Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

St. Raphael Kalinowski

Saint Rapahel was born  in 1835 as Joseph, son of Andrew and Josepha Kalinowski in present day Lithuania. Saint Raphael felt a call to the priesthood early in his life, but decided to complete his education. He studied zoology, chemistry, agriculture, and apiculture at the Institute of Agronomy in Hory Horki, Russia, and at the Academy of Military Engineering in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Saint Raphael became a Lieutenant in the Russian Military Engineering Corps in 1857. During his post he was responsible for the planning and supervised construction of the railway between Kursk and Odessa. He was promoted to captain in 1862 and stationed in Brest-Litovsk. In Bret-Litovsk he started, taught, and covered all the costs of a Sunday school, accepting anyone interested.In 1863 he supported the Polish insurrection. He resigned from the Russian army and became the rebellion's minister of war for the Vilna region. He only took the commission with the understanding that he would never hand out a death sentence nor execute a prisoner. He was soon arrested by Russian authorities, and in June of 1864 he was condemned to death for his part in the revolt. Fearing they would be creating a political martyr, they commuted his sentence to ten years of forced labour in the Siberian salt mines. Part of his sentence was spent in Irkutsk, where his relics have been moved to sanctify the new cathedral.Upon his release in 1873, he was exiled from his home region in Lithuania. He moved to Paris, France, and worked there as a tutor for three years. In 1877 he finally answered the long-heard call to the religious life, and joined the Carmelite Order at Graz, Austria, taking the name Raphael. He studied theology in Hungary and then joined the Carmelite house in Czama, Poland. He was ordained on January 15, 1882.Saint Raphael worked to restore the Discalced Carmelites to Poland, and for church unity. He founded a convent at Wadowice, Poland in 1889, and worked alongside Blessed Alphonsus Mary Marurek. He was a noted spiritural director for both Catholics and Orthodox. He was considered  an enthusiastic parish priest and spent countless hours with his parishioners in the confessional. Saint Raphael died in 1907 and was cannonized by Pope John Paul II in 1991.Source: Catholic-forum.com

To help fight sex abuse, Catholic group offers guide to the news

Lansing, Mich., Nov 18, 2018 / 04:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic bishops must act to counter sex abuse of adults as well as minors, says a lay group that has compiled a reader of news stories, analysis and commentary to help renewal and reform.

“We believe clergy sexual misconduct with adults is at the core of so many of the problems of the Church in the last many decades,” the group No More Victims told the bishops.

“As you deal with the scandal of [Archbishop Theodore] McCarrick and abuse committed by bishops, we urge you to include in your concerns efforts to rid seminaries, dioceses and all Church institutions and structures of those who are involved in sexual misconduct with adults.”

Lay people of Michigan’s Diocese of Lansing formed the group No More Victims. They have produced the reader “What We Laity Are Reading that has Shaken Us to the Core,” compiling news stories and analysis about sexual abuse and misconduct by Catholic clergy.

The group sent copies of the reader to the media and to the U.S. bishops. It also sent the bishops a letter signed by executive director Jason Negri, a Michigan attorney, as well as board member broadcaster and author Al Kresta and moral theologian Janet E. Smith, who is an adviser to the group.

“We know the tasks before you are truly of epic proportions and will affect the faith and salvation of many for decades to come,” their letter continued. “We are praying that what needs to be done to rebuild and purify the Church will be done.”

The group asked the bishops to consider its members “loyal partners in the work of the Church,” adding “we would like to stand with you through this crisis in your commitment to the Gospel which brings healing and calls us all to true holiness.”

A copy of the reader is provided at the No More Victims website, www.nomorevictimsmi.org.

The reader’s material, dating back to the 1990s, is generally from a U.S. perspective. No More Victims said it shows “what the crisis looks like from the standpoint of the average lay Catholic with access to the internet.”

The collection includes news stories about abuse victims, including abused seminarians, as well as news, opinion and commentary from abuse victims, priests, Catholic lay leaders and other observers such as Sandro Magister, Matthew Schmitz, Kenneth L. Woodward, Mary Eberstadt and Daniel Mattson.

In its introduction, the No More Victims group hoped that the reader would help the bishops find methods that will assure laity that seminarians will not be sexually harassed but rather “taught the fullness of the faith.” Actions are needed to ensure that there is no “network of priests who engage in sexual misconduct” in a diocese, and to ensure that priests who violate chastity “in serious ways” will be given an opportunity to repent and change. Bishops’ actions must ensure that “unchaste priests who refuse to repent and change their ways” will be asked to leave the priesthood.

The reader aimed to help find ways “to correct fellow bishops whose response to sex abuse cases is poor, confuses the faithful, and reflects badly upon all bishops,” No More Victims said.

Included in the collection is a Time Magazine essay from a Catholic priest who wrote that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a 15-year-old altar boy in New Jersey by a visiting priest of the New York archdiocese; an Irish-born California priest who was groomed and abused in Ireland by a priest who waited until he was 18 so it would not appear to be abuse; a priest who, according to the Pennsylvania grand jury report, arranged for an abortion for a young girl he had allegedly raped from 1980-1985; a Crux News report on Chilean seminarians who suffered sex abuse; a National Catholic Register report on seminarians sexually abused in Honduras; a 2011 Gawker report on sex abuse and, in the report’s own words, a “secret gay cabal” in Florida allegedly under former Archbishop of Miami John Favalora.

A December 2013 Vanity Fair story on an alleged “gay lobby” at the Vatican between cardinals, priests and monks that “survives on secrecy” is included, as is a 2018 CNA report on priest-sociologist Father D. Paul Sullins’ consideration of sex abuse trends, including apparently strong statistical correlations between sex abuse, a priesthood that is disproportionately homosexual, and a seminary life with a reported “gay subculture.”

The reader has several pages listing “troubling headlines” and it recommends the documentary “Sex Abuse in the Church: Code of Silence,” made in France about how priests have been reassigned to escape prosecution. It ends with “a disturbing account of how Cardinal Bergoglio handled the case of Fr. Grassi in Buenos Aires.”

The reader’s appendix lists key documents, online resources, coordinated responses, and books.

“We believe the extent of this problem is tremendous and the time to purify the Church is now,” No More Victims said in the reader introduction. “The focus here is on another huge problem: the continuing presence of priests who engage in sexual misconduct with adults, especially males, and the effect they have on the Church ― the harm they have done to victims, their pernicious influence in seminaries, the extent of their influence in dioceses, and the way they impede zealous promotion of the gospel.”

“Some of the articles are from a perspective hostile to the Church but that does not negate their veracity,” it added. “While many of these articles may seem sensationalist, it is in fact the reality of abuse that is truly responsible for the shocking nature of what is reported.”

The introduction said it is difficult to believe all the stories of abuse, but claimed “the sheer volume of them gives credence to them,” in addition to the abuse reported in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report about six Catholic dioceses in the state.

“If you know any of these articles to report false information, please provide your reasons because we have come to believe the material they contain,” No More Victims said, predicting “Once the presence of predator priests and unchaste priests is eliminated, we expect that there will be an influx of devout, chaste men into the priesthood.”

“We are lay people who love Jesus, our Church, our bishops, our priests. We know there are holy and exemplary bishops, and bishops who serve us heroically, and we want them to have a Church that fully supports their invaluable work,” said the group.

“We know that many bishops have inherited messes of various kinds and it seems that often the default way of dealing with priests who live immoral lives is to look the other way. But we think that is the wrong answer–the Church deserves priests fully committed to being faithful to their vows, and those who are not ought to reform or resign.”

The group said it does not aim to force bishops to resign or to embarrass or harass them. Rather, it wants bishops to take strong action to restore trust in the episcopacy.

“We don’t intend to stop praying, fasting, and advocating for change until that happens,” No More Victims said.

Archbishop Vigano ordered to pay 2m euro to brother in inheritance dispute

Milan, Italy, Nov 18, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An Italian court has ordered Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò to pay back nearly 2 million euro of inheritance, plus interest and legal fees to his brother, Father Lorenzo Vigano.

Archbishop Vigano had been managing the brothers’ inheritance since their father’s death in 1961. According to Italian paper La Stampa, the brothers hold about 20 million euro in real estate, and about six million euro in cash.

The archbishop, who had been collecting money from the estate, was ordered to pay his brother back half of what he had collected - which amounted to 1.8 million euro, or more than 2 million U.S. dollars, plus fees.

The inheritance has reportedly been a cause of contention in their relationship for years - Fr. Lorenzo Vigano, a Jesuit biblical scholar who has lived in Chicago for years, has tried to sue over the inheritance numerous times. This is the first time he has succeeded in being rewarded any money.

The inheritance has also reportedly caused friction between Archbishop Vigano and his sister Rosanna, whom he paid 8,600 euro in 2014 to settle a lawsuit, according to The Catholic Universe.

Archbishop Vigano is the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, a position he held from 2011-2016. His public letter of Aug. 26, accusing Pope Francis of knowing about the allegations of sexual misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and failing to act, thrust him into the center of the debate about the Church sex abuse scandal this summer.

Vigano had previously made headlines in the 2011-2012 “Vatileaks” scandal, during which some documents from the office of Benedict XVI were leaked to Italian journalists. The documents revealed that Vigano had told the Pope that he couldn’t take up his assignment in the U.S. because he had to take care of his ailing brother, Lorenzo.

Lorenzo said in an interview at the time that while he had suffered a stroke, he had not been close to his brother in years due to conflicts over their inheritance, and that his illness was no reason for Vigano to reject his new position, according to La Stampa.

While Archbishop Vigano went into hiding in August, fearing for his safety after the publication of his letter on Francis and McCarrick, he has not remained silent. He has written two additional letters on the sex abuse scandal, and sent a message to the U.S. bishops ahead of their meeting this week, urging them to be “courageous shepherds” in the face of the sex abuse crisis.

Invite Jesus into the storms of life, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2018 / 05:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a difficult time, it can be easy to see only the immediate problem; but asking Jesus to be the guide is the key to weathering the storm, Pope Francis said Sunday at a Mass with 6,000 poor and volunteers.

“The boat of our life is often storm-tossed and buffeted by winds. Even when the waters are calm, they quickly grow agitated. When we are caught up in those storms, they seem to be our only problem,” the pope said Nov. 18.

“But the issue is not the momentary storm, but how we are navigating through life. The secret of navigating well is to invite Jesus on board. The rudder of life must be surrendered to him, so that he can steer the route.”

“Today,” he continued, “let us invite Jesus into the boat of our life. Like the disciples, we will realize that once he is on board, the winds die down and there can be no shipwreck.”

Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the World Day of the Poor, which he established in 2016 at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. The theme for 2018 is taken from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

After Mass, he ate a lunch of lasagna, chicken nuggets, mashed potato and tiramisu with poor in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

Before the meal, Francis offered a blessing, saying "we thank everyone and pray to God to bless us all. A blessing from God for all, all [of us] who are here. May God bless each one of us, bless our hearts, bless our intentions, and help us to go forward."

In his homily at Mass, the pope reflected on Matt. 14:22-33, which gives the account of Jesus walking across the water to meet his disciples in the boat, which was being tossed about by waves.

As St. Matthew writes, after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus left the crowd of people and his disciples and went up on a mountain to pray.

His disciples set off in a boat for the other side of the Sea of Galilee, “meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward them, walking on the sea.”

There are several lessons that can be taken from this Gospel passage, the pope said; one being to have the courage to leave behind comfort and an easy life. “To go where? To God by praying, and to those in need by loving. These are the true treasures in life: God and our neighbor,” he said.

He explained that Jesus’ disciples were not meant to have a carefree life, “traveling light, ready to leave passing glories behind, careful not to cling to fleeting goods.”

“Christians know that their homeland is elsewhere,” he underlined. “We do not live to accumulate; our glory lies in leaving behind the things that pass away in order to hold on to those that last.”

“Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life,” he said: The unborn, starving children, young people in places of conflict, the elderly, those forced to leave their home and native country.

Taking care of those in need is not a “sociological option, it is not the fad of a pontificate; it is a theological requirement,” he emphasized.  “It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. Before the prayer, he reflected on the day’s Gospel passage from Mark. In the passage, the pope explained, Jesus is saying that the story of people and of individuals all have a goal: “permanent encounter with the Lord.”

“We do not know the time nor the ways in which [the end of the world] will happen,” Francis said. “We know, however, a fundamental principle which we must confront: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,’ Jesus says.”

At the end he offered a special prayer for everyone affected by the fires that are “scourging California” and for the victims of the winter storm on the east coast.

“May the Lord welcome the deceased into his peace, comfort the family members and support those who commit themselves to help,” he prayed.

The pope also prayed for those who died in a Nov. 15 attack on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Alindao, in the Central African Republic. At least 42 people died in the attack, including at least one priest, according to local reports. Some unofficial estimates have said the death toll could reach as high as 100. Many of the people killed were refugees sheltering at the church.

Pope Francis said, “we pray for the dead and the wounded and for an end to all violence in that beloved country, which is in great need of peace.”

Artists begin work on Vatican Christmas nativity – out of sand

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 04:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s nativity scene will be a little bit different this year. In a departure from the traditional Neapolitan or Maltese figures of recent years, the scene of Christ’s birth will be entirely sculpted from sand.

Beginning Nov. 17, four artists are beginning their work in St. Peter’s Square, crafting nearly 46,000 cubic feet of sand, equal to around 700 tons, into a grand “Sand Nativity.”

The creators, who have been sculpting sand nativities in the Italian town of Jesolo for years, say on their website that the goal is “to build the largest sand nativity in Christendom in the center of Rome in order to provide moments of authentic and joyful contemplation to all those who love Christmas.”



Sand Nativity scene in the Italian town of Jesolo. Credit: Town of Jesolo.

A partnership between the mayor of Jesolo and Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice is what brought the famous sand sculptures to the Vatican for Christmas 2018.

The Jesolo sand, as it is called, was brought to the square from the Dolomites, a mountain range in northeastern Italy near Jesolo. The four sculptors who will transform the shapeless mounds into the traditional figures of Jesus’ birth hail from Holland, Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States.

Phase one of construction will begin with a large pyramid of sand; spaces will then be dug into the sides and the sand compacted. A few days later, a protective structure will be built around the sand. The true sculpting phase will begin Nov. 21 and go until the first week of December.

In the final 48 hours, which will be Dec. 5-6, the final touches will be placed, before the big reveal Dec. 7, the same day as the annual lighting ceremony of the St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree.

The tradition to have a tree in St. Peter’s Square was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982. This year’s tree comes from the Forest of Cansiglio in northern Italy, which is near the Dolomites.

Pope Francis: Include the Holy Spirit in art, theology

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 05:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the face of the difficulties of the modern-age, artists and theologians need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – the source of joy and hope, Pope Francis said Saturday, during the awarding of the 2018 Ratzinger Prize.

“Against the backdrop and in the context of the great problems of our time, theology and art must therefore continue to be animated and elevated by the power of the Spirit, which is the source of strength, joy and hope,” he said Nov. 17.

“I thank the theologians and the architects who help us to lift our heads and turn our thoughts to God,” he added. “Let [their work] always be addressed to this end.”

Pope Francis spoke with members of the Joseph-Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation, which is headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. During the audience in the Clementine hall, the pope bestowed the 8th annual Ratzinger Prize on Swiss architect Mario Botta and Bavarian theologian Marianne Schlosser.

The Ratzinger Prize was started in 2011 to recognize scholars whose work demonstrates a meaningful contribution to theology in the spirit of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Bavarian theologian who became Pope Benedict XVI.

It is not the first time a woman has been awarded the prize, he noted, but stressed the importance of greater recognition of the contribution of women to the sciences, to theological research and to the teaching of theology, which were “for so long considered almost exclusive territories of the clergy.”

This contribution should be encouraged, and “find a wider space, in keeping with the growing presence of women in the various fields of responsibility for the life of the Church,” he said, pointing to the example set by St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisiuex and St. Hildegard of Bingen, who are all considered Doctors of the Church.

Francis also praised the contribution of the other prize winner, architect Mario Botta. He noted the importance of sacred buildings throughout the history of the Church, as places which show “a concrete call to God” and express “the faith of the believing community.”

“The commitment of the architect, creator of sacred space in the city of men, is therefore of highest value, and must be recognized and encouraged by the Church, especially when we risk the oblivion of the spiritual dimension and the dehumanization of urban spaces,” he stated.

Pope Francis also encouraged members of the foundation to continue to study the writings of Benedict XVI, both those from his time as pope and before, “but also to face the new themes on which faith is called to dialogue,” like care of creation and defense of human dignity.

For admirers of Benedict’s spiritual legacy, there is a “mission to cultivate it and to continue to make it bear fruit,” he said. “His is a spirit that views the problems of our time with awareness and courage, and knows how to draw, from attention to Scripture in the living tradition of the Church, the wisdom necessary for a constructive dialogue with today’s culture.”

Schlosser, 59, has been a professor of the theology of spirituality at the University of Vienna since 2004. Pope Francis appointed her a member of the International Theological Commission in 2014.

She has translated a large part of the body of work of St. Bonaventure into German and was the researcher for the second volume of the total works of Joseph Ratzinger, which was on "the Idea of Revelation and the Theology of the History of Bonaventure." Her expertise is in Patristics and the theology and spirituality of the late Middle Ages.

Botta, 75, is an internationally-acclaimed architect, who has designed many different buildings, including homes, schools, libraries, museums, and banks. He has also designed several significant religious buildings, among them the Church of St. John the Baptist in Mogno, the Cathedral of Evry near Paris, and the Co-cathedral of Santo Volto in Turin.

He is also the designer of one of the chapels on display in the Holy See's pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

Pope creates class on ‘Sciences of Peace’ at Lateran University

Rome, Italy, Nov 17, 2018 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday established a curriculum in Sciences of Peace at the Pontifical Lateran University, involving the “pope’s university” because of the special bond it has with the Holy See in a project to “foster seeds of peace.”

In a letter sent to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome and chancellor of the university, Pope Francis put the new curriculum under the protection of St. John XXIII and St. Paul VI, “heralds of peace.”

The announcement was read at the end of the inaugural lecture of the new academic year. The lecture was delivered by Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, secretary of the Council of Cardinals that is helping Pope Francis to reform the Roman Curia.

The new curriculum within the Pontifical Lateran University will likely be part of this reform.
In his letter to Cardinal De Donatis, Pope Francis said that the Church “feels the call to inspire and support every initiative that might secure people and countries a path to peace.”

He added that the Church’s effort also requires “the knowledge and study of a patrimony of values, notions and tools able to tear down the trend to isolationism, closeness and power mentalities that bear violence and destructions.”

Pope Francis then stressed that “in order to be a credible mediator,” the Church is called to be involved in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights and so forth.”

The pope said that this credibility is highly required while the Holy See is committed to pontifical diplomacy and the international community, and stressed that the network of Catholic universities has a central role in building the culture of peace.

For this reason, the pope kicked off a new path of the “Church which goes forth” and established the curriculum of Sciences of Peace, the final goal of which is “to incarnate the Word of God for the Church and for humanity of the Third Millennium.”

The curriculum will include theological, philosophical, juridical, economic and social structure, and will provide a bachelor’s degree and a license.

This curriculum, in Pope Francis’ intention, will be the reference point for the promotion of “a proper preparation of current and future workers of peace.”

Pope Francis’ letter was read after Bishop Semeraro had lectured on “The proposal of reform for the Roman Curia.”

The secretary of the Council of Cardinals stressed that the program for curial reform is being scrutinized from the canon law point of view, and for this reason Pope Francis appointed Msgr. Mellino as adjunct secretary to the Council of Cardinals Oct. 27 and also a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Bishop Semeraro said that part of the reform has been already enacted with the establishment of the Council for Economy, the Dicasteries for Laity, Family and Life, the Promotion of Integral Human Development and Communication, and finally of the Third Section of the Secretariat of State.

The new pastoral constitution that will regulate functions and tasks of the Roman Curia offices is provisionally titled Praedicate evangelium, meaning “preach the Gospel,” which was the title proposed in summer 2015. The title of the constitution also fits with the “missionary choice” Pope Francis asked for in the 2014 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.

As part of the reform, Bishop Semeraro also included Pope Francis’ decision to hold the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia outside of Rome. This is a sign, Semeraro said, that “reform, in Pope Francis’ mind, is really much more than any structural change.”

Italian bishops’ conference establishes national center for youth protection

Rome, Italy, Nov 17, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- With the intention of “providing a radical solution” to the sex abuse issue, the Italian bishops’ conference established Thursday a new center for youth protection, and pledged to update its 2014 guidelines on countering sexual abuse.
 
The decisions came at the end of an extraordinary general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference, held in Rome Nov. 12 -15.
 
The assembly was summoned to approve new translations of the missal, and in particular of “Our Father” and the “Gloria in Excelsis.” The meeting also included a discussion on new anti-abuse measures that are said to have been for in process for quite some time.
 
During the meeting, the Italian bishops decided to establish a “national service for the protection of Minors and vulnerable people.”
 
The new body will be given statutes, a regulation, a staff, and a panel of experts in advisory roles.
 
According to an Italian bishops’ conference release, the center will have responsibility to “help start diocesan paths to provide formation for the prevention of abuse.”

The center will also counsel and assist dioceses in canonical and civil lawsuits.
 
In addition to this service, the Italian bishops’ conference made the decision to appoint one or two people per region as reference points for abuse reports. Italy is composed of 20 ecclesiastical regions, and almost all of them gather in regional bishops’ conferences.
 
Those people will undergo specific training, on a regional basis, with the help of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Gregorian University.
 
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, underscored in a Nov. 15 press conference that the Italian bishops are also committed to improve the procedure to accept candidates to priesthood.

There will be, he said,  “an accurate psychiatric evaluation” before admitting anyone to the seminary.
 
Bassetti also noted that reports of abuse must be “seriously scrutinized. An equitable and just procedure is needed. The reports of survivors must be heard with care and with psychological sensitivity. On the other hand, we must watch out for unjust reports.”

 

 

 

Cupich and Wuerl collaborated on alternative sex abuse proposal

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2018 / 06:56 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington collaborated extensively on a recently proposed policy for handling abuse allegations against bishops, CNA has learned.

Cupich submitted the plan Tuesday to leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference, proffering it as an alternative to a proposal that had been devised by conference officials and staffers.

The conference’s proposed plan would have established an independent lay-led commission to investigate allegations against bishops. The Cupich-Wuerl plan would instead send allegations against bishops to be investigated by their metropolitan archbishops, along with archdiocesan review boards. Metropolitans themselves would be investigated by their senior suffragan bishops.

Sources in Rome and Washington, DC told CNA that Wuerl and Cupich worked together on their alternative plan for weeks, and presented it to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops before the U.S. bishops’ conference assembly in Baltimore. Cupich and Wuerl are both members of the Congregation for Bishops.
 
The Cupich-Wuerl plan was submitted to the U.S. bishops even after a Vatican directive was issued Monday barring U.S. bishops from voting on any abuse-related measures. The Vatican suspended USCCB policy-making on sexual abuse until after a February meeting involving the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world.

An official at the Congregation for Bishops told CNA on Thursday that the substance of the plan presented by Cupich at the Baltimore meeting is known in the congregation as “Wuerl’s plan.” The official would not confirm whether the congregation had received an advance copy of the document.

Senior chancery officials in Washington described the plan presented Tuesday as a collaborative effort by the cardinals, telling CNA that Wuerl and Cupich first informed the Congregation for Bishops several weeks ago about their idea for the “metropolitan model” to handle complaints against a bishop, and suggested they had continued to discuss the plan with Congregation officials since that time.

"It was a mutual effort," one Archdiocese of Washington official told CNA.

The idea of amending USCCB policy so that allegations against a bishop would be handled by his metropolitan archbishop was first suggested by Wuerl publicly in August.

While Cupich played an active role in conference sessions this week, and proposed the detailed plan for an alternative to the conference’s special commission, Wuerl did not make any public comment on the plan, which at least some in Rome consider to be “his,” and which he first suggested in public 3 months ago.

Sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes discussions in Baltimore told CNA that Wuerl chose to step back from the plan’s presentation, providing advice and counsel but not seeking to take public credit. A spokesman for Wuerl declined to comment on that decision.

Several bishops in Baltimore told CNA that Cupich appeared to be positioning himself as an unofficial but influential policy-maker in the conference. His status would be strengthened if the plan he introduced in Baltimore gained support in Rome, they said, especially if it were favored over the plan proposed by conference officials.

It is not clear to what extent Cupich considered how the manner in which he presented his plan could be interpreted. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago told CNA that Cardinal Cupich was away, and could not be reached for comment.

A source familiar with the drafting of the alternative proposal told CNA that Wuerl was not involved in the way the plan was presented in Baltimore, saying that Wuerl’s only concern was developing the best possible plan for tackling the sexual abuse crisis, and not “playing games” at the conference.

Many American bishops arrived in Baltimore this week expecting to approve the proposed the independent commission, along with proposed standards for episcopal conduct. Bishops were stunned to discover Monday that they could not vote on the measures, following the last-minute instruction from the Congregation for Bishops, received Sunday night by conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

An Archdiocese of Washington official suggested to CNA that the Congregation for Bishops’ last minute suspension of voting at the Baltimore meeting might have been because the conference’s independent commission proposal was not sent to Rome until Oct. 30.

DiNardo, however, told a press conference Monday that while the draft document for the independent commission had been sent to Rome at the end of October, the USCCB had been in consistent contact with Vatican officials as the texts were developed.

DiNardo said that “When we were in Rome [in October] we consulted with all of [the Vatican dicasteries]. I mean, [that’s what] we do.”

“When I met with the Holy Father in October, the Holy Father was very positive in a general way - he had not seen everything yet - of the kind of action items we were looking to do.”

Cupich spoke from the floor immediately after DiNardo’s announcement of the change Monday morning. The cardinal suggested that the bishops continue to discuss the proposed measures and take non-binding votes on them. He offered no indication at that time that he would introduce a completely different plan.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago cardinal rose to question the premise of the USCCB’s proposed independent commission, asking if it was a reflection of sound ecclesiology. Cupich suggested that the commission could be seen as a way of “outsourcing” difficult situations.

Shortly thereafter, Cupich submitted to conference leaders a seemingly well-prepared and comprehensive “Supplement to the [USCCB] Essential Norms,” which outlined in detail the plan he had developed with Wuerl.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said from the floor that the “metropolitan model” appeared to align closer with the Church’s hierarchical structure.

“I really do favor the use of the metropolitan and the metropolitan review board for these cases… but that would require that the Holy See give metropolitan archbishops more authority than we have,” Chaput told the conference.

Chaput told the bishop that the reason the USCCB executive committee opted to pursue the idea of an independent commission instead of developing a plan based around the metropolitan archbishop was because they did not think the “metropolitan model’ would have support in Rome.

“When we discussed this at the executive committee level we, some people, thought it would be easier for us to develop this independent commission than to get the Church to change canon law,” he said.

Sources close to the USCCB told CNA that if the executive committee had known the Vatican might support the “metropolitan model,” it might have been pursued earlier, with a proposal being circulated to members by the conference leadership. A spokesperson for the USCCB declined to comment on that possibility.

Cupich had suggested during the meeting that either or both plans could be voted on in non-binding resolutions in order to give the Vatican a sense of the American episcopate’s desires. Ultimately, no vote was taken.

Instead, as the Baltimore meeting ended, DiNardo agreed that Cupich’s plan would be developed alongside the independent commission plan, by a special task force consisting of former USCCB presidents Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and Archbishop Wilton Gregory. DiNardo will have the option of presenting either or both possibilities when he and conference vice president Archbishop Jose Gomez attend the Vatican’s February meeting.

USCCB spokespersons declined several times to comment on any role Cupich or Wuerl, members of the Congregation for Bishops, might have played in developing the congregation’s reaction to the special commission plan.

 

Ed. note: This story was updated after publication to explain that metropolitans under investigation would be investigated by their senior suffragan bishops.

Italy should get back taxes from Vatican, court rules

Rome, Italy, Nov 16, 2018 / 06:27 pm (CNA).- Catholic leaders are open to discussing with the Italian government a court ruling saying Italy has the right to recover millions of dollars from the Church from a previous tax exemption.

According to DW, an exemption was established in the beginning of 2012, which allowed for non-commercial Church properties to be exempt from paying an Italian municipal tax – the IMU.

The case had been opened that year by a Montessori school and an owner of a bed-and-breakfast, who called the exemption unfair to properties offering similar services.

In December 2012, the European Commission in Brussels declared the exemption to be unlawful. However, the court ruled that it would be too complicated to recover the money, as the tax database and Italian property title registry were not up-to-date.

However, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg overruled that decision this month, saying that Italy has the right to take back millions of euros, the Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, head of the Italian bishops’ conference, said the Church had not yet begun a discussion with the government, but “certainly some contacts will be necessary,” according to the Associated Press.