05/1/18

Cardinal George Pell To Face Sexual Assault Charges In Australia


Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday in Melbourne, Australia.

By

A magistrate in Australia has ordered Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican’s senior-most officials, to stand trial on sexual abuse charges involving allegations from multiple individuals dating back decades.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the church’s long-standing sex abuse scandal.

Although Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed many of the charges against Pell, who was appointed archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and later oversaw the Vatican’s finances under Pope Francis, she said that the prosecution’s case was strong enough to warrant a jury trial on the remaining charges.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Wallington, following a month-long hearing committed the 76-year-old cleric “on charges against multiple complainants, involving alleged sexual offending at a swimming pool in the 1970s in Ballarat [near Melbourne], where the accused man was then working as a priest; and at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1990s, when he was the then Archbishop of Melbourne.”

Asked for a plea, a seated Pell – who has consistently denied wrongdoing — clearly announced, “Not guilty.”

Last year, Pell stated publicly, “I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Lawyers for Pell had argued that all the allegations were untrue and should be dismissed.

More than 30 witnesses testified in the four-week hearing. The Associated Press writes, “His alleged victims testified in the first two weeks of the preliminary hearing via a video link from a remote location to a room closed to the media and public.”

Pell, who is free on bail, was due to appear in County Court on Wednesday to hear his trial date.

The Herald reports:

“After the magistrate left the bench, a group of people at the back of the court room clapped.”

… Cardinal Pell left the court building at 11.55am, and was jeered by people outside the building as he got in a white car and was driven away. A wall of police officers stood on the bottom two steps of the court building to ensure he was not surrounded by media.”

Complete Article HERE!

04/22/18

God doesn’t call people based on gender, says Irish American female Catholic priest

The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement has ordained 145 women priests worldwide since its beginnings in Germany in 2002.

Jennifer O’Malley

By Frances Mulraney

For a very short time, Irish American Jennifer O’Malley thought about turning her back on the Catholic Church. Despite being brought up in an active Catholic family and attending Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, as many children with a Co. Mayo grandfather would, she felt the Church had left her wanting in her inability to be ordained.

“I did think about the possibilities of being ordained with the Episcopal Church and explored that very briefly but as soon as I started exploring it, I realized that was not my calling,” O’Malley, who is based in Long Beach,  California, told IrishCentral.

“I’m Catholic in my blood and in my bones.

“I quickly realized that it was almost a responsibility to stay, to refuse to leave, and to force the institution to reckon with the vocation that God has called me to.”

Having read about the emergence of the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement initially in the newspaper, a nun in one of the parishes O’Malley attends told her more about it, introducing her to a woman priest within the Catholic faith who was also based in California.

“I was participating in a small faith community and they recognized a call to priesthood in myself,” O’Malley said.

“Once I met this other woman priest, and some of my other friends who had said to me ‘oh, you should think about becoming a priest’ or ‘I wish there was a way that you could be ordained’ also met her, we all thought ‘yeah, this is perfect.’ It’s what I’m being called to.”

The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement officially started in Germany in 2002, where seven women were ordained as priests within the Catholic Church. Since then, bishops from among these women have also been ordained, allowing them to ordain further women around the world.

According to the movement’s website, there are currently over 145 Roman Catholic women around the world who are “reclaiming their ancient spiritual heritage and are re-shaping a more inclusive, Christ-centered Church for the 21st century.”

“We advocate a new model of priestly ministry united with the people with whom we serve. We are rooted in a response to Jesus who called women and men to be disciples and equals living the Gospel,” the movement states.

It was ten years after this official start, in 2012, that O’Malley was ordained and she now serves ministries in her local community in the evenings and weekends, around her full-time job as a specialist director.

While she says that up to 95% of the people she meets with are happily receptive to her role as a woman priest, those who don’t agree with it are not extremely vocal, even when they express their opposition.

“God doesn’t call people based on gender or on biological parts, to be frank, but rather God calls people based on the gifts that God has given us,” O’Malley argues, adding that she feels it’s only by making bold moves such as this one that she will see the changes within the Catholic Church that she desires.  

“The Canon Law that says only a man can be a priest is a human-created law that’s flawed. Those things [flaws] are changed by people breaking laws and that’s what we’re doing.  

“It’s 2018. To have an institution say that a person cannot hold a position simply because of their gender is so ridiculous, to be quite honest, and I think it’s very oppressive of the Church to continue to oppress women’s call to the priesthood.”

Read more: Irish priests calls for ordination of women and marriage in Church

Much of this oppression is upheld by Pope Francis, she believes, who while loved for his views on helping immigrants, is still opposed to the idea that a woman can be ordained.

“I think his view of women is not what it should be,” she states.

“He’s made it clear that he doesn’t support the ordination of women. He has said that the door continues to be closed and it’s unfortunate because he talks to accepting migrants and working with the poor.

“However, women are disproportionately affected by these things and while he continues, or the institution continues, to oppress women, I don’t think that he can fully talk about these other issues.” 

It’s not just ordaining women,” O’Malley adds.

“It’s not just putting a woman on the altar and solving everything.

“It’s also about making sure the voices of the people in parishes [are included] and including the voices of everybody in decision making, changing some of the language we use to be more inclusive, and reaching out to other oppressed communities in the church like the gay and lesbian community.

“We’ve got to look at all the other parts of the institution that also need to be changed … The Church is becoming irrelevant in some ways, especially amongst younger people.”

Complete Article HERE!

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!