Paedophile priests: Pope Francis set up tribunal

Pope Francis has approved the creation of a tribunal to hear cases of bishops accused of covering up child abuse by paedophile priests.

pope francis 003

The unprecedented move followed a recommendation from the Pope’s newly created panel on clerical sex abuse.

The tribunal will have the power to punish bishops who failed to protect young victims.

Survivors’ groups have long called for the Vatican to do more to make bishops accountable for abuse on their watch.

Last year, the UN strongly criticised the Church for failing to stamp out abuse and for allowing cover-ups.

A statement from the Vatican said the department would come under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Its aim would be “to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors”, the statement added.

Catholic Church abuse scandals

•Germany – A priest, named only as Andreas L, admitted in 2012 to 280 counts of sexual abuse involving three boys over a decade

•United States – Revelations about abuses in the 1990s by two Boston priests, Paul Shanley and John Geoghan, caused public outrage

•Belgium – The bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April 2010 after admitting that he had sexually abused a boy for years

•Italy – The Catholic Church in Italy admitted in 2010 that about 100 cases of paedophile priests had been reported over 10 years

•Ireland – A 2009 report found that sexual and psychological abuse was “endemic” in Catholic-run industrial schools and orphanages for most of 20th Century

Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said bishops could also be judged if they had failed to prevent abuse from taking place.

Initially the complaints would be investigated by one of three Vatican departments, depending on whose jurisdiction the bishops were under.

They would then be judged by the doctrinal department.

Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of the UK’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said the move was good news for victims.

“We would welcome anything which looks closely at clerical abuse and shows more openness from the Church,” she added.

NAPAC’s founder Peter Saunders is part of the Vatican advisory commission which recommended the step.

The panel was set up by Pope Francis in 2013 to help dioceses improve abuse prevention measures and support victims. It is made up of 17 clerics and lay people from around the world.
Complete Article HERE!

German Catholic Church opens labour law more to divorced and gays

By Tom Heneghan

(CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany, February 2014/Leit)
CURA Catholic hospital in Bad Honnef, Germany

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay Catholic employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.

Catholic bishops have voted to adjust Church labour law “to the multiple changes in legal practice, legislation and society” so employee lifestyles should not affect their status in the country’s many Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.

The change came as the worldwide Catholic Church debates loosening its traditional rejection of remarriage after a divorce and of gay sex, reforms for which German bishops and theologians have become prominent spokesmen.

“The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in,” Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labour guidelines was announced on Tuesday.

Over two-thirds of Germany’s 27 dioceses voted for the change, a Church spokesman said, indicating some opposition.

There is no worldwide Catholic policy on lay employees. German law allows churches to have their own labour rules that can override national guidelines.

But German courts have begun limiting the scope of Church labour laws and public opinion reacts badly when a Catholic hospital’s head doctor is fired for remarrying or a teacher is sacked after her lesbian union is discovered.

Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the bishops conference and a senior adviser to Pope Francis, has been a leading proponent of making the two-millennia-old Church more open to modern lifestyles that its doctrine officially rejects.

A worldwide synod of bishops at the Vatican last October was split on how flexible the Church should be in welcoming openly gay or divorced and remarried Catholics. A follow-up synod is due this October, with its result in doubt as debate continues.

Cologne Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the Francis-style pastor the pope appointed to Germany’s richest diocese, said the labour law did not negate official Church teaching that marriage is indissoluble, but brought it into line with actual practice.

“People who divorce and remarry are rarely fired,” he told the KNA news agency. “The point is to limit the consequences of remarriage or a same-sex union to the most serious cases (that would) compromise the Church’s integrity and credibility.”

Passages in the new version of Church labour law say that publicly advocating abortion or race hate, or officially quitting the Church, would be a “grave breach of loyalty” that could lead to an employee being fired.

“People who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves”

By JAN MARTÍNEZ AHRENS

Raúl Vera is the Mexican bishop who holds the record for death threats. He has survived more than one attempt on his life, and his work in favor of missing persons, immigrants, children and juveniles, indigenous populations, prostitutes and pariahs of all types has earned him the undying hatred of many, including the drug rings.Bishop Raul Vera Lopez

Yet the threats seem to leave no mark on him. An engineer by trade and an intellectual son of May 1968, the 69-year-old Dominican friar has forged himself a legend as an untamed soul.

His first test came in 1995 when Juan Pablo II sent him to Chiapas in the middle of the Zapatista effervescence. His mission: to bring order to the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, which was then headed by the charismatic Samuel Ruiz, a champion of liberation theology and supporter of pro-indigenous theories. But the man who was supposed to wrest power away from the unruly Ruiz and return the diocese to the path of conservatism ended up supporting the local clergy instead.

Rome never forgot. As punishment, four years later Vera was transferred to Saltillo, in the arid northern state of Coahuila. It was to no avail. Vera returned to the trenches, facing up to the government and to the fearsome drug cartel of Los Zetas.

Meanwhile, his charged rhetoric against inequality and “liberal capitalism” has distanced him from the rest of Mexico’s bishops, who are aristocratic and wed to orthodoxy.

For a long time, Raúl Vera was the Catholic Church’s black sheep, the old-fashioned left-winger. But that was until the ideological earthquake represented by the new pope, Francis I, gave renewed relevance to his words. Now, other bishops are suddenly turning to Vera for guidance.

Question. What visits would you recommend to the Pope when he comes to Mexico?

Answer. To begin with, he should become familiar with the migrants’ route. I would also make him visit a prison, because he likes going to prisons. I would also take him to the outskirts of a large city, because he says we should go to the periphery. I would organize a visit on the basis of what he is asking us to do. And I would make sure that the poor and the indigenous were standing in the front row, because that is something that doesn’t usually get done.

Q. Not long ago you baptized the daughter of a lesbian couple. What do you think about homosexuality?

The true meaning of life lies in the community, in caring for the weak”
A. That is a topic that we have refused to address. The people who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves. The Church needs to come to them not with condemnation, but with dialogue. We cannot cancel out a person’s richness just because of his or her sexual preference. That is sick, that is heartless, that is lacking common sense.

Q. Is it not the same with abortion?

A. I share the Church’s views on abortion, and see it as murder. The difference lies in how you penalize it. Abortion, just like same-sex marriage, has served us subterfuge to tell ourselves that we in the Church have our morals. It is very easy to go against a woman who has an abortion, it poses no trouble and we have support from the ultraconservative right. When there was a national campaign against abortion here, I organized rosary recitations to reflect on the defense of the lives of migrants, miners and women as well as the unborn. But we are hypocrites. It would seem that the only moral rules deal with condemning same-sex couples and abortions. You do that and you’re the perfect Christian.

Q. Would you make prostitution legal?

A. No, that would be legalizing female exploitation. I believe in the dignity of women. Prostitutes are extremely damaged women, but they must never lose their dignity and their right to be respected. We are reaching horrible extremes in connection with trafficking and exploitation.

Q. You have confronted the drug cartels in public. Do you fear for your life?

I learned that in order to defend human life, you have to put your own life on the line”
A. In Chiapas I learned that you have to risk your life if you want to stand on the side of the poor. I learned that in order to defend human life, you have to put your own life on the line. There is no other way to be a shepherd.

Q. Mexico officially has more than 13,000 missing persons. In two northern villages, the drug rings took away 300 people in full daylight within the space of days, and authorities did nothing about it. What is happening?

A. Impunity is allowing this to happen. Disappearances come with the elimination of all evidence that might aid persecution of the crimes. First the people disappear, then their bodies.

Q. Would legalizing drugs be a solution?

A. That will not be a solution.

Q. Why not?

A. Absolutely not. Drugs go hand in hand with the depreciation of human life. The decomposition of man does not come from drugs; man turns to drugs, like he turns to alcohol, for other reasons. To some, life has no meaning and they need drugs to find that meaning. Others have no other place to go. Legalizing drugs will not solve the problem of why people use drugs in the first place.

Q. Are you a Socialist?

A. I do not consider myself a Socialist. I have not read Marx, I was not an activist, and I never liked the theory of conversion into a dictatorship. We all have the same rights and the same dignity, but we also have freedom. Yet I have never supported the methods of capitalism. The true meaning of life lies in the community, in caring for the weak and sharing equally in the bounty of the land. All of this I learned from the indigenous world, from the poor and the peasants. They taught me the value of human life and shared their capacity to feel joy. They taught me how to laugh.

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican lifts sanctions on silenced Irish priest

As someone who was silenced by the Vatican, back in 1981, this is joyous news. The Vatican Spring come way too late for me, but better late than never. Hurray for you Sean!

 

by Patsy McGarry

Pope Francis is believed to have intervened directly with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to have all sanctions on silenced Irish priest Fr Sean Fagan (86) lifted.

It was confirmed to The Irish Times in Rome last night that Marist priest Fr Fagan, who has been subject to sanction by the Vatican for six years, is no longer so.

Father-Sean-Fagen

The superior general of the Marist congregation in Rome, Fr John Hannan, said last night that Fr Fagan is now “a priest in good standing” where the church is concerned.

The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland, including Cardinal Seán Brady, have written to the North’s Assembly members urging them to reject a Sinn Féin motion calling for the legalisation of gay marriage. Photograph: David Sleator Catholic bishops urge rejection of Sinn Féin Stormont motion on same-sex marriage

It has also emerged that the change in Fr Fagan’s circumstances may have involved direct intervention by both Pope Francis and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

The Irish Times has learned that Mrs McAleese, who is away from Rome at the moment, wrote to Pope Francis last December requesting that he directly intervene where Fr Fagan’s case was concerned. Receipt of the letter was acknowledged by the Pope’s secretary. It is understood that the Marist congregation was informed of Fr Fagan’s changed situation at Easter.

Others understood to have been approached to intervene with the Vatican on Fr Fagan’s behalf include his own congregation, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and the former head of the Dominicans Fr Timothy Radcliffe.

For many years Fr Fagan, who has suffered ill health for some time, had been critical of rigid stances by the Vatican on issues to do with conscience and sexual morality notably in letters to this newspaper. In 2003 he published the book Does Morality Change? And in 2008 Whatever Happened to Sin?

In 2010 he was informed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he would be laicised should be write for publication any material it considered contrary to Church teaching and should he disclose this to media.

Remaining copies of his book were bought up by the Marist congregation whose website last night still carried a statement first posted in February of last year which reads that “ the writings of Fr. Sean Fagan in the book What Happened to Sin do not have the approval of or represent the views of the Society of Mary.

It was reported at the weekend that the CDF’s change of stance towards Fr Fagan was because “he loves the Church in spite of all its weaknesses: that he accepted his censure and observed his restrictions; and to his advanced age.”

Welcoming the news the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said in a statement yesterday that “it has been a source of great unease to our members and of continuing shame and embarrassment to our Church that a priest and theologian who has made such a huge contribution to Gospel and to Church over very many years would not be regarded as a priest ‘in good standing’.”

It said that “statements welcoming the lifting of restrictions on Fr Fagan by the Marist Order, the CDF and the Irish Catholic bishops are the least that might be expected.”

It also noted “that the decision of the CDF, according to reports, was influenced by pressure brought to bear through the efforts of friends.” It believed “that a concerted effort by the orders and congregations, supported by the Irish bishops, could lead to the lifting of similar restrictions on other members of the ACP colleagues of Fr Fagan, and from the Marist congregation.”

This was a reference to those other priests silenced by the Vatican, including Fr Tony Flannnery, Fr Gerard Moloney, Fr Brian D’Arcy, and Fr Owen O’Sullivan.

Complete Article HERE!