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Prosecutor says crime families in Italy would like to hurt the pope

November 25th, 2013 Posted in International News

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VATICAN CITY — Crime families in Italy are not happy with Pope Francis and would hurt him if they could, said an Italian prosecutor who has spent years investigating organized crime and has written a book about the apparent Catholic devotion of mafia bosses.

“I’m not sure organized crime is in a position to do something, but they certainly are thinking about it,” said Nicola Gratteri, the assistant prosecutor of Italy’s Reggio Calabria region. “It could be dangerous.”

In his book “Acqua Santissima” (“Most Holy Water”), Gratteri argues that while organized crime and the church should be completely at odds, that is not always true. He said he has never been to an arrested mafia boss’ hideout that didn’t have holy pictures on the wall, and many of his investigations have led to the discovery of financial ties between the bosses and Catholic parishes or organizations.

“But things are starting to change,” he said in an interview Nov. 13 in the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“This pope is on the right path,” he said. “He immediately sent important signals: He wears an iron (pectoral) cross and fights against luxury. He is consistent, credible and is aiming for a complete cleanup.”

Mafia members involved in the world of finance are particularly concerned, Gratteri said.

“Those who feed off the power and the riches of the church are nervous and agitated,” he said. “Pope Francis is dismantling the centers of economic power in the Vatican. If the bosses could bring him down, they wouldn’t hesitate.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Nov. 14 that no one in the Vatican is alarmed, and the pope is serene in continuing his work. He also said it is natural for organized crime families to feel threatened by papal teaching, since the Christian message is about honesty and transparency.

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Dissident opposes China’s forced abortion policy

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TORONTO — As Chinese and U.S. diplomats sought a resolution to the diplomatic crisis surrounding Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, many Chinese-Americans turned their attention to the nature of Chen’s dissent.

Without challenging any fundamental tenet of China’s constitution or its 1949 revolution, Chen has focused attention to the country’s forced abortion and sterilization practices, leading to a crackdown by the government on his movement and prohibitions on contact with foreigners and the media.

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‘What’s really necessary is a council’ – Memories of Blessed John XXIII

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Catholic News Service

SOTTO IL MONTE GIOVANNI XXIII, Italy — When the freshly named patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo G. Roncalli, chose 37-year old Father Loris F. Capovilla as his personal secretary in 1953, a skeptical adviser told the cardinal that the priest looked too sickly to bear the strain of his new job.

“Then he’ll die as my secretary,” replied the future pope, now known as Blessed John XXIII.

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Censures of priests in Ireland mark divisions in church

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — A series of censures has brought to the fore the divisions within the Irish church between those who seek a leaner and smaller church that adheres more strictly to the magisterium and those who seek space to discuss church issues.

Up to 250 nuns, priests and laypeople held a silent protest outside the Vatican Embassy April 29 to protest the doctrinal congregation’s censure of five Irish priests over their stance on issues such as the ordination of women, the ban on artificial birth control, mandatory clerical celibacy and homosexuality.

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Papal visit said to help ‘reawakening’ of church in Cuba

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The March visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI has helped reawaken people’s interest in the Catholic Church, according to two Cuban bishops visiting the United States.

But it also has stirred criticism of the church’s efforts to work with the government more and may be connected to a fire of suspicious origin that gutted a travel agency that organizes charter flights from Florida to Cuba.

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Illicit ordinations in China cause scandal, Vatican says

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VATICAN CITY — Lay Catholics in China have been scandalized by priests who are ordained bishops without papal approval and by the participation of Vatican-recognized bishops in those ordinations, said the Vatican Commission for the Catholic Church in China.

The very identity of the Catholic Church as apostolic, guided by the faith handed down from the apostles through bishops in communion with the pope, “has been obfuscated by those clerics” who have been ordained bishops without papal recognition, said the statement released April 26 after a three-day meeting at the Vatican.

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Irish parliament rejects legalized abortion

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DUBLIN — Ireland’s parliament rejected legislation that would have allowed a controversial 1992 Supreme Court ruling permitting abortion in limited circumstances to take effect.

The Socialist Party motion was defeated 111-20 April 19.

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Australian cardinal apologizes for comments

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SYDNEY — Cardinal George Pell of Sydney apologized for comments he made about ancient Jews and German suffering during World War II in a televised debate with author and acknowledged atheist Richard Dawkins.

The cardinal said in a statement April 11 to J-Wire, a Jewish online news service, that his comments during the Australian Broadcasting Corp. program “Q & A” April 9 “did not come out as I would have preferred in the course of the discussion.”

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Ireland survey shows gaps between church teachings and beliefs

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Three out of four Irish who identified themselves as Catholics find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant,” according to new research published by the Association of Catholic Priests.

The survey, conducted by the research association Amarach, also showed that almost 90 percent of those surveyed believe that divorced or separated Catholics in a stable second relationship ought to be able to receive Communion at Mass. Under church law, divorced and remarried Catholics who have received an annulment may receive Communion.

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Irish priests’ group ‘disturbed’ by investigation

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — The Irish Association of Catholic Priests said it is “disturbed” that the group’s founder, Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery, is under investigation by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In an April 9 statement, the priests’ association — which represents about 20 percent of Ireland’s 4,000 priests — affirmed “in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Father Flannery, and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise.”

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