Archive of September 27, 2004

U.S. bishops may appoint nun as head of review board, sources say

Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was planning Saturday to appoint a nun to the lay review board on sexual abuse, reported the Washington Post.

USCCB spokesperson Msgr. Francis Maniscalco would neither confirm nor deny the possibility of the appointment, saying that it is a confidential process.

A board of 12 laypeople was appointed as a watchdog panel two years ago to compile a report and make recommendations to the bishops following the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Church that erupted two years ago.

Anne Burke, an Illinois judge and the board's chairman, referred to the plan in a Sept. 20 speech at Loyola University Chicago.

Several board members said the bishops' administrative committee deviated from the expected appointment process last week by choosing Sister Carol Keehan, former president of Providence Hospital in Washington, to fill one of at least four openings on the all-volunteer board.

Although the bishops are not bounded by the national review board’s proposals, they complain Keehan was not among nine nominees submitted jointly by the review board and the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.

Keehan, who moved to Pensacola, Fla., this year to become chairman of a group of Catholic hospitals, said yesterday that she had not realized she was under consideration. "I have not been offered a position, and I'm not sure whether I would accept," she said. "I'd have to sort out whether it would be divisive or positive . . . because it's very important to me that the review board be successful."

Sister Carol has held many influential healthcare leadership roles, and for 15 years was president/chief executive officer of Providence Hospital. Prior to that, she was president/chief executive officer of Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland, Md., a position she accepted after having served three years as that hospital's vice president for Nursing and Pastoral Care.

She began her healthcare career as Supervisor of the Sacred Heart Children's Hospital and Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center in Pensacola, Fla.

Sister Carol also plays an influential role in the governance of a variety of healthcare, insurance and education organizations. Among her current appointments are the boards of the District of Columbia Hospital Association, of which she is a past chair; Providence Hospital; DePaul Foundation; Niagara University; and 2004-05 chair of the Catholic Health Association board of trustees.

She holds an Honorary Doctor of Science from Catholic University of America and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of South Carolina School of Business in 2000, as well as the American Hospital Association's Trustee Award in 1999. Sister Carol earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from St. Joseph's College, Emmitsburg, Md., where she graduated magna cum laude, and her master's degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina.

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Vatican acknowledges grave risk posed by WMD and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - At a conference delivered on September 22, during the 48th Conference of The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA,) the Vatican representative, Monsignor Leo Boccardi, said weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation are a threat in the world, but especially in the Middle East.

During his conference, made available by the Vatican's Press office this morning, the Holy See representative said "the acts of violence recently perpetrated in Russia and in other parts of the world gravely offend all humanity.”

“The continued violations of human dignity and the innocent victims of terrorism draw the attention of all to the need to face the causes which underlie such a modern form of barbarism and to deal with them effectively,” he said.

“We must also continue to believe in dialogue as essential to establishing peace and security." He also underscored the "continued threats to peace and stability due to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," or WMD.

Msgr. Boccardi noted the warnings that nuclear proliferation is on the rise, that there are countries interested in the illicit acquisition of WMD and the "risk that terrorists will gain access to such materials and technology."

Highlighting the rising insecurity in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land and Iraq, he stressed the need to promote "the peaceful applications of nuclear technologies" as they "can make a significant contribution to responding to the most urgent concerns" such as managing drinking water supplies, crops, fighting malnutrition, treating disease and giving a greater salt tolerance in arid climates.

Read the full Vatican statement at:

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First American bishop indicted for child sexual abuse this morning

Springfield, Ill., Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Emeritus of Springfield, Msgr. Thomas Dupre, has been indicted on charges of child rape. The indictment was announced this morning by the county prosecutor. Msgr. Dupre is accused of molesting two boys during the 1970’s, which makes him the first American Roman Catholic prelate indicted specifically on the charge of child sexual abuse.

Msgr. Dupre was Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield for nine years until February 11 this year when he resigned – citing health reasons - the day after he was questioned by The Republican newspaper of Springfield concerning allegations of child abuse during his years as a parish priest.

After his resignation he went to seek treatment in St. Luke Institute a Catholic psychiatric hospital in Maryland which has treated priests accused of sexual abuse.

According to a story written today by Adam Gorlick of the Associated Press, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett has said that charges were possible even though the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had probably expired because Dupre had allegedly recently attempted to conceal the abuse.

The bishop’s alleged victims, who are suing the bishop and the diocese, claim that Msgr. Dupre asked them to remain silent about the abuse when he was ordained auxiliary bishop in 1990.

They claimed that they were sexually abused by Msgr. Dupre during their teen years in the 1970’s. The first, from the age of 12, when then Fr. Dupre befriended his family. He says that Fr. Dupre took him on out-of-state trips and to Canada, and also bought pornography with him in Connecticut. This lasted until he started dating a girl in high school. The other claims he was abused until he was about 20 years old.

The alleged victims’ lawyer, Roderick MacLeish, has said that one of his clients met with the bishop in December, and said he had never wanted sexual relations with him. Msgr. Dupre, says MacLeish, gave an unemotional apology and asked to remain friends.

The other client, who is gay, came forward with his claims after hearing Dupre speak out against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Neither Dupre’s lawyer, Michael Jennings, nor the spokesman for the Diocese of Springlfield, Mark Dupont, had any immediate comments.

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DA announces Bishop Dupre will not be prosecuted because of statute of limitations

Springfield, Ill., Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - Hampden District Attorney William Bennett announced on Monday afternoon that he cannot prosecute Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Dupre on child rape charges because the statute of limitations has expired in the case.

Dupre was charged earlier on the day with molesting two boys in the 1970s. The grand jury returned indictments only related directly to child abuse, and not to other possible charges, such as witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The indictment was handed up by a grand jury Friday and unsealed Monday morning.

Without those indictments, the D.A. said he was precluded from pursuing the case because the statute of limitations in force at the time of the alleged crimes was limited to six years.

"Even with probable cause, there was a strong possibility that prosecution of such allegations could be barred by the statute of limitations," Bennett said in a news conference hours after the indictment was Bennett said the grand jury was convened to investigate all aspects of the allegations against Dupre, including whether he tried to cover up the abuse and whether he had abused any other children.

Bennett said the investigation uncovered no evidence to suggest there were any other victims, nor was there evidence that any church officials were aware of the allegations until they became public earlier this year.

He also said that there was no evidence Dupre destroyed or concealed any evidence of sexual misconduct by other church officials.

Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the diocese, said Dupre's successor, Bishop Timothy McDonnell, would have no immediate comment on the indictments.

Dupre's current whereabouts were not immediately known.

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Pope says charity also applies to rich countries in regard to poor ones

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - During yesterday’s Angelus, Pope John Paul II spoke of the application of charity in regard to the relationship between rich countries and poor ones as he pointed to Sunday’s Gospel parable of "the rich man who lived in opulence and did not care for the beggar lying outside his door and starving.”

“But after death, the situation was reversed,” said the Pope to the faithful gathered in the courtyard of Castelgandolfo, “Lazarus was welcomed into paradise whereas the rich men lived in torment."

The Pope decried the imbalance between the rich and poor of the world and said that "the lesson learned from this parable is clear: every person must make use of their own goods in an unselfish way, showing solidarity."

The Holy Father said that the Gospel was timely since "in recent days there was an important meeting in New York of heads of State and government for a more efficacious and united action against hunger and poverty. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, spoke at the meeting, expressing the Holy See's adherence to this initiative."

"The Catholic Church," the Pope stated, "assures everyone of its commitment to uproot from the world the scourge of hunger and the other consequences of this miserable state. In this context, I am pleased to remind you of the meeting in recent days in the Vatican of the apostolic nuncios in Africa."

"Let us pray that the Lord sustains such efforts of the international community for justice and solidarity in development. This is, in fact, the path that will guarantee the world a future of peace," he said.

The Pope noted at the end of his audience that on Monday September 27 the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, apostle of charity.

He also noted that September 30 is World Maritime Day and said that his "thoughts go to all who work at sea and I pray they may be able to live with dignity and security."

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Europe needs Christian values to build a better society, says Pope

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - In a message for the occasion of the Social Weeks of France, held from September 23 to 26 in Lille, whose theme was “Europe, participating in building up a society to be invented,” Pope John Paul II emphasized that Christian values will help Europe grow as a continent and build up European society.

The Pope’s message, addressed to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray and made public on Saturday, stated that the centenary of the Social Weeks "is an occasion to discover once again the great tradition of the social Magisterium of the Church and the many saints that have characterized the European continent from the first centuries.”

He wrote that “saints such as Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, Boniface, Thomas More, the martyrs of Pontons de Rochefort, Edith Stein, Maximillian Kolbe, Brigid of Sweden; they all gave testimony that the Gospel and Christian values are a fertile terrain for the life of persons and peoples, as well as for building up society."

After recalling that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of France, the Holy Father says that this date "brings us back to the scandal that wars represent."  These years, he continues, "have been characterized by many gestures of reconciliation and by the desire to make the continent a Europe of brothers and sisters."

Concerning Europe, the  Pope points out that true integration, "in order to preserve all its richness, must preserve national cultures and identities, which are part of the common heritage and contribute to the growth of the entire continent."

The Pope emphasizes that an opening between Eastern and Western Europe "invites Europeans to intensify the relation of cooperation between north and south, to block the scourges of misery, epidemics, all types of conflicts.”

“In the face of these urgent matters,” he conitnued, “we are called to participate in a truly lasting development which goes through the channel of international cooperation founded on partnership and solidarity, and which is concerned with preserving the riches of the land and with making all peoples beneficiaries of the resources of the planet through just and equal distribution."

"In this spirit," the Pope’s message concludes, "the presence of Christians in society constitutes a true testimony. ... The commitment of Christians in politics is important.  I invite them not to flee from their mission in this field, always seeking coherence between the Gospel, divine and apostolic tradition, the Magisterium of the Church, and the options they choose and decisions they are called to make."

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Amarillo bishop says no Communion to pro-abortion politicians

Amarillo, Texas, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - A Texas bishop has asked Catholics in his diocese to inform him if they know pro-abortion Catholic politicians so that they can be offered pastoral counseling. If, after pastoral counseling, these politicians still support abortion, they would be denied Communion.

"The word Communion means 'in union with,"' said Bishop John W. Yanta of Amarillo said in his column in the diocesan paper, The West Texas Catholic. "And if they've already separated themselves from Jesus and his teachings, then they have no business receiving Communion. It's a travesty. It's a mockery. It's a sacrilege.

“This is a Catholic Church stand,” he continued. “It's a Jesus stand. You can read about it in the Gospel and in I Corinthians."

The bishop said this is a moral stand, not a political one.

People must learn about their faith in church, he said, but they must learn to live their faith outside of it.

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Pope praises courage of persecuted Cardinal

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - This morning the Holy Father praised Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, for his testimony of courageous Christian faith while under persecution, and gave him the “Fidei testis” award, granted by the Paul IV Institute in Brescia, Italy, on the 25th anniversary of it’s founding.

The Pope said that this prize "is the most suitable for a Christian; and even more so for a pastor who is a cardinal, and one who gave faithful and brave testimony to Christ and His Gospel during the difficult years of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe."

Shortly after your priestly ordination, continued the Pope, "Providence called you to take up the 'via crucis' of persecution, united to the passion of the Christian people entrusted to you, personally carrying the cross of prison, unjust condemnation and work camps with their burden of fatigue, cold and hunger." 

Recalling the cardinal's words "I could only survive with the faith," John Paul II said, "The Lord gave you a strong and courageous faith in order to overcome that long and harsh trial, after which you returned to the ecclesiastic community as an even more credible witness of the Gospel: 'Fidei testis'."

"With word and example," the Pope concluded, "you have announced to everybody, believers and non-believers alike, the truth of Christ, the light which illuminates every man."

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Pope says prison inmates must be treated with dignity and charity

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - This morning, on receiving officials of the Department of Prison Administration, the inspector general of chaplains and a number of female police officers assigned to women's prisons, Pope John Paul II spoke of the need to treat prison inmates with understanding and to “wed firmness with attention to the individual.”

"I have learned with delight," he told the new agents, "that during the course you demonstrated a laudable commitment, achieving encouraging results. I congratulate you and take this occasion to make a suggestion: Always take care of your spiritual life.”

“In fact,” he continued, “your work calls for a solid human maturity that allows you to wed firmness with attention to the individual. To this end, being women certainly helps you, as you have those qualities proper to women that have such a positive effect on interpersonal relations."

John Paul II noted that "by a happy coincidence today, September 27 is the liturgical memory of St. Vincent de Paul, the great saint of charity. He personally suffered the harshness of prison, and he taught the 'Dames' and then the Daughters of Charity to pay special attention to that category of poor people called 'convicts'. He asked them to show understanding and to demand human treatment for prisoners."

"The primary value of the human person," concluded the Pope, "must be the basis for all civil and professional ethics and of all relative formation. I am therefore happy to place your work under the protection of St. Vincent de Paul."

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Pope expresses gratitude for courageous work of Apostolic nuncios in Africa

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - The pontifical representatives from Africa were received on Saturday in Castelgandolfo by Pope John Paul II, who thanked them for their zeal and witness in difficult situations and for sharing in the suffering of the Churches which they serve.

The meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the Synod for Africa and the sixth anniversary of the post-synodal document "Ecclesia in Africa."

The Pope recalled Archbishop Michael Courtney,  apostolic nuncio in Burundi who was assassinated last December, saying "May his heroic witness infuse renewed vigor in everyone working for peace in Burundi and on the entire continent of Africa."

"I know," said John Paul II, "that you undertake your service with zeal and fidelity, in the midst of difficult situations, sharing the sufferings and dramas of the Churches and peoples to whom you were sent."

"Know that the Pope and the Roman Curia are close to you, as witnessed by this meeting of ours," said the Holy Father.

He said that "the Church in Africa must deal with old and new problems but it is also open to great hopes." Your work "is to accompany the development of ecclesial communities, favoring the integral progress of society and, above all, of sustaining the 'encounter of cultures with Christ and His gospel'."

"In all of your commitments,” concluded the Holy Father, "continue to be witnesses to communion, helping to overcome tensions and misunderstandings, to defeat the temptation to particularisms, to strengthen the sense of belonging to the one and undivided People of God."

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Pope to return to Vatican on Wednesday, ending summer season

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II will return to the Vatican on Wednesday, September 29 from Castelgandolfo, thus ending the summer season.

The Pope thanked the director and employees of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo for their "commitment and fidelity" in carrying out their tasks.

"As I return to the Vatican," he said, "I will take with me the memory of the peaceful and restful days which I spent at the villa, thanks to your help. I count on your prayers and, on my part, I assure you that I will always pray that the Lord may always accompany you with His help."

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Princeton paper prints pro-life message, calls on readers to unite against abortion

Princeton, N.J., Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - A pro-life article published last week in Princeton University’s daily paper has shocked critics and raised strong support from pro-life students.

Ashley Pavlic, a student and president of Princeton ProLife, wrote the article, which calls on readers to “unite in identifying the war against the unborn as the graver evil” in the upcoming federal elections.

“With a major election approaching, we must reflect upon two critical issues: abortion and embryo-destructive research,” she says in her column, published in the Sept. 24 issue of the Daily Princetonian.

“A vote for a pro-abortion/embryo-destruction candidate is a vote for the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings,” she writes.

Pavlic claims her argument does not stem from “religious dogma” but from “the objective demands of natural justice.”

Given that science has proven that the life of a human being begins at fertilization, she says, “justice demands that we extend to the embryo the same basic rights and protections that human beings in all other stages possess… We must not discriminate on the basis of age, size, stage of development or condition of dependency.”

Pavlic argues that killing “an embryonic human being” to harvest stem cells is just as evil as killing a mentally handicapped child to harvest organs for transplant.

“It is time to put away tired clichés,” she writes. “You cannot be ‘personally’ opposed to abortion while thinking others should have the choice. You may as well be personally opposed to slavery, but in support of others having the choice to own slaves.”

In the case of abortion, she says, “that ‘choice’ is a choice for murder.”

“While we may prefer the economic, educational, health and foreign policies of pro-abortion/embryo-destruction candidates, we recognize that the issues surrounding abortion and embryo-destructive research are of paramount importance, and we are forced to distinguish between socially desirable policies and the perpetuation of intrinsically evil acts,” she says.

Abortion kills 1.3 million children per year in the U.S., Pavlic points out. No presidential candidate is running on a platform of waging unjust war that will result in the intentional death of 1.3 million people a year, she says.

Ashley Pavlic can be reached at [email protected]

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U.S. Catholic receives 100th-birthday greetings from the Pope

, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - A 100th birthday is a special event in itself. But it became even more special for Carmelinda Rossi when she received birthday greetings from Pope John Paul II.

When planning the birthday celebrations, her grandson, Robert Biscari, wrote the Pope and asked him to send greetings.

The Pope’s message – wishing Carmelinda many more years – arrived, and it was given to the centenarian Saturday evening at her party. This was a special gift for the devout Catholic, who was surprised and moved to tears, reported the Kansas City Star.

Carmelinda was born in Italy Sept. 27, 1904. After the age of 50, she immigrated to the United States in 1955. She still lives in her home in Northeast Kansas and speaks mostly Italian.

Her son, Angelo, said his mother never had a serious illness until 18 months ago and had never been in a hospital before that.

What does Carmelinda claim to be the secrets of her longevity? Faith, love of family and abstaining from drink, though she admits to an occasional glass of wine.

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Pope to meet with Pakistani leader September 30

Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See has announced that John Paul II will meet with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at the Vatican on September 30.

Musharraf, a moderate Muslim considered an ally of the West and a critical person in the possible capture of Osama Bin Laden.  He is the third Pakistani leader to meet with the Pontiff.

The first Pakistani leader received in audience by John Paul II was the feared dictator Ziaul Haq in 1982, who allowed the country to channel resources for the expulsion of the Soviet army from neighboring Afghanistan, followed in 1998 by then Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

Although Pakistan is politically tight with the West, persecution and even the killing of Christians is a constant and serious issue in the country.  It is very possible, therefore, that the Pope will mention the issue of religious freedom to Musharraf, who has not shown sufficient political will to control the Muslim areas of the country, where there are efforts to replace civil law with “Sharia” or Islamic law.

President Musharraf will arrive in Italy next Tuesday in order to hold diplomatic and commerce discussions with Italian leaders.

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Spanish Catholic organization blames Masons for “tremendous crusade” against Church

Madrid, Spain, Sep 27, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Union of Catholic Professional Fraternities, Luis Labiano, said this week a “tremendous crusade by Masonry against the Church” exists in Spain.

According to Labiano, free masons “control politicians and pay for their advertisements.  They want to bring in other religions because they see it as the only way to get rid of Christianity.  They’ve studied it a lot.”

Labiano also called the Socialist government “beginners” and argued that it is possible the government will “reverse course” regarding its relationship with the Church.  “The government says one thing today and the opposite tomorrow.  It is incredibly unstable, they are all beginners and don’t know what they are doing.  Maybe they are acting in good faith, I’ll admit, but they are beginners,” said Labiano.

He also underscored that the government “is pressing buttons whatever way it can” and that this is happening not only in Spain but in almost all countries.

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