Archive of March 9, 2008

Evangelical vote a ‘must’ for McCain say analysts

Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2008 (CNA) -

Exit polls from the Republican primaries in Texas and Ohio illustrate that evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Mike Huckabee, though McCain was already dubbed the “presumptive nominee”, reports Cybercast News Service.  Analysts predict that McCain will have to win the support of evangelicals to win the presidency in November.

MSNBC’s exit polls showed that in Texas, 60% of those who attend church more than once a week voted for Huckabee while only 33% supported McCain.  Ohio demonstrated a similar trend with 54% of church attendees choosing Huckabee and 45% backing McCain.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council told Cybercast News Service, "McCain can get that vote in November but he is going to have to work for it.  It would be a mistake to assume the conservative vote is just going to gravitate to the Republican nominee."

He continued saying that McCain must be more proactive in reaching out to conservatives if he expects evangelicals to come out to vote for him in November. "He already has the voting record to back up his claim to be a conservative, but he has never led on evangelical issues. He is going to have to lead if he wants to get the socially conservative vote."

McCain must convince conservatives that their issues are important to him and that he will advance them as president, Perkins predicted.  "Really, it just depends on him, whether he moves towards them and communicates to conservatives that he really cares about them," said Perkins.

Scott Skeeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, told Cybercast News Service that evangelicals will still prefer McCain to the Democratic nominee. "It does not appear that McCain is unacceptable to conservative voters. When you offer him to evangelicals against the Democrats, they don't have trouble voting for him rather than Obama.  The real question is, how much enthusiasm is there for John McCain? He needs to stress the things that connect him to that constituency."

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Pope Benedict: resurrection of Lazarus reveals Christ’s power over life and death

Vatican City, Mar 9, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus message said that the Gospel story of Lazarus shows Christ’s absolute power over life and death and reveals His nature as true man and true God.

The Holy Father also repeated his appeals for peace in the Holy Land and the release of a kidnapped Iraqi archbishop.

After returning from an apostolic visit at the San Lorenzo International Youth Center, where he celebrated Mass Sunday morning, Pope Benedict appeared in the window of his study to recite the midday Angelus with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.  

Before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father offered a reflection on today's Gospel.
Recounting the story of Lazarus, Pope Benedict said this reading "shows Jesus as true man and true God."

Sleep, he said, is a metaphor for physical death. That is, the death of the body is a sleep from which God can awaken man at any time.

In raising Lazarus and in restoring life to the young son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17) and the girl of twelve years (cf. Mk 5:35-43), Jesus shows an absolute power over physical death.

At the same time, the Holy Father said, Jesus' lordship over death does not prevent him from showing sincere compassion over the pain of this separation.  

Seeing the tears of Martha and Mary and those who had come to console them, even Jesus was "deeply disturbed" and "wept" (John 11:33-35).

"The heart of Christ is divine and human," the Holy Father said.  "In Christ, God and Man are perfectly one, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, in fact, the incarnation of God who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness; of God, who is Life."

The Holy Father added that just as Jesus asked Martha if she believes that he is the "resurrection and the life," Jesus addresses to each of us this same question that in fact exceeds our ability to understand.

Jesus asks us to trust him, as he has been entrusted to the Father. And, the Holy Father said, despite our doubts and our darkness, we are invited to follow Martha's example and say to Jesus, "We believe in you, because you have the words of eternal life. We believe in you, we hope in the gift of life after life, an authentic and full life in your kingdom of light and peace."

After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for the second consecutive week for an end to violence in the Holy Land.

He said, "In recent days, violence has again bloodied the Holy Land, fuelling a spiral of destruction and death that seems to have no end. While I invite you to pray with insistence to the Lord Almighty for the gift of peace for the region, I wish to entrust to His mercy the many innocent victims and express solidarity with the families and the injured."

The Holy Father also urged the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to continue negotiations in order to build "a peaceful and just future for their peoples."

"In the name of God, he said, "leave the tortured path of hatred and revenge and pursue the responsible paths of dialogue and trust."

Pope Benedict also expressed his heartfelt concern for the fate of Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Rahho who was kidnapped last week in Iraq.  The Pope also voiced his concern for the many Iraqis who continue to suffer violence, which the Holy Father called "absurd" and contrary to the will of God.

Finally, Pope Benedict invited young people from the diocese of Rome to St. Peter's Basilica next Thursday, when he will preside over a penance service in preparation for the upcoming twenty-third World Youth day in Sydney Australia.

He said,  "Dear young people of Rome, I invite you all to this meeting with the Mercy of God! For priests and youth ministers, I urge you to encourage the participation of young people by incorporating the words of Paul: "We are ambassadors for Christ…. Let us be reconciled to God!" (2 Cor 5:20).

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Report: U.S. Church’s abuse costs in 2007 nearly half a billion dollars

Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2008 (CNA) - A new report on the ongoing response to the sexual abuse crisis in the United States Catholic Church shows that, while only five credible accusations of abuse were made against diocesan clergy in 2007, that year’s expenses for past and present abuse allegations approached half a billion dollars.

Released on March 7, the “2007 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” examined new allegations of abuse, diocesan and eparchial compliance with child protection measures, and the financial costs related to sexual abuse allegations.  

The report was produced by the National Review Board, which is chaired by Judge Michael Merz.  The report evaluated dioceses’ and eparchies’ compliance with the bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”  It included audit results of 190 of 195 dioceses and eparchies in the United States, in addition to results from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), based at Georgetown University.

According to the charter implementation report, costs related to abuse allegations for all dioceses and eparchies in 2007 totaled more than $498 million, an increase of more than $165 million over 2006.  

By contrast, abuse allegation-related costs in 2005 totaled over $386 million, while 2004 costs exceeded $93 milion.

About 87 percent of the 2007 costs, $420 million, went to victims’ settlements, while attorneys’ fees constituted another 11 percent.  Three percent of the costs were spent on support for offenders, including therapy, legal expenses, and living expenses.

Only about $171 million of allegation-related costs were covered by insurance.

The CARA survey, to which 194 of 195 dioceses responded, found five credible accusations of abuse of minors that happened in 2007.  In 2007 more accusations of abuse that allegedly happened in previous years also surfaced, with 689 victims making 691 allegations against 491 offenders.  

According to the 2007 Annual Report, about 82 percent of the alleged victims were male.  More than half were between the ages of 10 and 14 when the abuse began, while about 21 percent were between the ages of 15 and 17.  Eighty-six alleged victims, about 14 percent, were younger than ten years old.

The age for about ten percent of the alleged victims could not be determined.

Most incidents of alleged abuse took place decades ago.  Fifty-nine percent of alleged abuses occurred or began between 1960 and 1979.  

Of the 415 diocesan and eparchian priests and deacons identified as alleged offenders in 2007, about 62 percent had already been identified in prior allegations.  In the 2006 report, 57 percent had been identified in prior allegations.

Around 78 percent of alleged offenders are already deceased or removed from ministry.  Another 24 priests or deacons, about six percent, were identified and permanently removed from ministry in 2007.  Another 51 priests or deacons accused of abuse in previous years were permanently removed in 2007.  Fourteen accused priests or deacons have returned to ministry, while 29 are active in ministry pending the completion of an investigation.

More than 96 percent of people required to take part in safe environment training did so, while 97.8 percent of those required to undergo background checks did so.  The high numbers of individuals involved and the turnover in parish membership hindered total compliance.

According to the 2007 Annual Report, almost all United States dioceses and eparchies are considered compliant with the U.S. bishops’ charter written to protect children and young people from sexual abuse.  The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska and four Eastern Rite eparchies did not take part in the audit, while only the Diocese of Lincoln did not participate in the CARA survey.

The National Review Board recommended that the auditing process be simplified.  It also suggested “all action possible” should be taken to conduct background examinations of international priests, and to review with such priests legal standards defining sexual abuse and diocesan standards of conduct.

The NRB also urged contributions to the Causes and Context Study, estimated to cost $2.6 million.  Another $1 million is needed to fund a study being undertaken by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

The NRB’s full report is available at

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