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 April 12, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Mining disaster
A woman prays during an April 6 Mass at St. Joseph Church in Whitesville, W.Va., for the coal miners who were killed April 5 in what was the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in more than 25 years. At least 25 coal miners died at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

Mexico program cancelled
after 10 youths killed

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Catholic officials condemned the slayings of 10 young people in the state of Durango and suspended long-running Holy Week missionary programs for more than 3,000 students in Durango and the neighboring state of Chihuahua.

The slain youth, ages 8-21, apparently failed to stop for a false checkpoint established by presumed drug cartel members March 28. At least 40 shots were fired and a grenade was tossed at the victims. They had traveled in a pickup truck from their communal farm to get funds distributed through a conditional cash-transfer program that supports 5 million of Mexico’s poorest families.

The slayings were yet another example of the increase in the number of young people who have been caught up — inadvertently or not — in cartel violence that has claimed more than 19,000 lives since December 2006.

CRS eyes new shelter strategies for Haiti

WASHINGTON (CNS) — With the rainy season on the doorstep in Haiti, Isaac Boyd, an emergency shelter expert for Catholic Relief Services, and a coalition of relief agencies from around the world are trying to tackle the impossible — getting the hundreds of thousands of people who remain homeless after the Jan. 12 earthquake into better housing, even if it is nothing more than a sturdy tent on safe ground.

The rainy season peaks in May, but sporadic drenching rains already are occurring, turning many of the temporary tent camps around Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, into muddy quagmires. Boyd and some of the world’s leading emergency shelter experts fear the flimsy shelters that people now call home will be inundated by the soon-to-come daily downpours, compounding an already taxing humanitarian crisis.

Ireland bishop resigns in wake of abuse scandal

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, more than a year after the bishop requested that an apostolic administrator be appointed to run the diocese. As he stepped down March 24, Bishop Magee, 73, offered an apology to victims of abuse by clergy in his diocese. “To those of whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made to suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon,” he said.

The Vatican gave no reason for Bishop Magee’s resignation, but cited Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

In February 2009 Bishop Magee asked for an apostolic administrator to be appointed to oversee Cloyne so he could devote more time to a government inquiry led by Justice Yvonne Murphy into how his diocese carried out child protection policies and practices.

Pope apologizes to Irish abuse victims

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI personally apologized to victims of priestly sexual abuse and announced new steps to heal the wounds of the scandal, including a Vatican investigation and a year of penitential reparation.

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated,” he told victims in his letter, released March 20 at the Vatican.

The pope told priest abusers that they would answer to God for their sins. He said bishops had made serious mistakes in responding to allegations of sexual abuse, and he encouraged them to implement new Church norms against abuse and cooperate with civil authorities in such cases.

The 4,600-word letter was distributed at Masses across Ireland March 20-21. The letter came in response to the disclosure last fall that Irish Church leaders had often protected abusive priests over the last 35 years. Similar allegations have since come to light in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.

Abuse victims call for universal norms

ROME (CNS) — Four victims of clergy sex abuse came from the United States to Rome to call on the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI to “break down the walls of secrecy” and to seek harsher, universal measures in dealing with clergy accused of the sexual abuse of minors. Included in those rules, they said, should be that any priest or religious who has been found guilty of rape, molestation or abuse of children be removed immediately from the priesthood and that bishops in every country should cooperate with civil authorities and turn over all information they have concerning crimes by priests to police.

The Vatican needs to establish stricter measures that would be put into immediate effect for churches around the world so that “no parish, no community, no boarding school on this planet has to ever be concerned that the priest in their parish ... has raped or assaulted a child,” said Peter Isley of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests.

Juarez Church welcomes U.S./Mexico plans

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A spokesman for the Diocese of Ciudad Juarez welcomed plans by the Mexican and U.S. governments to focus more on social and economic problems in Mexico, instead of just military and law enforcement crackdowns on the rampant violence attributed to narcotics-trafficking cartels. “The social sphere requires attention,” said Father Hesiquio Trevizo. “We lack schools, lack hospitals and lack jobs. There’s enormous poverty.”

The new approach comes as violence escalates in the crackdown on drug cartels, which has claimed more than 18,000 lives since December 2006 and left parts of Mexico — such as Ciudad Juarez — almost ungovernable.

Nine Kenyans deny links to Irish priest’s murder

KERICHO, Kenya (CNS) — Nine suspects pleaded innocent to charges in connection with the December murder of Father Jeremiah Roche, an Irish missionary priest. The suspects filed their pleas to a charge of robbery with violence during an arraignment before Magistrate Jacenta Kwena in the court in Kericho.

A fully packed court heard that the suspects robbed and killed Father Roche, a member of the St. Patrick Missionary Society, known as the Kiltegan Fathers, the night of Dec. 10-11 in his Keongo parish house while armed with crude weapons. Police said robbery was the motive for the murder.

Christians protest suicide after police torture of wife

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNS) — Christians protested for three days after the death of a Catholic who set himself ablaze in despair after his wife allegedly was tortured by police. Rashid Masih, a father of four, died in a hospital after dousing himself in kerosene and setting himself afire. Church sources said Rashid was overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness after his wife, a housemaid, was charged with stealing from a Muslim cinema manager in Rawalpindi and tortured by police in front of him.

Their version of events contradicted reports in the secular Italian media and L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily, which said the man had been burned alive for refusing to convert to Islam. In Rawalpindi March 24, hundreds of Christians blocked traffic for a half-hour during Rashid’s funeral procession. The mourners chanted slogans against the provincial government of Punjab, where the city is located. Protesters demanded “payback for the blood” and the arrest of those they blamed for the death.

Foundress one step closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood cause of Mother Henriette Delille, a freeborn woman of African descent in 19th-century New Orleans, declaring that she had lived a life of “heroic virtues.” She can be beatified once a miracle is attributed to her intercession.

If her cause advances, she could become the first African-American saint. In 1842 Mother Henriette founded the Sisters of the Holy Family, a congregation of black Sisters that cared for the poor and disadvantaged and taught slaves and free blacks. Today, the congregation’s more than 200 members operate schools for the poor and homes for the elderly in Louisiana and several other states. They also have a mission in Belize.

Former Dominican priest wins Templeton Prize

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A former Dominican priest and celebrated scientist is the recipient of the 2010 Templeton Prize, an annual award considered religion’s equivalent to the Nobel prizes. Francisco J. Ayala, 76, was given the award for having made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.”

Ayala is an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist whose groundbreaking research into parasitic protozoa may lead to cures for malaria and other diseases. He has vigorously opposed the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for mutual respect between the two. Ayala is the Donald Bren professor of biological sciences at the University of California, Irvine.

Legionaries: founder abused seminarians

ROME (CNS) — Top officials of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged that the order’s founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, sexually abused young seminarians, and they asked forgiveness for failing to listen to his accusers. A statement released by the Legionaries and its lay branch, Regnum Christi, said that any members of the order who were guilty of cooperation in Father Maciel’s crimes would be held accountable.

The statement said the Legionaries were looking to the future with the hope of continuing to serve the Church, but with a greater emphasis on reconciling with those who suffered from Father Maciel’s actions and greater cooperation with local pastors and other Church officials. The future of the order rests in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI, who ordered an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries last year.

Hong Kong bishop asks abuse victims to forgive

HONG KONG (CNS) — Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong asked victims of priestly sexual abuse to forgive their abusers and help the Church seek renewal during a chrism Mass on Holy Thursday. The bishop also encouraged the faithful to pray for Pope Benedict XVI, whose handling of child abuse cases when he was the archbishop of Munich, Germany, and as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has come under scrutiny in recent U.S. and European press reports.

Priest: ‘I’m innocent,’ will come to US if called

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An Indian priest who is accused of sexually molesting two teenage girls while working in Minnesota from 2004 to 2005 said he is innocent but he would return to the United States to stand trial if called to do so.

Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul left Minnesota for a family emergency one year into what was to have been a three-year assignment in the Diocese of Crookston. Shortly after he left, allegations of sexual abuse arose, were investigated by the diocese and his permission to serve in the diocese was revoked. He has never returned.

Retired bishop admits to sex abuse of minor

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A German-born bishop who headed a prelature in Norway admitted that his resignation last year was linked to the sexual abuse of a minor.

Bishop Georg Muller, 58, submitted a request to step down as prelate of Trondheim, Norway, in May 2009 and Pope Benedict XVI “quickly accepted” the request June 8, according to a Vatican press release.

“The issue was rapidly taken up and examined through the nunciature of Stockholm (Sweden) by mandate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office.

After the pope accepted Bishop Muller’s resignation, the bishop “underwent a period of therapy and no longer carries out pastoral activity,” Father Lombardi said.

Swiss bishops apologize, say abuse underestimated

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The bishops of Switzerland said they were “mortified and dismayed” over the revelation of new cases of sexual abuse committed by priests against children.

“We must recognize that we underestimated the breadth of the phenomenon. Leaders of dioceses and religious orders made mistakes. For this, we ask forgiveness,” the bishops said in a statement released March 31.

Earlier, the Swiss bishops said they were investigating 10 cases of alleged abuse, and Benedictine Abbot Martin Werlen of Maria Einsiedeln Abbey told a Swiss newspaper that the Vatican should compile an international registry of priests who are sex offenders. The abbot is a member of the Swiss bishops’ conference, which asked victims of abuse to report their abusers to both the Church and the police.

Abuse victims want Irish cardinal to resign

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Amid continuing investigations into clerical child abuse and the high-level Church cover-up of that abuse in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, met March 31 with representatives of the survivors of clerical child abuse and those who suffered neglect and mistreatment while in religious-run institutions.

John Kelly, one of the representatives of the Survivors of Child Abuse organization who met with the cardinal, said there were positive aspects to the discussions, but he and other survivors’ representatives believed Cardinal Brady should consider resigning. Earlier in March Cardinal Brady apologized and acknowledged that he never told police about statements from victims that he collected about a pedophile priest in 1975.

Archbishop: coverage needed, but must be fair

NEW YORK (CNS) — Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York told Catholics last month that the “tidal wave of headlines” about the sexual abuse of minors in Europe and new stories about an old case in Wisconsin have “knocked us to our knees once again.”

“Anytime this horror, vicious sin and nauseating crime is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew, and sincere Catholics experience another dose of shock, sorrow and even anger,” he said at the end of Palm Sunday Mass.


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