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 January 20, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Manila procession
Pilgrims climb to touch the Black Nazarene during a procession in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 9. The wooden statue, carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippine capital in the early 17th century, is cherished by Catholics, who believe that touching it can lead to a miracle.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters, cns

New Year's in Nigeria
Women sing and dance during a New Year's Day Mass of thanksgiving at Holy Rosary Church in Abuja, Nigeria, Jan. 1.
Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters, cns

Annual pilgrimage on Jordan River
Altar servers and clergy lead an annual pilgrimage at a baptism site on the Jordan River Jan. 10. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord was celebrated Jan. 12.
Muhammad Hamed/Reuters, cns

Stockton bankruptcy
STOCKTON — Bishop Stephen Blaire of the Diocese of Stockton said the diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 15 due to the financial drain from court settlements resulting from sex-abuse lawsuits. Stockton is the 10th diocese in the US to file for bankruptcy protection. It has spent $32 million in legal fees and settlements related to abuse.

Father Freed

Arrest in priest-killing

EUREKA — Police were investigating as murder the death of Father Eric Freed, the pastor of St. Bernard Catholic Church. Gary Lee Bullock of Redway was arrested in connection with the death of Father Freed, 56, pastor since 2011 of St. Bernard and its mission church, St. Joseph. Father Freed was a former Salesian who studied at Don Bosco Hall in Berkeley in the late 1980s. Father Freed, who lived in Japan for more than 20 years, also taught in the religious studies department at Humboldt State University and was director of the campus Newman Center.

Prayers urged after spill

WHEELING, W.Va. — Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston asked the state's Catholics to join him in praying for the 300,000 people affected by the Jan. 9 chemical spill in the southern region of the state. He asked for the prayers during the televised Mass he celebrated Jan. 11 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, noting the many people who were still suffering in Charleston and the surrounding area who had not had access to clean water for days.

Former ambassador dies

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, who served in several diplomatic posts and continued to play a role as "citizen-scholar" long past the age when most people would have retired, died Jan. 6. He was 86. Melady died at his Washington home of a brain tumor, which doctors only recently diagnosed. Melady was an ambassador under three presidents: to Burundi (1969) and Uganda (1972) under President Richard Nixon, and then as the ambassador to the Holy See under President George H.W. Bush (1989) and in the first year of the administration of President Bill Clinton.

New Rochester bishop

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — At 3 p.m. Jan. 3, with applause ringing through a full Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano took his seat in the cathedra (bishop's chair), marking the beginning of his ministry as the ninth Bishop of Rochester. The installation Mass was the first in Rochester since 1979, when Bishop Matthew H. Clark began his 33-year tenure. Bishop Clark, 76, retired in September 2012. Bishop Matano had been bishop of Burlington, Vt., for eight years.

Abuse documents released

CHICAGO — Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, in a letter that was published Jan. 12 in parish bulletins, said "any abuse of a young person is heartbreaking" and such cases have put "a heavy burden on all of us in the church." His letter announced that in cooperation with the Chicago Archdiocese, lawyers representing those who have brought claims of past abuse planned to release documents pertaining to 30 archdiocesan priests accused of abusing minors at various times in past years.

Arizona abortion ban

WASHINGTON — Arizona's law banning abortions at the 20-week stage remains unenforceable, after the Supreme Court Jan. 13 declined to hear the state's appeal of a lower court ruling that the 2012 law is unconstitutional. Without comment, the court declined to take Horne v. Isaacson.

Father Dear

Father Dear quits

TOWSON, Md. — Jesuit Father John Dear, a nationally known peace activist who also is a popular author, retreat leader and lecturer on peace and justice issues, is no longer a member of the Society of Jesus after 32 years with the religious order. Father Dear belonged to the Jesuits' Maryland province, based in Towson. Father Dear has given many retreats in the Oakland diocese. In a column published Jan. 7 in the National Catholic Reporter, Father Dear wrote: "… my Jesuit superiors have tried so hard over the decades to stop my work for peace." While he is no longer a Jesuit, he is still a priest.

Bill on marriage

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House should pass a bipartisan bill that would require the federal government to respect state marriage laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a U.S. archbishop said Jan. 10. Titled the State Marriage Defense Act, the bill "is a necessary piece of legislation that will prevent the federal government from unjustly disregarding, in certain instances, state marriage laws concerning the definition of marriage," said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

Priest released

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia archdiocesan priest was released from a Pennsylvania state prison Jan. 2 after an appeals court reversed his conviction for endangering child welfare by his handling of a sex abuse case. After leaving the prison in Waymart, where he had served 18 months of his sentence, Msgr. William Lynn, former secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, was fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

Father Nugent dies

MILWAUKEE — Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, the co-founder of New Ways Ministry and active for 29 years in ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics, died Jan. 1 of complications from cancer. He was 76. Father Nugent had been diagnosed with lung cancer in September. He had been in hospice care in Milwaukee, where the Salvatorians have provincial headquarters. New Ways Ministry was subject to repeated investigations and inquiries at the diocesan, religious-order and Vatican levels, including one ordered in 1994 by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI. As a result of the investigation, Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick, then a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, were ordered to stop pastoral ministry to gays, saying they advanced "doctrinally unacceptable" positions "regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination."

Conflict mischaracterized

OXFORD, England — Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic criticized media portrayals of their country's conflict as religious in nature and listed preconditions for restoring peace and effective governance. "Our present behavior totally discredits the values of unity, dignity and work on which our Central African nation is founded," the 10-member bishops' conference said in a Jan. 8 pastoral message. "We are offering a deplorable image of both ourselves and our country, as we destroy the few infrastructures still remaining to us. The record is appalling," they said. The bishops said Christmas had been marked by "weeping and mourning," with several towns "particularly traumatized by fratricidal violence." They added that clashes between the rebel Seleka alliance, which seized power in March, and a northern-based movement, Anti-Balaka, loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize, had provoked "a cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals," but said it was wrong to portray the conflict as pitting Muslims against Christians.

Visit to Guantanamo base

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, visited the naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a five-day pastoral visit. Archbishop Broglio celebrated Sunday Masses Jan. 12 at the base and also administered the sacrament of confirmation to two adults and two teenagers. It was the archbishop's third visit to Guantanamo since he became the military archbishop in 2008.

$5M for Rio debt

RIO DE JANEIRO — Pope Francis has pledged a donation of almost $5 million to help pay part of the debt incurred by the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, said the Local Organizing Committee. An independent audit of the event, conducted by Ernst & Young, confirmed that on Aug. 31, World Youth Day had an accumulated debt of $38.4 million. After renegotiating with suppliers and selling a property, the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro was able to reduce the debt to a little over $18 million.

Manila Bay project

MANILA, Philippines — Bishops in dioceses that front Manila Bay have asked the government to scrap plans for a 94,000-acre reclamation project. "For us bishops, worried about the poor who are affected severely by floods, we see that stopping the reclamation is seriously needed," Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila told Catholic News Service. Cardinal Luis Tagle, the country's military bishop and bishops of 12 dioceses based in the Manila metropolitan area wrote President Benigno Aquino III, asking him to scrap the project and use the money to fund initiatives to alleviate poverty and protect the environment.

— Catholic News Service


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