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Irish archbishop horrified by discovery of human remains buried at former church-run home

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — The commission set up to investigate the treatment of unmarried mothers and their babies in Irish care homes during the 20th century says it has found “significant” human remains at the site of a former home in western Ireland.

The entrance to the site of a burial site at the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland is seen in this 2014 file photo. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 state-regulated institutions, many of them run by religious orders. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

The entrance to the site of a burial site at the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland is seen in this 2014 file photo. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 state-regulated institutions, many of them run by religious orders. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

A spokesman for the commission said March 3 that the body was shocked by the discovery made in Tuam, County Galway, at the site formerly managed by the Bon Secours religious order.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 state-regulated institutions, many of them run by religious orders. Tuam Archbishop Michael Neary said during Mass March 5 he was “horrified and saddened to hear” the commission’s revelations.

“This points to a time of great suffering and pain for the little ones and their mothers,” the archbishop said. “I can only begin to imagine the huge emotional wrench which the mothers suffered in giving up their babies for adoption or by witnessing their death. Some of these young vulnerable women may already have experienced rejection by their families. The pain and brokenness which they endured is beyond our capacity to understand. It is, then, simply too difficult to comprehend their helplessness and suffering as they watched their beloved child die,” Archbishop Neary said.

The commission said the “remains involved a number of individuals with age-at-death ranges from approximately 35 fetal weeks to 2-3 years.”

“Radiocarbon dating of the samples recovered suggest that the remains date from the time frame relevant to the operation of the Mother and Baby Home,” it said.

The causes of death are, as yet, unknown. However, previous reports have highlighted the high levels of infant mortality in the homes due to disease and other natural causes.

The investigation will now center on why the remains were not buried in traditional graves and whether the deaths were reported to the civil authorities at the time.

“The commission is shocked by this discovery and is continuing its investigation into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way,” it added in a statement.

Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s minister for children and youth affairs, said it was “very sad and disturbing news.”

“It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years,” she said. She added that everybody involved must respond sensitively and respectfully to the situation.

“Today is about remembering and respecting the dignity of the children who lived their short lives in this home,” Zappone said. “We will honor their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately.”

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Retired bishop of Derry, known as a peacemaker, dies

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Bishop Edward Daly of Derry, known for his tireless advocacy for peace and reconciliation during decades of sectarian tension in Northern Ireland, died in a hospital in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Aug. 8.

Bishop Daly, who retired in 1993 due to ill health after suffering a stroke, was 82. He had suffered from cancer.

He first came to prominence in a photograph from Bloody Sunday in 1972, when 14 civil rights protesters were shot dead by the British army in Londonderry. For decades, the victims were accused of being terrorists. However, in 2010, an independent inquiry ruled that all the victims and the injured, had been unarmed and that those killed had been killed unlawfully.

Bishop Daly worked tirelessly with the families to clear their names and ensure that an independent inquiry would overturn the allegations that they were terrorists.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins expressed great sadness at news of Bishop Daly’s death.

“Edward Daly will be remembered by many for his peaceful, compassionate, humanitarian and courageous actions during the appalling events of Bloody Sunday,” he said. “This was but one part of the great contribution that was his life of service to the citizens of Derry, including as it did his leadership in the tasks of regeneration and his work with the hospice movement in the later part of his life.”

After Bishop Daly was named to the Diocese of Derry in 1974, he campaigned for the British authorities to build houses for the Catholic community and frequently denounced injustices suffered by Catholics at the hands of the authorities. At the same time, he denounced paramilitary violence aimed at British troops and the police in Northern Ireland.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said Bishop Daly’s bravery was “apparent in his lived conviction that violence from any side during the Troubles was futile and could never be morally justified.

“He was courageous in speaking out against injustice and took many personal risks for peace and reconciliation,” Archbishop Martin recalled.

Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry said his predecessor “served, without any concern for himself, throughout the traumatic years of the Troubles, finding his ministry shaped by the experience of witnessing violence and its effects; through this dreadful period he always strove to preach the Gospel of the peace of Christ.”

“Bishop Daly provided an example of priestly ministry which was exemplary, inspired by service of God and the people he encountered,” Bishop McKeown said.

At a national level, Bishop Daly was a key member of the Irish bishops’ conference and served as its spokesman for many years. In 1975 he established the first Catholic Communications Office. He also helped organize the 1979 papal visit of St. John Paul II.

Pastorally, he took a particular interest in the welfare of prisoners and their families and was a frequent visitor to jails.

Archbishop Martin said that as a “gifted spiritual leader and communicator, his words touched the hearts of many people, but his ministry was not confined to preaching. He walked with his people in their struggles and joys and was most at home out in the streets, parishes and communities of his diocese.

“Bishop Edward will be remembered as a fearless peacebuilder,” the archbishop said.

In retirement, Bishop Daly continued to work, ministering in the Foyle Hospice, where he served as chaplain until 2015.

He also published two books of memoirs. He provoked debate in 2011 when he wrote in his latter volume of memoirs that “there will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church.”

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Dublin archdiocese to stop sending students to national seminary

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would no longer send students to the national seminary at Maynooth amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, a seminary near Dublin, is pictured in this undated photo. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would no longer send students to the national seminary at Maynooth amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, a seminary near Dublin, is pictured in this undated photo. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would no longer send students to the national seminary at Maynooth amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

The archbishop referred to allegations of what he described as a “gay culture” in the seminary and further allegations that some seminarians have been using a gay dating app.

The archbishop said he was “somewhat unhappy about an atmosphere that was growing” at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, saying he felt it was not the healthiest place for his students to be.

“There are people saying that anyone who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation are being dismissed from the seminary,” the archbishop said in an interview with RTE Radio. He said his intention was to send students to Rome’s Pontifical Irish College.

“There seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there (Maynooth); it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around.

“I don’t think this is a good place for students,” he said. “However, when I informed the (seminary) president of Maynooth of my decision, I did add ‘at least for the moment.’”

The archbishop’s decision to send his students to Rome comes after anonymous letters were circulated in clerical circles about student activities in Maynooth.

Archbishop Martin said if the allegations of seminarians using gay dating apps were true, “it would be inappropriate for seminarians, not just because they’re training to be celibate priests, but because an app like that is something which is fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality one would expect a priest to understand.”

Referring to the allegations, Archbishop Martin noted that “the trouble with anonymous complaints is that it’s almost impossible to carry out due process … a culture of anonymous letters is poisonous. Until that’s cleared up, I would be happier sending my students elsewhere.”

He said he had offered to provide an independent person for whistleblowers to approach, but the response to this offer was the publication of more anonymous letters. The archbishop said authorities in Maynooth “have to find a way to let people come forward with solid evidence to substantiate the allegations.”

He said he would not tell any bishop not to send students to Maynooth, because “that is a decision for them.”

Msgr. Hugh Connolly, president of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, confirmed that there is no investigation underway at the college. He told RTE some of the anonymous correspondence “has been difficult” and has made for “a less-than-satisfactory atmosphere in which to conduct formation.”

He said allegations surrounding a gay culture at the college or seminarians using gay dating apps worried him and made him “very unhappy.”

Maynooth, which is within the Archdiocese of Dublin, has been training young men for the priesthood since 1795. It and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome were the subject of a Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation in 2010 after allegations of a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse rocked the church in Ireland.

Currently, 55 seminarians are studying at the college for Ireland’s 26 dioceses.

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Northern Ireland bishops call ruling on abortion ‘disquieting’

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Catholic News Service

The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have described as “profoundly disquieting” a ruling by the High Court that the region’s ban on abortion in all but very limited circumstances breaches human rights legislation.

A pro-life supporter demonstrates in 2012 outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have described as "profoundly disquieting" a ruling by the High Court that the region's ban on abortion in all but very limited circumstances breaches human rights legislation. (CNS photo/Paul Mcerlane, EPA)

A pro-life supporter demonstrates in 2012 outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have described as “profoundly disquieting” a ruling by the High Court that the region’s ban on abortion in all but very limited circumstances breaches human rights legislation. (CNS photo/Paul Mcerlane, EPA)

While Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the 1967 legalization of abortion only extended to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland retains the earlier 1861 prohibition on abortion.

Currently, termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland is allowed only if a woman’s life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

However, the High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ruled Nov. 30 that grounds for abortion should be extended in cases where the child is not expected to live long outside the womb or cases of rape or incest.

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the decision and was “considering the grounds for appeal.” He had six weeks to decide.

Responding to the statement, the bishops said, “It is profoundly disquieting that the decision of the High Court in Belfast has effectively weighed up one life against another and said to our society” that the lives of some children are “more worthy of our protection, love and care than others.”

“Vulnerable and innocent children who suffer from a life-limiting condition, and children who have been conceived as a result of the trauma of a sexual crime for which they bear no responsibility, will no longer be afforded the protection of the law to vindicate their inherent right to life.

“To deliberately and intentionally take the life of an innocent person continues to be gravely morally wrong in all circumstances,” the bishops said.

They said the church is “committed to a culture of equal compassion and care for a mother and her unborn child. We share with others the belief that the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child can never be a humane, compassionate or appropriate response to the complex and sensitive circumstances of a difficult or crisis pregnancy.

“The church will continue to consider the full implications of the judgment of the High Court in Belfast and of any appeal which may follow,” the statement added.

Bernadette Smyth of the pro-life advocacy group Precious Life said, “this is an undemocratic decision today. It will clearly see, long term, the opening of the floodgates.”

The issue is also proving contentious in the neighboring Irish Republic, where a strict ban on abortion was relaxed in 2013 to permit abortion in limited circumstances when there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including when a woman says the continuation of the pregnancy leads to suicidal thoughts.

Some in the Irish Republic have called for wider access to abortion. Such a move would require a referendum to repeal an article of the country’s constitution, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn child. Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said that if his government is returned to power after next year’s general election, he will call a citizen’s convention to debate the issue.

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Irish archbishop distances himself from U.S. cardinal’s same-sex remarks

June 2nd, 2015 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — The head of the Irish bishops’ conference distanced himself from comments made by U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke concerning Irish voters who backed same-sex marriage.

People embrace as the final vote of the referendum on same-sex marriage is announced May 23 in Dublin.  Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference, says the church must do more to reach out to gay people. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

People embrace as the final vote of the referendum on same-sex marriage is announced May 23 in Dublin. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, says the church must do more to reach out to gay people. (CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA)

Reacting to the May 22 poll, in which voters supported same-sex marriage by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent, Cardinal Burke told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic Society: “It’s just incredible. … Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviors, they never dared say this was marriage.”

Asked about the comments during an interview with RTE Radio, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the bishops’ conference, said June 2, “I wouldn’t use that language.”

He said: “Throughout the debate and the discussion, we did ask people to try to be respectful and inoffensive in language.”

The archbishop also referred to comments by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, that the result represented a “defeat for humanity.”

“I think what Cardinal Parolin was expressing is our deeply held conviction about marriage … he was trying to express the loss that occurred here,” he said.

Asked whether the church would baptize the children of same-sex couples, the archbishop said, “there’s no difficulty … whenever someone comes to bring their child for baptism, what we’re interested in is that child able to be raised as a member of the church and of course they are.”

He admitted that the Catholic Church is facing challenging times in the wake of the referendum result.

“The whole debate has helped us understand the great sense of alienation and isolation that many gay people have felt, perhaps even at the hands of the church,” he said. “I think that one of the lessons in the church that we have to learn from this debate is how do we reach out pastorally to people.”

The archbishop later told The Irish Catholic newspaper that he wanted to “affirm people who took a courageous decision to speak up for the union of marriage between a man and a woman in this country.”

“It’s about trying to marry this wonderful teaching of the church with the many pastoral challenges we are facing,” he said.

“I am aware that people are trying to live the difficulties and challenges of the Christian way of life in the modern world. The only way to do that is with a heart full of the mercy of God. In this way, we are able to accompany people and encourage them to have a personal relationship, while at the same time be called to conversion and called to change in their lives,” he said.

Referring to the result of the referendum, Archbishop Martin said: “We have to remain courageous with our message. More people than we think do support the church’s understanding of marriage. We have to be strong.”

He said that, despite the referendum result, “The task of witnessing to the family still remains.

“In fact perhaps now it’s more important than ever that we continue to witness strongly, confidently and in a committed manner to what is such a core teaching for society,” the archbishop said.

He said one of the lessons of the referendum was that the church must find a language to express church teaching in a way that is not alienating.

“Sometimes language can be offensive to people, and we need to be aware of this. We (the bishops) have appealed for people not to use language that is offensive.” He said that the problem was magnified by the fact that the church often uses language that makes sense in a theological or philosophical context, but not in the context of public discourse.

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Church needs ‘reality check’ after Irish vote for same-sex marriage, says Dublin archbishop

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said the church needs a “reality check” after Irish voters overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage.

People in Dublin react as Ireland voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage May 23. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the church needs a "reality check" after Irish voters overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)

People in Dublin react as Ireland voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage May 23. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the church needs a “reality check” after Irish voters overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)

Ireland was the first country in the world to put same-sex marriage to a popular vote and the May 22 poll was backed by 62 percent of the population. Same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right in Ireland.

“I think really that the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board, to look at the things it’s doing well, to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, ‘Look, have we drifted away completely from young people?’” he told state broadcaster RTE as the result became clear.

He said the referendum result was “an overwhelming vote in one direction,” and he appreciated how gay men and lesbians felt after the endorsement of same-sex marriage, “that they feel this is something which is enriching the way they live,” he said.

The archbishop described the result as a “social revolution.”

“It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today,” he said. “It’s a social revolution that’s been going on, and perhaps in the church people have not been as clear in understanding what that involved.

“It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general.”

Archbishop Martin said it was important that the church must not move into denial of the realities.

“We won’t begin again with a sense of renewal by simply denying,” he said.

Referring to the high turnout of younger voters, the archbishop said “most of these young people who voted ‘yes’ are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years … there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church. … We need to sit down and say ‘Are we reaching out at all to young people?’… We’re becoming a church of the like-minded, and a sort of a safe space for the like-minded,” he warned.

However, he insisted, “that doesn’t mean that we renounce our teaching on fundamental values on marriage and the family. Nor does it mean that we dig into the trenches.

“We need to find … a new language which is fundamentally ours, that speaks to, is understood and becomes appreciated by others,” the archbishop said.

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, who had been a leading voice in the “no” campaign, described the outcome as “clear and decisive.”

“While I am personally disappointed by the result, I very much welcome the fact that so many people voted,” Bishop Doran said.

“It seems that many people voted ‘yes’ as a way of showing their acceptance and their love for friends and family members who are gay. Large numbers obviously believed that they could vote ‘yes’ without in any way undermining marriage. While I do not share their belief, I understand their reason for celebrating, and I do respect their spirit of solidarity,” Bishop Doran said.

He also paid tribute to the “no” campaign.

“I want to acknowledge the generosity of so many people who worked so hard to ensure that the minority point of view was heard,” he said. “They have every reason to be proud of what they achieved with such limited resources.”

David Quinn, who as director of the pro-marriage think-tank the Iona Institute was the de facto leader of the “no” campaign, pointed to the fact that one in three citizens decided to vote “no” despite the fact that all political parties were calling for a “yes” vote.

Turnout was significantly higher than previous referendums, and most commentators highlight the large number of young voters as a key reason why the referendum passed.

The government plans to have legislation prepared by this summer, with the first same-sex marriages expected to take place in September.

 

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Dublin archbishop: Delay in applying child safety guidelines is ‘appalling’

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would seek assurances from religious congregations operating in his diocese that they are rigidly following child protection guidelines after a fresh round of audits raised serious concerns.

In a statement Feb. 10, Archbishop Martin said it was “appalling” that some major religious congregations had delayed fully implementing the church’s child protection guidelines and that, in some cases, this process only really got underway in 2013.

Archbishop Martin said the delays left him “seriously concerned.”

The Irish church’s monitoring watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, published 16 reviews on the implementation of policies in religious congregations, eight male, eight female.

Teresa Devlin, the board’s chief executive, said she was “disappointed that for the majority of orders, the whole area of safeguarding is only being embraced in the last couple of years.”

She also said that, concerning seven of the male congregations, “there is considerable work to be done.” She was referring to the Franciscan Friars, Franciscan Brothers, the Servites, Passionists, Augustinians, Discalced Carmelites and the Marist Fathers.

The safeguarding board was established in a bid to restore public confidence in the church’s handling of allegations of abuse against priests and religious after a series of judicial reports uncovered serious failings. Four Irish bishops have resigned following severe criticism of their failures in relation to handling allegations of abuse.

Archbishop Martin said that while improvements have been made, especially by the current leadership of the congregations concerned, the failures and delays that have emerged point to “the need to ensure greater systems of accountability of church authorities in the area of child safeguarding.”

He said the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors “noted clearly in the past days” that “part of ensuring accountability is raising awareness and understanding at all levels of the church regarding the seriousness and urgency in implementing correct safeguarding procedures.”

The archbishop warned that “survivors trying to regain their confidence in the church will be disillusioned once again” and “the many laymen and women who work voluntarily in church safeguarding structures in our parishes must feel disheartened.”

He said that he now intends to “meet with the superiors of all the religious congregations working in parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin to verify once again the commitment of all these congregations to scrupulously applying the diocesan child safeguarding norms in every aspect of parish life.”

 

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Irish cardinal: ‘Peace would not have been delivered’ without Paisley

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Irish Cardinal Sean Brady had paid tribute to a controversial Protestant firebrand-turned-peacemaker who once heckled St. John Paul II as the “antichrist.”

The Rev. Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader, holds up a sign reading "Pope John Paul II Antichrist" as he denounces the pontiff during his 1998 speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rev. Paisley died Sept. 12 at age 88, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement. (CNS photo/Jean-Claude

The Rev. Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland’s former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader, holds up a sign reading “Pope John Paul II Antichrist” as he denounces the pontiff during his 1998 speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rev. Paisley died Sept. 12 at age 88, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement. (CNS photo/Jean-Claude

The Rev. Ian Paisley, 88, who served as first minister in the cross-community power-sharing government in Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2008, died Sept. 12 and was buried after a private family funeral Sept. 15.

Rev. Paisley initially resisted calls to share power with Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority.

He infamously denounced Catholics as “vermin” and was widely criticized when he claimed that Catholic churches that had been destroyed in sectarian arson attacks had, in fact, burned to the ground because they had been storing explosives for paramilitary use.

Cardinal Sean Brady, who met with the politician in 2006, told Ireland’s RTE radio that, without the Rev. Paisley, “peace would not have been delivered.”

Cardinal Brady emphasized that, over the years, Rev. Paisley had moved from a position where he opposed civil rights for Catholics to one where he was willing to enter a power-sharing government with representatives of the Catholic community, including Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.

“That is the point; he moved,” said Cardinal Brady, recently retired as archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland. “He was an important player in public life in Northern Ireland for 50 years, and without him peace would not have been delivered, that is my conviction.”

As well as being a political leader, Rev. Paisley founded his own denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church, in 1951. He was bitterly opposed to ecumenism and denounced fellow Protestants for entering dialogue with the Catholic Church. Recalling their 2006 meeting, Cardinal Brady said Rev. Paisley “made it quite clear that the meeting was not ecumenical — it was social and political affairs.”

Rev. Paisley led opposition to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to 30 years of sectarian conflict in the region. However, by 2003, his Democratic Unionist Party had become the largest political bloc in Northern Ireland, and he began making contact with the Irish and British governments in a bid to make a deal. This led to a 2006 accord, known as the St. Andrew’s Agreement, in which Rev. Paisley agreed to share power if Sinn Fein would give unequivocal support for policing and the judiciary.

While Rev. Paisley retired in 2008, the power-sharing government has continued uninterrupted under his successor, Peter Robinson.

Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, based in Belfast, where the Northern Ireland legislature is based, praised Rev. Paisley for his “principled stand on marriage, family and sanctity of human life at all stages.”

“While his historic legacy in terms of his interaction with the Catholic community was at times controversial, his contribution to the search for peace and political stability in Northern Ireland was, in the end, crucial,” Bishop Treanor said.

 

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Irish Vincentians return Jackie Kennedy’s letters to family

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Letters between former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest have been handed over to the Kennedy family.

In a statement issued Sept. 5, the Vincentians said the order wished “to confirm that private letters, written by the late Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy to our deceased confrere, Father Joseph Leonard, have been transferred to the Kennedy family.”

“This has taken place with regard to the respect due to what is correspondence of a private nature,” the statement said before adding that the Vincentians will be making no further comment on the matter.

The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Father Leonard were set to be auctioned in Dublin earlier this year to raise funds for struggling All Hallows College. However, the letters were later withdrawn for sale on the insistence of the Vincentian order amid public controversy about the private nature of the correspondence. The college later announced that it would have to close down due to a lack of funds and had hoped the sale of the letters would plug the gap.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million.

One letter, dated January 1964, just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, revealed how the tragedy left Kennedy struggling with her Catholic faith.

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters also revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died May 19, 1994, at age 64.

 

 

 

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Irish abuse survivor who met with pope calls it a vindication

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — One of the Irish survivors of clerical sexual abuse who met Pope Francis July 7 described the encounter as a “huge vindication” for her.

The victim, Marie Kane, also asked the pope to remove Cardinal Sean Brady as archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Cardinal Brady was the subject of sharp criticism after a 2012 documentary revealed that he had been involved in a 1975 canonical inquiry into a notorious abuser-priest, Norbertine Father Brendan Smyth. Despite the canonical process, Father Smyth evaded the civil authorities for decades and went on to abuse in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and the United States before finally being arrested in 1994.

Kane, 43, told Ireland’s state-run radio RTE that she asked Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Brady due to his handling of a clerical child abuse inquiry in 1975.

“It’s a big thing with me that there are still members of the hierarchy there who were involved in the cover-up. I feel personally they (the church) cannot contemplate any change happening, there will be no success,” as long as such people remained in place, she said.

Kane said she told the pontiff that “cover-up is still happening, and you have the power to make these changes.” There were others besides Cardinal Brady, she said, but “I didn’t want to go into a litany.” She said that Pope Francis responded that “it was difficult to make these changes,” she added, “but it’s a big thing with me that Sean Brady is gone.”

On Aug. 16, Cardinal Brady turns 75 and, under canon law, will be obliged to submit his resignation as archbishop of Armagh. Canon law does not require the pope to accept a resignation.

Kane, one of six survivors who met the pope at the Vatican, said she met with him privately for about 20 minutes. She was accompanied by Marie Collins, also an abuse survivor and a member of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which met July 6 at the Vatican.

Apart from seeking the removal of Cardinal Brady, the rest of Kane’s discussion with Pope Francis was “more personal” she said. She discussed the effect of her abuse and its subsequent handling by the church on her two children, ages 18 and 14.

“They have no belief in the church in any shape or form,” she told RTE.

She said she found Pope Francis “very, very humble. There was no standing on ceremony. No pomp. I felt very comfortable, relaxed. He seemed genuinely frustrated at what he was hearing. He listened and seemed genuine. There was a lot of empathy. There was no looking at watches. I was the one who ended it as I had said all I wanted to say.”

 

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