said. 

Read more

The Council of Cardinals: A New Constitution for the Curia      Oct.3, 2013

The reform of the Curia and the attribution of of more incisive role to the laity were among the principal themes considered yesterday afternoon and this morning in the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church, said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., in a briefing with journalists.

. . . .

The cardinals worked principally on the reform of the Curia. "The direction of their work would not indicate an updating of the apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus', with retouches and marginal modifications", explained Lombardi, "but rather, a new constitution with significant new aspects. It will be necessary to wait a reasonable amount of time following this Council, but the idea is this. The cardinals have made it clear that they do not intend to make cosmetic retouches or minor modifications to 'Pastor bonus'".


The intention of the cardinals is to emphasise the nature of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local church "in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralised power. The intended direction would be to put this into practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions".

Read more

Council Of Cardinals to meet from 3 To 5 December
Vatican Information Service       Oct.4, 2013

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Council will take place from 3 to 5 December, to be followed by third meeting in February 2014. This will enable the work of the Council - especially in this initial phase - to proceed at a rapid pace. 

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Pope calls synod to discuss families, divorce and remarriage
 Francis X. Rocca       Oct.10, 2013

The predicament of divorced and remarried Catholics will be a major topic of discussion when bishops from around the world meet at the Vatican in October 2014.


The Vatican announced Oct. 8 that an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops will meet Oct. 5-19, 2014, to discuss the "pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization."


The pope had told reporters accompanying him on his plane back from Rio de Janeiro in July that the next synod would explore a "somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage," including the question of the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

. . . . 

The October 2014 gathering will be an "extraordinary general session" of the synod, which according to the Code of Canon Law is held to "deal with matters which require a speedy solution." It will be composed for the most part of the presidents of national bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the heads of major Vatican offices.

Only about 150 synod fathers will take part in the session, which will run for two weeks, Father Lombardi said, compared with about 250 bishops who attended the three-week ordinary general assembly on the new evangelization in October 2012.

This will be only the third extraordinary synod since Pope Paul VI reinstituted synods in 1965, to hold periodic meetings to advise him on specific subjects. 

Read more

Diocese opens door to divorcees
Tablet       Oct.11, 2013

The Archdiocese of Freiburg - Germany's second-largest local Church - said yesterday it would begin administering sacraments to divorced and remarried Catholics in individual cases after consultation with a parish priest or deacon.

. . . .

The Archdiocese of Freiburg's pastoral office on Monday published a 14-page handout which will be sent to all priests and deacons in the archdiocese but also to other dioceses in and outside Germany in the coming week with detailed recommendations of how to conduct "a pastorally and theologically profound discussion process" with remarried divorcees with a view to allowing them to receive the sacraments. 

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Vatican cautious over divorcees: "Nothing will change for now"
Giaccomo Galeazzi       Oct.8, 2013

Behind the scenes the Holy See is urging caution over the issue of communion for remarried divorcees as it is one of the subjects that is being addressed by the Pope's Council of Cardinals - the "G8" -, ahead of the Synod of Bishops on pastoral care of the family and there could be surprises on the horizon.


Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi poured water on the fire by assuring that: "Nothing has changed in terms of the position of remarried divorcees." The document "was issued by a local pastoral office and has not carry the bishop's signature." This is a bold move but "does not constitute an official decision taken by the diocesan authorities."


Archbishop Robert Zollitsch who will soon be leaving his role as he is nearing the age limit for the position will nevertheless continue to lead as Apostolic Administrator of Freiburg and will remain chairman of the German Bishops' Conference until March 2014. The archbishop "was not consulted about the above mentioned documents and he did not approve it." The Vatican is focused on "scaling down" what happened in Germany, in order to prevent a document which deals with such a hotly debated issue from producing any potentially contagious after-effects. 

Read more

Scots faithful may need to wed twice
Tablet       Oct.4, 2013

The new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh says Scottish Catholics may in future have to marry in a civil ceremony as well as in Church.    


Archbishop Leo Cushely said two separate ceremonies, which couples in a number of European countries attend, could be necessary if the Church is to avoid legal challenges over gay marriage.

Read more

Sr. Chris Schenk retires from FutureChurch after two decades
Jamie Manson       Oct.10, 2013

A member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Schenk has spent the last 23 years at the helm of the Cleveland-based organization, which has dedicated the bulk of its time and resources to developing strategies for keeping vibrant parishes open in a time of fewer priests, calling for open and collaborative structures for Catholic governance, and advocating for the full inclusion of women and married men in church leadership.


For Schenk and members of FutureChurch, all of these struggles for church justice have been rooted in one crucial belief: All Catholics should have regular access to the Eucharist, the center of Catholic life and worship.


In August 2011, Schenk discerned that it was time for FutureChurch to find fresh leadership and told the board of her intention to leave in the fall of 2013.

. . . .

Schenk will spend at least the next few years putting her time and energy into writing a book that compiles all that she has learned, through FutureChurch pilgrimages and her own research, about the full participation of women leaders in the early church.  

. . . .

The FutureChurch board has chosen Deborah Rose-Milavec to take over the position, and supporters had the chance to meet their new executive director at last weekend's event. 

Read more

Nun faces up to 30 years in prison for protesting at nuclear weapons facility 
Guardian       Oct.6, 2013

An octogenarian Roman Catholic nun, jailed for breaking into a nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee , is facing up to 30 years in prison after losing her plea for the most serious charge to be dropped.


Sister Megan Rice, 83, and two fellow peace activists staged a non-violent protest to symbolically disarm the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons facility, home to the nation's main supply of highly enriched uranium, in July. They were initially charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, but felony charges quickly followed. They were eventually convicted of interfering with national security and damage to federal property.


This week, a judge denied a motion to acquit them of interfering with national security under the sabotage section of the US criminal code, which carries the harshest prison sentence of up to 20 years. Rice and her two fellow activists, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, a carpenter, and Michael Walli, 68, a veteran, now face up to 30 years in prison, although the ruling by district judge Amul Thapar, in the eastern district of Tennessee, suggests their sentences will be more lenient than the maximum allowed.

. . . .

They are currently in the Irwin County detention center, Georgia, awaiting their sentence. 

Read more

Clergy Abuse Scandal Reaches Minnesota Archdiocese
Amy Forliti & Rachel Zollr       Oct.12, 2013

Attorneys for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were seeking to put out a fire, not start a new one, when they asked a judge this month to keep private a list of Roman Catholic clergy believed to have molested children.


The court proceeding produced no definitive ruling on whether that document would be released, as victims are seeking, but it did reveal new details that intensified the crisis.


A judge entered into the public record a police report church attorneys had cited about a priest's cache of porn kept in church archives for eight years, unleashing a cascade of new revelations about how the archdiocese responded when confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct.


In the days leading up to the Oct. 3 hearing, church officials already were fending off a canon lawyer who quit the archdiocese and was now accusing administrators of ignoring warnings in the last several years about at least two priests.


But with the latest disclosure, local police are investigating, prosecutors are getting involved, the top aide to Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned from his leadership post, and the actions of a longtime high-ranking church administrator and a former archbishop are being called into question. Nienstedt set up a committee to conduct a review he hopes will restore trust that the archdiocese is following the U.S. bishops' 2002 toughened policy on abuse.


"I think what it shows is how structural the problem is - that the problem does really go beyond

something that is easily fixed simply by resolutions and handling things in a different way," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, who has advised church officials in Boston and elsewhere on stopping clergy abuse. 

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Former archdiocese official says church leaders refused to take action when she found porn
Associated Press       Oct.4, 2013

A former canon lawyer with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says the last straw before she quit was how officials refused to take action when she discovered pornography on CDs in files on a priest up for promotion.


Jennifer Haselberger tells Minnesota Public Radio some images appeared to show boys as young as 12 engaged in sex. They came from a computer that belonged to the Rev. Jonathan Shelley. She says Archbishop John Nienstedt's top deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, ordered her off the case and to turn over the file box. She contacted authorities instead.

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Archdiocese paid problem priests thousands in 'medical retirements'
Brian Lambert       Oct.9, 2013

The hits just keep on coming ... Today, Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: "For decades, the Rev. Robert Kapoun charmed parishioners with his accordion at "polka masses" across Minnesota. Privately, he took young boys to saunas, rectories and a secluded cabin in Cold Spring and sexually assaulted them, according to court testimony. Parents complained but leaders at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis did little to stop him. ... An MPR News investigation found that a year after the trial, the archdiocese allowed Kapoun to retire early and sent him funds beyond his pension pay that totaled about $160,000 by 2012. The money was classified as 'medical retirement.' Those retirement payments - $957.50 every month - came in addition to regular pension checks of $1,510.50. ... Kapoun is one of several accused priests who've received payments in addition to regular pension checks, according to two former top church officials."

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Top deputy at Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigns 
Mike Durkin       Oct.4, 2013

The top deputy at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned Thursday amid new criticism of how the church mishandled alleged sexual abuse by priests.


Minnesota Public Radio reports church leaders, including Rev. Peter Laird, knew about sexual misconduct by St. Paul Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, but promoted him anyway.


Wehmeyer is now in prison for abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.


The Archdiocese says Laird's resignation has nothing to do with the sexual abuse reports or the Wehmeyer case. 

Read more

Vatican Bank Publishes Its First Annual Report 
Reuters       Oct.1, 2013

The Vatican bank, dogged for decades by scandals and opaque dealings, on Tuesday published the first annual report in its 125-year history.


The report covered 2012, a tumultuous year in which the bank's president was ousted in a boardroom battle and leaked documents revealed internal disagreements on how the bank should be run.


The bank's new president, Ernst von Freyberg, said the 100-page report was an attempt to meet the commitment to transparency that Catholics around the world "rightfully expect."

A five-member committee appointed by Pope Francis, who has promised to clean up the Vatican 's financial image, is also preparing a report on how to reform the bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion.


The bank said that in 2012 it had a net profit of €86.6 million, or $117.4 million, more than four times the €20.2 million profit in 2011. 

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Arrested monsignor charges corruption in Vatican finances
John L. Allen Jr       Oct.3, 2013

Just days after the Vatican bank attempted to project a new image of transparency with a first-ever audited financial statement, another Vatican financial department faced fresh charges of corruption and shady practices.


Italian newspapers today contained extracts from testimony given to Italian investigators by Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, a former accountant at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), who was arrested in June for alleged involvement in a plot to smuggle $26 million in cash into Italy from Switzerland at the behest of a family of shipping magnates.

. . . .

According to the newspaper extracts, Scarano charged that during his time at APSA, officials routinely accepted gifts from banks looking to capture part of the Vatican's assets, including "trips, cruises, five-star hotels, massages, etc." He claimed that APSA officials frequently transferred funds from one bank to another, in part in order to keep the stream of benefits flowing. 


Scarano also reportedly asserted that officials rigged a competitive bidding process for awarding contracts to perform repairs on Vatican properties in favor of a well-known Italian businessman named Angelo Proietti, supposedly in exchange for a share of the profits.


Further, Scarano is quoted as alleging that APSA operated as a sort of "parallel bank," allowing certain lay Italian VIPs to put money into their investment funds, in part to avoid paying taxes on the income. 

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Jailed Vatican accountant fears death by poisoning     Oct.10, 2013

A former Vatican priest arrested in connection with an alleged tax evasion scheme said Thursday he fears he will be poisoned for talking to investigators.


In a newspaper interview conducted through his lawyer, the Rev. Nunzio Scarano said, "I have told of episodes that could put me in danger," ANSA news service reported.


"I am trying to be stronger than the fear and nightmares that torment me, but despite my prayers, I am certain that I will die by poisoning," Scarano added.

. . . .

Scarano called himself "the scapegoat of a number of powerful Vatican figures." He called on Pope Francis to talk to him "at least once" before judging him.

Scarano is currently being held in a hospital.

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Pope replaces Dominican ambassador amid sex probe
Associated Press     Oct.7, 2013

The nomination Monday of a replacement for Archbishop Josef Wesolowski signaled that the Vatican's investigation into his actions warranted permanent removal as envoy to the Caribbean country.


The new ambassador is Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, currently Vatican nuncio to the Central African Republic and Chad.


Wesolowski, a Pole ordained by Pope John Paul II and made a bishop in 2000, was recalled Aug. 21 after allegations against him were made public in the Dominican Republic. The Vatican has refused to say where he is, whether he has retained an attorney or how he responds to the allegations. 

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Fugitive priest arrested in Dominican Republic
Associated Press     Oct.8, 2013

A fugitive priest who was convicted of sexually abusing a child in the Dominican Republic has been detained during an unrelated probe.


In 2010, the Rev. Domingo Espinal was sentenced to 15 years for raping a 12-year-old boy in 2003. He was allowed to remain free while he appealed, and when the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal last month he went on the run.


The Dominican Republic's attorney general's office says Espinal was captured late Monday when he went to pick up a teenager who got in trouble for uploading a defamatory video to the Internet. Police officers recognized Espinal as the fugitive priest and arrested him. 

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Polish Catholic Church rocked by sex abuse scandal
Jan Cienski       Oct.11, 2013

A paedophile scandal has hit the Catholic Church in Poland, as it struggles with an increasingly secular society and the challenge posed by the unconventional Pope Francis.


The Polish Church had, until now, successfully ducked the issue of sex abuse by priests in the same way that Catholic Churches in other countries did decades ago - moving molesting priests to different parishes and treating any investigation as an attack on the Church.

. . . .

The latest blunder came when Poland's most senior Catholic cleric, Jozef Michalik, appeared this week to place some of the blame for paedophilia on children coming from broken homes.


The archbishop told reporters: "Often that inappropriate approach or abuse is released when the child is looking for love. It clings, it seeks. It loses itself and also draws in that second person."


The resulting explosion of outrage, which came even from normally stalwart defenders of the Church, forced the archbishop, who was already facing criticism over his support for a priest later convicted of child abuse, hurriedly to call a news conference. He apologised for his comments and explained that he in no way blamed children who were victims of abuse.

. . . .

The past few weeks have seen a growing number of sex abuse cases, which have dominated Polish media.


Another senior archbishop, Henryk Hoser, came under fire for not removing a priest from active duty who had been convicted this year of molesting two altar boys. A news conference on the subject was so clumsily handled that the archbishop had to fire one of his priests for appearing condescending about the issue.


Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's representative in the Dominican Republic and a Polish national, was recalled to Rome this summer after being accused of sexual abuse in the Caribbean nation. He has not publicly commented on the allegation. Wojciech Gil, a Polish missionary who also worked in the Dominican Republic, is also accused of child molestation. The priest, who is in Poland and refuses to return to the Dominican Republic to face prosecutors, denied the accusations in a Polish television interview. 

Read more

German 'bling bishop' faces grilling in Rome
Ella Ide      Oct.14, 2013

A German big-spending Catholic bishop has flown to Rome to try and explain himself to humility advocate Pope Francis as he faces multiple calls to resign over his high-roller lifestyle.

Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst flew in with low-cost airline Ryanair -- following accusations he took a business-class ticket on a trip to India and squandered money on luxuries.


His private quarters in a brand-new bishop's palace are reported to have cost some 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) and included a 63-square-metre dining room and a 15,000 euro bathtub.

Germany's top Catholic cleric Robert Zollitsch, who was also visiting Rome, said the scandal over Limburg should not remain "without consequences".


The 53-year-old bishop is under pressure to resign after using church funds to build himself a diocese headquarters with a museum, conference halls, a chapel and private apartments.


The ostentatious project in the ancient town of Limburg was approved by his predecessor and was initially valued at 5.5 million euros but the final bill ballooned to 31 million euros. 

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Catholic Bishop of Limburg faces penalties
Deutsche Welle      Oct.10, 2013

A Hamburg prosecutor has requested a penalty order against Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Catholic Bishop of Limburg, for having submitted two false affidavits to the Regional Court of Hamburg in September 2012.


The bishop made headlines for taking an alleged first-class flight to India, and has been in a legal dispute with leading news magazine Der Spiegel on the issue. Tebartz-van Elst issued a statement under oath denying that he was asked by the Spiegel journalist about the first-class trip, and that he had claimed to have flown business class, forcing Spiegel to print a retraction.


The publication has since said it stands by the story and filed a complaint with public prosecutors in its home city, Hamburg. Both the question and answer were recorded on a mobile-phone video that were published by Spiegel.

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Church Financing Scandal: Politicians Demand Radical Reform
Anna-Lena Roth     Oct.15, 2013

How rich is the diocese of Limburg if a bishop can afford to spend €15,000 on a bathtub, €2.3 million on an atrium and €2.67 million on a private chapel?


A storm of criticism is thundering down on Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst for his extravagance and lack of openness about the cost of his lavish residence. But it's not untypical of the Catholic Church. In 2010, when SPIEGEL asked all 27 German dioceses for information on their budgets and financial assets, 25 of them refused.


The bishoprics operate a sort of double accounting. On the one hand is their public budget which is largely fed from church tax. On the other side are their real assets, the diocesan wealth recorded in a kind of shadow budget that only the bishop and his closest aides are privy to.


This wealth, accumulated over centuries, is invested in a range of assets such as real estate, church banks, academies or clinics. Add to that income from share ownership, foundations and inheritances. The diocese doesn't have to disclose these assets to the government.

. . . .  

Joachim Poss, deputy leader of the SPD's parliamentary group, said: "The current events show that we will have to fundamentally rethink many state rules pertaining to the church.  

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Peruvian priest resigns over paternity suit
Rachel Chase       Oct.10, 2013

Guillermo Martín Abanto Guzmán, formerly bishop of Peru's military ordinariate, has resigned his charge over a court order that he recognize the paternity of a child born in 2011.


According to Peru21, Abanto Guzmán (then 49) met 26-year-old Alexandra Daniela de la Lama Luna in 2009 when she sought out spiritual help in the wake of personal turmoil. Their relationship deepened over time, and Abanto Guzmán even visited the young woman's house on several occasions. In 2011, De la Lama gave birth to a baby girl. Peru21 reports that Abanto Guzmán did not recognize the girl as his daughter at the time, in order to avoid creating a scandal; sources indicated toPeru21 that this action may have been taken with the consent of De la Lama.


Then in June of this year, De la Lama took Abanto Guzmán to court to demand that he recognize the paternity of the child. In July, Abanto Guzmán resigned his post as bishop, and now the court has ordered that he recognize De la Lama's child as his daughter.


Peru21 reports that church authorities learned of the case, but were assured by Abanto Guzmán that his relationship with De la Lama was only sexual, and did not constitute a sentimental relationship. Investigative news program Punto Final also reported last week that the church had previously offered De la Lama a pension for her daughter if she agreed to keep quiet about the case. 

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Victims call for Papal audience
Derry Journal     Oct.4, 2013

A former Derry homeboy is hopeful of an audience with Pope Francis after the Vatican confirmed that his request was forwarded to the Holy Father.


Brian Doherty, who has talked openly about being abused in the Termonbacca Home for Boys under the care of the Sisters of Nazareth, requested an audience with the Holy Father on behalf of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) group.


He told the Journal that he had asked that a large delegation made up of people who suffered abuse while in Catholic-run institutions be granted a meeting with the Pontiff either in the Vatican or in Ireland.

Read more

Royal Commission heads to Melbourne, Pert
9 News       Oct.4, 2013

Survivors of child sex abuse in Australian institutions will be able tell their tales during Royal Commission hearings in Melbourne and Perth next week.


Commissioners will be in Melbourne from Monday for more face-to-face private sessions with abuse survivors, and from Tuesday in Perth.


Royal Commission chief executive officer Janette Dines says the private sessions are helping the commissioners understand the extent of child sex abuse inside the nation's institutions.


"We know that for many of the victims sharing their story with the commission is very hard. But, equally, the opportunity to tell their story has proved beneficial for many," she said.


Ms Dines said trained counsellors are available to provide immediate support to anyone in distress. 

Read more

Human chain formed to protect Christians during Lahore mass
 Aroosa Shaukat      Oct.6, 2013

Hand in hand as many as 200-300 people formed a human chain outside the St Anthony's Church adjacent to the District Police Lines at the Empress Road, in a show of solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar church attack two weeks back, which resulted in over a 100 deaths. The twin suicide attack on All Saints church occurred after Sunday mass ended and is believed to be the country's deadliest attack on Christians.


Standing in the small courtyard of St Anthony's Church, as Mufti Mohammad Farooq delivered a sermon quoting a few verses of the Holy Quran that preached tolerance and respect for other beliefs, Father Nasir Gulfam stepped right next to him after having conducted a two hour long Sunday service inside the church. The two men stood should to shoulder, hand in hand as part of the human chain that was formed outside the church not just as a show of solidarity but also to send out a message, 'One Nation, One Blood'.


As part of an attempt to sensitize the public at large, the human chain was the second such event after a similar had been organized in Karachi last week outside the St Patrick's Cathedral by an organization called Pakistan For All - a collective of citizens concerned about the growing attacks on minorities.  

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Not all the People of God agree about canonisation of J.P. II
International Movement We Are Church       Sep.30, 2013

The decision concerning Pope John Paul II is not agreed by all in the Catholic Church. The International Movement We Are Church has expressed its opinion already in a press release on 16 January 2011.

 . . . . 

It was John Paul II's same need for hierarchical control that also lead to the constriction of theology with scarring impact on people's lives. His attempt to discredit liberation theology left thousands working for liberation without the full theological and ecclesial support they deserved while suffering under brutal political regimes.


Spiritual authoritarianism was also seen in John Paul II's attempt to suppress discourse on gender equality which, in turn, deprived the Catholic world of the gifts women would bring to church leadership. His stance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people places him in complicity with local churches and governments who continue to deny the civil and moral equality of LGBT persons. Additionally, his repeated denouncements of condom use complicated the moral choice of millions around the world attempting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and promote sexual health.


The International Movement We Are Church believes that beatification and ultimately sainthood should not be measured by whether a "miracle" can be attributed to a particular person, but rather, whether someone's life truly embodies the values of Christ who sought, not power, but the well being of God's people.

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Surprise resignation stuns California seminary students, faculty
Dan Morris-Young       Oct.8, 2013

Sulpician Fr. James McKearney has been forced to resign as rector and president of St. Patrick Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif., a surprise event some call an appropriate change in leadership and others decry as "brutal" and "confusing."


McKearney's sudden removal by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stunned students and faculty and the Sulpician himself.


"It just came out of the blue for reasons that are still not clear to myself or my provincial," McKearney toldNCR.


McKearney said during the school's annual gala Sept. 14, Cordileone insisted on a 2 p.m. meeting with him two days later -- a Monday -- at the seminary. During the gala, Cordileone publicly thanked McKearney for his leadership and labors.


Cordileone, San Jose Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Daly and San Francisco Vicar for Administration James Tarantino met with McKearney on Sept. 16 and left him no option but to resign, according to McKearney, who had been president-rector since 2009 and at the seminary since 1999. The seminary currently serves 93 students from more than a dozen dioceses, most based in California. 

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Kidnapped Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio Reported to Be Alive
Carly Andrews       Oct.9, 2013

Journalist Khalaf Ali Khalaf told Aki-Adnkronos International news agency that Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio is alive and well.


Khalaf, a Syrian anti-regime journalist and activist who is based in the North of Syria, has refused to reveal the names of his sources for "fear of reprisals."


"Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio is alive and is being treated well by his kidnappers" says Khalaf.


He claims that the men who abducted the priest over two months ago "are members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) extremist group." Khalaf was informed by sources with al-Qaeda affiliations who are closely tied to the extremist ISIS militants. 

Read more

New Translation of the Roman Missal 
   German Missal Translation: "Collapsed"

Stephan U. Neumann writes in an editorial report that "

the new translation of the missal, for the time being, has collapsed ("gescheitert"). He writes in the October 13th issue:


The bishops originally wanted to approve a new translation of the missal in German at their fall plenary meeting. But this did not come about - nor will it be coming about in the foreseeable future. One would seek in vain in the official press release of the German Bishops' Conference for the sentence, "The new translation of the Roman Missal must be considered collapsed." But the dry, convoluted sentences under the headline "Completion of the Translation of the Missale Romanum" could not mean anything else but this.


The Vatican set up the Ecclesia celebrans ("Celebrating Church") commission, roughly the equivalent of Vox clara in the English-speaking world, but with a key difference. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) did the work of the 2011 English translation over many years, only to have it massively altered at the last minute by Vox clara, whose mandate was supposedly to advise the Vatican in its approval of the ICEL translation after approval by the English-speaking bishops. But the German-speaking commission Ecclesia celebrans itself did the translation work, consisting of several working subgroups. It is this translation that was not approved by the German-speaking bishops at their recent fall meeting. This means that the current German translation of 1975, slightly altered in 1988, will remain in use for the time being.


Two things led to the new translation being rejected as qualitatively worse than the current one: the election of a new Pope, and the "debacle" of the introduction of a new German translation of the funeral rites in 2009. In 2010 Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, president of the liturgy commission, termed the one-year-old translation as "a failure" after heavy criticism of its language by many pastoral ministers. One wished to avoid such a "disaster" again with the missal.


Priests and laity, with letter-writing campaigns and petitions, called on the bishops to keep the old translation. They found an open ear, for the bishops now announce that there is need of "further clarification" in the matter.

Upcoming Event  
2013 Archbishop Romero Memorial Lecture
given by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Prior General of the Dominican Order

1.       Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA on Tuesday October 29th at 6.30pm; 
Tickets available free  

2.       Holy Name University Chaplaincy Church, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PG on Thursday October 31st at 7.00pm

3.       The Lauriston Jesuit Centre, 28 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ on Friday November 1st at 7.00pm - where we will be joined by Archbishop Leo Cushley.

Entry is free of charge. Manchester and Edinburgh are ticketless events 
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 



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