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Catholic Voice

June 22, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Corpus Christi procession
Young people in traditional attire take part in a Corpus Christi procession in Witow, Poland, June 4. A eucharistic procession is a traditional feature of the celebration of the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Grezegorz Momot/
EPA, cns


Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, left, and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche of St. Paul and Minneapolis have resigned.
Dianne Towalski/Catholic Spirit, left,
and Catholic Spirit, right
St. Paul archbishop,
auxiliary resign

Ten days after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged with failing to protect children, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche. Pope Francis appointed Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Newark, New Jersey, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese.

The resignations were announced by the Vatican June 15; on June 5, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office filed charges against the archdiocese alleging it had contributed to the harm of three minors sexually abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer.

The charges, six gross misdemeanors, were three counts of contributing to the need for protection or services for a minor and three counts of contributing to a minor's status as a juvenile petty offender or delinquency.

Archbishop Nienstedt, 68, has led the archdiocese since May 2008. In a statement, he said, "In order to give the archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation."

Bishop Piche, 57, said the people of the archdiocese "need healing and hope. I was getting in the way of that, and so I had to resign."

The resignatiuons come just after the U.S. bishops opened their spring general assembly in St. Louis June 10. The Vatican earlier announced a new process for holding bishops accountable for protecting children from abuse. The bishops did not mention the new procedures during the opening session of their gathering, but when some of them were asked about it by reporters during a midday news conference, they said they supported the Vatican's decision. Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was noticeably not at the U.S. bishops meeting, because his commission had been meeting with Pope Francis about the need for greater accountability of bishops in dealing with clerical abuse cases. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bishops welcomed the new procedure and would cooperate with it. "We have a long track record of wanting to help the bishops be transparent" in how they follow through with the charter, he said, referring to the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," first adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and revised in 2005 and 2011.


Advice for bishops

ST. LOUIS — It was not surprising that marriage and the family were among the issues the U.S. bishops considered as they planned their strategic priorities for the next few years. Earlier during the spring general assembly June 10-12 in St. Louis, they heard from Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, who said that the U.S. Supreme Court's impending decision on the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage won't change what the Catholic Church holds as the true definition of marriage. On the second day of their meeting, the bishops heard from three couples who shared their personal stories and suggestions for promoting healthy marriages and celebrating the beauty of the church's teaching on marriage.

And, after a presentation about future priorities for the U.S. bishops at their spring general assembly in St. Louis, several bishops stepped up to the microphone emphasizing that care for the poor has to be a top concern. Several bishops found fault with the draft document outlining the priorities and strategic plans for the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops for 2017-2020, saying it did not put enough emphasis on helping those in need.




Catholics seek presidency

WASHINGTON — The onetime stigma of being a Catholic for those seeking national office appears to have disappeared in the 2016 presidential election cycle since a record number of candidates have declared their candidacy or expressed an interest in running for the highest office in the country. Twelve Catholics have said they are interested in running, four of whom have already declared their candidacy. Three others are clearly making moves that indicate they will announce a bid soon.




Help oust Islamic State

NEW YORK — Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, called on the world's government to oust Islamic State militants from northern parts of the country so thousands of displaced Christians can return home. Speaking with the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need on the first anniversary of the Islamic State's takeover of Mosul, Archbishop Moshe said that forcing out Islamic State forces was the "best solution" for the 120,000 displaced Christians who fled the city June 10, 2014, and nearby towns and villages that were seized in early August.




Courts stays fines

NEW YORK — Priests for Life, which has been battling in court over the federal Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, won one skirmish June 10 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stayed any fines the organization would have to pay for not complying with the mandate.




Violence Awareness Month

NEW YORK — The National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life has declared the month of June to be Abortion and All Acts of Violence Awareness Month. It is the 18th annual declaration by the New York-based organization. "Our message is powerful and prophetic: Pray for the end of abortion and all acts of violence and hate in our communities," said a statement announcing the observance.




Effort to keep church

WASHINGTON — Parishioners occupying a Massachusetts Catholic church for more than a decade filed an emergency motion in a state court to keep the Archdiocese of Boston from evicting them from parish property. The motion, filed June 2, asks the Massachusetts Appeals Court to suspend a lower court judge's decision that sided with the archdiocese in its effort to close the parish and sell the property in Scituate, a seaside community south of Boston.




CRS official resigns

WASHINGTON — A veteran Catholic Relief Services financial official has resigned in the wake of a report that he was in a same-sex marriage. Rick Estridge, vice president for overseas finance, stepped down after 16 years with the U.S. bishops' overseas aid and development agency, saying "it was the right decision for me." CRS announced Estridge's resignation in a statement emailed to Catholic News Service June 3. The agency described Estridge as a "valued employee. Because of the stress this situation has caused Mr. Estridge and his family, he has made the decision to leave CRS," the statement said.




Gaming causes 'devastation'

STARR COUNTY, Texas — Catholic leaders in the Texas Rio Grande Valley are alarmed by the detrimental effect they say local gaming parlors are having especially on families. "I am sorry they are here in our county," said Deacon R.C. Salinas of Sacred Heart Parish in Escobares. "I don't think they are doing anybody any good? 'They" are the countless eight-liner machine parlors that have sprouted up all over Starr County since county commissioners approved a resolution in September 2014 to permit gaming machines in unincorporated areas with an annual licensing fee of $500 per machine. Starr County is one of four counties that make up the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville. Under Texas law, gaming machines that award non-cash prizes with a value of $5 or no more than 10 times the amount charged to play the game, are legal; however, gaming parlors are operating outside the parameters of the law and openly offering cash payouts.




Abortions down since 2010

WASHINGTON — An Associated Press survey of abortion in the United States this decade has revealed that the number of abortions has gone down by 12 percent since 2010. The news was welcomed by pro-life advocates. "It's important to realize, first of all, that the factors accounting for this are multiple, complex and often hard to measure," said a June 7 statement from Father Frank Pavone, the national director and chairman of Priests for Life, based in Staten Island, New York.




Beau Biden recalled

WILMINGTON, Del. — Jesuit Father Leo J. O'Donovan recalled former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden as a devoted husband and father, splendid son, true brother and patriotic public servant at a June 6 funeral Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington. Father O'Donovan, retired president of Georgetown University, was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass. In his homily, Father O'Donovan spoke to the family and friends of the Biden family in the packed church of more than 1,000 people, as well as to the national audience watching the final rites for Vice President Joe Biden's oldest son. Beau Biden died May 30 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, of brain cancer. He was 46.




Guam OKs same-sex

HAGATNA, Guam — Guam's archbishop said a judge's June 5 decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. territory was "a defeat" not only "for Christian principles" but "for our island and the whole of humanity. The recognition of a same-sex union, as marriage, destroys the basic fabric of society, and will destroy human beings in the process," Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agana said in a statement.




Black sisters in U.S.

LONDON — Shannen Dee Williams stumbled on the subject of black nuns by accident. What she never expected to find — was that the history of black women religious in the United States is replete with shocking examples of racism, racial segregation and marginalization, perpetuated by their white religious leaders and peers. At their peak around 1965, there were about 1,000 African-American sisters, Williams said, but there are only about 300 today. Her project was first her doctoral thesis and is now a forthcoming book, "Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America after World War I."

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