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 February 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Vatican Radio celebrates
80th anniversary

Pope Pius XII, who led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, visits Vatican Radio in this undated photo. A special exhibit opened Feb. 10 at the Vatican Museums celebrating the 80th anniversary of Vatican Radio. Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, collaborated with the Vatican to build its first radio broadcasting station.
CNS photo/Vatican Radio
Church official expresses hope for Egypt’s future
A Christian supporter of pro-democracy actions in Egypt carries a crucifix amid the crowd in Tahrir Square in Cairo Feb. 9. The Vatican’s ambassador to Egypt, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, said he hoped the country’s future would include greater social justice and greater freedom for all of the country’s people. In an interview with Vatican Radio Feb. 11, he said he hoped the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is running Egypt, would follow the direction of constitutional reform and “will also respond to the other demands of the population with regard to social justice and with regard to political liberties as well.”
CNS photo/Yannis Behrakis, Reuters
Bieber’s mom: faith can keep son grounded
Few child stars’ ascents have been quite as meteoric as that of the YouTube curiosity turned global pop sensation Justin Bieber, 16, who, in a little more than a year, went from playing guitar on street corners in his small Canadian hometown of Stratford, Ontario, to filling arenas and performing for President Barack Obama. In that short time, he has sold more than 9 million albums and triggered a pandemic of “Bieber Fever.” Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette, a woman of faith, has turned to God and fellow believers, surrounding her son with people who will be a positive moral influence, and trusting in prayer — lots of it. “I’m very careful about who I allow into his life,” said Mallette, who attends a nondenominational Christian church, as does her son.
CNS photo/Paramount
IPhone confession app ‘not a substitute’
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said a new iPhone application can help Catholics prepare for confession but cannot substitute for the sacramental encounter between a penitent and a priest. “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a way for Catholics to prepare for and participate in the sacrament of penance. Some press reports suggested the application could replace in-person confession. “It’s essential to understand that the sacrament of penance requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present,” Father Lombardi said. (See the related commentary.)
CNS photo/Tony Gentile

Prelate to report Irish Church is near collapse

DUBLIN — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley reportedly will tell Pope Benedict XVI that the Catholic Church in Ireland is “on the edge” of collapse due to the fallout from clerical abuse scandals. Cardinal O’Malley is one of several senior prelates charged by Pope Benedict with carrying out an apostolic visitation of the Irish Catholic Church after a series of highly critical judicial reports that revealed abuse by priests and a widespread culture of cover-up for decades among church leaders. Father Tony Flannery, a leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests, revealed at a conference of laypeople Feb. 12 that “Cardinal O’Malley told the association the Irish Church had a decade, at most, to avoid falling over the edge and becoming like other European countries where religion is marginal to society.”

Grand jury indicts five after abuse investigation

PHILADELPHIA — In a reprise of 2005’s sensational grand jury report of sexual assaults by clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams released a new report Feb. 10 by a grand jury investigating similar abuse. While the 2005 report detailed dozens of cases of sexual abuse of children by clergy over many decades, the new report brings criminal indictments for the first time. Three priests and a former lay teacher were charged with rape, assault and other felonies related to minors, as recommended by the grand jury. Another priest was charged on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child for his role in recommending the assignment of priests in the archdiocese.

And a 28-year-old man who filed suit anonymously in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas Feb. 14 says he was abused by clergy on two separate occasions. He filed a civil lawsuit against the two alleged abusers, the Catholic schools he attended, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the city’s past and present cardinal archbishops and others he said failed to prevent the abuse. A spokesman for the archdiocese said Feb. 15 that there would be no comment on the lawsuit.

Catholics protest artist’s provocative Toronto show

TORONTO — A private Toronto art gallery has received thousands of e-mails protesting its controversial exhibit featuring a “bullet-ridden” Pope Benedict XVI. Darrell Brown, Bezpala Brown Gallery president, said the gallery received about 8,000 e-mails in one hour from the American Catholic group America Needs Fatima, which launched a web campaign against Peter Alexander Por’s exhibit “Persona Non Grata: The Veil of History,” running at the gallery until Feb. 25. Brown first promoted the exhibit with a provocative press release under the headline “Pope shot, Obama crucified at the Bezpala Brown Gallery.” The release, referring to the clergy sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Church, read: “Pope Benedict XVI’s portrait is riddled with bullet holes, a less than subtle expression of the hurt and anger directed at a pontiff and an institution that has abandoned its flock, choosing to focus on dogma while its subjects suffer and, in many instances, die from its archaic policies.”

Boston, Toledo study changes for parishes

BOSTON — In the Boston Archdiocese, a team of priests, deacons, religious and laypeople will help lay the groundwork for the archdiocese’s future, which will likely result in fewer parishes but a similar number of churches that currently serve Catholics.

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley announced the formation of the Arch-diocesan Pastoral Planning Com-mission Feb. 2. The 18-member board will make a final recommendation to him on a pastoral plan for resources available in the near future. Weekly Mass attendance has plummeted from about 70 percent of the archdiocese’s Catholics in the 1970s to 17 percent today.

In the Diocese of Toledo, the aim of reorganization involves twinning parishes or clustering them so that one priest is assigned to a few parishes, said Jason Shanks, leader of the diocesan Evangelization and Pastoral Life Secretariat and director of the Office of Pastoral Planning.

The three-year plan is based on a study completed in 2005 that projected how many priests would be available to minister in the future. The report said the diocese in 2011 would have six fewer priests than in 2005 and 13 fewer in 2013, based on expected retirements, health and other factors.

— Catholic News Service


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