Church and its accepting environment taking hold

Ogden is the first Western state to host The General Episcopal Synod, an international conference for members and leaders of the North American Old Catholic Church. About 100 representatives from across the United States and several countries will be in attendance this weekend.

“It is noteworthy because it signals to the world that you can be Catholic and not be locked into a Middle Ages mindset,” said the Rev. Jim Morgan, who oversees the Glory to God North American Old Catholic Church, at 375 Harrison Blvd. He said the gospel is “relevant, vital and apposite to the people of our world and time. We are committed to bringing this truth to the forefront.”

Although the Old Catholic Church is a community of Christian churches with Catholic roots, members of Ogden’s congregation are especially attracted to the church for the love and acceptance they feel there.

“We’re a very caring, praying church,” said Robbin Hansen, who helps manage the office for the Ogden church. “A lot of people kick you out. You feel you are not wanted in other churches.”

She said her service animal as well as her domestic living situation seemed to be a problem at other churches. But not at Glory to God.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, we love you. We care about you,” said Hansen, who has been attending Glory to God for more than three years. “This church is an amazing church you dream of that will accept you. This is a personal church.”

She said many girls come from Park City, Kamas and Heber City to have their quinceañera Mass celebrated at the church.

Glory to God offers bilingual Mass every Saturday at 6 p.m. as part of its outreach to Latino and Hispanic populations. Morgan also celebrates baptisms and 3-year-old presentations.

Hansen is looking forward to watching the deacon and priest ordinations today at 6 p.m. So is Morgan. He said with the ordination of locals Robert Patrick Trujillo and Mark Dexheimer Trujillo to the priesthood, the church can “offer even more to the families and persons who are routinely ignored or shunned by other churches in our area.”

“It has been my experience that our congregation is made up of diverse populations, some gay, many straight, young and old,” Dexheimer Trujillo said. “We come from a variety of denominational backgrounds, some Roman Catholic, others Episcopalian, LDS or nondenominational communities.

“Our parishioners are folks on the margins, folks who have never found their home in other settings,” said Dexheimer Trujillo, who was raised in a “very establishment, Episcopalian” environment. “We are small but have created a marvelous mosaic. We are a very human group of people whose lives are changed by Christ. It is a beautiful encounter.”

In contrast to many churches, Glory to God accepts members of all sexual orientations.

“We consider gender diversity a blessed part of life and promote the full inclusion of LGBT persons in our religious life, sacraments, and clergy,” Morgan said. “Similarly, we advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons throughout society.

“I would like my sisters and brothers — old and young, regardless of sexual orientation — to know that the gracious, almighty God that created them and all that is, loves them unconditionally, unreservedly and totally just the way he created them, and so do we,” Morgan said. “There is a church, family and home waiting for them here at Glory to God.”

Morgan said the best part of the church is the church family it creates.

“We come together to love, lend support, encourage and lift up each other,” he said. “We celebrate with each other and console one another.”

He said he particularly likes the church’s monthly potlucks, especially because his congregation has some great cooks.

Congregation members also like the church’s engaging, relevant preaching and lively approach to music.

Glory to God uses 21st-century tools such as contemporary music and multimedia “to engage heart, mind and soul,” Trujillo said.

Members of Glory to God — the first Old Catholic congregation established in Utah — want to expand it to other areas of the state.

Dexheimer Trujillo, a teacher at Tooele High School, plans to plant a mission in Tooele. Three other Salt Lake City-area congregations may join the church within a year.

“It makes perfect sense to grow the church in Utah,” he said. “The culture in Utah tends to be folks who take their faith seriously.

“We are Christians and serious Catholics,” he said. “We are constantly working to stay balanced. Our denomination strives not be become institutional.”

The North American Old Catholic Church was established in Ogden on June 6, 1996, and is now the Glory to God Church. Morgan said an average of 30 to 40 people attend Mass on any given Sunday, and church records include 65 people.

Dexheimer Trujillo said the goal is to keep congregations small.

“It sits within the context of being accepting. On purpose we keep small congregations, as opposed to getting lost in a large institution.”

He said the approach helps him to focus on pastoring instead of “church stuff.”

The Old Catholic Church originally split from the Roman Catholic Church over doctrines, most importantly papal infallibility, the belief that the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error. The Old Catholic Church holds to the belief that the total church acting in unity — or Ecumenical Council — may speak infallibly.

Morgan said the faith is rooted in tradition and the early days of Jesus and his teachings on peace, love, justice and equality. He said congregation members strive to care for the oppressed, disenfranchised, poor and unwell.

According to a church statement, “We are a church that worships God by living our faith every day of the week, speaking out against injustice and praying for healing in the world by being active believers, committed to loving our neighbors.”

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Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared

BEWARE the collusion of a national hierarchy with it’s national political leadership. These men, and they are all men, have no conscience.

ARGENTINA’S FORMER military dictator said he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy.

Jorge Videla said he had “many conversations” with Argentina’s primate, Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, about his regime’s dirty war against left-wing activists. He said there were also conversations with other leading bishops from Argentina’s episcopal conference as well as with the country’s papal nuncio at the time, Pio Laghi.

“They advised us about the manner in which to deal with the situation,” said Videla in a series of interviews conducted by the magazine El Sur in 2010 but published only on Sunday.

He said that in certain cases church authorities offered their “good offices” and undertook to inform families looking for “disappeared” relatives to desist from their searches, but only if they were certain the families would not use the information to denounce the junta.

“In the case of families that it was certain would not make political use of the information, they told them not to look any more for their child because he was dead,” said Videla. He said the church “understood well . . . and also assumed the risks” of such involvement.

The confession confirms long-held suspicions that Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy collaborated with the military’s so-called process of national reorganisation, which sought to root out communism. In the years following the 1976 coup led by Videla, thousands of left-wing activists were swept up into secret detention centres where they were tortured and murdered. Military chaplains were assigned as spiritual advisers to the junior officers who staffed the centres.

In contrast to the Catholic hierarchy in Brazil, where church leaders denounced that country’s military dictatorship and provided sanctuary to its victims, in Argentina bishops were prominent defenders of the regime against accusations of human rights abuses from abroad.

At the height of the state’s offensive, Cardinal Primatesta refused to meet with mothers of the disappeared who, in the face of violent intimidation and media silence, were seeking help in finding out what had happened to their missing loved ones. He also prohibited the lower clergy from speaking out against state violence, even as death squads targeted Catholic priests critical of the regime.

The cardinal’s defenders said he believed a break with the regime would be counter- productive and that in private he characterised disappearances and torture as against the Christian spirit. On his death in 2006 human rights campaigners in Argentina said he took to the grave many of the junta’s secrets after they failed to force him to testify about his dealings with it.

Accusations of collaboration with the junta also dogged the subsequent career of Laghi, who had been a regular tennis partner of the navy’s representative in the junta, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, when in Buenos Aires.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group tried to prosecute him in Italy for his involvement with Argentina’s dictatorship but the effort failed.

Videla is serving life in prison for human rights abuses committed while in power. Earlier this month a court sentenced him to 50 years for orchestrating the theft of babies born in captivity to women subsequently murdered by their military captors.

He gave the interview to El Sur on condition that it be published only after his death, saying he did not want to cause any more pain. But the magazine said it was released from its obligation after Videla subsequently gave a series of interviews to other journalists that were published.

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Slovenian archbishop fathered two children, reports say

The Slovenian mystery has been solved. Archbishop Uran has been punished by the Vatican not for his involvement in a financial flop but for his infraction of the celibacy rule

The Slovenian mystery has been solved. Archbishop Uran has been punished by the Vatican not for his involvement in a financial flop but for his infraction of the celibacy rule.

Now the prelate-father will move to the northern Italian city of Trieste. The Vatican has ordered Mgr. Alojz Uran, Archbishop of Ljubljana, from 2004 to 2009 to leave Slovenia because of all the rumours going round about him breaking his celibacy vows and fathering two children, now adults, neither of whom he recognises as his. “This is a temporary measure to calm public opinion until the question is resolved,” stated Andrej Saje, spokesman for Slovenia’s bishops, on Ljubljana’s public television.

“The problem is his alleged paternity, which the former archbishop has always denied, but I think there have been some misunderstandings between him and the Holy See. Once these are cleared up, Uran will be able to return to his country,” Saje added, denying the theory that the sanctions decided by the Congregation for Bishops are linked to the financial scandal which brought the Diocese of Maribor to the brink of bankruptcy two years ago. Uran retired unexpectedly in 2009 (he is not 67) for health reasons after a heart operation, but soon rumours began to spread about him allegedly fathering two children, a fact he apparently kept secret from his Vatican superiors.

Maribor daily newspaper Vecer wrote that “despite the former archbishop categorically denying these accusations, Rome continues to suspect he did not tell the truth, also because he was said to have refused a DNA test.” Saje confirmed that three years ago the Nuncio to Ljubljana launched a procedure to “ascertain whether the rumours were true.” Now Uran is being asked to withdraw from Slovenian public life and “move to Trieste.” Saje added that Uran accepted the decision and once the issue is cleared up “he will probably be able to return home.”

“This is a preventive measure and it is not true that he was forbidden to celebrate solemn masses,” the spokesman added. No one escapes Holy See justice it appears. While the former Archbishop of Ljubljana Alojz Uran and the Archbishop of Maribor Franc Kramberger got red cards when the Vatican issued its second warning, Mgr. Uran has received an exile decree as well. He will have to leave Slovenia. And the reason? His alleged fatherhood. He will only be able to return to the country when the scandal surrounding his person has calmed down.

The former archbishop will be welcomed in one of Trieste’s ecclesiastical institutions. The Slovenian press reported that the Vatican has ordered the prelate to leave his country as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of the year, but it is unclear which part of the Canon Code exactly he has broken. Newspapers are speculating that he is involved in a financial scandal but they do not exclude a child kept secret or an internal clash between Slovenian prelates as the reason. The news has sparked the interest of the media partly because the Holy See rarely decides to take such drastic punitive measures against its bishops, but especially because the underlying reasons for the decision remain unclear. The retired prelate was apparently informed of the decision by the Congregation for Bishops.

The news was revealed by the parish priest of Šentjakob ob Savi, Vlado Bizant, a relative of Uran’s who headed the Archdiocese of Ljubljana from 2004 to 2009. Bizant said that last May the Vatican apparently forbid the former archbishop from celebrating solemn masses, ordering him to leave Slovenia. He added that Uran sees the decision as “unfair” but intends to respect it. The Apostolic Nunciature in Ljubljana and Archbishop Anton Stres neither confirmed nor denied the news, saying they had not seen the content of the correspondence between Uran and the Vatican.According to the newspapers, the prelate’s punishment is imminent and he will be moving to Trieste or to Pula in Istria in the next few months.

However, the reasons behind the Holy See’s decision to punish the archbishop are unknown. Two newspapers, Delo and Dnevnik say it is highly likely that Uran is held co-responsible for Diocese of Maribor’s financial flop. Two years ago, the Italian press revealed that the Diocese of Maribor had made a series of high risk investments in some funds, even going as far as to mortgage a number of churches and using money collected from faithful. After the collapse of the stock exchanges resulting from the economic crisis and the bankruptcy of funds linked to the Catholic Church in Maribor, hundreds of millions of Euros apparently went up in smoke, along with “part of the Slovenian Church’s reputation.”

Others claim that the Vatican did not like the fact that Uran kept quiet about having a child, though this has never actually been proven. Delo newspaper has speculated that the reason for this drastic punishment is the “tense personal relations among the Slovenian clergy.” The newspaper wrote it is unlikely that Uran’s destiny was decided without the current archbishop, Anton Stres and Uran’s predecessor, Cardinal Franc Rode – an illustrious member of the Vatican Curia and a member of the Congregation for Bishops – knowing about it.

Complete Article HERE!

South Boston priest held on child porn charges

A South Boston priest who police said had images of girls who appeared to be as young as 8 on a computer at the parish rectory is being held on bail after he pleaded not guilty today to child pornography charges.

The Rev. Andrew J. Urbaniak, 39, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Roman Catholic church on Dorchester Avenue, was arrested yesterday afternoon on charges of possession and dissemination of child pornography following a two-month investigation by Boston and state police.

Urbaniak was held on $10,000 cash bail following his arraignment in South Boston District Court. If he makes bail, Judge Michael Bolden ordered Urbaniak to wear a GPS bracelet, have no contact with children under age 16, surrender his passport and remain in the state. He was also banned from using the Internet and will be subject to random unannounced checks of his computer.

Urbaniak, who was wearing a polo shirt at the arraignment, kept his eyes downcast while prosecutor Kate Clayman detailed the charges against him.

Urbaniak had been downloading child pornography and child sexual abuse images on a computer at the church, said Clayman, and when police arrived at the church yesterday to execute a search warrant the “computer was actively downloading files.”

Among the images police found on the computer at the parish rectory were a “prepubescent female child displaying graphic sexual activity” and “a 10-year-old girl lying on a bed fully exposed,” Clayman said.

Urbaniak’s attorney, Jeffrey Denner, told the judge, “He is a very decent man charged with very indecent activites. He doesn’t pose any danger, nor does he pose any risk of flight. He has devoted his life to good.”

Urbaniak, a Polish national, has been a priest at Our Lady of Czestochowa for four years. He has been an ordained priest for 14 years and has been in the United States since 2000.

The Archdiocese of Boston said today that Urbaniak has been placed on administrative leave.

“The Provincial Superior of his religious order in Poland has been informed of the matter,” the Archiocese added. “The Church prays for all those impacted by these events and is committed to providing for the pastoral care of the parish during this difficult time.”

Urbaniak is due back in court Aug. 31 for a probable cause hearing.

Complete Article HERE!