Monday, January 30, 2012

Politician and congregation founder beatified in Austria

Susan Gately
Catholic Ireland News
Jan. 29, 2012

A married woman and politician, who founded a Catholic religious congregation is being beatified in Austria today.

The extraordinary woman, who began life as a Jew, converted to Catholicism, had a family, a political career and founded a congregation of nuns, is held up as a model for evangelisation by the leader of the Catholic Church in Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

Hildegard Burjan was born in 1883 into a liberal Jewish family in Germany. She studied literature, philosophy and sociology in Switzerland and Berlin and obtained a Ph.D. in 1908. The year before, 1907, she married the Hungarian entrepreneur Alexander Burjan. In 1909 she was surprisingly healed from a grave sickness, which brought about her conversion to Catholicism.

She moved with her husband to Vienna, where she had her only daughter Lisa. It was a difficult pregnancy, which threatened her life a number of times. Her doctors advised her to abort the baby, but she categorically refused.

In Vienna, she got to know a group of Catholics who wanted to put Pope Leo XIII's social encyclical Rerum Novarum into practise. Hildegard started to interest herself in the social issues of the day, in particular the working conditions and spiritual welfare of poor women and children.

In 1912, she founded the Society of Christian Women Working at Home and in 1918 the Society for Social Help.

A year later, on October 4, 1919, she founded the congregation of sisters named Caritas Socialis.

The order cares especially for women and children in difficult conditions and for elderly and terminally ill people. It plays a major role in the hospice movement in Austria.

Beginning in 1918, Hildegard Burjan became politically active in the Christian-Social Party. In 1919, she was elected to parliament and became the first woman member of the Parliament of Austria, campaigning in particular on issues such as equal wages for men and women and social security for the working class as well as social and spiritual care for poor families.

Rancorous anti-Semitism forced her out of politics and she devoted herself to the congregation she founded, Caritas Socialis. She died in 1933.

In 1963, the then Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz König began her beatification process. In 2001, the Holy See recognised a miracle attributed to her and in 2007, she was declared Venerable.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside at the solemn beatification ceremony today, which takes place in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, leader of the Catholic Church in Austria, said the former MP is a model for his Mission First evangelisation project.

Evangelisation, “is all about deeds. At such times we need models and Hildegard Burjan is just such a model.”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vigano, the untouchable

The current nuncio to Washington cannot stand having been driven out of Rome. And he is reacting against his archenemy, Cardinal Bertone. He has many supporters in the curia. And the pope is getting caught in the fray

VATICAN CITY, (Chiesa) January 26, 2012 – The two texts reproduced in their entirety further below are:

– a letter dated July 7, 2011 to Benedict XVI from then secretary general of the governorate of Vatican City-State, Carlo Maria Viganò, now the nuncio in the United States, made public during the broadcast of the television program "The untouchables" on the evening of January 25, on the Italian channel "la 7";

– the statement released on January 26, with regard to this same broadcast, by the director of the Vatican press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi.

Viganò's letter to Benedict XVI was the showpiece of this episode of "The untouchables." It was exhibited together with a sheaf of other letters also written by Viganò to the pope and to secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone. It is logical to presume that the copies of these letters came to the producer of the broadcast, Gianluigi Nuzzi,, directly or indirectly, from the sender rather than from the recipients. The statement from Fr. Lombardi expresses "disappointment over the release of confidential documents," but does not accuse anyone.

The broadcast was given more weight by the fact that three officials of the Holy See took part in it. Two of them were interviewed at their respective residences: Bishop Giorgio Corbellini and Cardinal Velasio de Paolis. One was a guest in studio: the director of "L'Osservatore Romano," Giovanni Maria Vian. The cardinal who was interviewed while having his identity concealed could have been de Paolis himself, recorded without his knowledge while he was speaking off the record.


The statement ends by calling "unquestionable" the esteem and trust that the pope has for Viganò. This could be a way of asking the churchman, clearly embittered by his removal from Rome, to put aside his own resentment from now on.

On the other hand, the statement could not remind Viganò that it is not permissible for him to complain about the failure to fulfill a promise that he would succeed Lajolo as president of the governorate of Vatican City-State, assuming that such a promise was made to him. Nor could it set out in black and white that such promises cannot be made by someone, like the secretary of state, who does not have the power to do so. Such appointments, in fact, belong only to the pope.

And that's without counting the fact that none of Viganò's predecessors made the leap from secretary to president. Not Bruno Bertagna. Not Gianni Danzi. Not Renato Boccardo, who also had to leave his post prematurely, for the less than glamorous episcopal see of Spoleto-Norcia. And he left without protesting, and without sending letters left and right. With a style quite different from that of the current nuncio to Washington.

Viganò's nephew, Archbishop Carlo Maria Polvani, 47, heads the information office of the secretariat of state that oversees "L'Osservatore Romano," Vatican Radio, and also the press office directed by Fr. Lombardi.



Vatican City-State
The Secretary General

To His Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, July 7, 2011

Most Holy Father,

With deep sadness and disappointment I have received from the hands of the Most Eminent Cardinal Secretary of State the communication of the decision of Your Holiness to appoint me Apostolic Nuncio in the United States of America. In other circumstances, such an appointment would be a reason for joy and a sign of great esteem and trust in my regard, but in the present context, it will be perceived by all as a verdict of condemnation of my work, and therefore as a punishment.

In spite of the great damage to my reputation and the negative repercussions that this provision will provoke, my response cannot be anything but full adherence to the will of the pope, as I have always done during my other than brief service to the Holy See. In the face of this harsh trial as well, I renew with profound faith my absolute obedience to the Vicar of Christ.

The meeting granted to me by Your Holiness last April 4 brought me great comfort, as did the subsequent news that the pope had instituted a special Committee "super partes," charged with clarifying the delicate matter in which I have been involved; and thus it seemed reasonable to me to hope that any provision in my regard would be taken only at the conclusion of the work of the aforementioned Committee, in part so that punishment would not seem to be given to the one who, out of the duty of his office, had brought to the attention of his immediate superior, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, gravely deplorable actions and behaviors that, moreover, His Excellency Bishop Giorgio Corbellini, deputy secretary general, had in vain repeatedly reported and documented for the same superior – long before my arrival at the governorate – and that, in the absence of action on the part of the same cardinal, he had felt the need to report also to the secretariat of state.

And I was even more saddened to learn, following the audience with the Most Eminent Cardinal Secretary of State last July 2, that Your Holiness agrees with the judgment of my actions in the terms in which this was previewed last June 26 in a blog post by Andrea Tornielli, namely that I am said to be guilty of having created a negative climate at the Governorate, making relations more and more difficult between the secretary general and the heads of the offices, so much so as to make my transfer necessary.

In this regard, I would like to assure Your Holiness that this does not at all correspond to the truth. The other cardinal members of the Pontifical Committee of the Governorate, who know very well how I have acted over the past two years, could inform you with greater objectivity, not having a stake in this matter, and easily prove how far from the truth is the information about me that has been reported to you, which has been the motive for your decision in my regard.

I am also grieved by the fact that, unfortunately having to care personally for an older brother who is a priest, seriously affected by a stroke that is gradually debilitating him mentally as well, I should have to leave right now, when I had expected to be able to resolve in a few months this family problem that so greatly worries me.

Your Holiness, for the reasons presented above, I turn to you with trust to ask you, for the sake of my reputation, to postpone for the necessary time the implementation of the decision you have already made, which at this moment would appear as an unjust sentence of condemnation in my regard, based on behaviors that have been falsely attributed to me, and to entrust the task of exploring the real situation of this matter, which also sees two Most Eminent Cardinals involved, to a truly independent body, for example the Apostolic Signatura. This would allow my transfer to be perceived as a normal replacement, and would also permit me to find a solution for my brother priest more easily.

If Your Holiness would grant me this, I would ardently desire, in honor of the truth, to be able to provide you personally with the elements necessary to clarify this delicate matter, in which the Holy Father has certainly been kept in the dark.

With profound veneration, I renew for Your Holiness sentiments of filial devotion,

in Christ the Lord

+ Carlo Maria Viganò

full article at Chiesa

Bishop Finn set for September Trial

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri Catholic bishop will go to trial in September on a misdemeanor charge that he and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese failed to report suspicions of child sexual abuse by a priest.
Bishop Robert Finn is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 24. A pretrial conference is scheduled before Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence on March 27.
The charges against Finn and the diocese stem from claims that the diocese waited five months before telling police about pornographic photos of children found on a priest's computer.
A computer technician found hundreds of "troubling images" on the Rev. Shawn Ratigan's computer in December 2010. Finn acknowledged that he knew of the photos in December, but didn't report them to police until May.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Church rebels worry the vatican

Austrian Independent
Jan 26, 2012

The highest representatives of the Austrian Catholic Church gathered with Vatican officials to speak about a group of priests who declared themselves "disobedient", it has emerged.

The Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper revealed yesterday (Weds) that Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn and two other members of the Conference of Austrian Bishops, went to Rome on Monday to meet with clergymen in the Vatican. The paper claimed that the gathering was organised to discuss how to react to the increasing acclaim among Austrians for the demands of Helmut Schüller’s Preachers’ Initiative.

Schüller – who was president of Caritas Austria for some years before withdrawing to Probstdorf in Lower Austria to head the local parish – presented the guidelines of his movement half a year ago. He said the Preachers’ Initiative wanted the Vatican to allow Austrian priests to give Holy Communion to divorced people. The rebellious group also want female priests in the Catholic Church and an abolition of celibacy.

A spokesman for the Austrian Roman Catholic Church confirmed today (Thurs) that the meeting took place on Monday. He claimed that it was a regular gathering at which various topics were raised. Schönborn said already some weeks ago that he planned to raise the controversial issue when speaking with Vatican officials.

Full article at Austrian Independent

Monday, January 23, 2012

Disobedient priests plan global

Austrian Independent

A parish priest who encouraged clergymen to be "disobedient" towards the Vatican plans to go international.

Helmut Schüller of the Preachers’ Initiative said yesterday (Sun) that "2012 will be the year of internationalisation". Schüller – who previously headed Caritas Austria – said the Austrian Roman Catholic Church should "finally take members seriously".

Schüller criticised the Vatican due to its conservative approach towards key topics of the 21st century and said the institution resembled an "absolutist monarchy". The head of the parish of Probstdorf in the province of Lower Austria stressed that his initiative "receives a lot of approval from Catholic reform movements all over the world."

Schüller claimed some weeks ago that the Preachers’ Initiative currently consisted of 370 members. He said yesterday there were no plans for further talks with the highest representative of the Roman Catholic Church of Austria, Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn. The archbishop condemned the word disobedience as a "term of fight" last month. Schönborn said it was "burdened with a negative connotation".

Schönborn said it was not true that he opposed all kinds of reforms of the Church. He admitted that there was the need to rethink certain decisions and opinions but also made clear that he was against the crucial points of Schüller’s agenda.

The Preachers’ Initiative, which was established more than half a year ago, calls on the Vatican to allow priests to give Holy Communion to people who married a second time at registry offices after getting divorced following church weddings. The group also says women should be allowed to become Catholic priests.


The Church was also in the news recently due to discussions over whether it should be allowed to charge people who left it. Maximilian Hiegelsberger of the Austrian Association of Farmers’ section in Upper Austria said the Church could tax everyone regardless of whether they were members or not. Hiegelsberger argued that every resident of the country benefited by the Church’s activities in some way. He also made aware of abbeys’ positive effects on the domestic tourism industry.

The Social Democrats (SPÖ) rejected his appeal while St. Pölten Diocese Bishop Klaus Küng said it was an idea worth discussing in his opinion. Hiegelsberger is a member of the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) which has formed a federal government coalition with the SPÖ since 2007. The SPÖ emphasised it would not support his initiative. The party branded Hiegelsberger’s suggested post-Church membership fee as a "forced charge".

full story at Austrian Independent

Friday, January 20, 2012

Church denies sacrament of Holy Communion to Down's syndrome child

Bernie Malone
Irish Central
Jan. 20, 2012

The parents of a seven-year-old boy with Down Syndrome are accusing the Catholic Church of “discrimination” for denying their son the sacrament of Holy Communion.

The church said that their son, Denum Ellarby, would not sufficiently ‘understand the preparation’ or be able to ‘enjoy participation in Mass’, according to Daily Mail reports.

Clare, Denum’s mother, has complained to the diocese chiefs, who have backed her parish priest, Father Patrick Mungovin’s views.

The Leeds diocese Vicar General said in a letter, that Father Mungovin was not “unreasonable in sharing the view that Denum should proceed to First Sacraments when he will be better placed to understand the preparation and to enjoy participation in Mass”.

A diocese spokesman said, “Christians come to share fully in the life of the Christian Church through the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.

“Often Baptism is celebrated for babies in order to bring them into the life of the Church but they only proceed to the sacrament of First Communion when they take part in the Church’s life and understand the Church’s faith in regard to these sacraments.”

Full story at Irish Central

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Searches of Belgium church property continue

Don Melvin
January 17, 2012

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Belgian authorities searched the administrative offices of the bishops of Bruges and Ghent on Tuesday, a day after raiding similar offices in three other cities as they investigated whether church officials protected child abusers instead of their victims.
Peter Rossel, a spokesman for Jozef de Kessel, the Bishop of Bruges, 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Brussels, confirmed that a search had taken place there. He said the church was cooperating fully with the investigation.
Koen Vlaeminck, a spokesman for the church in Ghent, told The Associated Press that authorities had arrived at church offices with a request for files relating to 13 specific individuals. He said the church had cooperated, and had been allowed to retain copies of the files.
On Monday, authorities searched church offices in Hasselt, Mechelen and Antwerp. A judicial official close to the investigation told the AP on Monday the investigation, called "Operation Chalice," could result in charges against church officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Courtroom fury as Catholic bishop walks free just hours after child porn sentencing

National Post (Canada)
Jan. 5, 2012

Angry scenes erupted inside an Ottawa courthouse Wednesday after a Catholic bishop with an addiction to Internet pornography walked free despite admitting to possessing images of naked boys wearing rosary beads and crucifixes.

Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland sentenced Raymond Lahey to 15 months in jail Wednesday, time that he will be credited with already having served, prompting an outburst from one man in the court.

“You’re not a pedophile, you’re a demon, you f–king idiot,” the man yelled at Lahey.

“I’m a survivor, I got to live with it. He’s a f–king demon!” the man shouted, as the judge called for security.

Lahey, who once negotiated a $13-million settlement for victims of child sex abuse by priests as the bishop of Antigonish, N.S., pleaded guilty in May to possession of child pornography for the purpose of importation.

However a leading children’s rights activist said Wednesday that the 15-month sentence did not reflect the seriousness of the crime.

Rosalind Proger of Beyond Borders said Lahey helped fuel a market for child pornography.

“These are real children in these images,” she said from Winnipeg. “They are not drawings. If you look at this sentencing from the perspective of the victims — the children in those images he had — there is a real disconnect between the crime and it ramifications on young lives.

“If the children in those images could have stood in the court room perhaps the sentence would have been tougher.

“No one would be making child pornography if there wasn’t demand and what people like Lahey do is create the demand”, Ms Proger said

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lahey will be test of church's new rules

JANUARY 4, 2012

Disgraced Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey will be the first test of new church rules dealing with clerics involved with child pornography.

It is possible that Lahey, who is expected to be sentenced today after pleading guilty to possessing violent child pornography, will be defrocked by the Catholic Church.

"It is extremely rare for a bishop to be removed from the clerical state because typically bishops haven't committed these types of crimes," said Chad Glendinning, a canon law professor at Ottawa's Saint Paul University. "But he has admitted his guilt so it makes it a little easier for the Holy See. They need not hold a full hearing to determine his guilt so could send the matter directly to the Pope and he could make the decision to dismiss him. But this isn't automatic. It's a possibility but not an inevitability."

In May 2010, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved new rules to deal with clerics who use child pornography and made it a crime under canon law to possess child pornography. The Lahey case is the first to be dealt with under those new rules, so the Catholic Church will enter new ground in when it decides his fate.

There are other options besides defrocking, Glendinning said. Other sanctions open to the Pope include prohibiting Lahey from publicly celebrating the liturgy or assigning him to a life of prayer and penance.

"It all has a similar effect as dismissing him from the clerical state (defrocking)," he said.

Michael Swan, associate editor of The Catholic Register, described Lahey as being in canon law limbo.

"In terms of the application of canon law to bishops on this, it is sort of unprecedented" Swan said. "So, like any legal system, it is going to create precedents."

Lahey was arrested at Ottawa Airport in September 2009 after authorities found nearly 600 pornographic images on his laptop computer. Some showed young boys engaged in bondage and torture. In some images, the boys were wearing crucifixes and rosary beads.

Lahey pleaded guilty in May 2011 and voluntarily entered jail to begin serving his sentence.

Shortly after his arrest, Lahey resigned his post, becoming officially known as "The Former Bishop of Antigonish."

Within the Catholic Church, he is and always will remain a bishop.

Bishop resigns after disclosing he is the father of two children

Jan. 4, 2012
National Catholic Reporter

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I have some sad and difficult information to share with you. Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, informed me in early December that he is the father of two minor teenage children, who live with their mother in another state.
Bishop Zavala also told me that he submitted his resignation to the Holy Father in Rome, which was accepted. Since that time, he has not been in ministry and will be living privately.
The archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs. The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy.
Let us pray for all those impacted by this situation and for each other as we reflect on this letter.
May the Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, grant you peace.
Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles

Biographical information about Zavala from the Los Angeles archdiocese's website says that Zavala is a native of Guerrero, Mexico, but grew up in Los Angeles. After attending St. John’s Seminary, he was ordained a priest in 1977 by Cardinal Timothy Manning and was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, in East Los Angeles.
He earned a degree in canon law from The Catholic University of America, worked in the tribunal and was named rector of St. John’s Seminary in 1992.
Two years later, Cardinal Roger Mahony ordained him as Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Region.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pressure on Dutch church after report

John L. Allen, Jr
National Catholic Reporter
Jan. 3, 2012

Two leading politicians in the Netherlands, both from conservative parties, have called for the resignations of Catholic bishops in the wake of a damning report on sexual abuse in the Dutch church.
The country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, also announced that his cabinet is considering lifting a statute of limitations to allow criminal prosecutions. A complaint has already been filed with the public prosecutor’s office against a former bishop of the Rotterdam diocese, Philippe Bär. An attorney representing alleged victims has charged Bär with covering up abuse during his tenure from 1983 to 1993.
Meanwhile, an influential Catholic commentator in Italy has rejected suggestions that the revelations amount to an indictment of the liberal spirit of Dutch Catholicism following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
In Catholic circles, some commentators have posited a link between the revelations and the famously progressive climate in Dutch Catholicism after Vatican II. In mid-December, Italian writer Giacomo Galeazzi argued that “the ‘liberal’ Catholic church is sinking as a result of the pedophilia scandal.”
Fr. Enzo Bianchi, leader of the renowned Italian monastic community of Bose, and a figure with strong Vatican ties, has challenged those assertions.
In a Dec. 23 essay, Bianchi noted that more than 80 percent of the complaints indentified in the Dutch report date to the period before Vatican II. Ideological speculation, Bianchi wrote, “doesn’t help anyone ... certainly not the victims, and not the church.”

full article at <a href="">National Catholic Reporter  </a>

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vatican welcomes Episcopal converts to Catholic church

Los Angeles Times
Jan. 2, 2012

Congregations and members of the Episcopal Church — including married priests — may join the Roman Catholic Church under a new structure announced by the Vatican.
The nationwide “ordinariate,” which is similar to a diocese, will be headed by the Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson of Houston, a Catholic convert who called the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI a “historic moment in the history of the church.”
For perhaps the first time since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, he said, a structure has been created to “assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors.”
The Episcopal Church has been rocked in recent years by divisions over doctrine and the role of gays and lesbians in church life. With about 2 million members, the church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the ongoing disputes have prompted some congregations to align themselves with Anglican bishops overseas.
A moratorium on electing gay bishops was overturned at the Episcopal Church’s national convention in Anaheim in 2009; the next year, Mary Douglas Glasspool became the church’s second openly gay bishop and serves in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Steenson, in a conference call with reporters Monday, appeared to allude to the issue when asked why he left the church. “It came down to the question of how authority is handled in the church,” said Steenson, who was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009. “Putting challenging theological questions to a vote is not traditionally how we answered questions. Every generation has its issues. We need to take the long view.”
Under the structure announced by Benedict on Sunday, members of the what is formally called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter will be fully Catholic, while also allowed to maintain some Anglican traditions. Married Episcopal clergy will be allowed to become priests. Steenson, 59, is a father of three and grandfather of one.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, more than 100 clergy have applied for Catholic ordination and 1,400 individuals from 22 communities have asked to join the ordinariate.