Pope warns bishops not to underestimate abuse crisis

Pontiff says summit of bishops in February will ‘clearly address’ what protocols they must follow in handling sex abuse cases.

 

File photo.

International: The primary goal of the Vatican’s summit on clerical sexual abuse and child protection in Rome in February is to help bishops understand the urgency of the crisis, Pope Francis said.

During a news conference with journalists Jan. 27 on his flight to Rome from Panama, the pope said the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences have been called to the Feb. 21-24 meeting at the Vatican to be “made aware of the tragedy” of those abused by members of the clergy.

“I regularly meet with people who have been abused. I remember one person — 40 years old — who was unable to pray,” he said.

“It is terrible, the suffering is terrible. So first, they [the bishops] need to be made aware of this.”

The pope’s international Council of Cardinals suggested the summit after realizing that some bishops did not know how to address or handle the sex abuse crisis on their own, he said.

“We felt the responsibility of giving a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences,” he said.

“That is why we convoked the presidents” of the conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men’s and women’s religious orders.”

The meeting, he said, will address “in a clear way” what protocols bishops need to follow when handling sexual abuse.

Asked about the expectations for the meeting, especially the expectations of Catholics who have grown frustrated with the repeated reports of abuse and cover-up by some bishops, the pope said that people need to realize “the problem of abuse will continue.”

“It is a human problem, a human problem [that is] everywhere,” he said.

But if the church becomes more aware of the tragedy of sexual abuse, the pope said, it can help others face the crisis of abuse, especially in families “where shame leads to covering up everything.”

Speaking with journalists for nearly an hour, the pope was asked whether he would consider a general acceptance of married men into the Latin-rite priesthood, in a way similar to the practice of the Eastern Catholic churches.

“In the Eastern rite, they can do it. They make the choice between celibacy or marriage before they’re ordained into the diaconate,” he explained.

“When it comes to the Latin rite, a phrase said by St. Paul VI comes to mind: ‘I would rather give my life than change the law on celibacy.'”

The pope said he personally believes that “celibacy is a gift to the church” and that while the prospect of married priests could one day be considered in remote areas that lack priests, he did not agree “with allowing optional celibacy.”

“My decision is: no optional celibacy,” the pope said.

“I will not do this. I don’t feel like I could stand before God with this decision.”

Pope Francis also was asked about his response to the political crisis in Venezuela, as well as the Vatican’s seemingly neutral stance despite widespread belief that the election giving a second term to President Nicolas Maduro was rigged.

Earlier in the day, while visiting a Catholic-run hospice in Panama, the pope prayed for the people of Venezuela, and expressed his hope that a “just and peaceful solution may be sought and achieved to overcome the crisis.”

Although the United States and several European countries have recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate head of state, the Vatican has not.

Pope Francis told journalists that while he fully supports the suffering people of Venezuela, picking a side in the crisis “would be pastoral imprudence on my part and would cause damage.”

“That is why I had to be — I don’t like the word ‘balanced’ — I must be a shepherd to all and if they need help, then they must come to an agreement and ask for it,” he said.

The pope said that he thought carefully about his words to the people of the country because “I suffer for what is happening in Venezuela in this moment.”

“What is it that scares me? Bloodshed,” the pope said. “And that is why I ask for generosity from those who can help resolve the problem.”

Pope Francis also addressed the issue of abortion, which was among the themes of the Via Crucis at World Youth Day Jan. 25.

During the 14th Station — Jesus is laid in his tomb — a young pilgrim read a reflection on all the tombs where those who have died violent deaths have been laid.

“However,” the reflection said, “there is one tomb that cries to Heaven and denounces the terrible cruelty of humanity: it is the tomb that opens in the wombs of mothers who rip out innocent life.”

Asked how the words could be in harmony with his calls for mercy, including for women who have had abortions, Pope Francis said that the “message of mercy is for everyone, including the human being that is gestating.”

Forgiving women who have had abortions is not the problem, he said; rather, it is learning to accompany women who have understood and regret what they have done.

People do not understand the trauma women go through after an abortion, the pope said. Often those who regret their abortions “feel the need to reconcile and rejoin their child.”

“I tell them, ‘Your child is in Heaven, talk to him, sing them the lullaby you were never able to sing to them,'” Pope Francis said.

“There, a path of reconciliation can be found between mother and child. Forgiveness with God is already there. God always forgives.”

Source: CNS

Convent School attacked in Kolhapur

The vandals damaged furniture, computers and windows of the Holy Cross High School for girls.

 

File photo.

Kolhapur:
Suspected right-wing Hindu activists vandalized the office of a convent school in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur town Jan. 22 afternoon.

The vandals damaged furniture, computers and windows of the Holy Cross High School for girls in what is reported to be a cowardly act against the nuns.

Kolhapur police have arrested two people, and 18 absconding, media reports said quoting Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh.

Some 20 activists forcibly entered the campus shouting slogans against the school management and ransacked the office, said school headmistress Sister Bharati.

They complained about a building fee the school charged and started abusing her and the staff members. They also refused requests for a discussion on the issues raised but started breaking the office furniture and glasses of the windows, the nun said.

The school management declared the school closed until the vandals are arrested.

Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune deplored the incident saying “this was not the way to settle the issues in a civilized society.”

He offered the support of the diocese and assured to take up the matter with higher officials after discussion with the nuns.

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore also condemned vandalism and said the attack on the Christian institution was certainly a deep cause for concern.

END

Courtesy: Ucanews

OPEN LETTER TO NUNCIO AGAINST ARBITRARY & COERCIVE TRANSFER ORDER OF FOUR KERALA NUNS:

chhotebhai on behalf of the Concerned Laity speaks out against the forcible transfer of the four nuns who demanded justice against Frightening Franco Mulakkal.

In Kolkata too similar phenomenon is being blatantly exhibited by one Church run institution. It has taken to task a woman staff member who demanded justice against the school Principal for indecent advances. Several others staff members too have had similar experience but have been quietened with job threats. Is this how our Missionary Institutes plan to operate by taking the shield of Minority Institute tag? Our founding fathers must be tossing in their graves. The powers-that-be in the Archdiocese have taken an ostrich-like position as if nothing happened. The concerned priest principal is strutting like a peacock shielded by his bosses. The Church and the administration which trumpet justice for women are playing a game of ping pong!

ISAAC GOMES

 

24th January 2019

AN OPEN LETTER

To,

Abp Giambattista Diquattro

Apotolic Nuncio to India

nuntius@apostolicnuntiatureindia.com

Respected Nuncioji,

For several months now we have been reading and hearing, ad nauseum, on TV channels about what I call the Frightening Franco Mulakkal case; pertaining to the alleged multiple rape of a religious sister, a former Superior General of the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation of Jalandhar, coming under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the self same bishop, the accused in the instant case.

It is common knowledge that it is only after a group of concerned citizens (not just Catholics) came together under the banner of Save Our Sisters that both the police and judiciary in Kerala, and even the office of the Holy Father, sat up and took notice.

As Pope Francis’ Apostolic representative in India it is only fitting that I write to you, as any letter to the Pope himself may get lost in a maze of correspondence. My Open Letter to you and other leaders of recognized national Catholic organizations is occasioned by the letter of Swami Agnivesh to the Pope about the coercive attempt to transfer the five nuns who are key witnesses in the case, out of Kerala. I had the privilege of meeting Swami Agnivesh way back in 1990, when I was the National President of the All India Catholic Union. He is an ascetic of high moral integrity, who has dedicated his life for the marginalized, especially bonded labour.

It is disturbing that the present Superior General of the MJs is transferring the sisters who are key witnesses to the alleged instances of multiple rapes. At such a time, taking recourse to ecclesiastical discipline or rules of the congregation (controlled by the accused) to browbeat the victim into submission, is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds, and extending tacit support to the powerful and influential accused bishop.

It is not for us to pre-judge the bishop, but the due process of criminal justice has found him to be a prima facie criminal, hence ordered his arrest. It is common knowledge that influential clients with highly paid and clever lawyers can obtain bail for them. So it is not at all surprising that the accused is now out on bail.

In the face of adverse media build up the accused bishop was removed from “administrative duties” of his diocese. However, he continues to reside there. The way that he was feted on his release on bail made our stomachs churn with revulsion. He obviously still calls the shots in the diocese.

It is pertinent to place on record that the accused, the victim, the witnesses, and even the present Superior General of the MJs, all belong to Kerala, where the case is registered, and the victim and witnesses presently reside. The brother of the victim and others has alleged a threat to their lives if they do not withdraw the charges, or reject the “offer” of land and money in lieu of the same. We also know that one of the key witnesses, a priest of Jalandhar diocese, again a native of Kerala, was found dead at his residence in mysterious circumstances a couple of months ago.

The circumstantial evidence points to a deep rooted conspiracy to silence the alleged victim and obstruct the course of justice. Justice must not only be done, but as also be seen to being done. Unfortunately, the way that the case has been handled by ecclesiastical authorities has only compounded the negative publicity for the church. There is urgent need for a course correction.

Fearing for their lives from the machinations of a powerful and influential adversary, the sisters have had to take the extreme step of seeking protection from the Chief Minister of the State of Kerala. This was in fact the fundamental duty of the church itself, “to save the smouldering wick and bruised reed” (cf Mat 12:20) as Jesus would have done.

We know that clerical sexual abuse is now a worldwide scandal that has made us Catholics hang our heads in shame. Pope Francis has now called a special meeting of bishops in Rome next month, to address this deep rooted malaise. As a pre-requisite for the same he has asked the heads of all Episcopal conferences to meet the victims of alleged clerical sexual abuse, and record their tales of suffering. This does not seem to have happened in the instant case.

In view of the above I humbly request you to initiate the following steps:

That the head of the concerned episcopal conference (be it the CBCI or the CCBI) be directed to immediately meet with the alleged victim and submit his findings to Pope Francis.
That Franco Mulakkal, the powerful accused, be forthwith relocated from the geographical area of Jalandhar diocese, and be forbidden to interact with the MJ congregation, directly or through intermediaries.
That the hapless victim and witness nuns be provided emotional, spiritual and ecclesiastical support, and be allowed to stay together in Kerala till all their statements have been recorded before the concerned judicial officer hearing the case; and that in the matter of transfer the Superior General of the MJs be directed to submit to the authority of the court concerned, so that the course of justice is not impeded.

It is not out of place to here mention that a few months ago I had drawn your kind attention to the alleged concubinage and massive alienation of community assets by Bp Gallela Prasad of Kadapa diocese in Andhra Pradesh. You took cognizance of the complaint and made the concerned bishop resign from his post. I therefore have confidence in your ecclesiastical leadership and administrative acumen; and hope and pray that you will use your good offices to act decisively in this matter as well.

I thank you in anticipation of your action.

Respectfully,

chhotebhai

CO-ORDINATOR

Cc

1. Bp Theodore Mascarenhas

Secretary General – Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India

cbcisec@gmail.com

secretarygeneralcbci@gmail.com

2. Bro T. Amalan FSC

President – Conference of Religious of India

cridelhi@gmail.com

tamalanfsc@gmail.com

3. The President

Council of Catholic Women of India

ccwicouncil@gmail.com

4. Lancy D’Cunha

National President – All India Catholic Union

lancydcunha@hotmail.com

aicuadmin@groups.live.in

5. The Editors/ Bureau Chiefs of Catholic Journals/ Web Portals

 

Courtesy: Christian World

Former priests say Mass in parish under diocesan ban;

It is interesting to note the reason for the BAN on priests, from celebrating Eucharist..

GREG

The former priests had to conduct the mass because the Neyyatinkara diocese has banned priests from the parish.

St Sebastian’s Church in Balaramapuram

Thiruvananthapuram: A forum of Catholic priests, ex-priests and nuns has claimed that a Catholic parish in Kerala created history by allowing six former priests to offer Holy Mass, the first such incident in the history of the Indian Church.

Six former priests offered the Masses from January 11 to 20 as part of the feast at St Sebastian’s Church in Balaramapuram under Neyyatinkara diocese, Reji Njelani, chairman of Open Church Movement told reporters on Monday.

The movement organized the services, Njelani said. This was possible because in principle a priest once ordained, remained a priest for ever.

The former priests had to conduct the mass because the diocese has banned priests from conducting at ceremonies. The diocesan decision came after the parish members resisted the move of the diocese to take over 18 acres of the land owned by the parish, according to Njelani.

The diocese had refused to have priest to provide the first Holy Communion to the children even after they completed their preparation for it two years ago.

The diocese also refused to conduct the last rites of four parishioners, who had to be buried without last rites, said Njelani.

The Open Church Movement is said to be the brain child of Joseph Pallath, who was dismissed from the Society of Jesus in 2000 for “disobedience and behaviour not suited to priests”. It began in 2016.

Diocesan vicar general Father G Christu Das told Deccan Chronicle that according to canon law the church and its property belonged to church. Hence, the church, the cemetery and the 18 acres of the parish was under the administration of the bishop.

The administration of the school belonging to the parish even now was with the corporate management of the church. There are many families who lived within the 18 acres.

The stand of the church was that let them live there without eviction. Moreover, even if the land was with the administration of the diocese, the parishioners could very well have the right over it, said Father Das.

Source: deccanchronicle

It’s better to be ‘atheist’ than attend daily mass as hypocrite: Pope Francis:

 

Other derogatory phrases used by the pope include “pepper-faced,” “liquid,” and “weak-hoped” Christians; “museum mummies” and “old maids”; and priests and seminarians who qualify as “vain,” “wheeler-dealers,” “little monsters,” and “smarmy idolaters.”

Featured Image

John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews.com

ROME, January 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – During his general audience at the Vatican today, Pope Francis condemned Catholics who go to church every day but “go on hating” their fellow men. He said it “is better” that they not go.

“How many times have we witnessed the scandal of those who go to church and spend all day there or attend every day, and later go on hating others or speaking ill of people. This is a scandal,” the Argentine pontiff said.

The pope added, “It would be better to not go to church. Live like an atheist. If you go to church, then live like a son, like a brother, like an authentic witness, not a counter-witness.”

Pope Francis has been unstinting in his criticisms of some Catholics, particularly traditional-minded ones, whom he asserts have failed to meet the mark. In 2013, Catholic blogger Laurence English released “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults,” which continues to document the epithets used by the pontiff to describe those whom he criticizes. These include: “superficial Christian,” “climbers…attached to money,” and “fomenters of coprophagia!” The pope has regularly referred to some traditionalist Catholics as “rigid.”

Other derogatory phrases used by the pope include “pepper-faced,” “liquid,” and “weak-hoped” Christians; “museum mummies” and “old maids”; and priests and seminarians who qualify as “vain,” “wheeler-dealers,” “little monsters,” and “smarmy idolaters.”

During his regular Wednesday audience for pilgrims to the Vatican, the pope issued a homily on the Gospel of Matthew which refers to the “hypocrites” who pray so that “they can be seen by people.” This is repeated today, the pope said, by “atheists, without God, to be merely admired.” “Pagans,” the pontiff said, “think they pray by talking, talking, and talking. I think that many Christians believe that praying is to talk to God, if you’ll forgive me, like a parrot. No, praying is done in the heart, from within.”

On the other hand, Pope Francis said that Jesus Christ “crowned with joy” those persons who “were given little consideration in those days, but also today,” including the poor and the merciful. “This is the Gospel revolution. Everyone is capable of love. Peacemakers that until then had been on the margin of history are building the Kingdom of God.” He emphasized, “Where the Gospel is, so too is revolution. The Gospel does not leave us unmoved. It pushes us; it is revolutionary.”

 

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