Monday, January 31, 2011

Prayer To Saint Matthew

O Glorious Saint Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new Lawgiver who founded a Church of the New Covenant. 
Obtain for us the grace to see Jesus living in his Church and to follow his teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven.

Cloyne abuse report may be delayed by further review

Judge Yvonne Murphy's report into the handling of clerical abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne may be further delayed.

It is understood that at least one of the parties dealt with in the report is expected to exercise the right to a judicial review and ask the High Court to adjudicate on the contents of the report with particular reference to mentions of one individual in the text. 

This is in addition to the expected High Court review requested by the Minister for Justice.

The commission - originally established to investigate the handling of allegations of abuse made against priests in Dublin - was extended to cover the Diocese of Cloyne in 2009.

The decision to extend the remit came after a report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children found that child safeguarding policies operated by then Bishop John Magee were inadequate.


The report is currently being studied by the Attorney General Paul Gallagher, who will advise on what parts may be published.

It will also be sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, James Hamilton, to ensure that none of the persons named in the report is currently facing trial and could have the case against them prejudiced by publication.

Legislation also provides that the Minister can submit the report to the High Court for adjudication on whether it should be published in full or in a redacted form. 

However, at least one individual named in the report is to seek a judicial review into the proposed publication which could considerably delay the publication of the final report.

The report looks at a representative sample of complaints or allegations of child sexual abuse made to the diocesan and other Catholic Church authorities and public and State authorities in the period January 1 1996 to February 1 2009.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the administrator of Cloyne in early 2009 and Bishop Magee resigned a year later having come in for a sustained level of criticism.


Religious training hours defended

The hours dedicated to religious training at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick have been defended.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic following the contention in a Teaching Council report that religious training hours - 48 over the two-year B.Ed - far outstrips other subjects. 

Lecturer in Religious Education, Dr Daniel O'Connell said a number of factors currently at play demanded the emphasis given to religious training.

''Two and a half hours per week - a half hour a day - is a heavy load to place on a teacher along with other subjects,'' Dr O'Connell said of the reality today for young primary school teachers.

''For a trainee teacher to engage in his or her subject to that extent, and in a thoughtful and reflective manner, the time offered at Mary Immaculate is required.''

Pointing to the ''market reality'' of a continuing Catholic predominance in Irish schools, Dr O'Connell stressed that ''this is the context into which our graduates enter, and that requires them to be well trained to teach [RE] a curriculum subject. How are they to do that in a competent manner without a 'religious literacy'?''

Last week's publication of the Teaching Council report prompted comment in some media quarters as to the ongoing influence of the Church in the Irish education system, despite the fact that the religious training hours were matched by the visual arts and Gaeilge.

In this, Dr O'Connell further pointed out that those closest to the issue, the students themselves ''have never approached the college with any criticism of the hours dedicated to religious training''.


On the question of a 'changing Ireland' with more religious diversity and potential future declines in Catholic schools, Dr O'Connell acknowledged that Mary Immaculate, as with other institutions would have to examine adequate responses to such issues, but for the moment, ''over 91 per cent of schools are Catholic with an expectation that their teachers can engage in a catechetical element''.


Church Decorated With About 40,000 Human Skulls, Bones Sinking Into Ground

A church in the Czech Republic whose interior is designed with actual human skulls and bones is sinking into the ground.

The Sedlec Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel. 

Officials are trying to save the landmark, and Czech experts are trying to find reasons as to why the church is leaning and sinking into the ground. 

Engineers and architects visited the church on Wednesday to scope the building, hoping to have an answer within a month.

The church was built on top of a cemetery in the 15th century. 

It is estimated that the remains of about 40-70,000 people are contained at the church.

In 1870, woodcarver Frantisek Rint was hired by the Schwarzenberg family to put the bone heaps in order.

Rint's results are what visitors can see today: four large bell-shaped mounds in the corners of the chapel; a chandelier of bones that contains at least one of each bone in the human body; garlands of skulls drape the vault; Rint's signature, also made from the bones, is on the wall near the entrance of the church.

Maltese causes commotion at Vatican

Anġelik Caruana, the Birżebbuġa man who claims to have visions of the Virgin Mary, Wednesday caused a stir at the Vatican when he and another Maltese man left their chairs and shouted to the Pope during a general audience.

Italian news agency Ansa reported the two tried to jump over the barriers to get to the Pope during the weekly Wednesday audience but were stopped by security personnel.

It could not be confirmed what the two were after, however, it is understood such behaviour by people present for the general audience is not unusual.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said “there were two people who raised their voice and wanted to give a letter to the Pope containing devotional messages. That’s all”.

He said that after being questioned by the gendarmerie, the two were allowed to remain for the audience as they were “good people” and were “no threat” to the Pontiff.

“People close to the barriers at times get on the chair so they appear taller but this doesn’t mean they want to jump over,” Fr Lombardi said.

Worse things have happened to this Pope. 

In 2009, Pope Benedict was pulled down to the ground by a woman who jumped over the barrier during Christmas Eve Mass, with French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, falling and breaking his leg in the incident.

According to a spokesman for the group that gathers at Borġ in-Nadur, where the visions are reported to happen, Mr Caruana did not try to jump over the barrier but stood up and called out to the Holy Father “Santità!” and waved a sealed letter he wanted to give to the Holy Father.

Mr Caruana claims also to receive messages from Our Lady, which are then published on the group’s website

Fr Lombardi confirmed the letter Mr Caruana was holding, which will be “examined with due respect”, contained devotional material.

The Maltese Church has yet to take a stand on the reported visions and messages.

Fr Lombardi said such matters were not usually decided by the Vatican and depended on the local bishop for approval.


Protests and Pope cost city £1m

LOTHIAN and Borders Police has been landed with a bill of up to £1.2 million for policing last year's climate camp protests and the Pope's visit.

New figures have revealed that Operation Octave, which saw police tackle violent protests centred on the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ at Gogarburn in August, cost £649,600.

Although the bill was split between eight forces involved in the massive operation, Lothian and Borders Police is expected to be landed with the vast majority of the cost.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI's visit saw 900 police officers and staff deployed under Operation Zinnia, running up a bill of £543,226.

Police chiefs are now in negotiations with the Scottish Government over recovering costs from the Pontiff's visit to the city, with ministers expected to "comment shortly" on a deal.

But the force seems likely to be forced to meet the climate camp expenditure out of its current budget, which is already facing cutbacks.

The force has already paid out nearly £1.2m investigating jailed former MSP Tommy Sheridan in the run-up to his perjury trial, after spending four years investigating the case, including travelling the UK and Europe to interview witnesses.

Calls were made today for the Scottish Government to recognise the "burden" of policing the climate camp protests.

The release of the figures in the latest police board papers also sparked calls for a re-think on the level of policing given to demonstrations in Edinburgh in a bid to reduce future costs.

Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the police board, said: "The government didn't make the decision to bring protesters to Gogarburn, like they did with the Papal visit.

"However, I would hope the Scottish Government would recognise that this is a burden that has fallen on Lothian and Borders Police, because it's part of national events that have Scottish and UK impact rather than just the people of Edinburgh."

Cllr Whyte added: "If something is a major national event that is chosen to come to your area, such as the Papal visit, there is the expectation that there will some assistance with the cost of that.

"There were criticisms of the force at the time that they were being too accommodating to the protesters and I think we need to check that we got value for money, in terms of reduced impact elsewhere."

Richard Baker MSP, Labour's justice spokesman, said: "It's encouraging that constructive negotiations are going on.

There are steep costs involved here, and they come at a time when the budget cuts to the force are already resulting in civilian staff being lost.

"With the Pope's visit, there were pressures placed on a number of different forces and they will be seeking funds from the Scottish Government.

"With the demonstrations, we have to look at how much it cost, and whether there can be a better balance between policing protests and avoiding these levels of expense."

In November, it was revealed that the Pope's visit had left the city council with a bill of £250,000. 

Its contribution included the installation of road barriers and signage, street cleaning along the route and first aiders.

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "The Camp for Climate Change ran for ten days, and involved eight police forces in ensuring that public order and safety were maintained. The cost of the operation amounted to £649,000, which includes officer and staff overtime, mutual aid, and other expenses.

"A total of 23 arrests were made. However, detailed planning and continued dialogue kept disruption to a minimum.

"The Papal visit was a historic day for Edinburgh, and a significant police operation was undertaken to ensure the highest level of security was maintained at all times.

"Negotiations are currently ongoing with the Scottish Government to recover some of the necessary costs incurred."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Ministers expect to comment shortly on agreements reached on the costs of the Pope's visit." 


Archdiocese upset after St. Patrick finds a home in restaurant

And now, let us raise a toast to St. Patrick.

Once a cherished icon for generations of Catholics, a statue of Ireland's patron saint from Sacred Heart Church in Newark has landed in a South Orange restaurant -- much to the chagrin of local Catholic leaders.

On a recent night, as college-age students mingled at Cryan's Beef and Ale House, St. Patrick watched silently from a corner in the restaurant section, a shepherd's staff in his left hand.

The move, from pious to pub, has provoked some debate. The 6-foot-tall plaster statue was relocated after the Archdiocese of Newark closed the venerable church last summer.

Bar owner Jimmy Cryan said his family had long supported Sacred Heart, holding fundraisers at the bar and pitching in for restorations.

"The response has been overwhelming," he said. "It's just nice to have a piece of old Sacred Heart around."

But archdiocese officials, who plan to reuse items from the church in other religious buildings, are not pleased.

"The (Cryan) family expressed some interest in the statue because they had been involved in its restoration," said archdiocesan spokesman Jim Goodness. "They asked if they could have it. Our expectation was that it would be in a house, or a place for appropriate veneration."

Generations of local Catholics flocked to Sacred Heart in the heavily Irish Vailsburg neighborhood to pay their respects to the icon.

"It was gorgeous," said Paul Reilly, a former parishioner. "The St. Patrick's parade in Newark had their Mass there every year, and they used to bring the statue out. The place would be packed."

Citing falling attendance, the archdiocese shuttered the church in June, despite bitter protests from longtime worshippers.

Bob Madara, who joined the church in the 1970s, said he enjoyed having St. Patrick preside over his meals.

"It's in a respectable place," he said. "It's great. When people saw it on Christmas, it was one bright spot (after the church closed). It's a morale booster." 


Anglican leader says reuniting communion will be a lengthy task, but work will continue

The head of the Anglican Communion on Sunday said that work will continue to bridge deep differences within the global fellowship, but he says it will be a lengthy process.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke at the end of a five-day conference in Ireland's capital, Dublin, which was notable for the absence of several conservative African bishops who refused to join a forum which included the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

"The fact remains that two-thirds of the body of primates is present, and something like three-fourths or something more expressed their willingness to be present," Williams said.

The unity of the communion has been severely strained by moves in the United States to first appoint an openly gay priest as a bishop, and then by the elevation of a lesbian to serve as a bishop.

"Of course there is a critical situation in the communion. Nobody would deny that," Williams said.

"But that critical situation has not ended the relationships, often very cordial and constructive, among the churches of the communion," he added.

Bernard Ntahoturi, the Anglican archbishop of Burundi, said the absent archbishops had not withdrawn from the communion.

"They are still members of the Anglican Communion," he said. "Not attending physically does not mean that you are not participating in the life of the community."

Williams said the Dublin meeting worked to define the role and responsibilities of the primates, and he said efforts to repair division will continue.

"It's a long task," he added.

Anglican leader in warning over homophobia

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world's Anglicans, has warned against demonising gay people.

Dr Rowan Williams was commenting on the controversy surrounding last week's attack by an Anglican preacher on homosexuals at the funeral of leading Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato.

The Archbishop made his remarks after a six day Anglican summit in Dublin.

Wednesday's murder of Mr Kato in Uganda followed his successful court action against a newspaper for inciting hatred against gays.

The subsequent comments at his funeral by an Anglican preacher that gays should abandon what they were doing caused uproar among the congregation which included many of Mr Kato's gay friends.

On Sunday, Dr Williams echoed his condemnations of the affair and warned about the power of words in such controversies.

The Archbishop was speaking at the end of a six-day meeting of two dozen leading Anglicans in the Catholic-run Eammaus retreat house in north Dublin.

Seven of their brother bishops boycotted the gathering in protest against the presence of Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, the American Primate who approves the ordination of homosexual bishops and the blessing of gay unions.

The Primate of Uganda also boycotted this Dublin summit and there is little prospect that he or the six others will attend such gatherings in the near future.

But the organisers say that this does not affect their loyalty to the Anglican church.

Immigrant abuse reveals societal decay, warns Mexican archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Xalapa, Mexico is warning that the abuse suffered by Central Americans traveling through Mexico is “an evident sign of societal decay.” 

The archdiocese added in a Jan. 23 statement that Christians must not remain indifferent to the injustice. 

The message was sent in order to raise awareness of the mistreatment suffered by Central American migrants on their way to the United States.

The statement noted that being a Christian is not only about fighting against personal sin but also about working for a more just and kind world.

Mexico and Honduras need to improve relations in order “to ensure the security and unrestricted transit” of immigrants, the archdiocese continued. The “State Commission on Human Rights should also insist that the humiliations, abuse, kidnappings and extortion of all of these brothers and sisters of ours cease.”

The archdiocese thanked the priests, religious and laity who “as good Samaritans,” offer food, shelter and clothing “to those most in need.”

A serious problem

On Jan. 6, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission reported that in 2010 there were 214 cases of migrant kidnappings. 

One of the most chilling cases took place last August when 72 migrants from Central and South American were murdered by members of Mexico's drug gangs.

At the time, Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar of San Salvador, El Salvador condemned the massacre and asked that agreements be established to protect the undocumented.


CHA adopts dual approach to abortion funding in health care law

The Catholic Health Association has endorsed legislation to restrict federal funding of abortion in the health care law passed last year despite its belief that the legislation already prevents it.

In a Jan. 24 letter to Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-Penn.), Catholic Health Association president and CEO Sr. Carol Keehan offered support for the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358. 

She praised the congressman’s efforts to “ensure the protection of the unborn and of providers’ conscience rights.”

“While we continue to believe the current provisions of the Affordable Care Act prevent federal funding of abortion, your legislation will provide further protection by codifying the ‘Hyde amendment’ relative to the new health care reform law,” she wrote.

The bill would also prevent the use of federal funds to subsidize health care plans that cover abortion.

The place of abortion funding in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a point of major controversy. 

The Stupak Amendment, which would have restricted abortion funding and subsidies for abortion-providing insurance plans in the health care legislation, initially passed the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.

When the passage of the health care bill was still in doubt, the Catholic Health Association broke from the U.S. bishops and other pro-life opponents of the bill to support the legislation.

Pro-life Democrats, including Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, later settled for a compromise executive order from President Barack Obama in exchange for their support of the bill.

Critics of the executive order said its funding restrictions would not withstand judicial scrutiny and did not prevent subsidies for health plans which cover abortion, unlike the Hyde Amendment. 

They also suggested the very existence of the order indicated the legislation itself was flawed.

President Obama gave Sr. Keehan a presidential pen he used to sign the final legislation.

In the Catholic Health Association’s recent letter to Rep. Pitts, Sr. Keehan also expressed appreciation that the Protect Life Act adds to the Weldon Amendment’s conscience protections for hospitals and health care providers.

“(W)e must continue to work for the Hyde and Weldon amendments in the annual appropriations cycle until we can make those protections for unborn life and conscience rights truly permanent,” Sr. Keehan said.

Rep. Pitts, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, is sponsor of the Protect Life Act. The legislation presently has 97 co-sponsors, including pro-life Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinksi of Illinois.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, urged Congress to pass the legislation in a Jan. 20 letter.

He said the proposal would bring the health care reform law into line with policies on abortion and conscience protections that have “long prevailed” in other federal health programs.


Hawaii bishop shocked at high-ranking priest's departure for politics

Bishop Larry R. Silva of Honolulu, Hawaii says he was “shocked and extremely disappointed” to discover that his second-in-command at the diocese, Fr. Marc Alexander, was leaving his ministry for a post he had already accepted in the administration of Governor Neil Abercrombie.

“He was a well respected priest,” Bishop Silva told CNA on Jan. 26. “This news has been quite devastating to many.”

Fr. Alexander, who had served as a diocesan priest for 25 years, told Bishop Silva on Jan. 16 that he had lined up a job as the governor's Coordinator on Homelessness, and would be leaving the responsibilities he had taken on during the past five years as Bishop Silva's Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.

The priest had submitted his resume through the governor's transition website and was hired. 

While acknowledging the change as “shocking” and “not something that happens every day,” Fr. Alexander told reporters on Jan. 20 that he had felt called “in a different direction.” 

He mentioned that he had long considered leaving the priesthood, saying he believed Bishop Silva would understand.

His bishop, however, had not seen the move coming. 

“At the end of December,” Bishop Silva recalled in a statement released by the diocese on Jan. 20, “I announced that I had granted Father Marc Alexander the six month sabbatical he had requested for rest, study, and spiritual renewal.” 

In light of his departure, he said, “I am sure that many will be as shocked and surprised as I was.” 

As Bishop Silva explained on Jan. 26, Fr. Alexander has not lost either the spiritual gifts, or the sacred obligations, that he received at ordination. 

However, having abandoned his ministry, he is no longer permitted to celebrate the sacraments, or perform other priestly functions, under all but the most urgent circumstances.

“Marc Alexander is still a priest,” the bishop explained, “but his faculties have been withdrawn. He has not requested dismissal from the clerical state, nor has it been granted.”

“However, in light of his decision to abandon the active priestly ministry, his 'license' to minister, granted by the bishop, has been withdrawn. He may not licitly perform any specific priestly functions.  He may give absolution to someone only if that person is in danger of death. Otherwise, he is not to function as a priest,” the bishop said.

He also rejected Fr. Alexander's implication that his secular career could be considered as simply another kind of “calling.” 

Instead, he expressed hopes for the priest's return to the work of his vocation.

“Father Alexander has served the Diocese of Honolulu with great distinction as a priest for twenty-five years,” he said, highlighting how he had “contributed greatly to the Diocese in his last five years as Vicar General.” 

“We are grateful for all he has done,” Bishop Silva said. “Let us pray for him.”

Although Fr. Alexander's move to a secular political post is highly unusual, it is not without precedent. 

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and onetime Filipino Governor Eduardo Panlilo were both ordained as priests, and Paraguay's current President Fernando Lugo is a former bishop.


Peoria diocese restarts Archbishop Fulton Sheen's beatification cause

The Diocese of Peoria has resumed its promotion of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s cause for beatification despite its dispute with the Archdiocese of New York over the final resting place of the great evangelist’s remains.

In November 2010 the diocese said it was no longer in a position to continue its nine years of work on Archbishop Sheen’s beatification and canonization. 

The Archdiocese of New York’s failure to transfer Sheen’s body to a cathedral tomb in his hometown of Peoria had upset the diocese and stalled plans to create a national shrine for him there.

Now Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria has announced that the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation has resumed its efforts to advance Sheen’s cause.

“After further consultation, and having heard the desire of the faithful to see the cause advance, Bishop Jenky, as president of the Sheen Foundation, is happy to work with the postulator in Rome and is hopeful that the cause will advance quickly,” the foundation said in a Jan. 27 statement.

The foundation added that the Archdiocese of New York’s failure to fulfill a verbal promise to transfer Sheen’s remains caused “great upset and even scandal among those who had so long supported the cause.”

The people and clergy of the Diocese of Peoria were “particularly distressed,” it said.

Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria and an officer of the Sheen Foundation, explained that Bishop Jenky felt compelled at the time to pause the beatification effort “in light of the months of unresolved questions regarding the transfer of the remains.”

“Even though this issue remains unsettled, Bishop Jenky received encouragement from cardinals, bishops and the faithful from around the world, and especially from within his own diocese,” she said. 

Bishop Jenky has asked the Vatican congregation for saints to help resolve the question of the tomb, while also definitively deciding to continue the foundation’s work to advance Archbishop Sheen’s cause.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Sheen Foundation, said he was “so happy” to see the foundation’s work continue in Peoria.

“Sheen was born in Peoria. His cause for sainthood was begun in Peoria. And I look forward to seeing this good work completed in Peoria,” he commented.

Sheen has a significant history in both Peoria and New York City. He first served as an altar boy in Peoria’s cathedral and was ordained a priest for the diocese in 1919. After international studies, he briefly served as a pastor there in 1926.

He was ordained as an auxiliary bishop in New York City in 1951 and broadcast his famous television program “Life is Worth Living” from there. 

He was Bishop of Rochester from 1966 until his 1969 retirement and he was buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City after his death in 1979.

Sheen was one of the first national television personalities and an author of bestselling works on Christianity and Jesus Christ.

More information about his life is available at the Sheen Foundation website:


SA Priest Tied To Boston Sex Abuse Scandal

An Oblate priest has been identified by a Boston attorney who settled sex abuse cases with the Catholic Church.
A small but vocal protest materialized Wednesday morning in front of the Oblate School of Theology, with members of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests calling for the ouster of a local member of the clergy.

Rev. Donald Joyce was named -- along with 18 other clergymen -- last week by a Boston attorney as being tied to dozens of sex abuse cases settled out of court by his law firm and the Catholic Church.

Joyce currently works in an administrative capacity at Oblate School, according to a spokesman for the San Antonio Archdiocese.

"I think they should remove him immediately," said Barbara Garcia Boehland, a local member of SNAP.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said he released the list of names to protect the public, and was tired of waiting for the Boston Archdiocese to release a similar list.

Sixteen of the 19 people identified are deceased.

Joyce is the only member of the list currently in Texas.


Bishops will fight HIV, but won’t endorse condoms

ARCHBISHOP Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Wednesday said the Church has told the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) that it would be lending a hand in the fight against the disease by focusing mainly on the social aspect of the problem.

"Our support is selective, which means to say we’ll help in raising awareness to the people, and address stigma and discrimination," Lagdameo told CBCPNews, the official news agency of the CBCP.

The Jaro prelate immediately clarified that their help does not mean promoting condom use.

"We will not join in the promotion of condom use. It will just worsen the problem," he said.
Groups helping fight the spread of HIV and AIDS have been pushing for condom use, saying it is the best way to prevent infection.

Lagdameo said the CBCP remains firm in the belief that the only way to address the HIV/AIDS prevalence problem is through "a long-term solution, which is behavioral change."

The CBCP is the strongest opponent of the use of condom which it considers a form of artificial contraceptive.

The prelates’ support to the anti-HIV/AIDS campaign comes on the heels of a controversial statement from Pope Benedict XVI last November, that condom use is acceptable "in certain cases" such as in preventing the transmission of HIV.

Lagdameo’s statement was made after a four-hour meeting with the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific led by director Steve Kraus at the Pope Pius XII Center in Manila.

Kraus welcomed the bishops’ commitment, saying it would be a "remarkable" step in the prevention, treatment, support and care for people living with HIV.

"Here in the Philippines, it’s crucial and logical that you work closely with the Church…This is a good sign that we will intensify our collaboration and work even close together," said Kraus.

He said the Catholic Church will serve a crucial role in helping communities develop solidarity and, in the process, ensuring that those infected with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect.

"We have to welcome people living with HIV into our homes and into our parishes so that we can better understand their world and for them to understand our world," Kraus said.

Records from the UNAIDS show there are some 33.3 million people worldwide living with HIV.

In the Philippines, there are now a total of 5,729 HIV cases with 852 having developed into full-blown AIDS cases.


Sex abuse victims reject Church payout offer

Victims of sexual abuse at Jesuit schools in Germany said Thursday that the Catholic Church’s offer of €5,000 in compensation is too low.

“This sum is not at all sufficient to compensate for the damages suffered or to signal a recognition of guilt,” leader of the Eckiger Tisch victim’s group Thomas Weiner told daily Frankfurter Rundshau.
Weiner also said he found it incomprehensible that victims already known to the Church would have to file an application to receive the payment.
On Monday Klaus Mertes, rector of Canisius College, the elite Jesuit school in Berlin at which the first allegations surfaced, told daily Berliner Zeitungthat the 205 known victims would share about €1 million in damages payments from the Jesuit order, meaning each would receive roughly €5,000.
But Weiner, who attended the Canisius College along with many members of his group, said he remained uncertain of whether the offer was real or simply a declaration of intent.
Eckiger Tisch had demanded damages of some €82,000 per abuse victim.
A spokesman for the order in Munich told news agency AFP that the Jesuits had sent the offer in letters and emails to the around 200 victims who had come forward, in which it was noted that the sum "could never compensate for the suffering incurred."
The onslaught of sexual and physical abuse revelations within the Catholic Church began in January 2010 when it emerged that priests at Canisius committed dozens of assaults on pupils in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then more than 200 cases of such abuse at Church institutions throughout the country have emerged.
But many of these cases cannot be prosecuted because they have passed the statute of limitations.


Playboy priest convicted of £2million fraud

LISTENING sympathetically to his troubled parishioners, Father Antoine Videau portrayed himself as a caring priest.

But he was stealing money from collection boxes and charity donations and was convicted yesterday of fraud after amassing a £2million fortune over 20 years.

Videau, 64, also lived with a young mistress in a luxury villa and lavished the stolen cash on a string of women he drove around Europe in his red Ferrari.

The playboy padre defrauded nuns by renting out rooms in their convent as holiday flats and he spent church funds on a “cultural pilgrimage” to Las Vegas, the Sin City.
He had 28 bank accounts for the cash and even siphoned off £500,000 fromthe estate of an archbishop after making himself the executor of the will.

Videau, the parish priest in Calacuccia on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, cleverly concealed his wild life from his trusting flock.

Prosecuting lawyer Angeline Tomasi said the priest “did not know the difference between right and wrong” and described him as “manipulative and predatory”. 

She added: “He broke Church laws and the country’s laws.”

Videau was first convicted and handed a two-year prison sentence in May last year but was freed in December with permission to appeal.

But a higher court in Bastia upheld the conviction Wednesday and re-imposed the jail term.


Patriarch Kirill thanks Vatican envoy for important contribution in improving Orthodox-Catholic relations

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia thanked Vatican Ambassador to the Russian Federation Archbishop Antonio Mennnini who resumes his work in Russia for great help in tuning up relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

"I'd like to thank you for your work as the representative of the Holy See to Moscow and point out to your personal contribution in settling difficult problems in relations between our Churches. With God's mercy these problems are being positively settled which changes climate of the bilateral relations for the better. It is, in many respects, your achievement as a plenipotentiary representative of the Holy See," the Patriarch said at a meeting with the nuncio in Moscow.

In his turn, Archbishop Mennini thanked the Russian Church Primate for his help in work. 

"I've been glad to work for the welfare of our Churches, but this work would have been much more complicated without your support, friendly attitude and Christian love," the nuncio said.

"I will never forget you and the Russian Church, but on the contrary will always keep on loving it," Mennini added and assured he was ready to contribute in the mutual witness to Christian values in the world.

As was reported last month Pope Benedict XVI of Rome appointed Archbishop Antonio Mennini a nuncio to Britain.

Monsignor Mennini was appointed to Russia by late Pope John Paul II of Rome in November 2002. Working in Russia he has always stressed the importance of respectful attitude of Catholics to the Orthodox church tradition.

Mennini more than once backed up the Russian Church in its socially important initiatives. 

Thus, the Archbishop welcomed the ideas of introducing institute of chaplains in the Russian Army and "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" in schools. He also opposed the reproaches of the Moscow Patriarchate in "clericization" of society.

Full-fledged diplomatic relations between Russia and the Holy See were established during Mennini's work in Moscow. 


Couple sues priests, church over firing

A Louisville woman says the Catholic Church covered up a priest's behavior -- and fired her when she tried to complain.

On Thursday, a Louisville couple filed suit against local priests and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Louisville.

According to the suit, Gary Weiter Sr. was just a 15-year-old in 1964 when he was "repeatedly assaulted and sexually abused" by Edwin Scherzer, a former priest at St. Therese Catholic Church in the 1000 block of Schiller Ave.

The suit claims that, during the sexual encounters, Scherzer would physically abuse Weiter and other children aged nine or above at the parish, causing them to fear for their lives.

"It was Scherzer's practice during and as part of his sexual abuse of Plaintiff Gary Weiter and other children at St. strangle them...until Plaintiff and other children approached unconsciousness while Scherzer reached sexual climax," the suit claims.

In 1967, Gary Weiter Sr. and Margie Weiter, a co-plaintiff in the suit, were married. They also became members of the St. Therese Catholic Church. In 1999, St. Therese and St. Elizabeth Catholic Church were combined. 

In June 2009, Father Anthony Olges became parish priest of a cluster of churches that included St. Therese Catholic Church.

Margie Weiter became the bookkeeper and secretary at St. Therese in March 2002. 

One month later, Gary Weiter, Sr. -- along with several others -- filed a class action lawsuit against the Archdiocese over alleged abuse committed by representatives of the Catholic Church, including Edwin Scherzer.

That case was settled in June 2003. 

As part of the settlement, the Catholic Church made financial payments to the plaintiffs and the Archbishop apologized for the abuse. Also in 2003, the church implemented a "Safe Environment Program" to educate church employees about the dangers of sexual abuse.

Since then, additional allegations of sex abuse have emerged. 

On July 30, 2009, James R. Schook, the pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr, was placed on a leave of absence after he was accused of abusing a teenager.

It's shortly after that, the suit alleges, that Father Anthony Olges tried to cover up what Schook had done.

"Olges caused Defendant Schook to be secretly relocated to the St. Therese Rectory, although as Defendant Olges then well knew, Defendant Schook was under investigation for sexual child abuse and was not to be around children or among other unaware parishioners," the suit states.

Schook's assignment to St. Therese created an uncomfortable situation for Gary Weiter, Sr., according to the suit. Margie Weiter, his wife, approached Olges and told him she didn't believe Schook should have been assigned there.

"In response to Plaintiff Margie Weiter's complaint regarding the presence at St. Therese of Defendant Schook, a known child abuser, Defendant Olges not only ignored her complaints, but instructed her that she was not to reveal to any person that Defendant Schook was housed at St. Therese," the suit states.
When Margie Weiter took her complaint to the business manager and pastoral associate at St. Therese, they told her that they supported Schook's presence at the church and that he, "deserved to be taken care of."

The suit also criticizes the church for refusing to honor its policy that Schook should be removed from active ministry and segregated from unsupervised contact with children.

"Defendant Schook was openly present at St. Therese and walked around unsupervised at the Parish and Rectory at St. Therese in shorts and/or swimming trunks, sandals and t-shirts in front of Plaintiffs Gary and Margie Weiter and others, including children, who were frequently at the St. Therese Rectory."

In fact, according to the suit, Schook spends the majority of his day unsupervised in the area of the rectory frequented by parishioners including children.

The suit goes on to say that Gary Weiter, Sr. suffers from depression and post traumatic stress as the result of the abuse he allegedly received from Scherzer -- and that Schook was "secreted" in the same room at the rectory where the alleged abuse took place. Because of Schook's presence, Gary Weiter, Sr. was unable to continue coming to the church.

When his wife, Margie Weiter, approached Schook to suggest that it wasn't appropriate for him to be St. Therese, he allegedly told her that the Archdiocese, "owed him a place to live regardless of his crimes."

On March 24, 2010, Schook was relieved of his priestly duties, but allowed to remain a priest (though he could not present himself publicly as a priest, wear priestly clothing or have contact with children.) 

Archbishop Kurtz ordered Schook to devote his life to "prayer and penance" and he was moved to an apartment complex that specifically houses priests accused of abuse.

"Defendant School would not only be in the presence of Plaintiff Weiter's wife, Margie Weiter, but also around and in the presence of children and other parishioners, including Plaintiff Gary Weiter, Sr.," the suit claims.

Months later, Margie Weiter was told that her role as bookkeeper and receptionist was being eliminated.

After repeated failed attempts to contact Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Margie Weiter showed up on the doorstep of his home to complain. 

The suit claims that Kurtz's representatives told her that no policies had been violated, that they should find another church to go to and that her husband should "get over" his emotional distress.

The suit accuses the church of the wrongful termination of Margie Weiter and committing "outrageous" behavior. 

It demands financial rewards in the form of compensatory and punitive damages.