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Native American Catholics recharge their faith at Tekakwitha meeting

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FARGO, N.D. — On the 75th anniversary of the Tekakwitha Conference, Native American Catholics came together again to review the past, plan for the future and recharge their faith.

More than 750 people from 35 states and representing 135 tribes gathered under the theme “To walk humbly,” a nod to namesake St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the gentle Mohawk-Algonquin woman canonized two years ago.

Women from Alaska take part in the parade of nations July 24 during the annual Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, N.D.  The gathering of Native American Catholics, held July 23-27, marked its 75th anniversary. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Women from Alaska take part in the parade of nations July 24 during the annual Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, N.D. The gathering of Native American Catholics, held July 23-27, marked its 75th anniversary. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Gathering in “talking circles” on the conference’s first full day July 24, groups of them agreed that young people were their top concern.

“Our youth are losing their cultural and religious connections,” said a woman speaking on behalf of her small group. “We’re not encouraging them enough to go to catechism and to go to Mass.”

Some of the other issues people brought to the floor included expanding evangelization and inculturation efforts and a need for more Native American priests, women religious and lay leaders. One group mentioned a desire for “spiritual healing centers” to help people overcome drug and alcohol addiction problems.

The talking circles were facilitated by Father Henry Sands of the Ojibwe, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes. A priest of the Detroit Archdiocese, he heads the Native American efforts of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He told the groups that he would share their concerns with the bishops of the United States.

Young people were not only on the minds of conference-goers, but they took part in the meeting activities, including leading some Native American rituals.

At a sunrise prayer service, a young man conducted the smudging, the Indian purification ritual using the smoke of burning cedar, sage and sweet grass.

Carmelita Sharpback of Winnebago, Nebraska, swaddled her 8-week-old daughter, Willow Rain, as she walked in the event’s evening parade of nations with other tribe members.

Crow Creek Sioux Jaime Berens of Charter Oak, Iowa, was attending the Tekakwitha Conference for the first time with her 9-year-old daughter, Saige.

“I hope to learn more about St. Kateri and more about my faith,” she told Catholic News Service. “I also want to help raise my daughter the best way I can in the Catholic faith.”

During the opening Mass, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia called his fellow Native Americans to continuing Christian conversion.

“When we ask forgiveness, that means we can change and start over. And nothing is better than starting over,” he said. “It gives us new energy.”

The archbishop, who is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, said true happiness is found in one’s relationship with God, and pointed to St. Kateri as one who listened to the word of God “not just with her ears, but with her heart.”

He said he hoped the Tekakwitha Conference would be a source of ongoing conversion for native people. “That we might listen, love and be saved.”

Before his homily Archbishop Chaput also announced some news, that Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015, even though the Philadelphia archdiocese still has not received official confirmation from the Vatican.

Fawn Antone, 32, of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Pisineno, Arizona, was attending the Tekakwitha Conference with several family members. She said she rarely misses the annual meeting.

“I come here to recharge my religious battery,” she said. “You feel a lot of joy when you come here because everyone who comes here comes in the name of Kateri.”

— By Nancy Wiechec

 

Patriarch decries ‘mass cleansing’ of Mosul Christians

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Catholic News Service

Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, in Washington to meet with federal government representatives and members of Congress, decried the “mass cleansing” of Christians from Mosul, Iraq, by what he called “a bed of criminals.”

A handout picture made available by the official government Syrian Arab News Agency in May shows Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan walking with a Christian and Muslim delegation during a visit to the old city of Homs, Syria. A prominent Syrian Christian political leader has warned of an impending assault on Syria's northeastern province of Hassake amid reports that thousands of Islamist fighters are preparing to take control of the predominantly Christian and Kurdish area. (CNS photo/EPA)

A handout picture made available by the official government Syrian Arab News Agency in May shows Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan walking with a Christian and Muslim delegation during a visit to the old city of Homs, Syria. A prominent Syrian Christian political leader has warned of an impending assault on Syria’s northeastern province of Hassake amid reports that thousands of Islamist fighters are preparing to take control of the predominantly Christian and Kurdish area. (CNS photo/EPA)

“We wonder how could those criminals, this bed of criminals, cross the border from Syria into Mosul and occupy the whole city of Mosul … imposing on the population their Shariah (law) without any knowledge of the international community,” Patriarch Younan said July 25, referring to Islamic State fighters, formerly known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL.

“What happened is really kind of a cleansing based on religion. You have heard about what they did: proclaim — they announced publicly with street microphones, the ISIS — there’s no more room for Christians in Mosul, that they either have to convert, pay tax, or just leave. And they have been leaving now since then with absolutely nothing,” he added.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century, you have such kind of behavior,” the patriarch lamented. “It’s mass cleansing based on religion, not only for Christians, the Christian minority, but for other minorities,” among them the Yezidi, an ethnic group of 700,000 based in Iraq’s Mesopotamia region.

In Mosul itself, “there is no more Christian presence,” Patriarch Younan said. “It’s tragic because it’s the largest Christian city in Iraq; it was what you call the nucleus of Christian presence for many centuries. And we have at least 25 churches in that city. All are abandoned. No more prayers, no services, no more Masses on Sundays in Mosul because no clergy, no people there that are Christian.” The Islamic State, he said, “took advantage of the Christians who are defenseless in that country, and they have no other means to stay in that country. They have nowhere else to go. They have been taken out with force and injustice.

“Christians used to make at the time of Saddam (Hussein), especially before 1980, about 2.5 percent. That means almost 1.4 million. Now they account for less than 300,000. This is a kind of tragic dwindling of their number,” Patriarch Younan said. “It’s just because of Christian belief and that they are different from the majority,” he added.

Mosul’s Christians have fled to neighboring Kurd-controlled areas.

“The Kurdistan government took care of them, trying to help them,” Patriarch Younan said. “Of course they are still in dire need for assistance for those refugees being forced to leave without any means.”

The patriarch visited them June 27. He said he “urged them to take refuge and go back to their home city” because of Kurd assurances of protection.

Among Patriarch Younan’s appointments in Washington was one with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, who is crafting a bill calling for internationally protected zones for threatened religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East.

On a separate front, the patriarch said he has suggested a joint meeting of Eastern Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs to advocate for the region’s vulnerable populations, most of whom are adherents to their respective faiths.

“We have to take our responsibility very seriously together,” Patriarch Younan said. “We are on very good terms, the patriarchs. We are aware of the biggest challenges we are facing or our communities are facing, and we have to go throughout the world and bring the voice of our people to those who have a word to say on the international scene, whether the United Nations, United States, European Union, Russia, China, the Vatican” — and even top Sunni leaders in Egypt and Shiite leaders in Iran.

“We have to tell them that we have been here for millennia. We don’t have any ambition to fight any people, any community, or have ambition to govern or to make coup d’etat, but we have the right to live peacefully in the land of our forefathers as we did for the past 2,000 years,” Patriarch Younan said.

Patriarch Younan, who was born in Syria, said that while Saddam and Syrian President Bashar Assad have been vilified by the West, one thing they did well was to protect religious minorities.

The patriarch recalled appearing on a French prime-time news program where the host asked him: “You know you have a president, an awful president. He’s a monster. He’s killing innocent people, kids, and women.”

Patriarch Younan said he replied with the story of a Capuchin priest from a Syrian town on the Euphrates River that is 98 percent Sunni; it was coming under attack by anti-government rebels.

“I was the last one to leave,” the Capuchin told the patriarch. “I had a parish church, and I have with me in the parish center four nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta taking care of about 20 elderly women. And we could not anymore stand that situation. So the nuns called Damascus. And Damascus sent military vehicles to evacuate us from the parish compound, the nuns, 12 elderly people and myself to the airport, and they took us to Damascus.”

“Now,” Patriarch Younan told the French news-show host, “you can judge if that guy is a monster or not.”

 

Christian groups urge Obama to take action to stop violence in Gaza

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Christian organizations called on President Barack Obama to take direct action to stop the current violence in the Gaza Strip and to work toward a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“The Obama administration and Congress have rightly condemned the indiscriminate rockets from Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups into Israel. It is time for the U.S. to condemn the Israeli bombardment of civilian centers and the blockade just as strongly. This latest escalation cannot be divorced from the broader context of the Gaza siege and occupation,” they wrote in the July 22 letter to Obama and copied to members of the House and Senate.

They added that U.S. military aid to Israel creates a heavy moral obligation on the United States to ensure that it is not used in violation of U.S. law and human rights.

“As the situation continues to deteriorate, and horrendous death and destruction mount in Gaza, we are called by conscience to say, ‘Enough,’” they said.

Previous military operations in Gaza have failed because the root cause of the violence, the Israeli occupation, has not been resolved, they said.

“To achieve a lasting peace, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, including the siege of Gaza, must end. The U.S. must, therefore, make ending the occupation and lifting the Gaza siege priorities for our foreign policy in the region,” they said.

Among Christian groups signing the letter were the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. Pax Christi International, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Extended Justice Team.

 

Archbishop Chaput says Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia next year – updated

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Catholic News Service

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to attend the World Meeting of Families in the U.S. next year, even though the Philadelphia archdiocese still has not received official confirmation from the Vatican.

Pope Francis plans to visit Philadelphia in September 2015. (CNS)

Pope Francis plans to visit Philadelphia in September 2015. (CNS)

Archbishop Chaput made the announcement July 24 before giving his homily during the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo.

“Pope Francis has told me that he is coming,” said the archbishop as he invited his fellow Native Americans to the 2015 celebration being held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27.

“The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week,” he said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said July 25 Pope Francis has expressed “his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families” in Philadelphia, and has received invitations to visit other cities as well, which he is considering. Those invitations include New York, the United Nations and Washington.

“There has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or the Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event.”

It said Archbishop Chaput “has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis’ attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence.”

“We are further heartened and excited” by Father Lombardi’s comments, it added. “While Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”

Some Mexican media have cited government officials saying a September trip to North America also could include stops in Mexico, but Father Lombardi said that at this moment “nothing operational has begun relative to a plan or program for a visit to the United States or Mexico. Keep in mind, there is still more than a year to go before the meeting in Philadelphia.”

“The fact that Pope Francis’ first trip to the U.S. will bring him so close to our diocese is extraordinary exciting,” said a statement from the Diocese of Wilmington’s Communications Office. “Over the past year, the world has come to love and admire this humble pope. We are sure that American Catholics and particularly our friends in the neighboring Archdiocese of Philadelphia will welcome our Holy Father with open arms and show him great hospitality.”

— By Nancy Wiechec and from Diocese of Wilmington Communications Office.

 

‘Lucy,’ never boring, rates an L, limited adult audience

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

No one can accuse French writer-director Luc Besson of having made a dull film in “Lucy

But giddy sci-fi notions pepper his bizarre action thriller, while harsh events unfold amid its gritty setting, making this breakneck outing a suitable ride only for those grown-ups with seasoned judgment.

Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson star in a scene from the movie "Lucy." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.  (CNS/Universal)

Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson star in a scene from the movie “Lucy.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS/Universal)

It’s a safe bet that nothing good is going to happen to the streetwise but impressionable waif of the title once Lucy’s boyfriend, Richard (Pilou Asbaek), tricks her into delivering a briefcase with unknown contents to a recipient he’s clearly afraid to face. So it’s no surprise when the case turns out to hold a large quantity of a cutting-edge narcotic belonging to brutal Taiwanese crime lord Mr. Jang (Choi Min Sik).

Though the initial transfer of the drug is harrowing enough, worse is to follow: Beaten unconscious, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) wakes up to find that a portion of the crystalline substance has been implanted in her, and that she’s being compelled to serve as one of Jang’s beleaguered crew of unwilling mules.

Held in captivity pending her departure, Lucy is accidentally exposed to the influence of her cargo when one of Jang’s henchmen, whose advances she’s repelled, responds by putting her through another drubbing. The startling result is that, rather than merely getting high or even overdosing, Lucy rapidly begins using more and more of her brain’s untapped capacity for thought.

This process of intellectual expansion not only enables Lucy to escape, but keeps her several steps ahead of the pursuing bad guys, led by Jang’s underling Jii (Nicolas Phongpheth). While they’re intent on recovering their product, and punishing the runaway, Lucy is determined to turn her unique experience to the benefit of science.

To that end, she uses the Internet to locate Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of evolutionary consciousness. Scenes of Norman lecturing on his chosen topic have earlier been interspersed, somewhat mysteriously, with the sequences recounting Lucy’s mounting misfortunes.

Religiously dedicated moviegoers will appreciate the brief but fervent prayer Lucy offers up once she realizes that she’s fallen into Jang’s clutches. They’ll be more ambivalent about her encounter with her namesake, the earliest ancestor of the human race from whom, scientists surmise, all subsequent homo sapiens descend.

During their meeting, the two reach out, finger to finger, in a gesture strongly reminiscent of the iconic one shared between God and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Is this a Darwinian redrawing of Michelangelo’s familiar image of creation? Or are we to infer that Lucy’s ascent to some version of omniscience makes her a stand-in for God?

Plot details also call for careful sifting. As Lucy approaches intellectual totality, she gains the ability to control the material world. From a Christian perspective, of course, that’s an off-kilter portrayal of the relationship between thought and matter. Lucy’s ever-deepening insights into the nature of things, moreover, have more to do with a sort of low-rent Zen Buddhism than with revealed religion.

These philosophical factors, together with a steady stream of nasty mayhem, suggest a wary stance toward “Lucy” would be best, even for adults.

The film contains themes requiring mature discernment, considerable gory violence, drug use, a scene of sexual aggression and about a half-dozen crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

 

‘Doing anything this weekend?’ Pope surprises Vatican’s blue collar workers at cafeteria

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Taking the chef completely by surprise, Pope Francis unexpectedly showed up to eat with the Vatican’s blue collar workers at their cafeteria in the tiny city-states “industrial park.”

“He showed up, got his tray, silverware, he stood in line and we served him,” the cafeteria’s chef, Franco Paini, told Vatican Radio July 25.

Pope Francis talks with Vatican workers during surprise visit to Vatican cafeteriaHe acted “normally, like the humblest of the workers,” Paini said, his voice still trembling from the thrill. “Please forgive me, I’m still excited, you know?”

Wearing his white cassock and zucchetto, the pope grabbed an orange plastic tray and chose what he wanted from the array of prepared foods.

He got a plate of pasta without sauce; a portion of cod; a whole wheat roll; some au gratin vegetables; a few French fries; an apple; and a bottle of spring water, but not the fizzy, bubbly kind, witnesses reported.

“I didn’t have the courage to give him the bill,” said Claudia Di Giacomo, who was sitting behind the cash register.

Paini said the pope made everyone feel at ease. “We introduced ourselves, he asked how we were, what it was like working there, he paid us compliments; it was really nice.”

The cafeteria in the Vatican’s “industrial area” serves employees who work as technicians, electricians, plumbers, metalworkers, craftsmen, but also employees of the Vatican newspaper, L’ Osservatore Romano.

The pope sat down to eat at a table with workers from the Vatican pharmacy’s warehouse. Wearing dark blue uniform polo shirts, the men spoke to the pope about their jobs and the pope talked about his Italian heritage.

Table talk also included soccer and the economy, the Vatican newspaper reported.

The whole time the pope was eating and chatting, people were taking the inevitable selfie with their cameras, cellphones and iPads.

“Pope Francis wasn’t bothered a bit” by the constant clicking, “and continued to smile and eat, carrying out the conversation” with his tablemates, the paper said.

The pope didn’t stay for the full lunch hour, heading for the door after about 40 minutes. But he gave all the workers there his blessing and posed for a group photograph before he left in his assistant’s car to drive back to his residence at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Paini said the surprise visit was “totally a bolt out of the blue. Who’d have thought? The pope coming to eat with us? Hah! We were all caught off guard, but it was one of the best things that could happen to you.”

 

Golfers shoot a round for Catholic Youth Ministry

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese, Youth Tags: , ,

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Staff reporter

 

NEWARK — As 120 golfers sat in their carts waiting to hit the links July 10 at Cavaliers Country Club to begin the annual benefit tournament for Catholic Youth Ministry, Bishop Malooly thanked them for supporting the young people of the diocese.

“The support for youth ministry is outstanding,” he said. “It’s really very important for our young people.”

Then the bishop gave a blessing that included the following: “Help them to add up correctly.” Read more »

Adults ‘won’t mind’ leafy romance ‘And So It Goes’

July 25th, 2014 Posted in Movies

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Catholic News Service

The indignities of romance in one’s 60s entwine with a mortifyingly weak and implausible script for two aging actors in “And So It Goes.”

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in a scene from the movie "And So It Goes."  The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Clay Enos, Clarius Entertainment)

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in a scene from the movie “And So It Goes.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Clay Enos, Clarius Entertainment)

Michael Douglas, who plays grumpy widower and real estate agent Oren, and Diane Keaton as lissome widow and aspiring singer Leah, are engaging as they go through their paces. It’s just that director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Mark Andrus have nothing new to say about either the vicissitudes of aging or the need to connect with family members.

It’s a mostly moral story told in the style of a family film, although so weakly, its intended audience isn’t even clear. Adults won’t mind it. Anyone under the age of 20 probably won’t be interested.

In leafy Fairfield, Connecticut, Oren, whose wife died 10 years ago, has been trying to sell his mansion for $8.6 million, but has found no takers, in part because of his occasional racial insensitivity. He’s staying in a small apartment building he owns, along with Leah, whose late-life singing career stalls because she bursts into tears whenever she mentions her dead husband and the love they shared.

Into this comes Oren’s son, Kyle (Austin Lysy), with a granddaughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins), that Oren didn’t even know he had. Kyle fathered the girl, who’s about to turn 10, back in his drug-addiction days. He’s about to serve a jail term, not for narcotics, but on a trumped-up charge related to his boss being investigated for insider trading.

Oren makes a single attempt to return Sarah to her junkie mother, an episode that seems tacked on. More troubling, Oren makes no attempt to get the woman into any kind of rehab program. Once her addiction is evident, he simply takes Sarah away.

Formula takes over after this. Sarah teaches her caustic granddad the importance of compassion. This, in turn, helps him come up with a way to set Leah’s singing on a more lucrative path, and Oren and Leah both stumble into the perils of a physical relationship.

Ambling, philosophical stories about adult romances in pretty settings can be enjoyable. But here, the philosophy is reduced to wisecracks and the ambling obstructs reality. Fairfield, however, has never looked lovelier.

The film contains implied premarital sexual activity, a scene of childbirth, a few uses of profanity and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

 

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White House planning new way for Catholic employers to opt out of providing mandated birth control

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver indicating it plans to develop an alternative for Catholic and other religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing federally mandated contraceptives they object to including in their employee health care coverage.

Several media outlets, including AP, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, reported July 23 that the administration said it would come up with a “work-around” that would be different than the accommodation it currently has available to such employers.

Birth control pills. (CNS file)

Birth control pills. (CNS file)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the health care law, requires nearly all employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs for all employees in their company health plan. It includes a narrow exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria.

Currently, there is an accommodation for those employers who don’t fit the exemption but who are morally opposed to providing the coverage. They must fill out a self-certification form, known as EBSA Form 700, to direct a third party, usually the manager of an employer’s health plan, to provide the contested coverage.

Many religious employers who have sued over the mandate argue that even filling out Form 700 makes them complicit in providing coverage they find objectionable.

According to an AP story, the alternative the Obama administration said it plans to draft would allow these employers to opt out of the coverage they oppose without having to submit the form.

The White House has not provided details, but said the brief was filed as a response to a July 3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that granted a Christian college in Illinois temporary relief from the HHS mandate and said the school did not have to fill out Form 700.

Instead, the court said, Wheaton College can send a letter to the government.

If the applicant informs the HHS secretary “in writing that it is a nonprofit organization that holds itself out as religious and has religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services,” the high court said, “the respondents are enjoined from enforcement against the applicant the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of appellate review.”

The order in Wheaton College v. Burwell came three days after the Supreme Court issued its Hobby Lobby decision saying that closely held for-profit companies could be exempted from some requirements of the federal health care law because of the owners’ religious beliefs.

The 10th Circuit is the court that has heard an appeal in a suit filed against the mandate by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Denver-based religious order that cares for the elderly poor in several facilities around the U.S. The religious order first filed suit in September 2013 in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and lost.

The order appealed to the 10th Circuit. Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Little Sisters a temporary injunction on enforcement of the mandate and now the order seeks to make that protection permanent.

 

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Vatican revising canon law on abuse penalties, cardinal says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Church law has procedures and penalties for effectively dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse, but the Vatican is working to revise a section of the Code of Canon Law to make those norms and procedures clearer and, therefore, more effective, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

“We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,” Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, council president, told the Vatican newspaper.

In the interview published July 24 in L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said his office has been working since 2008 to revise “Book VI: Sanctions in the Church,” a section of the Code of Canon Law.

The penalties and punishments offered by church law should be applied, he said.

“In the face of a negative action, which harms the good of a person and therefore the good of the church, penal law expects a reaction, that is the pastor inflicting a canonical penalty,” the cardinal said.

If a bishop does not react by imposing a punishment on a priest guilty of the crime of sexual abuse, he said, “in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed. A negative act necessarily must be condemned; it requires a reaction.”

At the same time, he said, the bishop must recognize that the infliction of a penalty is ultimately for the good of the abuser as well. Penalties in canon law are designed to “encourage the conversion of those who commit crimes.”

In a 2013 interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, council secretary, also spoke of the work of revising that section of canon law.

Bishop Arrieta had said the current Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1983, was written with such an emphasis on the role of the individual bishop in his local diocese that each bishop bore the full weight of deciding when and how to intervene and what sort of sanction or punishment to impose on the guilty.

The law ended up being too vague, and church sanctions were being applied so haphazardly, that the church appeared to be divided, he said.

The two chief concerns in the revised section, as in all church law, Bishop Arrieta said, are “to safeguard the truth and protect the dignity of persons.”

At the same time, the rules are more stringent, “if someone does this, he must be punished,” the bishop said. While it withdraws the discretionary power of the bishop in certain cases, he said, “it is for the good of the bishop.”

 

 

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