04/7/18

Vatican arrests diplomat accused of viewing child porn

Monsignor Carlo Capella, the Vatican diplomat recalled from service at the Vatican nunciature in Washington after U.S. investigators suspected him of involvement in child pornography, is pictured at the Vatican in 2015.

The Vatican has announced the arrest of a diplomat accused in a U.S.-Canada-Vatican investigation of child pornography.

The Vatican on Saturday said Monsignor Carlo Capella was being held in gendarmerie barracks inside the Vatican, and that his arrest follows a Vatican investigation.

Capella was recalled from the United States by the Vatican secretary of state last year after being caught up in a three-nation investigation into child porn. Police in Windsor, Ontario said Capella allegedly uploaded child porn from a social networking site while visiting a place of worship from Dec. 24-27, 2016

The Vatican recalled Capella after the U.S. State Department notified it on Aug. 21 of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by one of its diplomats in Washington.

Complete Article HERE!

04/7/18

Appalled by what Catholic Church has become, I am walking away

Bishops touch the head of three newly ordained bishops as Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in March.

By MARYANNE MCNEIL

I am voting with my feet.

As a 62-year-old practicing Catholic, one would think my religious adherence has been well and truly set. To an extent, that is correct; I love my church’s rites and, most especially, the beautiful sacraments that have helped to sustain me throughout my life.

I appreciate the redemptive power of confession, when used in appropriate circumstances and with the freedom of surrender.

Despite this deeply felt connection, I have concluded my only way forward is to turn away.

For many years, I have been disturbed by the Church’s failure to connect with real people seeking solace of a loving Christ. I’ve been appalled by widespread pedophilia and more appalled by callous cover-ups of those ruinous crimes against children. It seems this Church has forgotten the warning of Jesus against anyone who would harm a child.

Despite the soul-sickness of knowing the depravity to which Church Fathers had descended, I stayed. There was hope of genuine remorse and healing. There was hope this enormous scandal would serve as a clarion call to a transformative renewal.

Instead, after great resistance, grudging admissions were made and cheques were written. There was no renewal.

Still, I lingered, unable to tear myself away from a Church that was seared into my heart. One day, perhaps, I thought, it will come, even as I listened to priests, bishops and cardinals preach against same-sex unions. These men were clear about the sins of those born with bonds of attraction for their own gender, yet they mired themselves in the muck of tepid excuses toward Church child-sex offenders.

Any respect I had for Rome disappeared under the weight of disgust at this hypocrisy.

My heart breaks to think my Church denied millions of African women (along with all the rest of us) permission to use “artificial” birth control methods that could have saved thousands of lives and transformed many thousands more. Even in situations of dire poverty and the subjugation of women to the role of breeder, the Church chose to tote the old adage that “unnatural” birth control was against God’s plan.

The Vatican only recently began to loosen (slightly) this evil edict that consigned so many to misery. That was how African women were thanked and honoured for their great devotion.

I began to think I must leave. My heart still couldn’t quite give up on this institution that, while gripped by systemic corruption thirst for power, still had capacity to instill awe and wonder.

The Second Vatican Council disappeared like a blip under conservatives who now held command. I suffered as the Church’s doors clanged shut and the air, for a few precious minutes fresh with promise, became stale again with the musk of the power lust of the world’s most elite Old Boys’ Club.

I halfway convinced myself I could ignore the foolhardiness of Rome and concentrate on my own little parish, where I felt at home and loved. How could I leave this small congregation that held my heart? It was like a family to me.

Then Pope Francis was elected. A light shone through the cracks to illuminate the darkness, just enough to awaken hope once more. Here was a Holy Man. Here was a follower of the Jesus I perceived when I read His words. Here was the Church’s future, her chance at renewal.

It could have been the beginning of something truly beautiful. If the power brokers had held true faith, they would have knelt before this man of God and followed him to the ends of the Earth. They would have seen he understood the message of Christ and was touched by His love.

Instead, they worked against him and have effectively shrunk his influence. His voice, at first so clear and strong and shining with humility, has been muted. His intentions have been sabotaged. The Club remains untouched and, sadly, seems intractable.

I have loved Pope Francis but I no longer expect he can lead the Church to the kind of renewal so desperately needed. Given his refusal to grant a simple apology to our devastated First Nations for the Church’s large role in the horrors of the residential schools, it is clear he cannot rise above the wagon-circling of the hierarchy. If he cannot prevail against the forces that hold this Church in thrall, then who can?

A priest I respect refused my request that our church bulletin announce a social action walk in support of diversity that some of our local high school students were organizing. “What kind of diversity?” he wanted to know with knitted brow.

Our youngest priest recently said the Church would never allow women priests because “there were none at the time of Christ.” Of course there were none at that time, but there were slaves and horrible executions and all manner of unjust practices, so where is the valid comparison in this line of thinking?

There’s also the issue of celibacy. In North America, churches are closing, not just for lack of parishioners, but also for a dearth of priests. Few men are able to accept a doctrine that denies them the comfort of a family and of a healthy, sanctified fulfilment of their sexuality. While the Church lauds “the sanctity of marriage,” it taints the idea by requiring those who administer sacramental duties to refrain. Such doctrinal ambiguity is leading the Church to self-destruction.

I have come to the point where hope has died. I cannot ignore Rome, for she reaches into my own parish. Her power permeates every nook and cranny of Catholicism. If I stay, I am complicit. If I take my spot in the pew and put my money in the collection, I perpetuate the rot.

I have a daughter and a granddaughter. I cannot bear what my staying would say to them. I can’t stand to know I have modelled a belief that women are secondary humans who have no place as decision-makers or teachers and aren’t equipped to be shepherds in the name of the One we love.

I feel great sorrow in having to accept my Church has deviated far from the simple, loving path of my Saviour. If, as I continue to hope, the great heart at the core of “Mother Church” remains pure, then the power brokers have shut that heart away from her people. The holiness of that heart is love. And love has too seldom guided decisions and doctrines of the Church, a momentous tragedy.

To whom shall we turn when our Church obeys the dictates of power-seeking men rather than the love-giving of God? The answer, for me, cannot lie in accepting the status quo any longer.

At age 62, therefore, I have finally and sorrowfully accepted that my Church will not listen to my voice or the voices of countless others in similar distress. She will not bend her rigid preconceptions, even in the face of precipitous decline. Under her present masters, she is blind and, though I tremble to write it, no longer worthy of loyalty. As the only self-respecting option left to me, though it tears my heartstrings, I am going to vote with my feet.

Complete Article HERE!

03/26/18

Catholic bishop is caught with £19,000 stashed in a false wall

Group of priests stole £425,000 from donations and wedding fees over three years’ in Brazil

Cash stash: Police in Formosa, Goiás, Brazil, prised open fake panels in the home of Monsignor Epitácio Cardoso Pereira, to find 90,000 reais (£19,200) in plastic bags

By Sara Malm

A group of Catholic priests in Brazil have been arrested, accused of embezzling £426,000 of church donations, funeral fees and fundraising cash. 

The Bishop of Formosa, Jose Ribeiro, along with five clergymen and three lay people were detained in prison in Goiás this week charged with stealing over 2 million reais (£426,000) from church funds.

A police raid on one of the priests’ home saw officers prise open a false wall in to find some £19,200 in plastic bags hidden in a secret storage space.

Arrested: Monsignor Epitacio Cardoso Pereira, pictured with another priest, are accused of embezzling over 2 million reais (£426,000) from church funds along with his colleagues

It’s alleged the money was stolen over a three-year period from tithes, donations, fundraising events and from fees collected for ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings.

According to state prosecutors, the bishop, who was appointed to the Formosa diocese in 2014, is suspected of leading a sophisticated scheme that diverted funds from church coffers.

Phone taps uncovered the alleged web of deceit with conversations apparently revealing how the group

Accused: Bishop Jose Ribeiro is suspected of leading a sophisticated scheme that diverted funds from church coffers.

laundered the money by purchasing a cattle ranch, a lottery agency, mobile phones, luxury cars, designer watches and gold chains. Large amounts of cash in foreign currencies were also found.

Prosecutor Fernanda Balbinot, said: ‘There were indications the money was used for personal expenses and that cars from the Formosa diocese were used for private purposes.

‘Instead of presenting tax bills and expense receipts with the correct amount, documents were allegedly produced saying there was nothing to declare.’

The investigation is reported to have also uncovered evidence that priests, involved in the scheme, paid the bishop a monthly ‘protection allowance’ of between 7,000 to 10,000 reais (£1,500 to £2,100) to keep their jobs.

Prosecutor Douglas Chegyry said to Brazilian media: ‘The information we have obtained is that in order to remain in the more profitable parishes that generated more money, the priests paid a cash allowance to the bishop.’

In the raid on the home of one of the accused, Monsignor Epitácio Cardoso Pereira, agents used a penknife to prise open the fake panels to discover 90,000 reais (£19,200) in plastic bags hidden in a secret storage space.

Big spender: Police say that the priests laundered the money by purchasing a cattle ranch, a lottery agency, mobile phones, luxury cars, designer watches and gold chains

They also seized three iPhones, a Macbook and found more money hidden in draws around the home which the defendant claimed did not belong to him.

Police officers were later filmed taking hours to count the haul.

The investigation into the Formosa Diocese accounts began last year after members of the congregation alleged irregularities and misuse of assets by the Catholic Church.

Churchgoers also claimed the expenses of the episcopal house rose disproportionately, from 5,000 reais to 35,000 reais (£1,000 to £7,500) following the arrival of Bishop Ribeiro. At the time, the cleric denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have charged the defendants with misappropriation, money laundering, ‘ideological falsehood’ and criminal association.

Lawyers for the accused refute the charges and said they will prove their clients innocence.

Two days after the arrests, Pope Francis named Father Paulo Mendes, who is archbishop of Uberaba, as a temporary replacement in the Goiás diocese which has 33 churches distributed over 20 parishes.

Complete Article HERE!

03/26/18

Young Catholics tell Pope Francis the church is indifferent and judgmental

Pope Francis waves as he celebrates the Vesper prayer in the Church of San Gregorio al Celio, in central Rome.

by Amanda Erickson

On Saturday, hundreds of young Catholics gathered to give Pope Francis a piece of their minds.

They called for a more transparent and “authentic” church, one with a bigger role for women and more wisdom about the benefits and challenges of technology. They called for more flexibility, too, arguing that “unreachable” moral standards should not be the only way to live an authentically Catholic life.

These findings were part of a 16-page report assembled by 300 young people at a week-long conference sponsored by the Vatican. It drew, too, on online submissions from 15,000 others.

“We, the young church, ask that our leaders speak in practical terms about subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, about which young people are already freely discussing,” the report said.

It was less clear how the group wanted the church to reframe its message. The young people, ages 16 to 29, did not find consensus on issues like contraception (artificial birth control is banned for all Catholics, even married couples), cohabitation before marriage (frowned upon) or abortion.

The report also pushed the church to find ways to connect to young people, who often feel “indifference, judgment and rejection” from the church.

Throughout, the report called on the church to incorporate women more fully into church leadership. Women cannot serve as priests, which means they’re absent from the church’s upper ranks. Young female Catholics said they feel alienated as a result.

“Some young women feel that there is a lack of leading female role models within the church, and they too wish to give their intellectual and professional gifts to the church,” the report found.

The report also called on the church to accept that technology is a way of life for young people. The focus should not be condemnation, they wrote, but rather guidance on how to combat online addiction and use technology responsibly.

At the beginning of the conference, Pope Francis urged the young people — selected by their national bishops’ conferences, universities or church movements — to be honest. That is reflected in the final report, which notes that young people are leaving Catholicism because of  “indifference, judgment and rejection.” It also called on the church to more fully acknowledge its mistakes, such as the clergy sex abuse scandal.

“Some mentors are put on a pedestal, and when they fall, the devastation may impact young people’s abilities to continue to engage with the church,” the report said.

The document will be incorporated into an October synod of bishops, focused on how to better incorporate young people into the church.

It isn’t clear what that will entail. But at a Palm Sunday service on Sunday, Pope Francis urged young people to keep shouting and not allow the older generations to silence their voices.

“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” he said in his homily, delivered to an audience of thousands in St. Peter’s Square. “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.”

“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” he told young people, urging them to be like the people who welcomed Jesus with palms rather than those who shouted for his crucifixion only days later. “It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”

“Yes,” the young people in the crowd shouted. “Yes!”

Complete Article HERE!

03/20/18

Longtime pastor removed from St. John Cantius Catholic Parish amid investigation

The Rev. C. Frank Phillips at St. John Cantius Catholic Parish in Chicago in 2014.

By Elvia Malagon

The Rev. C. Frank Phillips, founder of a religious order of men and pastor at the storied St. John Cantius Catholic Parish, was removed last week by the Archdiocese of Chicago amid an investigation into allegations of improper conduct with adult men, according to church officials.

In a statement to parishioners, Cardinal Blase Cupich explained that he had made the decision to “withdraw” Phillips after learning “of credible allegations of improper conduct involving adult men.” Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said in an email that the allegations do not involve any minors.

Phillips is barred from performing any priestly duties, including administering the sacraments. Phillips is a priest within the religious order of the Congregation of the Resurrection, which will further investigate the allegations, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The parish is at 825 N. Carpenter St. in the Goose Island neighborhood. Phillips will also have to move to a location determined by his order.

“I am aware that this is difficult news to receive, but the Archdiocese of Chicago is committed to ensuring those serving our parishioners are fit for ministry,” Cupich said in a statement. “Know that this decision was made after careful consideration. I will continue to pray for you and am confident the Lord will sustain the St. John Cantius community as you make this transition.”

Phillips had been with the parish since 1988, and it has become well-known in the archdiocese for traditional services in Latin and English. In 1998, Phillips founded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius as a religious community of men who devote their lives to the church and live under “the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,” according to the Cantians’ website. The men follow traditions similar to those of the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits. The group falls under the Archdiocese of Chicago, Maselli said.

The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius was first approved by Cardinal Francis George, according to the church’s website.

“The preservation of the traditional Catholic art and the Catholic music are a means of evangelizing to people,” Phillips told the Tribune in 2000. “The sacred arts should draw the hearts of individuals closer to God.”

The Canons Regular will now be supervised by the Rev. Scott Thelander, who will also serve as administrator of the church, according to the statement. Services at the church are expected to continue as scheduled.

The removal of Phillips has left parishioners stunned, said David Carollo, a longtime member of St. John Cantius. He credited Phillips with helping the Canons Regular grow through the years.

Carollo said he believes Phillips is innocent and will be cleared of any wrongdoing. He thinks that is especially true because of the code Phillips and the other men involved in the order live by.

“This doesn’t fit the man I know,” Carollo said.

Complete Article HERE!