Monday, April 17, 2017

USA : Chicago archdiocese agrees to pay another $3.15 million to McCormack victims

The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $3.15 million to settle the latest in a series of lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse by the laicized priest Daniel McCormack.

The archdiocese has now committed to pay over $10 million to victims of McCormack. 

In separate lawsuits, these victims have demonstrated that church officials had evidence that McCormack could be a threat to young people as far back as 1994 — before he was ordained by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin — but allowed him to continue in ministry until 2006. 

McCormack was jailed in 2007 after pleading guilty to several counts of sexual abuse. 

When he became eligible for parole in 2009, prosecutors invoked an Illinois law that allowed them to keep him under confinement, saying that he remained an imminent threat. 

He was laicized in 2007.

EUROPE : Cause opened for beatification of French priest slain at altar last year

Image result for Fr Jacques HamelThe Archdiocese of Rouen has opened a formal cause for the beatification of Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed by Islamic terrorists last July while he was celebrating Mass in the church of St. Etienne du Rouvray.

Ordinarily the Vatican requires a five-year waiting period after the death of a candidate before a cause can be opened. 

But Pope Francis waived that rule in the case of Father Hamel, responding to pleas from French Catholics. 

Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen announced the opening of the cause during the Chrism Mass in his archdiocese on Holy Thursday.

PALESTINE : Leader hopes papal visit to Egypt will strengthen moderate Muslims President Mahmoud Abbas has written to Pope Francis, offering his best wishes that the Pope’s visit to Egypt later this month will strengthen moderate Muslims.

Abbas said that the Pope’s plan to visit Egypt “reflects your commitment to achieve justice and peace and encourage moderate voices all over the world, especially in our region.”

SYRIA : 2 Franciscan friars minister in area under ISIS control

Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Franciscans, walks past the rubble of a bombarded building in Aleppo, Syria, during an early April visit to Franciscan friars there.Two of the 15 Franciscan friars who minister in Syria do so in territory controlled by the Islamic State.

As a condition for staying with the families, ISIS imposed upon the friars the condition of removing Christian symbols.

The friars “are living in two villages, 25 and 40 kilometers from Aleppo,” Father Michael Perry, minister general of the Franciscan order, told Catholic News Service.

“They have been able to negotiate space and pay what is necessary,” he said, in order to remain with “those who are too poor or too weak to find another place to go.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April - Prayer to The Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, be with me today.
Be my teacher, my guide, my counselor, my friend.

Fill me with your gifts, especially the gifts of
wisdom, discernment, knowledge, understanding, compassion,
love, and awe in God's presence.

In all that I think, say, and do, let it be in accordance
with your most holy and perfect will.

I ask this in Jesus' name.


Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 16 April - Easter Sunday

Image result for easter sunday
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb” she said “and we don’t know where they have put him.”

John 20:1-9
It can be hard to identify with Mary and the disciples when we listen to the Easter story because we know the ending: we know that Jesus has risen! At this point in the story Mary seems angry, distraught, confused. 

All of us can identify with these feelings when we go through dark times in our lives. And often it needs the support and understanding of others for our despair to turn into hope.

The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Mbala, Zambia, often meet people who have lost everything including their money and homes, looking for someone who will ‘cure’ them of their HIV. 

Sister Yvonne says: “Once they’ve exhausted everything and they are very sick – they’ve no energy or strength – then they are taken to the hospitals and most of the time this is when we come into contact with them, at the point when they are really ill and have lost everything. 

“So we support them in that state, then we will provide medication, counselling, and once they are healthier, then there is that great need to support with a livelihood to bring them back to where they were.”

The Sisters are there to meet those who are despairing and to walk with them on their transformational journey of body, mind and spirit; a journey from near-death to life in its fullness.

Easter Sunday prayer

Almighty God, on this day when we remember and celebrate your resurrection, your triumph over death, inspire us to reach out to others, sharing your joy and your hope. Let us pray for the flourishing of all your creation. Amen.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

USA : Jailed former head of St. Luke Institute agrees to mental-health counseling

A laicized New Hampshire priest, the former chancellor of the Manchester diocese, has agreed to undergo mental-health counseling, as a condition for his release from prison, where he is completing a four-year term for misappropriating church funds.

Edward Arsenault entered a guilty plea in 2014 to charges that he took more than $300,000 from the Manchester diocese. 

He reportedly used the money to support a homosexual affair.

The diocese announced last week that Arsenault had been laicized. 

Arsenault’s agreement to undergo counseling was ironic because he once served as the chief executive of the St. Luke Institute, the Maryland facility that has provided counseling for many priests charged with sexual abuse.

VATICAN : Papal liturgy will honor ‘New Martyrs’

Pope Francis will preside on April 22 at a special Liturgy of the Word to honor the “new martyrs” of the past century, the Vatican has announced.

The ceremony, organized by the Sant’Egidio community, will be held at the basilica of St. Bartholomew in Rome. 

The Sant’Egidio community, announcing the event, noted that the basilica was designated by St. John Paul II to honor recent martyrs during the Jubilee Year 2000.

VATICAN : New stamps for 90th birthday of Benedict XVI, 100th anniversary of Fatima apparitions

The Vatican will issue new stamps in May to commemorate the 90th birthday of Pope-emeritus Benedict and the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima.

The stamp honoring Benedict XVI, which shows the retired Pontiff praying the Rosary, is “our affectionate tribute to him,” the Vatican numismatic office announced. 

The former Pope will turn 90 on April 16.

The Fatima stamp shows a representation of the Virgin Mary, clothed in brilliant white, speaking to the three children at Fatima. 

The first apparitions at Fatima took place on May 13, 1917. 

The Vatican will also issue a stamp marking the 1,950th anniversary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul.

USA : Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel to close, as her religious order shrinks

Image result for National Shrine of St. Katharine DrexelThe National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, will be closed at the end of this calendar year, its administrators have announced.

The shrine, which contains relics of St. Katharine Drexel, is located alongside the motherhouse of the order she founded, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. 

The order has been forced to sell properties, primarily because of a drop in the number of members. 

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who once boasted 600 members, now have only 100, most of them living in retirement.

EUROPE : Spanish priest cleared of abuse; Pope Francis had backed accuser Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Granada, Spain, has been cleared of sex-abuse charges, in a case that saw Pope Francis intervene on behalf of the priest’s accuser.

David Ramirez Castillo — originally identified only as “Daniel” — had written to Pope Francis in 2014, complaining that he and other young men had been molested by Father Roman Martinez and other priests when they were teenagers. 

The Pontiff responded by calling Ramirez Castillo to express his sympathy and apologize for the abuse, and demanding a full inquiry by the Granada archdiocese into the allegations about a sex-abuse ring. 

Ten priests were suspended from ministry during the investigation.

But now a secular court in Spain has determined that the accusations were unfounded. 

The court ruled that testimony against Father Martinez was “completely implausible,” and that several details of the complaint by Ramirez Castillo had been proven false.

VATICAN : Pope to visit Pius VI’s birthplace and Bologna

Image result for Pope Pius VIThe Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will visit Cesena, the birthplace of Pope Pius VI (1717-1799), on October 1 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Cesena, now of city of 97,000, is located in the north-central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Pius VI, who reigned from 1775 to 1799, was taken prisoner by Napoleon’s troops and died in France.

Later on October 1, the Pope will travel from Cesena to Bologna for an archdiocesan Eucharistic congress. 

In Bologna, he will celebrate Mass, lead the recitation of the Angelus, eat with the poor, and address youth, priests, and university representatives.