Monday, April 15, 2024

Dublin school to be divested from Catholic diocese

St Mary's Primary School on Dorset Street is to be divested from the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin from Monday.

It follows a pilot consultation process regarding the patronage of primary schools in March 2022.

Twenty-nine schools in Dublin Diocese participated in the consultation process by independent facilitators appointed by Minister for Education Norma Foley.

The school in Berkeley Road Parish was one of those involved.

Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell said that following the consultation process, he accepted the recommendation that St Mary’s School be divested to Minister Foley as and from 15 April 2024.

He thanked the parents, principal, teachers, staff and Board of Management of St Mary’s School for participating in the process.

"Ms Eadaoin Kelly, Principal, and the teachers and staff of St Mary’s School are very dedicated to the education and pastoral care of the pupils. I wish them blessings as they begin a new chapter in their service of the pupils, the parents and guardians of the school," he said.

Archbishop Farrell also took the opportunity to acknowledge the service of the Christian Brothers and Religious Sisters of Charity in educating generations of pupils.

He added that Minister Foley, the officials of the Department of Education and the independent facilitator had been very supportive of the school community and the parish in the process.

Accused priest faces Sisters of Life allegations

The New York-based Sisters of Life have reported to the Vatican that a priest groomed and manipulated sisters while providing spiritual direction to members of the community. 

The priest, Fr. David Nicgorski, has previously been accused of misconduct in spiritual direction, and of sexually assaulting a religious sister. His own religious order, the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has declined to clarify the priest’s status. 

According to sources with knowledge of the case, the Sisters of Life filed a report to the Vatican about Nicgorski earlier this year, after The Pillar reported that the priest had groomed sisters in another religious community during spiritual direction, leading in one case to an alleged sexual assault. 

Sources said that Nicgorski allegedly acted inappropriately with members of the Sisters of Life during spiritual direction in the 2000s, in one case seriously sexually manipulating a sister under his direction. 

A Vatican investigation could lead to the possibility of the priest’s eventual laicization, or other serious canonical sanctions. 

The Sisters of Life report, sent to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, could prompt officials to investigate the possibility of several canonical crimes related to abuse, including the major canonical crime of solicitation, by which a confessor “solicits a penitent to commit a sin against the sixth commandment” — and which could lead to Nicgorski’s laicization. 

The allegations from the Sisters of Life could seem to corroborate allegations raised by three former members of the Daughters of St. Paul, who say that Nicgorski groomed them with excessive and inappropriate sexual conversation in spiritual direction, manipulated their trust in his spiritual authority, touched them inappropriately, and, in one case, committed an act of sexual assault.

The women reported those allegations to their superiors in 2017, and the priest was eventually prohibited, by a decision of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life, “from carrying out the ministry of spiritual direction for five years.”

While the women say that penalty is not enough, in a 2020 letter, the dicastery’s secretary explained that it was “significantly impossible to reach a decision in this case,” because of a perceived paucity of proofs, despite the consistency in accounts from several women.

The new allegations from the Sisters of Life could make it more likely to see deliberate Vatican action in the case, given that they would appear to recount similar patterns of behavior on Nicgorski’s part. 

But the report could also raise questions about how allegations against Nicgorski were initially handled within the Sisters of Life community. According to sources close to the case, at least one sister reported serious misconduct to her religious superior in 2007 or 2008. 

While Nicgorski was reportedly prohibited from continued ministry with the Sisters of Life, it is not clear whether his own religious superiors, or officials in the Archdiocese of New York, were actually informed of the allegations against him.

The Sisters of Life declined questions about the report from The Pillar. 

“Mother [Mary Concepta] is focusing on supporting and attending to the needs of our Sisters and community at this time, and is not able to comment,” a spokeswoman told The Pillar.  

“Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have been hurt by abuses in spiritual direction.”

Nicgorski was elected U.S. provincial superior of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 2009, and in 2015 became superior general of the religious order. He went on to face allegations from the Daughters of St. Paul of grooming, manipulation, and coercion, between 2009 and 2017. 

In his role as a religious superior, Nicgorski would have been responsible for addressing other allegations of abuse within his religious community.

While Nicgorski’s priestly faculties were withdrawn by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2017, in light of the Daughters of St. Paul allegations, the priest allegedly heard confessions in the archdiocese the next year, at the Oblate-run St. Francis Chapel in Boston’s Prudential Center. 

Despite the mounting allegations against him, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary have not responded to questions about Nicgorski’s current status in his religious order. 

But it is possible that other complaints about Nicgorski have also been raised to the Vatican. 

The Pillar reviewed a Jan. 20, 2020 letter about Nicgorski from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life, sent to superiors of the Daughters of St. Paul, the religious community which made allegations against the priest in 2017. 

That letter had a protocol number dating from 2015 — suggesting that the Vatican department already had a file open on Nicgorski when the sisters filed their allegations. 

There is little data about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment, abuse, or coercion of religious sisters and nuns. 

But advocates for ecclesial reform have said in recent years that the spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse of adults is an often under-appreciated problem in the Church. 

A set of recent reforms to the Church’s penal law could make easier the canonical prosecution of such cases in the future.

Church criticises Polish government for removing Catholic catechism from school grade average


The Catholic church in Poland has criticised the government’s recent decision to remove school catechism lessons from the grade average received by students at the end of the academic year.

In March, education minister Barbara Nowacka fulfilled two of the promises she had outlined after the new government came to power in December by signing into force changes to rules on the assessment of children in public schools.

One was to abolish compulsory, graded homework for pupils in primary school, a measure that took force at the start of April. 

The other was to remove grades for religion classes from the averages students receive at the end of each school year and when they graduate.

Though religion classes are hosted and funded by the public school system, their curriculums and teachers (often priests or nuns) are decided by the Catholic church. 

The lessons are optional but are attended by the majority of children, although the figure has been falling in recent years.

In her justification for removing religion from grade averages, Nowacka argued that it should not be included because it is optional and therefore not taken by all students. 

She removed ethics, another optional subject, from grade averages for the same reason.

“The purpose of the change is to provide students with equal opportunities in obtaining average grades,” wrote the ministry. The measure will go into force from the start of the new school year in September.

However, the Polish Episcopal Conference (KEP), the central organ of the Catholic church in Poland, has now criticised Nowacka’s decision as “unfair towards students attending religious classes”.

KEP’s Catholic education committee met on Tuesday to discuss the issue and today its secretary, Tomasz Kopiczko, issued a statement published by the church’s press agency, KAI.

He said that the committee’s members “express their opposition” to the ministry’s actions, which had “not taken into account the voices of thousands of teachers, educators and parents” who, during consultations on the changes, expressed opposition to them.

The statement also reiterated the church’s opposition to Nowacka’s further plans to halve the number of hours that Catholic catechism classes are taught in schools from two per week to one.

“Religious education brings many benefits,” wrote the committee. “It educates in faith and introduces values ​​such as goodness, truth and beauty into the world. It teaches a sense of justice and sensitivity to human needs.”

“It also helps young people discover and understand the meaning of their own lives in the face of various civilisational and cultural challenges,” they added. “Therefore every effort should be made to ensure that there is room for religious and ethical education.”

In February, a survey by the Research Partner agency found that 36% of Poles want religion classes in their current form removed from schools entirely. Just under 25% favour maintaining the current status quo while 21% support the government’s idea of reducing teaching to one hour a week.

Across Poland as a whole, over 80% of pupils in schools and preschools attended religion classes in the 2021/22 school year. 

However, attendance has been declining in recent years, in particular in large towns and cities.

In 2022, only 29% of high school students in Warsaw opted in for the lessons. 

Two cities, Wrocław and Częstochowa, have asked to be released from their obligation to fund the subject.

Ex-Opus Dei priest receives new date for canonical trial over criticism of Pope Francis

Father Jesusmary Missigbètò - Complicit Clergy

An African priest whose filial corrections of the Pope led to his dismissal from Opus Dei will be fighting for his priesthood this May.

Father Janvier Gbénou, better known to readers by his nom-de-plume Fr. Jesusmary Missigbètò, has been instructed by Father Serge Abdoulaye Sissoko, the Regional Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Côte d’Ivoire, to travel from his home in Benin to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to answer canonical charges of disobedience on May 8, 2024.

At stake is Fr. Missigbètò’s priestly vocation. According to an email obtained by LifeSiteNews, the priest may be punished very severely for having continued to point out Pope Francis’ theological novelties in public: dismissed from the clerical state.

The trial to take place in Abidjan is, according to Fr. Sissoko:

“…  just a question of hearing your defence concerning your disobedience to what the Holy See had imposed on you in the decree of 30 May 2022, i.e. “di astenersi del tutto per il futuro dal compiere qualsiasi comunicazione sui media fino a nuovo provvedimento e senza il permesso del competente Dicastero della Sede Apostolica” (to refrain totally in the future from carrying out any communication in the media until new measures are taken and without the authorization of the competent Dicastery of the Apostolic See).”

“At the same time, this decree warned you that “in caso di ostinata disobbedienza al presente precetto potrà incorrere in provvedimenti disciplinari e penali più gravi” (in case of obstinate disobedience to this precept, you could incur other more serious disciplinary and penal measures),” Sissoko continued in his April 8 email.

“Since you have already been suspended from exercising priestly ministry and your interventions in the media as a priest are causing damage in the ecclesial community, it is considered that the “provvedimenti disciplinari e penali più gravi” (more serious disciplinary and penal measures) can only be dismissal from the clerical state.”

Sissoko makes it plain in his letter to Missigbètò that the hearing to which he has been summoned is “an extrajudicial criminal trial” and that he is accused, not only of disobedience, but of attacking Pope Francis.

However, Missigbètò argues that he has not been writing “against the Pope.” In his April 9 response to Sissoko, he states, “You say I’m writing against the Pope, but that’s not true: I’m writing against the Pope’s errors. There’s a very important nuance here, because as a Catholic, it’s impossible for me to be against the Pope.”

Missigbètò stressed in this email that he loves Pope Francis and that “out of love for him and his eternal salvation” the priest is “correcting him by publicly criticizing his errors, since he has obstinately refused to correct them for eight years and these errors constitute an evil for the moral conscience of Christians. In fact, it is impossible for a Catholic not to love the Pope (especially when that Catholic is described as a ‘traditionalist’).”

He also cited the example of St. Paul’s correction of St. Peter, while suggesting that Pope Francis’ errors are “objectively more serious” than St. Peter’s. 

According to Missigbètò, these include the Pontiff’s description of the continent life as an “option;” his acceptance of hysterectomy as a contraceptive, in the case of a fertile woman unable to bring her children to term; his suggestion that the Blessed Virgin Mary was not born a saint; his support for civil partnerships between homosexuals; his permission for pro-abortion politicians to receive the Blessed Sacrament; and his support for the blessing of couples in irregular unions or same-sex relationships.

Missigbètò’s trial has been already postponed twice: it was originally to take place on March 6, 2023, but was moved to April 10, 2023 after the defendant did not attend. In his emails to Fr. Sissoko, Missigbètò indicates that he is reluctant to travel to Abidjan because he has been the subject of five death threats in that city.

Missigbètò was sanctioned by Opus Dei in 2022, forbidden to preach, hear confessions, and celebrate Mass publicly. 

Both Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet signed off on the restrictions because, the priest reported, he lacked “respect and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff.”

Abuse: Rottenburg diocese sees "interim findings" in report

The Commission for the Investigation of Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart has caused a stir with its 2023 annual report, which was published on Thursday

This is because the term of office of Cardinal Walter Kasper, now 91 years old, who was bishop of the Württemberg diocese from 1989 to 1999, also plays a role. 

The commission's 70-page report states that "dilettantism, excessive demands and incompetence, concealment or cover-up" prevailed in dealing with sexual abuse by clerics "until the 1990s".

The diocesan administrator in office since the departure of Bishop Gebhard Fürst in December 2023, Clemens Stroppel, told the Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA) on Friday that the diocesan leadership was taking this 2023 annual report "very seriously". 

Regarding the question of whether Cardinal Kasper would now have to explain himself and take responsibility or confess guilt, Stroppel said that he saw "no basis" for such conclusions in the "interim findings" of the commission's report.

File note on a case of abuse from Walter Kasper's time as bishop

In his assessment, Stroppel referred, among other things, to a passage from the report that states: "'Hiding' was apparently a common term for dealing with clerical sex offenders." 

According to the commission, in one case from Walter Kasper's time as bishop, a memo from the personnel officer at the time contains the sentence: "He would then have to spend another month in the (monastery). I don't know of any other 'hiding place'".

In his assessment, Stroppel also referred to the fact that the commission report states in the section "Evaluation of the secret archives in the bishop's house": "The files in the case of sexual abuse mainly concern the time of Bishops Sproll (4 cases), Leiprecht (10 cases), Moser (2 cases) and Kasper (3 cases), whereby there are temporal overlaps during the bishops' terms of office in individual cases." 

Before Kasper, Georg Moser (1975 to 1988), Carl Joseph Leiprecht (1949 to 1974) and Johannes Baptista Sproll (1927 to 1949) served as bishops.

Stroppel explained that the diocesan leadership was not yet aware of any of the original files or eyewitness accounts cited in the report. "So the interim report still needs to be analysed and evaluated in detail." 

However, "the results with regard to the handling of perpetrators and victims as well as with regard to written records basically correspond to the results known from other dioceses for the corresponding periods," said Stroppel. He will lead the diocese until a new bishop is appointed.

Final report of the commission not expected for another two years

The commission is not expected to present a final report for another two years "after the end of the investigation", as Anne Mülhöfer, managing director of the commission, said on Friday in response to a KNA enquiry. 

The committee currently sees one of its primary tasks as "identifying structures that enabled or facilitated sexual abuse or made it more difficult to uncover".

Files are being scrutinised and contemporary witnesses interviewed as part of the investigation. There have already been discussions with former personnel managers, including Kasper and the former diocesan administrator and Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Kreidler. 

"The majority of contemporary witnesses were asked whether they were aware of any cover-ups, in particular the destruction of files," the report states. None of the witnesses reported "deliberate cover-ups of sexualised violence through the destruction of files". 

However, a personal principle applied when dealing with the topic of sexualised violence: "Many things were discussed and negotiated verbally or by telephone; the contents of conversations were not recorded." 

The commission's conclusion: "Concealment was therefore a permanent state in which active cover-up was not necessary."

After eight months in exile: Cardinal Sako returns to his official residence

Patriarch Sako announces move to Kurdistan - Vatican News

After eight months in exile in the Kurdish city of Erbil, Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako has returned to his official residence in Baghdad. This was reported by the Arabic news portal Abouna. 

At an official welcome on Thursday, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani emphasised the importance of Sako's presence and his role.

The head of Iraq's largest Christian church, with around half a million members, had arrived at the capital's airport the previous evening. He had left Baghdad in August after Sunni President Abdul Latif Rashid withdrew his state recognition as head of the church

During his meeting with the Patriarch, Prime Minister Al-Sudani emphasised the government's efforts to consolidate the principle of coexistence and brotherhood within Iraqi society as a whole. This is the key to progress, prosperity and an improvement in the social situation for all Iraqis. 

He expressly referred to the "historical role of the Iraqi Christian component and its contribution to building the state and strengthening its pillars". 

The country is strong and is characterised by its diverse denominations. 

Patriarch Sako, for his part, congratulated the head of government on the Muslim festival of breaking the fast, Abouna said.

The Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad recognised Al-Sudani's initiative. 

The invitation was "a good omen and a first step on a journey of a thousand miles", according to the patriarchate's website. 

However, mistakes that have been made must be corrected for successful cooperation. 

Above all, the Patriarchate takes offence at the actions of the Iraqi presidential office. 

The central demand is that Cardinal Sako must be recognised as the head of the church again. 

In general, Christians in Iraq must be fully involved in socio-political life.

Moravian bishop installed as new President of Irish Council of Churches

The 101st Annual Meeting of the Irish Council of Churches took place in Gracehill Moravian Church, Co. Antrim on 11th April 2024. The new President and Vice President were installed at the meeting.

The Annual Meeting gathers senior church leaders and lay representatives from across its 15 member churches in Ireland, bringing together the broad spectrum of Irish Christianity. 

The Irish Council of Churches also maintains a structured dialogue with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference through the Irish Inter–Church Meeting, representatives of which were also in attendance.

Bishop Sarah Groves was installed as the new ICC President. Bishop Groves serves as both Minister of Gracehill Moravian Church and as a Bishop in the Moravian Church. She has been ICC Vice–President since 2022. 

Speaking after her installation, Bishop Groves shared: “As the Moravian Church was one of the founding members of ICC over 100 years ago, this is an exciting day. I look forward to my term as ICC President and to leading the organisation as we continue to equip Ireland’s churches to connect through a common belief in Christ.”

The Very Rev Dr Charles McMullen was also installed, as the incoming ICC Vice–President. 

Dr McMullen has been Minister of West Church, Bangor, in County Down, Northern Ireland since 1999 and served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland from 2018–2019.

Naked man claiming to be trans at Planet Fitness arrested for indecent exposure

A man who claimed to identify as a woman was arrested for indecent exposure to a minor after he walked around naked in the women’s locker room at a Planet Fitness location and asked a woman to rub lotion on him and take a shower together. 

Christopher Allan Miller, 38, was reported to police as harassing women at the Gastonia Planet Fitness in North Carolina prior to entering the locker room. 

A woman who called 911 told the dispatcher that the man who entered the locker room was “completely naked.” Miller allegedly asked a woman to shower with him and rub lotion on his body, WSOC-TV reported.

“Yeah, he is still in the bathroom,” the woman told a 911 dispatcher. “It’s a man but he says he identifies as a woman, and he won’t leave the restroom. But he is just walking around showing us his — and he won’t leave.”

Miller was subsequently arrested and charged with indecent exposure to a minor, WSOC-TV added. 

On its website, Planet Fitness outlines its “Non-Discrimination Policy,” which states that all gym members “will have access to restroom and locker room facilities that correspond to their self-reported gender identity to the extent permitted by applicable law.”

“At Planet Fitness, the safety of our employees and members is our top priority, and we have zero tolerance for harassment of any kind in our clubs,” McCall Gosselin, chief corporate affairs officer at Planet Fitness, told The Christian Post Friday in response to the incident in Gastonia. 

“We took immediate action to ensure the safety of club members, including notifying and working with law enforcement.”

The incident involving the naked man in the women’s locker room comes at a time when Planet Fitness’ trans policy has been the focus of media headlines. 

Late last month, Planet Fitness Co-Founder Michael Grondahl criticized the gym franchise's policy of allowing men in women's locker rooms during an interview

 with Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik. 

"Planet Fitness was like another child for me. And I put my heart and soul into building that company, and it's been pretty much destroyed in, you know, it's lost all respect within the country within the last couple of weeks," Grondahl said. "There's no common sense standing behind this." 

The interview took place after Alaska Planet Fitness revoked Patricia Silva's membership. Silva went viral after she posted several videos online about her encounter with a trans-identifying man shaving his face in the women’s locker room. 

The woman claimed that a 12-year-old girl covered only by a towel was inside the locker room while the man was present. 

However, Planet Fitness claimed that Silva violated its policies by taking a photograph of the man in the locker room and sharing it on social media. 

After revoking Silva's membership, reports surfaced last month that a staffer has since accompanied the man while he uses the women's facilities.

An unnamed friend of Silva's alleged that she saw the same man Silva encountered in the women's locker room. 

The friend claimed that the Planet Fitness staffer accompanying the man told her that she could go into the stall if she was uncomfortable having a man in the locker room. 

The Planet Fitness co-founder questioned the gym's decision to make the man more comfortable instead of women, stating that it's an "extremely dangerous situation." 

During his interview with Raichik, Grondahl said it's “devastating” to witness what the company has become.

Michael and Mark Grondahl started Planet Fitness in 1992 after they purchased a gym in Dover, New Hampshire. 

According to Mike Grondahl, the pair started Planet Fitness for people who were "intimidated" by fitness centers, and that was the original intention behind the concept of a “judgment-free zone.” 

"And now, you fast forward to what's happening today, and 'judgement-free zone' means that, if you're a man, you can use the women's locker room," Grondahl lamented. "Just insane."

France’s clash between church bell ringing and stroppy ‘rural newcomers’

Why you won't be hearing church bells much in France for a few days

The French government aims to pass a law that could help protect the ringing of church bells across the country’s rural regions that are the bastion of French Catholicism. 

The move follows tensions in rural areas following a rise in noise complaints attributed to residents who have moved to the countryside from big cities “bemoaning the way livestock, church bells and other rural sounds impinge on their newly claimed right to pastoral quiet”, reports the Guardian.

A new law aims to stop these néoruraux (rural newcomers) from taking farmers to court over farming activities that were already happening long before they arrived. 

While the legislation’s focus is the noisy domain of agricultural, it could serve as a deterrent to those who might otherwise take issue with noises associated with the religious domain in France.

While opposition MPs have derided the new bill as “hot air”, because it mostly just reorganises existing bits of legislation, what is new, says the Guardian, is the emphasis on what the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, calls le vivre-ensemble: living together in a respectful way.

The new bill follows farmers across the country “protesting at agro-industrial policies they say are crushing them”. French bishops have spoken out on behalf of the travails of French farmers.

Dale Berning Sawa, the author of the Guardian article, highlights how she grew up in Aix-en-Provence, a town that “likes to think of itself as an extension of Paris”. 

In 2016, she notes, Parisian tourists holidaying in nearby Carry-le-Rouet garnered national attention when they complained about the chant des cigales (cicadas) in summer. 

Berning Sawa says that “it’s easy to trace a link between gentrification-inflated property prices in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and these nonsense complaints, which this new legislation aims to curb”.

This could include dissuading such “nonsense complaints” against the ringing of church bells, a common practise across la France Profonde – that “Deep France” comprised of provincial towns, rural and village life that are underscored by a profound Frenchness, as Gavin Mortimer describes in his Catholic Herald article.

While visiting the tiny village on the edge of the Cévennes national park where her parents live, Berning Sawa notes that at 4 p.m. “the Catholic church’s bells have just rung eight times” and that “despite there being as few as 300 year-round inhabitants, the bells ring the hour twice, just metres from our beds – even through the hours of complete darkness when the street lights are switched off”.

They also ring once on the half-hour too, while “a full-on fanfare, meanwhile, marks the day’s main services at 8am, midday and 7pm”, she notes.

While Berning Sawa says it takes visiting friends a few nights to get used to it, she highlights how “living somewhere and visiting are two different things”, and “I have lived here and loved every aural moment of it, even when I didn’t”.

She explains: “This is countryside clamour that is restorative simply because it’s still alive – and that’s what matters.”

There would arguably be some poetic justice if the new law helped buttress the French tradition of church bell ringing – currently the French government is engaged in pushing through various laws and constitutional amendments that fly in the face of Church teaching and moral practises.

Earlier this year France chose to enshrine abortion as a constitutional right, thereby becoming the only country in the world to use its most fundamental principles of national law to guarantee the right to terminate a pregnancy up to 14 weeks.

This was shortly followed by news that Emmanuel Macron is very much committed to bringing in a new law permitting “assisted dying” (a euphemism that attempts to gloss over the fact it is assisted suicide).

At the same time, and likely influenced by such changes, France is experiencing a continuing (and surprising) Catholic shift against secular progressivism.

Italian regulator pulls ‘blasphemous’ crisps advert from the airwaves

Patatine al posto dell'ostia, stop allo spot “blasfemo” di Amica Chips

Italian regulators have pulled a “blasphemous” television advert in which nuns are offered crisps instead of consecrated hosts during a Mass.

The advert for Amica Chips provoked a huge backlash within the Catholic nation, with claims that it “debased” and “vilified” Jesus Christ.

The Institute of Advertising Self-Discipline, Italy’s advertising standards authority, has now upheld complaints against the advert and ordered it off the airwaves.

In the 30-second advertisement, a group of young nuns are seen filing through a cloister into a chapel while another nun prepares for Mass but fills a ciborum with crisps instead of communion wafers.

A priest distributes a crisp instead of Host to a nun during Communion and the shocked nuns look to the nun in the sacristy who is shovelling crisps into her mouth from a bag.

The Italian Association of Radio and Television Listeners formally complained about the advert on the grounds that it “offends the sensibility of millions of practising Catholics”.

Giovanni Baggio, the president of the association, called for “the immediate suspension” of the advert because it was blasphemous and showed a “lack of respect”.

Avvenire, a newspaper owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, also called for the advert to be banned because Christ is “reduced to a crisp, debased and vilified as he was 2,000 years ago”.

Amica Chips was “spitting” on Christ “just as the Roman soldiers did to him before his crucifixion”, the newspaper said in an editorial.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the agency behind the commercial, Lorenzo Marini Group, said it had intended to strike “a strong British-style note of irony” with an advert that was “aimed at a young target audience”.

The head of the group, Lorenzo Marini, said the commercial was “irreverent” but said it was not intended to be offensive.

The regulator, however, informed the Italian Association of Radio and Television Listener that it had upheld its “appeal for the immediate suspension of the commercial” and reminded the advertiser that commercials “must not offend moral, civil, and religious convictions”.

Mr Baggio said his association wanted advertisers “to be more respectful of cultural and religious identities and to work for commercials that are inclusive and that appeal to all users in a way that is careful not to create discomfort and disapproval”.

He said: “Let us work together for a civilization that needs to grow in respect for cultural and religious identities.”

Vatican prosecutor files defamation charges against Italian journalist

Vatican prosecutor Alessandro Diddi has filed charges against an Italian blogger, arguing that he published confidential ecclesiastical documents and defamed the pope.

Diddi filed charges against journalist Marco Felipe Perfetti of the blog "Silere Non Possum" in Vatican City. 

The charges were announced this week.

The Vatican prosecutor’s office filed similar charges against two Italian journalists during the Vatileaks trial, claiming they had published confidential information. 

The charges were tossed out in 2016 on the grounds that the Vatican court had no authority over the Italian press.

The current charges against Perfetti involve stories he has published about the Vicariate of Rome, which has recently been the subject of a variety of reform efforts.

In 2021, Pope Francis asked the Holy See’s auditor general to audit the Diocese of Rome.

In early 2023, the pope issued an apostolic constitution overhauling the governance of the Diocese of Rome. 

Among the changes made by the document were term limits for executive positions and new offices for financial oversight and protection of minors and vulnerable persons.

The changes also diminished the authority of the vicar general of Rome, at the time Cardinal Angelo De Donatis.

Last week, the pope transferred De Donatis to the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In addition to questions about financial operations, the Diocese of Rome has been criticized in recent months for its support of Marko Rupnik, the priest, former member of the Society of Jesus, and alleged serial sexual abuser.

Last September, the Vicariate of the Diocese of Rome came under fire for releasing a statement questioning the legitimacy of his canonical prosecution against Rupnik and downplaying the scandal surrounding him.

Diddi was promoted to become the Vatican’s chief public prosecutor in the middle of the Vatican’s landmark financial crimes trial in 2022.

He had previously served as deputy prosecutor, leading the investigation and prosecutor of the 10 defendants in the financial trial.

Diddi became well-known for his bullish courtroom style and his combative exchanges both with defendants and witnesses. 

He has also, at times, faced criticism for how he conducted both the initial criminal investigation into possible financial crimes, and the prosecution.

Diddi’s decision to charge 10 people simultaneously in a nearly 500-page indictment covering a wide range of often unrelated alleged crimes, instead of charging individuals with specific crimes in separate cases, led to questions of whether he was committed to dramatic headlines or a winning case.

Cleveland diocese among least transparent in addressing abuse, groups charge

BishopAccountability.org, which hosts the largest public collection of information on the clergy abuse crisis, and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests charged that the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, is among the least transparent dioceses in the nation in addressing the sexual abuse of minors.

The diocese lists on its website 50 priests credibly accused of sexual aubuse. 

The groups called on the diocese to list an additional 50 priests that have served in Cleveland, but were deemed credibly accused in other dioceses.

The groups also called on the diocese to release the names of 145 accused priests that were named in a sealed 2002 grand jury investigation. 

The investigation yielded 11 indictments; state law, according to the report, forbids prosecution of child sexual abuse after a victim turns 30.

“The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is steadfastly committed to the protection and safety of children, as demonstrated in its robust policies regarding background checks, its education and training, its commitment to reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities, and by the fact that no cleric in the Diocese of Cleveland against whom a substantiated allegation has been made is permitted to ever again serve in ministry,” the diocese responded.