Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dean of Rota warns Pope could strip Cardinal Burke & others of their cardinalate

Deacon Nick Donnely
November 29, 2016

Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, told a conference in Spain that Cardinal Burke and the three cardinals who submitted the dubia to Pope Francis "could lose their Cardinalate" for causing "grave scandal" by making the dubia public. The Dean of the Roman Rota went on to accuse Cardinals Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner of questioning the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto made his astounding accusations during a conference to religious in Spain.

Archbishop Pio Vito's indictment against the four cardinals, and other people who question Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia, was that they not only questioned one synod of bishops on marriage and the family, but two synods, about which, "The action of the Holy Spirit can not be doubted.".

The Dean of the Roman Rota went on to clarify that the Pope did not have to strip the four senior cardinals of their "cardinalate", but that he could do it. He went on to confirm what many commentators have suspected that Pope Francis' interview with Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops, was the Holy Father's indirect response to the cardinals' dubia:

During the conference, Pius Vito made clear to those present that the Pope did not respond directly to these four cardinals, "but indirectly told them that they only see white or black, when there are shades of color in the Church."

The Dean of the Roman Rota, the highest canonical court responsible for marriage in the Catholic Church, went on to support Pope Francis' innovation of allowing divorced and "remarried" to receive Holy Communion. In response to a question asking if it was better to grant divorced and civily remarried couples nullity of marriage so they can marry in the Church before they receive Holy Communion Archbishop Pio Vinto expressed preference for Pope Francis's "reform":

Pope Francis' reform of the matrimonial process wants to reach more people. The percentage of people who ask for marriage annulment is very small. The Pope has said that communion is not only for good Catholics. Francisco says: how to reach the most excluded people? Under the Pope's reform many people may ask for nullity, but others will not.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The four cardinals and their five doubts

Michael Sean Winters
National Catholic Reporter
November 23, 2016

The case of the four cardinals and their five dubia has been well reported and garnered plenty of commentary. Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner decided to publish their letter containing the dubia, openly challenging the pope to clarify parts of Amoris Laetitia that they find to be a source of confusion. The whole episode is painful and put me in mind of an earlier and similarly painful episode in the history of the Catholic church in the United States.

In the post-war years, Jesuit Fr. Leonard Feeney ran the Saint Benedict Center in Cambridge, Mass., adjacent to the campuses of Harvard University and Radcliffe College. A charismatic man, Feeney attracted young minds to his brand of extreme Catholicism and, specifically, his interpretation of the doctrine "extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" — "no salvation outside the Church." Feeney managed to get his center accredited to teach courses by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts even though he had no such authority from either his Jesuit superiors or from the Archdiocese of Boston. He began convincing his young devotees to drop out of Harvard and Radcliffe and enroll at his center.

Needless to say, this made for some angry parents, and Fr. Feeney was summoned to a meeting with the archdiocese. Historical footnote: The auxiliary bishop with whom he met was then-Bishop, later-Cardinal John Wright. When Wright became Bishop of Pittsburgh and then Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, his secretary was then-Father, now-Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of Pope Francis' staunchest defenders and one of the most effective participants in the two synods that led to Amoris Laetitia. Feeney agreed to notify parents before their children withdrew from the more prestigious schools and also to submit his newsletter to Jesuit censors.

The great historian of the church in the U.S., Jesuit Fr. Gerald Fogarty, picks up the story. He writes:

But Feeney's attacks became broader. In dealing with Protestants he was virulent in asserting that only in the Catholic Church could one be saved. His followers at Boston College even charged the president of the institution with heresy. He also alienated many of the students who used to frequent St. Benedict's Center, which now became a closed group of "family," totally convinced that it alone represented the truth of Catholicism. The American Church had its own Port Royal.

Bingo! How many times in these pages have I observed that a key hermeneutic in understanding both Pope Francis and his critics is to grasp that he is an old Jesuit and that old Jesuits contend with Jansenists. That is precisely the dynamic at work with these four cardinals.

Feeney continued to cause scandal. A 1949 decree from the Holy Office about Feeney stated: "Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranked against the Church seriously bear in mind that after 'Rome has spoken,' they cannot be excused even by reason of good faith. Certainly, their bond of duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church 'only by an unconscious desire.'" That is to say, the Protestants Feeney thought damned had a better shot at heaven than he did because of his disobedience! He was eventually suspended from the Society of Jesus and excommunicated in 1953. For insisting on an unduly narrow interpretation of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the church, Feeney found himself outside the church. Thanks be to God, he finally was reconciled in 1972, although he never formally recanted his interpretation of the doctrine.

Doctrines are made to be wide enough to find application in a variety of complex and different human circumstances. This is the thing that the four cardinals, like Feeney, cannot accept. They believe that their way of reading the prior teachings of the church is the only way, even though the esteemed scholar of the theology of St. John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione has again explained that Amoris Laetitia is in full continuity with the whole of the teachings of Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II's prior apostolic exhortation of the same subject. The four cardinals focus on parts of that latter text, and neglect others. The synod fathers, and Pope Francis, offer a different interpretation, one that I believe is more cognizant of the entire prior teachings, and one that is not the least bit confused about doctrine.

The problem, I think, is that the four cardinals believe Pope Francis is muddying the waters by reclaiming the church's long standing teachings on conscience, on the difference between objective and subjective guilt, on the application of the church's twin teachings on marital indissolubility and God's superabundant mercy to the human details of a situation, that is discernment, and perhaps most especially, that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, the most Jansenistic of the positions put forward by the critics of Amoris Laetitia. They want to look upon the world through the lens of church teaching and see only black and white, but human lives are grey and when seen through the lens of church teaching, that human greyness should invite compassion not judgment from a Christian pastor. Their approach works for an accountant but not for a pastor.

In his Apologia pro vita sua, Blessed John Henry Newman writes of his conversion to Catholicism and, specifically, his ability to acquiesce to Catholic understandings of certain doctrines. And, as ever, Newman writes beautifully:

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power.

"Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." It seems to me the four cardinals have five difficulties, but not five doubts. Perhaps they have more difficulties than that. I fear that in their zeal to defend the doctrine on marital incommensurability, they neglect other equally vital doctrines on conscience, mercy, and the sacraments. I certainly had difficulties with some of the interpretations placed upon the teachings of St. John Paul II. We all have difficulties. But to publicly voice doubts about the magisterial teaching of the church is not something a cardinal should be doing or, if he does, he should have the decency to include his red hat with the submission of his dubia. Cardinal Burke likes to fret about lax Catholics causing scandal, but in his case, as in that of Fr. Feeney, it is sometimes the most extreme Catholics who cause the worst scandal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vatican confirms Francis did not renew terms of Burke, Pell on worship congregation

Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
November 22, 2016

The Vatican office that handles affairs relating to the Catholic church's liturgical practices has confirmed that Pope Francis has decided not to renew the terms of several of its bishop-members, many of whom are known for preferring a more traditionalist practice of liturgy.

Francis had appointed 27 new bishops to serve as members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on Oct. 28. But the announcement of the appointments did not make clear whether the previous members’ terms had been renewed.

The congregation has now posted a full list of its current membership on its website. The list makes clear the pope did not renew the terms of 16 congregation members, including those of U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, Australian Cardinal George Pell, and the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

Each of the Vatican congregations is made up of cardinal and bishop members, who frequently travel to Rome to help the offices in their work.

The worship congregation’s confirmation of its current membership was first reported by The Tablet. According to the online list, the congregation now has 40 members. It had previously had 31.

Among the new members of the congregation appointed by Francis are:

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin;
Abuja, Nigeria Cardinal John Onaiyekan;
Quebec, Canada Cardinal Gerald Lacroix;
Melbourne, Australia Archbishop Denis Hart;
Paterson, N.J., Bishop Arthur Serratelli;
Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and who previously for twenty years as the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is led by Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah. Its second-in-command is English Archbishop Arthur Roche.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pope fires back at his critics over 'Amoris' and discusses ecumenism

Ines San Martin
November 18, 2016

Pope Francis has fired back at his critics over the document Amoris Laetita, suggesting they suffer from “a certain legalism, which can be ideological.” The critics now include a group of four cardinals who’ve accused the pontiff of causing grave confusion and disorientation and even floated the prospect of a public correction.

“Some- think about the responses to Amoris Laetitia- continue to not understand,” Francis said. They think it’s “black and white, even if in the flux of life you must discern.”

The pope’s comments came in a wide-ranging interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire published on Friday, in response to a question about his Jubilee Year of Mercy and its relation with the 1960s-era Second Vatican Council.

“The Church exists only as an instrument to communicate to men God’s merciful design,” he said, adding that during the council, the Church felt the “need to be in the world as a living sign of the Father’s love.”

The Council, particularly the document Lumen Gentium, according to Francis, moved the axis of the Christian conception “from a certain legalism, which can be ideological,” to God himself, who through the Son became human.

It’s in this context in which he talked about the responses to Amoris Laetitia by those who continue “not to understand” this point.

Although he gives no names, it’s not a stretch to imagine the pope was thinking about the dubia or “doubts” about the apostolic exhortation presented to him by four cardinals, including American Raymond Burke.

The pope told the prelates he wasn’t going to respond, which is the reason why the cardinals went public with their questions earlier in the week.

In a follow-up interview with the National Catholic Register, Burke said they had done it out of charity towards the pope, and in an attempt to end the “tremendous division” caused particularly by chapter eight. In it, Francis seemingly opens the doors, in case-by-case situations, for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

Burke, an expert in canon law, said that if the pope doesn’t provide the “clarification of the Church’s teaching” they are asking for, then they’d consider making a formal act of correction of the Roman Pontiff.

But the “legalists” responses to Amoris are far from being the only matter addressed by Pope Francis in his interview with Stefania Falasca, a journalist from Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

The two central issues throughout the three-page long interview are the Holy Year of Mercy, which will conclude on Sunday, and ecumenism, meaning the press for greater Christian unity.

Falasca asked the pope about his inter-Christian meetings, saying that there too, he finds critics in the form of those who believe he’s “selling out” Catholic doctrine. “Some have said you want to ‘Protestantize’ the Church,” she asks. But Francis is not too worried about this criticism either: “I’m not losing sleep over it. I’ll continue on the path of those who proceeded me, and I follow the Council.”

Opinions, he said, have to be distinguished according to the spirit with which they’re voiced. “Where there’s not a nasty spirit, they can help you on the path,” he said. “Other times, you see quickly that criticisms taken here and there to justify pre-existing positions aren’t honest, they’re formed with a nasty spirit in order to sow division.”

These rigorisms, Francis argued, “are born from something missing, from trying to hide one’s own sad dissatisfaction behind a kind of armor.”

To illustrate his point and this “rigid behavior,” the pope recommended the 1987 movie “Babette’s Feast.”

Proselytism among Christians is sinful

Talking about Christian unity, the pope said it’s “a path” that leads to a walking together with Jesus, and that despite the theological differences, a “practical ecumenism” is possible and it can take different forms, such as Christians working together to help the poor.

Unity, he insisted, is built in this walking together, and it’s a “grace” that has to be asked for. It’s for this reason that he repeats: “every form of proselytism among Christians is sinful. The Church never grows from proselytism but ‘by attraction,’ as Benedict XVI wrote.”

“Proselytism among Christians, therefore, in itself, is a grave sin,” he said.

The journalist then asked, “Why?”

“Because it contradicts the very dynamic of how to become and to remain Christian,” he said. “The Church is not a soccer team that goes around seeking fans.”

Francis also spoke about his friendship with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, sharing that during the trip the two took to the Greek island of Lesbos to bring attention to the refugee and immigrant crisis, the Orthodox leader had his pockets full of candies, making him a favorite among the children.

This, the pope said, is Bartholomew, a man capable of leading the Great Orthodox Council, talking about high-level theology and being with children.

“When he came to Rome he would stay in the room where I am now,” Francis said, referring to room 201 of the Santa Marta, a hotel within Vatican grounds where he’s lived since the beginning of his pontificate. “The only thing [Bartholomew] reproached me for is that he had to change rooms.”

The cancer of the Church is giving glory to each other

Never one to go easy with his own people, the pope once again spoke about the “spiritual disease” some Catholics have, in believing that the Church is a “self-sufficient human reality, where everything moves according to the logic of ambition and power.”

“I continue to think that the cancer of the Church is giving glory to each other,” the pope told Falasca.

“If one doesn’t know who Jesus is, or has never met him, you always can meet him; but if one is in the Church, if one moves in it because it’s precisely in the ambit of the Church that one cultivates and feeds one’s hunger for power and self-affirmation, you have a spiritual disease.”

Francis argued that Martin Luther, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, realized this: “the refusal of an image of the Church as an organization that can go ahead ignoring the grace of the Lord, or considering it as a possession to be taken for granted, guaranteed a priori.”

“This temptation to build a self-referential Church, which leads to opposition and therefore to division, always comes back,” the pontiff said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Francis refuses to fall into trap set by Cardinal Burke and allies over 'errors' in Amoris Laetitia

Christopher Lamb
The Tablet
November 16, 2016

Pope believes questions posed on divorced and remarrieds are designed to force him into debate on cardinal's terms

One of Pope Francis’ most prominent critics has upped the ante. In an interview with the National Catholic Register United State’s Cardinal Raymond Burke has said the pontiff is “teaching error” by suggesting divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion and has threatened to make a “formal act of correction.”

He and three other retired cardinals have written to Francis calling on him clear up the confusion which are contained in the Pope’s family synod document, Amoris Laetitia which they claim is causing “grave disorientation and great confusion” among Catholics. And they have put five questions to him - known as Dubia - which demand a “yes or no” answer.

But the Pope has not responded so the group - including Joachim Meisner, retired leader of Cologne, Carlo Caffarra, retired leader of Bologna, and Walter Brandmüller, formerly in charge of the Vatican’s historical sciences committee - have gone public with their concerns.

So why is the Pope staying silent? Francis believes their questions are a trap and has opted not to engage in a debate which seems on the cardinals' terms and designed to make him restate old rules. He has also definitively endorsed the Argentinian bishops’ position which is that communion can be given to remarried Catholics in some cases - and he is leaving it up to individual bishops in general to make the call.

For the conservatives this is the crux of the problem. It is not so much “confusion” about the document but that the Pope has ruled in favour of personal conscience, discernment and power to the local churches. That is scary for them because it means throwing off the comfort blanket of clean, clear unequivocal papal teaching.

But the truth is that when it comes to marriage and divorce a “one size fits all” solution doesn’t work, and Francis knows it. He also knows that most Catholics agree and that Amoris Laetitia reflects the reality of countless numbers of parishes. And he may be sceptical of the claim that the faithful are “confused” from a group of cardinals not currently engaged in front-line pastoral work.

Anyone watching the new Netflix series “The Crown” might have been struck by the similarity between this debate and the Church of England’s refusal to allow Princess Margaret to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend, on the grounds he was a divorced man.

The proposed marriage between Margaret and Townsend, the senior bishops tell the young Queen in one scene, cannot happen as it would threaten the sacrament of marriage. Those events took place more than half a century ago and the Church of England has since changed its position on the issue.

And in the Catholics’ similar debate over communion for divorced and remarried Francis is betting that his teaching will be the one that stands the test of time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In Gomez, US Bishops make clear pro-immigrant statement

John L. Allen Jr
November 15, 2016

Coming just seven days after the victory of Donald Trump, the choice by the US bishops of a Mexican-born prelate who’s passionate about immigrant rights can’t help but be seen as a powerful statement of priorities by the leadership of the American Catholic church.

Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles might well have been elected to a senior position in the U.S. bishops conference under any circumstances, given that he’s seen as a well-liked and popular figure among his fellow prelates, as well as someone robustly committed to the traditional doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church.

Coming just seven days after the victory of Donald Trump, however, following a campaign in which Trump ran on a get-tough platform on immigration, the choice of a Mexican-born prelate who’s become passionate about immigrant rights can’t help but be seen as a powerful statement of priorities by the leadership of the American Catholic church.

To be fair, the first vote of the day was actually for the presidency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but the outcome was largely foreordained since the bishops generally pick the sitting vice president for the top job. In this case, that meant Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo of Galveston-Houston was almost certain to prevail.

The interesting race was therefore for vice president, and in the end, although there were nine nominees, it came down to a choice between Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans or Gomez. After the initial two ballots they faced one another in a run-off, with Gomez eventually garnering the most votes.

Under other circumstances, that might have made the final ballot an interesting test of where the American bishops stand vis-à-vis the Pope Francis experiment in Catholicism, since Aymond is generally seen as a moderate to progressive figure who emphasizes many of the same social justice issues as the pontiff, while over the years Gomez, who’s a member of the Catholic organization Opus Dei, has been seen as a bit more conservative and traditional in outlook.

However, two factors likely changed the calculus this time.

First, it was widely expected that Gomez, as the archbishop of the largest Catholic diocese in the United States and also the first Hispanic bishop in the country up for the distinction, would be named a cardinal the next time an American received a red hat from a pope.

Instead, Francis opted to elevate Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis (who’s subsequently been named to Newark) and Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, who’s been tapped to head a new Vatican department for family, laity and life.

While few really begrudge those choices, there was nevertheless wide disappointment for Gomez and a natural sense of sympathy for someone other bishops perceived to have been “passed over” or left off the list.

In that context, putting Gomez in line to become president of the conference was really the closest way American bishops had at their disposal to make up for their disappointment that he wasn’t named a cardinal.

Even more fundamental than that, however, was likely the effect of Trump’s upset victory in last Tuesday’s presidential election. Whatever else the American bishops may care about, the defense of immigrants has emerged in recent years as an increasingly critical priority - in part because they see it as a critical human rights priority that’s very much in sync with the agenda of Pope Francis, and in part because those immigrants also tend to be members of the bishops’ own flocks, since they’re disproportionately Catholic.

One key trajectory in American Catholicism today is a “back to the future” dynamic, in which the Church is once again becoming a blue-collar, immigrant community, and therefore the defense of immigrant rights isn’t simply an abstract humanitarian exercise for many bishops, but also a reflection of the people they’re seeing in the pews as they move around their local communities. To be clear, it would be wrong to read the choice of Gomez entirely as an anti-Trump, pro-immigrant statement.

He’s hardly a standard-bearer for the progressive agenda in the American church. On the contrary, he’s a protégé of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, having started his career as an auxiliary under Chaput in Denver, and is generally seen as part of the moderate-to-conservative camp among the bishops. He’s solidly pro-life, he believes strongly in the need for better catechesis and grounding in doctrine, and sees a serious threat in creeping secularism and assaults on religious freedom.

That said, there’s a more transcendent subtext at the moment, which is that at a time when American politics would seem to be trending towards walls and closure as the right response to the growing immigrant presence, Gomez incarnates a different option: Someone born in Mexico but who nevertheless has become fully assimilated in the United States, and without whom both the American Church and American society would be clearly impoverished.

For sure, as a leader of the U.S. bishops conference, Gomez will try hard to be a spokesperson for the full range of Catholic social teaching, including its positions on immigrants. However, even without trying, Gomez in his biography and personal story makes the point, and in his case, explicit speech almost seems anti-climactic.

That, in a nutshell, is the message the American bishops delivered on Tuesday, and it’s one sure to reverberate for some time to come.

Pope Francis surprise: Newark, NJ gets a cardinal, Philly doesn't

David O'Reilley
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 14, 2016

When Pope Francis announces 17 new cardinals Saturday in Rome, there will be some American surprises among them.

One will be the presence of Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, a little-known moderate soon to be the Archdiocese of Newark's first cardinal.

Another will be the absence of Philadelphia's prominent archbishop, Charles J. Chaput.

Although Chaput is widely regarded as one of the American hierarchy's most capable leaders, Francis appears to have bypassed the 72-year-old conservative who hosted him at last year's World Meeting of Families.

Since 1921, popes have presented the five previous archbishops of Philadelphia with the scarlet hat of a cardinal, lending the archdiocese a reputation as a "red seat" or "cardinalatial see."

It's not clear if Francis is "packing" liberal and moderate prelates onto the College of Cardinals that will one day name his successor, said William Madges, professor of theology and religious studies at St. Joseph's University.

"But it seems pretty clear," said Madges, "that Francis is intentionally breaking the tradition that certain dioceses automatically get a red hat."

Francis has also made clear he does not like clerics aspiring to honors, and has virtually discontinued the practice of naming diocesan priests "monsignors."

Archbishop Chaput and his spokesman, Ken Gavin, declined to comment for this story.

"If you love Chaput and want to see him a cardinal, then you'll resent" that Francis appears to have bypassed him, said David Gibson, a former reporter for Vatican Radio and biographer of Pope Benedict XVI.

"But it's nothing personal," said Gibson, who writes for Religion News Service. "Francis wants to elevate like-minded people to the College of Cardinals."

Cardinals serve as advisers to popes, head the Vatican's most important bureaus, and may elect a new pope until they turn 80. After Saturday's consistory — or gathering of cardinals — in St. Peter's Basilica, there will be 120 cardinal-electors. Of these, Francis will have named 36 percent of them.

"It's completely wrong to see the elevation of Tobin as diminishing Archbishop Chaput," said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America.

"Chaput has done amazing things in Denver and Philadelphia and has a terrific reputation in the church," he said. The pope's choice for Newark "I think reflects something that Pope Francis wants to promote in the pastoral work of Tobin."

Tobin, 64, will be installed as archbishop in Newark's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Jan. 6. He succeeds unpopular Archbishop John Myers, who reached retirement age of 75 in February.

Myers controversially used $500,000 of archdiocesan moneys to expand his $750,000 retirement home in Hunterdon County and was sharply criticized for failing to report sexually abusive priests to civil authorities. Gibson, a former resident within the archdiocese, said there was "low morale" among the clergy and laity.

"I think that Pope Francis sees a lot more in me than I see in myself," Tobin, a priest of the missionary Redemptorist order, joked at a news conference Monday.

But some observers say they see much of Francis in Tobin, who this year publicly rebuked Indiana Gov. (now Vice President-elect) Mike Pence's refusal to allow Syrian refugees into the state, saying his archdiocese would continue to resettle them.

And while serving as second-in-command of the Vatican's office for clergy and religious, Tobin in 2012 questioned the need for a controversial Vatican investigation into perceived liberalism among some women's religious orders in the United States.

Pope Benedict sent Tobin to Indianapolis that same year.

Three years later, however, Francis called off the nun inquiry. The two prelates have been friends since 2005, and Tobin once visited him when the future pontiff was still Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.

Tobin served 12 years in Rome as the Redemptorists' superior general, and speaks Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish in addition to English.

While popes rarely explain their reasons for assigning bishops or making them cardinals, Madges said it seems the pontiff is trying to broaden the representation of parts of the Catholic world in the College of Cardinals.

He noted that three years into Francis' pontificate, the archbishoprics of Venice and Turin, Italy, are still without their traditional red hats.

And yet Francis has named a cardinal to the remote Polynesian island nation of Tonga and another to Lampedusa, the Mediterranean island where tens of thousands of refugees from Africa and the Middle East have landed in hopes of entering Europe, many at great peril.

The conclave that elected Francis in March 2013 had cardinals from 48 countries. As of Saturday's consistory, it will contain cardinals from 79 countries, including Mauritius and Papua New Guinea, both Pacific island nations.

Five cardinals will be from Europe, three from Latin America, two from Asia, two from Africa, and three from the United States.

The last group will include Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, who will head a new Vatican office on family and laity, and Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago. Both are viewed as doctrinally moderate.

Another striking absence in the consistory will be Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, an archdiocese headed by cardinals since 1948. Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore — other longtime "red seats" — also have been bypassed in recent years.

Chaput — who has said he was completely unprepared for the clergy sex-abuse issues and massive fiscal deficits he encountered on his arrival to Philadelphia — is sometimes described as a conservative "culture warrior" for his fierce opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

In July, he made headlines when he posted notice that Catholics living in "irregular" sexual relationships — heterosexual cohabitations, same-sex partnerships, and those divorced and remarried outside the Catholic Church — still could not receive Holy Communion or serve as lectors and eucharistic ministers, or on parish councils.

Coming just four months after Francis had issued a major church document, Amoris Laetitia, that appeared to give bishops more latitude in such matters, Chaput's traditionalist position struck some in the archdiocese as unduly rigid.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney even denounced it as "not Christian," but Madges said Chaput evidently views clear articulation of the church's traditional moral teachings to be a "gift to the faithful."

While Chaput "has made remarks that hint at a focus on a smaller and purer church," Schneck noted, he said he believes it has been "Tobin's outreach to the marginalized and outsiders" that has won him a red hat.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Diocese investigates pro life priest for aborted baby video

Associated Press
November 12, 2016

AMARILLO, Texas - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Amarillo says it’s investigating a priest who placed an aborted fetus on his altar and posted a video of it on two social media sites.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports that Amarillo Diocese Bishop Patrick J. Zurek says the Nov. 6 “action and presentation of Father (Frank) Pavone in this video is not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.”

In the video posted to Facebook, Pavone said Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform would allow abortion to continue and that Donald Trump and the Republican platform want to protect unborn children. A shorter version was posted on Instagram.

In his Tuesday statement, Zurek said the diocese “deeply regrets the offense and outrage caused by the video for the faithful and the community at large.”

“Father Frank Pavone has posted a video on his Facebook page of the body of an aborted fetus, which is against the dignity of human life and is a desecration of the altar. We believe that no one who is pro-life can exploit a human body for any reason, especially the body of a fetus,” Zurek’s statement said.

Pavone responded to the controversy his action created in a Nov. 8 post on his Facebook page, writing, “I want to offer you a sincere apology, brothers and sisters, for any unnecessary offense, any confusion, division that’s been created, because there are those out there who are deliberately stirring up that confusion.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, Father Frank, you’re out of your mind.’ You know what? Maybe that’s the place for normal people to be when we’re living in the middle of a holocaust and many people are ready to elect a woman who cares nothing about these babies, who wants us to pay for their destruction,” he wrote, referring to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Pavone was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese in 1988 but was incardinated into the Amarillo Diocese in 2005 by Bishop John W. Yanta, then head of the diocese, who served on the organization’s board of advisers. In 2012, the Vatican Congregation of the Clergy issued a decree allowing Pavone to minister outside the Diocese of Amarillo, but he still must obtain specific permission to do so from Zurek.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pope Francis gives N.J. its first cardinal - and ups the ante on church reform

David Gibson
Religion News Service
November 7, 2016

Pope Francis had already delivered the Catholic Church’s version of an October surprise when he included Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin in the batch of new cardinals he announced last month – promising a red hat to the leader of a relatively small Midwestern diocese of 230,000 Catholics that had never before had a cardinal, nor would ever expect one.

Then on Monday (Nov. 7) the pontiff doubled down with a November stunner as the Vatican announced that Francis was moving Tobin to head the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey.

In a statement release early Monday after the Vatican announcement was official, Tobin compared these last few weeks to an earthquake, saying the news on Oct. 9 that he would become a cardinal was his “first jolt” and the phone call on Oct. 22 informing him that he would be going to Newark was a “second tremor.”

Never before has a cardinal been moved from one diocese to another, and church observers across the board also expressed shock at the unprecedented transfer, which seemed to signal a new stage in Francis’ effort to revamp a U.S. church that had become increasingly conservative under the pontiff’s two predecessors.

Not only is Newark a much bigger archdiocese than Indianapolis, with some 1.2 million Catholics, but it’s never had a cardinal and, like Indianapolis, never expected to get one.

That’s mainly because a cardinal perched across the Hudson River from Manhattan would have been seen as a rival to the Archbishop of New York, a post currently occupied by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

And that’s exactly what’s likely to happen now, especially since Tobin is clearly a personal favorite of the pope’s and Dolan has been associated with Francis’ conservative critics.

“(T)he move portends an ecclesiastical scenario heretofore unseen on these shores nor anywhere else in the Catholic world: two cardinals leading their own local churches not just side-by-side, but within the same media market,” wrote Rocco Palmo, whose blog, Whispers in the Loggia, specializes in clerical gossip.

Moreover, Tobin’s promotion – which was first reported Friday by the Star-Ledger of Newark – was also viewed by church observers as something of a snub to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s five previous archbishops, going back nearly a century, had all been made cardinals.

But Chaput is seen as a culture warrior out of step with Francis’ more pastoral and welcoming vision of the church. That Chaput seems destined to end his career without a red hat, and a possible vote in an eventual conclave to elect a pope that comes with being part of the College of Cardinals, is a bitter pill for many on the Catholic right.

All of this reinforces the obvious fact that Francis clearly cares little for protocol, or bruised egos; the cardinals he named last month come from 11 dioceses that had never had a cardinal – including Indianapolis – and six countries that have never before had a cardinal.

At the same time Francis overlooked dioceses that for centuries had been considered a lock to have a cardinal.

READ: Pope’s cardinal choices bring surprises, especially for US

But the transfer of Tobin, 64, to Newark also underscores the challenges that Francis faces in a country that has produced some of his sharpest critics.

One is that “the pool of ‘Francis bishops’ is still rather small in the U.S, where the footprint left by the appointments of Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is more significant than in many other countries,” said Massimo Faggioli, a theologian and church historian at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

Indeed, more than three decades of promoting conservatives left a limited supply of more pastoral leaders for Francis – who was elected in 2013 after Benedict retired – to choose from, and reorienting the machinery of episcopal vetting and selection and restocking the supply chain of talent can take a long time.

That’s why, Faggioli said, Francis “likes to move bishops that he knows well to important and strategic posts in the U.S. church.”

Francis showed that when he personally picked Archbishop Blase Cupich – who will also be made a cardinal in Rome this month – to go from the small Diocese of Spokane to the influential Archdiocese of Chicago two years ago, another surprising move.

Similarly, Francis also knows Tobin and knows that under then-Pope Benedict XVI, Tobin was effectively exiled to Indianapolis in 2012 from a senior job in Rome because Tobin disagreed with the Vatican investigation of American nuns.

For Francis, who has made overhauling the papal bureaucracy a priority, poor treatment at the hands of the Roman Curia is a resume builder. Tobin also clashed with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — now Donald Trump’s running mate — over Pence’s effort to stop the settlement of Syrian refugees.

Another challenge for Francis is that many of those John Paul and Benedict appointments have not always turned out so well.

Newark is a case in point. Archbishop John Myers was sent there in 2001 by John Paul to replace Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – who was moved to Washington, DC where he was made a cardinal – and Myers’ quickly alienated many inside and outside the church with his hardline approach and a seemingly high-handed persona.

That was not only a contrast to McCarrick’s approachable style, but Myers, who is 75, was also widely criticized for mishandling clergy sex abuse cases. In addition, Myers outraged many in the flock when local media detailed pricey renovations he made to a retirement home.

Morale was so low in the archdiocese that in September 2013 Francis named Archbishop Bernard Hebda, also regarded as a pastor in the pope’s mold, as a coadjutor, or assistant, to Myers with the intention of replacing Myers with Hebda.

But after more than two years preparing to take over, Hebda was moved last March to take charge of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis following the departure of Archbishop John Nienstedt, who left under a cloud of various scandals.

The upshot is that not only does Francis want to overhaul the church’s U.S. leadership, but he has a lot of fires to put out in the American hierarchy and, for now at least, only so many fire fighters he can call on.

Church observers say that recent moves by the pope indicate that he has decided to take a more forceful hand in moving to promote bishops who share his approach in an effort to reorient the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops more quickly.

Yet that doesn’t mean all these decisions are necessarily good ideas.

“This move doesn’t really make sense to me,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and analyst for National Catholic Reporter who has written extensively on the political dynamics of the hierarchy.

“Newark is a big archdiocese and Tobin will have to take time to get to know the people and the priests,” Reese said, “and that will take time away from from the work he could be doing in the USCCB and as a cardinal advising the pope.”

On the other hand, getting to Rome from Newark is a lot easier than it is from Indianapolis, and Tobin is likely to be logging a lot more frequent flyer miles if Francis looks to consult him on how to move the American church in a new direction.

Pope Francis names new cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark

Ines San Martin
November 7, 2016

The past month has been a whirlwind for Joseph Tobin: on Oct. 9 Pope Francis surprised the world by including him on the list of the 17 new cardinals he’ll create later in the month. And on Monday, the Vatican announced his new destination: Newark, New Jersey.

“One of my favorite descriptions of the experience of faith is ‘a willingness to be surprised by God’,” Tobin said in a statement on Monday.

“By that standard, the last weeks have been exceptionally ‘faith filled’.”

As of Nov. 19, when the pontiff formally elevates Tobin, 64, to the Church’s most exclusive club in a ceremony held in Rome known as a consistory, the US prelate will become Newark’s first cardinal, in the diocese’s 163-year history.

His fluent Spanish will come useful for leading the city’s 1.2 million Catholics, an estimated half of whom are Hispanic.

Tobin, currently in Indianapolis, will replace Archbishop John J. Myers, who presented his resignation this July, after turning 75. By canon law, it’s mandatory for every bishop to submit their resignation when reaching this age, and then it’s up to the pope to accept it and to appoint a replacement, which can take months or years, depending each case.

Self-defined as a “culture warrior,” Myers led the diocese for 15 years.

The contrast may be striking, as Myers was generally seen as something of a throw-back in terms of his concepts of clerical authority and lifestyle, while Tobin is regarded as more in the mode of Pope Francis in terms of his emphasis on simplicity and informality.

In 2013, Francis had appointed Archbishop Bernard Hebda as coadjutor in Newark, which is the reason why he was originally seen as Myers’ probable successor, but earlier in the year he was transferred to St. Paul and Minneapolis amid a sexual abuse scandal in the Twin Cities.

Hebda had arrived in New Jersey while the archdiocese was shaken by a scandal of its own, when it was revealed that a priest who had a lifetime ban on ministering with youth due to sexual abuse allegations, was in fact, attending youth retreats and hearing confessions from minors.

A former superior of the world Redemptorist religious order, Tobin had been named archbishop of Indianapolis in October 2012. This appointment followed a two-year job as the second in command of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life, also known as the “Congregation for Religious.”

He was transferred to the Vatican while Rome was conducting two separate investigations of American nuns, probes Tobin publicly questioned.

During this period, he was also responsible for the visit and reform of the male communities in Ireland during the sex abuse crisis in the country, and is currently overseeing the ongoing reforms of the Soladitium Christianae Vitae after scandals involving their founder, Luis Fernando Figari, were made public last year.

The prelate has known Francis since the 2005 Synod of Bishop on the Eucharist, where the two worked closely for almost a month. During the meeting, as is customary, much of the work was done in small working groups divided by language.

Tobin and then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio were assigned to one in Spanish.

The cardinal-elect made news last December when he defied Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence - currently Donald Trump’s vice-president nominee - by allowing a family of Syrian refugees to settle in Indiana, despite a ban from the governor.

Pence had called for the ban citing fears of terrorism and insufficient vetting, but a federal appeals court found it to be discriminatory, upholding a preliminary injunction against enforcement.

Myers had a similar clash with Governor James Christie over Syrian refugees, saying that the archdiocesan policy was to welcome those who arrive from Syria, arguing that people are “being murdered for their faith,” and that it was the Church’s prerogative not to exclude anyone.

Though Francis was expected to include at least one American in the new batch of cardinals, his decision to include Tobin came out of left field, surprising most observers, including the prelate himself, who found out through Twitter at 5:30 AM, little past noon Rome time, when the pope made the announcement.

Bishop Kevin Farrell, recently transferred to the Vatican to head a new mega-office dedicated to the family, laity and life, was a strong bet among long-time Church watchers. Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich, the third new American cardinal, had also been expected.

In a press conference held soon after Francis’ made the surprise announcement during his weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, reading the 17 names from a piece of paper he took out of his pocket, Tobin defined his initial reaction to the news as “shock, mixed with a little embarrassment.”

A native of Detroit, Tobin is the oldest of 13 children. He will be installed in Newark on January 6, 2017.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

In historic first, a cardinal expected to be named head of Newark Archdiocese

Mark Mueller
NJ Advance Media
November 4, 2016

In a historic moment for the Archdiocese of Newark, Archbishop John J. Myers on Monday is expected to announce his successor, Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin, currently the archbishop of Indianapolis, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Tobin, a moderate leader who has supported a greater role for women in the church, has also expressed the need for more dialogue over gay parishioners and has sparred with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Tobin has served as archbishop of Indianapolis since October 2012. Pope Francis named him a cardinal last month. The designation takes effect. Nov. 18.

The appointment would make him the first cardinal in the 163-year history of the archdiocese, which serves about 1.2 million Roman Catholics in Essex, Union, Hudson and Bergen counties.

He also would be the first member of a religious order to preside in Newark. Tobin was ordained a priest in the Redemporist order in 1978.

On Tuesday, Myers turns 75, the mandatory retirement age for Catholic bishops.

Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the nature of Myers' press conference Monday.

But three people with knowledge of the diocese's plans said they expect Myers to announce that Tobin will replace him. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the announcement publicly.

Myers, Newark's archbishop since 2001, reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July. It was not immediately clear if Tobin would be present for the press conference, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

U.S. cardinals typically serve in the largest and most politically important cities, among them New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Newark, was not elevated to cardinal until his transfer to Washington D.C.

Tobin, a 64-year-old Detroit native, is the oldest of 13 children, according to his biography on the Archdiocese of Indianapolis' website. He served at parishes in Detroit and Chicago before taking on a series of assignments in Rome.

He is believed to be close with Pope Francis, with whom he has a personal relationship and who appointed Tobin to several prestigious assignments at the Vatican.

Tobin appears to also share Francis' belief in simple living, a turn away from the notion that bishops and cardinals are "princes of the church."

In an interview with The Criterion, a publication of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, after he was named a cardinal, Tobin recounted a conversation with his mother.

"It's funny," he said. "My mom can get a little emotional at times. She said, 'I can't believe that a child of mine is a prince of the Church.' I said, 'Mother, you don't believe I'm a prince of the Church. I don't believe I'm a prince of the Church. And Pope Francis doesn't believe I'm a prince of the Church. So let's never use that word again.'"

Tobin made headlines late last year when he defied a ban by Pence, Indiana's governor and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate, on the entry of Syrian refugees in that state.

More than 150 Syrian refugees have since been taken up residence in Indiana with the help of the archdiocese, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Pence ultimately declined to enforce the ban.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Papal administrator of Guam archdiocese: Vatican preparing trial for archbishop

Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
November 3, 2016

The papal appointee given authority to take charge of a Guam archdiocese rocked by allegations of sexual abuse against its archbishop has said the Vatican is preparing to put the prelate on trial.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, who Pope Francis appointed in June to step-in over Agana Archbishop Anthony Apuron, told reporters Tuesday that "they just formed all the conditions for the trial."

"I'm going to receive some news, some updates later," said Hon, who has been serving as the archdiocese's apostolic administrator while also remaining the second-in-command of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Hon, a native of Hong Kong, spoke to journalists Nov. 1 following Francis' appointment Oct. 31 of Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Michael Byrnes as the new coadjutor archbishop of the Agana archdiocese, the island's only Catholic diocese.

Local TV station KUAM news posted video of Hon's remarks on their Facebook page.

Francis has sought to act firmly against clergy sexual abuse, and such a trial would be the Vatican's first of a prelate accused of abuse. A similar trial had been organized in 2015 for a Polish archbishop who had been accused of abuse, but the prelate died before the beginning of the proceedings.

A coadjutor bishop is a prelate who is normally appointed by the pope to a diocese with the idea of taking over for the current diocesan leader when he dies or retires. Coadjutor bishops have right of succession, meaning they automatically become diocesan leaders should the previous bishop die in office.

Hon explained that Francis had appointed Byrnes to have special faculties over the Agana archdiocese, saying: "This appointment suggests a more permanent solution."

"As a matter of fact, in this appointment the Holy Father has expressly granted His Excellency Msgr. Byrnes all the faculties, rights and obligations of the archbishop of Agana, civilly and ecclesiastically without any exception," Hon continued.

"In other words, as coadjutor archbishop, Msgr. Byrnes has the complete right of responsibility over everything concerning the archdiocese," said Hon.

Byrnes told KUAM TV that he would visit the Pacific island nation in late November and then move there permanently in January. About 80 percent of Guam's 162,000 residents are Catholic.

Apuron, 70, has been accused of having inappropriate physical contact with at least five young boys in the 1960s and '70s. The allegations emerged in May when one of the boys, now 52, came forward, prompting others to do the same.

Apuron has denied the allegations, and Guam civil authorities have not charged him with any crimes.

Hon had previously told Guam's Catholics that he expected Apuron to undergo a canonical trial, saying so in a September letter he sent to each of the island's 26 churches.

The pope signed a new universal law for the Catholic church last June that specified that a bishop's negligence in response to clergy sexual abuse can lead to his removal from office and empowered four Vatican offices to initiate processes of removal when necessary.

That move was the subject of criticism from some survivors' advocates, who said it did not live up to an earlier promise to create a new Vatican tribunal to judge bishops who do not act appropriately when told of allegations of abuse.

Pope Francis confirms finality of ban on ordaining women priests

Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
November 1, 2016

Pope Francis has said he thinks the Roman Catholic church's ban on priestly ordination for women will continue forever, saying his predecessor Pope John Paul II's declaration on the matter "goes in that direction."

Francis expressed his thoughts on the subject in response to a question Tuesday from a journalist aboard the papal flight back to Rome after a two-day visit to Sweden.

The journalist, a Swede, mentioned that among those who welcomed Francis during his visit was Lutheran Archbishop Antje Jackelen of Uppsala. Jackelen is the primate of the Church of Sweden and a woman.

"Is it realistic to think that there might be women priests also in the Catholic church in the next few decades?" the journalist asked the pope.

"On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear," Francis responded, before mentioning John Paul's 1994 apostolic letter banning the practice, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. "It was given by St. John Paul II and this remains."

"But really forever?" the journalist asked. "Never?"

"If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in that direction," Francis replied.

"But women can do many other things better than men," the pope continued, before repeating remarks he has said in the past about the Catholic church having two dimensions: a Petrine, apostolic dimension led by the bishops and a Marian dimension, which he called "the feminine dimension of the church."

"People ask me: 'Who is more important in the theology or in the spirituality of the church: the apostles or Mary, on the day of Pentecost?' " he said, adding: "It is Mary!" Emphasizing the point, he continued, "More!"

Francis' remarks about the ban on the priestly ordination of women, given during a 40-minute press conference that also covered several other subjects, do not represent a change in position for the pontiff but appear significant in their finality.

While he has repeated John Paul II's teaching on several other occasions when asked about women's ordination, he has never been pressed on if the teaching could ever change.

Francis was only asked Tuesday about the ordination of women as priests and not as deacons.

The pope recently created a special 12-member commission to study the historic use of women as deacons in the church, at the request of the Rome-based umbrella group of women religious around the world, the International Union of Superiors General.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New child abuse suits filed against Church in Guam

Associated Press
November 1, 2016

HAGATNA, Guam - A lawyer for four former altar boys has filed a new civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church in Guam, Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Father Louis Brouillard over child sexual abuse.

A statement was released by the men’s attorney Tuesday afternoon in Hagatna. Three of the men, now in their 50s, were altar boys in the 1970s under Apuron, who was a pastor at the time. They allege Apuron molested them during sleepovers.

The fourth man, now in his 70s, was a student and former altar boy in the 1950s when he says Brouillard molested him. Brouillard, 95, admitted to The Associated Press in August that he may have molested 20 boys during his time in Guam.

Guam passed a law in September lifting the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in child molestation cases, and Catholic officials on the island have warned that settlements costs arising from the measure could cause the closure.

The new leader of the Catholic Church in Guam will immediately assume all responsibilities in the archdiocese while its suspended archbishop faces a church trial for allegedly sexually abusing altar boys.

Pope Francis on Monday named Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes, the auxiliary bishop of Detroit, as coadjutor bishop of the Guam archdiocese. Coadjutors have succession rights when bishops resign, retire or are removed.

At a news conference Tuesday, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Vatican’s temporary apostolic administrator, said Francis gave Byrnes special rights to carry out all the duties as archbishop effective immediately.

Guam had been under an apostolic administrator since June when Apuron, 71, was relieved of his duties after several former altar boys accused him of sexual abuse. He is facing a canonical trial in the Vatican.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pope names successor to Guam archbishop accused of sex abuse

Associated Press
November 1,2016

The new leader of the Catholic Church in Guam will immediately assume all responsibilities in the archdiocese while its suspended archbishop faces a church trial for allegedly sexually abusing altar boys, a church leader said Tuesday.

Pope Francis on Monday named Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes, the auxiliary bishop of Detroit, as the new leader of the Guam archdiocese.

At a news conference Tuesday, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, who is temporarily running the church, said Francis gave Byrnes special rights to carry out all the duties as archbishop effective immediately.

Guam had been without a full-time leader since Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 71, was relieved of his duties after several former altar boys accused him of child sexual abuse. He is facing a canonical trial in the Vatican.

Hon will remain on the island and assist Byrnes with a smooth transition.

Byrnes is expected to arrive at the end of November, and will lead parishioners on the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Guam diocese.

"With my brother priests and deacons, with the catechists and other pastoral workers, and above all with the spiritual gifts of the people of God, I trust we will persevere in faith, hope and love, and will exercise the 'wisdom from above' to meet these challenges," Byrnes said in a statement.

Apuron has denied the allegations and refused to step down. He has not been charged criminally. The allegations got little attention when they first came to light in 2014 but resurfaced this summer after a deacon accused Apuron of keeping the archdiocese's sexual abuse policy weak to protect himself.

Also on Tuesday, a lawyer for four former altar boys filed a new civil lawsuit against Guam's church, Apuron and father Louis Brouillard over child sexual abuse allegations.

Three of the men, now in their 50s, were altar boys in the 1970s under Apuron, who was a pastor at the time. They allege Apuron molested them during sleepovers.

The fourth man, now in his 70s, was a student and former altar boy in the 1950s when he said Brouillard sexually molested him. Brouillard, 95, admitted to The Associated Press in August that he may have molested 20 boys during his time in Guam.

Guam passed a law in September lifting time restrictions of civil lawsuits against alleged perpetrators and their institutions on child molestation cases.