New York City, N.Y., May 26, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic League president Bill Donohue said that a recent study on sex abuse within the U.S. Catholic Church defies its own research in concluding that homosexuality was not a significant factor in the crisis.
“While there are many exemplary aspects to the study, the clear failure on the part of the researchers to pinpoint the role that homosexuality played in accounting for the abuse crisis is unacceptable,” Donohue told CNA on May 24.
“Indeed, their own data belie their conclusion that this had nothing to do with homosexuality,” he said.
The sex abuse report began to receive criticism on May 17, the day before it was released, in both the secular press and from Catholic experts who have studied the issues involved closely.
The study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York cites the sexual permissiveness of the 1960s and poor seminary training as the root causes of the crisis. The report is the third commissioned by the U.S. bishops since the break of the scandal in 2002 and was intended to address the patterns and pathologies behind the abuse.
Despite the report showing that nearly 80 percent of victims were post-pubescent and adolescent males, the study concludes that clinical data “do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity ... are significantly more likely to sexually abuse.”
However, statistics from the recent John Jay report show that less than 5 percent of abuse took place with prepubescent children, making pedophilia a fraction of the core issue and sexual activity with adolescent males the primary occurrence.
Donohue issued his own 25-page critical analysis of the report this week, saying that although there are praiseworthy aspects of the study, it fails to sufficiently address the unavoidable factor of homosexuality in the findings.
“I spent a lot of time reading and writing my response to the John Jay study because the public, especially Catholics, deserves to read a rejoinder,” said Donohue, who holds a doctorate in Sociology from New York University and has developed and taught courses on victims of abuse.
In his analysis, Donohue clarified that “it is not my position that homosexuality causes predatory behavior,” adding that “this argument is absurd.”
However, it “is the job of the social scientist to follow the evidence, and not be driven by ideological concerns.”
Donohue noted that a main problem in the study was that it focused on self-described sexual identity of the abusing priests as opposed to their actual behavior.
The John Jay report states that priests “who identified themselves as bisexual or confused were significantly more likely to have minor victims than priests who identified as either homosexual or heterosexual.”
“But if these 'bisexual and confused' priests chose to abuse mostly males – and they must have since 81 percent of the victims were male and nearly 80 percent were postpubescent – wouldn't that mean that these abusive priests were practicing homosexuality?” Donohue countered.
“Again, the emphasis on self-identity gets in the way of reality,” he said. “Indeed, the attempt to skirt the obvious is not only disingenuous, it is bad social science.”
“My main point is that social science research should be driven by the data, not ideology,” Donohue said in comments to CNA. “Moreover, there can never be progress if we make the wrong diagnosis.”
Despite the disagreement incited over the particulars of the report in recent days, the numbers ultimately show a drastic decline in sex abuse occurrences within the Church over time.
The “peak of the crisis has passed,” the John Jay report noted. Because the Church “responded,” abuse cases decreased and sexual abuse of minors “continues to remain low.”
Bogotá, Colombia, May 26, 2011 (CNA) - Colombian officials announced that the body of Fr. Cesar Dario Pena Garcia, who was killed by the Marxist rebel group FARC in 2004, has been found.
A search team found the priest’s body thanks to tip from former FARC members currently imprisoned, reported the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Fr. Garcia’s mother received the news with acceptance and with the peace that her son could finally be laid to rest. The priest's father passed away on May 4 at the age of 74.
Fr. Garcia was born in San Pedro de los Milagros and was ordained in 1988. He was known to be an exemplary priest and served rural communities for over 15 years.
He was sent to the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia after receiving death threats from Marxist rebels. “He opposed the efforts by the FARC to recruit new members in his area, and therefore they made him a military target,” residents said.
He was kidnapped on March 15, 2004, on his way to celebrate First Communions. Officials believe he was killed soon after.
Both the Colombian bishops’ conference and Pope John Paul II issued calls for his immediate release.
In 2005, a prominent FARC leader was captured and confirmed that Fr. Garcia had been killed.
His remains were taken for DNA analysis and will be turned over to his family for burial.
Rome, Italy, May 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Lay Catholics should “personally participate in public life” and “cultivate a spirit of sincere and loyal cooperation with the State,” Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of Italy on the 150th anniversary of the country’s founding.
“Do not hesitate to encourage the lay faithful to overcome any spirit of close-mindedness, distraction and indifference and to personally participate in public life,” the Pope said.
He urged the bishops to facilitate formation for the laity to enable them to effectively operate within the public square.
“Encourage training initiatives inspired by the social doctrine of the Church, so that those who have political and administrative responsibilities do not fall victim to the temptation to exploit their position for personal gain or the thirst for power,” the Pope said.
Pope Benedict was joining the Italian bishops at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to pray the Rosary and ask for “the maternal protection of Mary” upon “this beloved nation.”
His address was charged with historical significance as the relationship between the Church and State in Italy hasn’t always been an easy one.
Papal troops fought 150 years ago to prevent the political radical, Giuseppe Garibaldi, from uniting the various states which now constitute Italy.
Defeat saw a diplomatic stand-off emerge between the Vatican and the new Italian state that continued till 1929. Only then were relations re-established, following the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the two sides.
In his May 26 address, Pope Benedict explained the limits of the Church’s relationship with the State.
“She (the Church) does not pursue privileges, nor intends to replace the responsibility of political institutions, being respectful of the legitimate role of the secular state.”
But he also outlined what the Church can teach the political community about “fundamental human rights” based on transcendent ethical values “which precede any state jurisdiction and are intrinsic to the nature of the human person.”
“In this way the Church ... continues to make her own contribution to building of the common good, reminding us of our duty to promote and protect human life in all its stages and to support effectively the family; that is, in fact, the first reality in which we can grow to become free and responsible persons.”
Vatican City, May 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican officials have released a book of preparatory teaching documents for next year’s Seventh World Meeting of Families. The catechesis series has as its theme “Family: Work and Celebration.”
“It is difficult in today's situations to live Sunday as a time of celebration ... modern humanity has invented free time but seems to have forgotten the celebration,” explained Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla, auxiliary bishop of Milan.
He said the family needs to “engrave” in its lifestyle the sense of celebration.
Preparation for the World Meeting of Families aims to advance this cause. The meeting will take place in Milan from May 30 to June 3 in 2012. The Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Milan prepared the teaching documents for the event.
Bishop Brambrilla said that the teaching documents have three parts, with the first focused on the home.
The home, he explained, is a “space of acceptance” where “profound intimacy between the couple and between parents and children is safeguarded.”
The catechesis’ second part discusses work in daily life. Work cannot simply be a means of economic support, but it should be “the place of personal identity and social relationship.”
The third part focuses on how the family celebrates.
The documents consist of 10 biblical instructions accompanied by texts from the Church’s body of teachings. They are published in Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Polish.
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that the World Meeting of Families will feature a theological-pastoral convention in its first three days, followed by two days of celebration with Pope Benedict XVI in attendance.
The teaching documents will be “inestimably helpful” to prepare for the meeting, the cardinal said.
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Archbishop of Milan, hoped that the preparatory catechesis could serve as a guide for dioceses around the world.
Chicago, Ill., May 26, 2011 (CNA) - Every day, Chicago residents can see vast numbers of people at work in the diverse fields of business, politics, culture and science. In his new book “God in Action,” Chicago's Cardinal Francis E. George holds a magnifying glass up to those areas to show how God is at work.
“God is at work in American society because God is at work in the world he created,” the cardinal and former U.S. bishops' conference president told CNA on May 19.
“That's the first part of the book, where I set out the philosophical basis of God as an actor – because a lot of people, it seems to me, don't reflect enough on how God is free, and acts in ways that we don't always understand.”
“But it's our job to try to discern how he's acting,” Cardinal George pointed out, “so that we can be free too.”
Released on May 3, “God in Action” (Doubleday Religion, $22.99) seeks to fill a gap that the cardinal sees between God-centered books on personal spirituality, and books about the public role of religion that focus mostly on ideas and human action.
Religion itself, as Cardinal George noted, “is a relationship to God” – who is not distant and uninvolved, but constantly seeking to draw human beings into his creative and redemptive activity.
“God in Action” brings Catholic social teaching to bear on a series of modern challenges, in an effort to find God is at work in the public arena. The book's ultimate goal is to bring public life into alignment with God's will.
Immigrants in God's image
One prominent public concern that the cardinal hopes to present in a God-centered perspective is immigration. His chapter on the subject begins with the statement that “the migrant is first of all a gift and not a problem.”
Cardinal George said he understands some U.S. citizens' tendency to see an influx of immigrants as an “invasion,” but he urged believers not to elevate the civil law above the Gospel.
“These so-called 'foreigners' are still creatures made in God's image and likeness,” he observed. “However, in this country your legal situation determines who you are, more than our sense of being created by God.”
Cardinal George believes that an awareness of God's personal love for immigrants can change the tone of the public conversation, allowing lay people to shape a “just social policy” through their actions and votes.
The process begins, he said, with seeing that immigrants are “worthy of respect – as fellow believers, and also as creatures of God.”
God's will in war and peace
The cardinal also sees war and peace as a central theater of God's action. It is often difficult to determine God's will when military conflict beckons, and Cardinal George noted that new situations call for refinements of the traditional “just war” criteria.
“There are two challenges to just war theory as we have it now,” he explained. “The first is terrorism, which doesn't fit into a just war theory that presupposes sovereign states invading sovereign states.”
The second challenge is a matter of especially urgent concern, as the U.S. and other Western powers deepen their involvement in the conflict between Libya's government and rebel forces: “How do you protect citizens from their own government, when it's oppressive?”
Cardinal George said that the United Nations, despite serious flaws, is “the best means we have” to “act in the name of humanity as such.”
He observed that humanity's rights derive from God “long before there are any governments established, as we ourselves say in the Declaration of Independence.”
“God's job is to forgive”
The cardinal's reflections on war in his new book address the value of mercy, as well as justice. “Forgiveness,” he said, is also “a condition for being free.”
He said that events such as the death of Osama Bin Laden showed that victory was not simply a matter of defeating evil.
“The challenge to us is: how do we make peace?” he asked. “How do we, in defeating him, nonetheless try to create a more peaceful world, rather than just going from one war to the next?”
“That's where forgiveness comes in,” Cardinal George noted. “You may win, but you're still not free unless you forgive.”
He explained that this act of forgiveness, which binds Christians whether in war or peace, is an invitation to cooperate with God.
“God's job, in a sense, is to forgive. That's what he does again and again,” he reflected. “You can be free only by acting with God.”
Profit and the gifts of God
The Archbishop of Chicago also hopes that businesses can find new ways of placing God first in economic decisions, in ways that Pope Benedict XVI sketched out in his 2008 social encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”
“Is there a way,” he wondered, “in which the sense that 'everything is gift,' which we believe in faith, can enter into the economy itself?”
It's a difficult question that relatively few business people have tried to pose, perhaps for fear of appearing “unrealistic.”
But others may wonder, given the economic crash that coincided with the Pope's letter, whether a n economy that has no room for God is itself “realistic” in the long run.
“You have to make a profit or you're bankrupt, you go out of business,” Cardinal George acknowledged. “There's nothing wrong with making a profit. The question is, how do you make it and what do you consider profitably?”
Companies already give away portions of their profits through philanthropy. But the vision of Pope Benedict and Cardinal George is different. “What if they factored gifts into the whole operation itself?”
“There is a concern, if you start that way, for something besides profits when you get to the bottom line,” he explained. “What form that would take is something that we don't know yet. It's a challenge for us to work on it.”
“Something greater than ourselves is at work”
“God in Action” challenges believers to see the “secular” world with new eyes, finding possibilities that only exist because God is at work there.
Cardinal George explained that Christ's resurrection, remembered especially throughout the Easter season, gives believers a blueprint for what God will accomplish in seemingly hopeless areas of both public and private life.
“When you see certain consequences, then you have a sense of God's original activity – to bring life out of death, as in the resurrection,” he noted.
Without God's grace, he said, “we can bring evil out of good, and evil out of evil. But if there's good coming out of evil, something greater than us is at work in that.”
“When there is hope in the midst of a despair that we ourselves have caused,” he reflected, “then something greater than ourselves is at work there, as a cause.”
To read Cardinal George's full interview with CNA, click here.
Vatican City, May 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Robert D. Gruss as the new Bishop of Rapid City in South Dakota on May 26. On the same day, he announced that Father Donald J. Hying would become an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milkwaukee.
Bishop-elect Gruss, age 55, has been a priest since 1994 and had a previous career as an airline pilot and aviation instructor. He was the vice rector and director of human formation at Rome’s Pontifical North American College from 2007 to 2010, and most recently served as the pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa.
“It is with deep humility and gratitude that I have accepted the Holy Father’s appointment as the next bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City,” the bishop-elect stated. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve God, the Catholic Church, and the people of the diocese. I am looking forward to getting to know the people here and to minister to them in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Once consecrated as a bishop, Monsignor Gruss will take on the responsibility of leading approximately 25,000 Catholics in an area of 43,000 square miles. He is the successor to
former Rapid City Bishop Blase J. Cupich, who now heads the Diocese of Spokane in Washington.
Bishop Cupich had words of high praise for the Bishop-elect of his former diocese.
“Our Holy Father Benedict XVI has singularly blessed the Diocese of Rapid City with the selection of a man well respected for his deep faith, pastoral experience, and proven leadership abilities,” he stated. “The church of Rapid City will soon come to know how blessed they are to have a shepherd so well suited to lead and love them.”
Milwaukee's Auxiliary Bishop-elect Donald Hying is 47 years old, and has been a priest since 1989. He studied history, philosophy, and theology at Marquette University, earned a Master of Divinity degree at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and is currently competing a doctoral degree in ministry. He has served as rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary since 2007.
“This is a proud moment for the Church in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. “By choosing Fr. Hying, one of Milwaukee's own as our new auxiliary bishop, the Holy Father has paid a high compliment to all the priests from this diocese. Pope Benedict XVI has gifted us with a true servant-leader.”
The auxiliary-bishop designate speaks fluent Spanish and spent four years of his priesthood in the Dominican Republic. He has written a column on Scripture for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald since 2004, and hosted Relevant Radio's program “New Heart, New Spirit” since 2009.
Archbishop Listecki will consecrate bishop-elect Hying as his auxiliary bishop on July 20, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Afterward, he will assist Archbishop Listecki in leading 657,519 local Catholics.
Rome, Italy, May 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The priest charged with looking after Christianity’s most holy sites in both Palestine and Israel says reaching a peace settlement in the region “will take a long time.”
The comments of Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa follow a tense week in which the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a tour of the U.S., clashed with President Obama over the road to the peace for Israel and Palestine.
“The situation here in the Holy Land after the speech of Obama and the speech of Netanyahu hasn’t changed dramatically. We are still waiting for ‘facts on the ground’ as we say,” Father Pizzaballa told Vatican Radio.
“We are happy that after years of no positions, no declarations and no negotiations something now is moving again. But we think that the difference between the two parties is still too big and it will take a long time – not a short time, for sure – in order to reach a possible agreement.”
In his speech last week on U.S. policy in the Middle East, President Obama called on the two sides to agree to negotiations that would begin with the borders that existed before the Six Day War in 1967, along with land swaps. But the plan was flatly rejected by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during a heated meeting at the White House.
This coming September, Palestinian leaders plan to ask the United Nations to recognize their statehood. That move will be sure to put the spotlight on the tensions between Israel and Palestine and is a prospect that the Obama administration is seeking to avoid.
Rome, Italy, May 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Michel Roy has been elected as the new general secretary of Caritas, the Catholic Church’s confederation of charitable and development agencies. The 56-year-old Frenchman was voted in by a majority of delegates at the organization’s general assembly in Rome.
“I’m very moved by this. I’d like to thank Lesley-Anne (Knight) for the work she’s done so far and also all of you for the work that you do for this network which reflects the hopes of the poor to build a better world,” Roy told delegates upon his election. He is currently the international lobbying and advocacy director for Secours Catholique, the French affiliate of Caritas.
Roy’s election comes at difficult time for Caritas. The organization has heard calls this week from various high-ranking cardinals urging it to improve its Catholic identity. These calls include Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican body responsible for Caritas, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
In his opening address to the Caritas general assembly in Rome on May 22, Cardinal Sarah said, “A Caritas that wasn’t an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organizations. They are the organizations that take part in her mission.”
Later that day Cardinal Sarah told CNA that Caritas International’s new theme, “One Human Family – Zero Poverty,” which was unveiled at the same meeting, didn’t make sense because it’s unrealistic.
“I'm very hesitant to understand what zero poverty means, because Christ said we will always have the poor. So, what is a realistic way we can fight the poverty? But, it's difficult to absolutely cancel out poverty,” he said.
Cardinal Sarah also said that "the future will be very brilliant" for Caritas if it follows "the indication given by Pope Benedict XVI in 'Deus Caritas Est.'"
The next day, the liberal English Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe O.P., was dropped as a speaker at the conference and replaced by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical household.
Earlier this year, the Vatican also blocked Caritas’ current general secretary, Lesley-Anne Knight, from running for re-appointment to her post. The charity’s governance is also being revamped to give Vatican officials more control over its work.
Following his election on May 26, Michel Roy outlined his top four priorities for Caritas International.
“The challenges are put in the frame of the strategic plan that we have adopted here. It’s about the reinforcement of the humanitarian response of the Caritas network to the victims of man-made or natural disasters,” the new secretary general said.
His second objective is to promote and coordinate “integral human development,” so that the poor “can take their lives in their own hands and move forward.”
Roy listed his third priority as advocating for a “better and more just world.” He pointed to how the world is dominated by finances, and said, “we want to turn that world upside down and put the human being back at the center. The poor have to be our inspiration for that.”
Roy’s final goal is to improve the “coordination, access and communication among the members, so that each member participates in the promotion of the mission of the whole network.”
Roy has 30 years experience working for Secours Catholique in France. He began by working for the diocesan office in Paris in 1981. He is a father of two children and is an alumnus of the Sorbonne University in Paris, graduating in economics and oriental languages.
He’ll now serve alongside Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras, who was re-elected for a second term as Caritas Internationalis president.
Caritas International is a confederation of 164 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Two Catholic bishops in Cuba said the country is moving toward a more democratic system, despite the continual dominance of a single political party.
“The country is taking steps that are not exactly the same as before. This is an indicator that we may possibly be heading toward our own kind of democracy and manner of governing,” Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Holguin said.
Both Bishop Aranguren and Auxiliary Bishop Juan de Dios Hernandez of Havana, made their comments during an interview with the Uruguayan newspaper La Republica. The bishops were in Uruguay participating in the 33rd General Assembly of the Latin American Bishops’ Council.
Bishop Hernandez said that in Cuba “there is still just one political party, but in this democracy there will need to be different parties.”
“And so how do we get there?” he asked. “Five years ago you didn’t hear much from those who had different opinions, and today you do, and the opinions of a particular person or group of persons are taken into consideration,” he added.
Both bishops said “changes are being implemented in the country, slowly, but they are changes nonetheless.” They pointed to the fact that most Cubans took Fidel Castro’s resignation in 2008 in stride, despite his more than four decades in power.
Bishop Hernandez also denied that the government has launched a new persecution against Catholics.
He said there is “more freedom” for the clergy in Cuba. “Of course it isn’t what we would like it to be, we would like there to be more, and they know it. But we are betting on a gradual process. I think that in the future the Church will have more chances to be present in those areas that are part of her mission and that we have requested,” he added.
The Catholic Church “is not a political party,” but a “servant of the people,” the bishop said. Cuban officials “have grasped the importance of the spiritual value that the Church has for the people,” he said.
Washington D.C., May 26, 2011 (CNA) - Andrew Haines, president of the Center for Morality in Public Life, recently discussed a Canadian couple's refusal to publicly disclose the gender of their four-month-old baby.
In his column, Haines writes:
I’m frankly surprised this has garnered so much attention. But it has, and it probably should.
Very recently, a Toronto, Ontario couple—Kathy Witterick and David Stocker—made local news by refusing to disclose publicly the gender of their 4-month-old child, Storm. What’s the reason for the cover-up? “We've decided not to share Storm’s sex for now,” said the parents, “a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”
Haines, who is also a doctoral student in Philosophy at the Catholic University of American further explains:
What’s really surprising about all this is that criticism of Witterick and Stocker’s decision is being registered across the board. It’s not surprising that social conservatives would disagree with gender-neutrality. But social liberals, and even those who support theories of social evolution, have lambasted the stunt as a “bizarre lab experiment” that flies in the face of natural history. Rather than critiquing the damage done to a child by withholding gender identity, social evolutionists believe that critical models, or scripts, will suffer if such a situation becomes widespread.
Either way, the isolated case of an overly-zealous Canadian couple gives good cause to reflect on the bigger question: what’s in a gender?
The column can be found: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1597