Vatican City, May 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI has named Monsignor Robert McGuckin to lead the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia – one year after the previous bishop was removed for dissenting from Catholic teaching and practice.
“I’m honored and humbled to be appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Bishop of Toowoomba,” said Msgr. McGuckin, who is presently the vicar general of the Parramatta diocese.
“I would hope to build upon the good work of my predecessors and look forward to working with the clergy, religious and everyone in the diocese. I ask for your prayers as together we strive to fulfill the mission entrusted us in building up the Kingdom of God,” he said on May 14.
In May 2011, Pope Benedict removed Bishop William Morris from his post in Toowoomba after the failure of years of negotiations aimed at correcting the bishop’s abuses of Church doctrine, governance and liturgy.
Msgr. McGuckin was born in in the Marrickville suburb of Sydney in 1944 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1973. An expert in canon law, he has served as a lecturer, judge and president of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand. He has also ministered in numerous parishes.
In 2011 he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI. In his spare time, Msgr. McGuckin is an avid fisherman.
Bishop Brian Finnigan, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Toowoomba, said that Msgr. McGukin’s “ministry over the years in Australia and overseas has given him deep insight into the beauty and mystery of human relationships and the struggles which many individuals endure in their journey of life.”
“He is well equipped to lead people to a deeper liturgical and spiritual life. He has had years of involvement in the daily life of parishes.”
Bishop Morris’s dismissal after 18 years at the helm of the diocese was precipitated by comments he made in a 2006 pastoral letter. In it, he called for the ordination of women and married male priests, as well as suggesting that Protestant ministers could offer Mass to compensate for the dearth of priests in Toowoomba. During his 18 years, the diocese had produced only one new priestly vocation.
The incident provoked the Vatican to order an investigation led by the respected Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.
Critics of Bishop Morris said the problems in Toowoomba went far beyond the bishop’s public disagreement with Catholic doctrine on the priesthood.
They claimed that Bishop Morris – who preferred a shirt and tie to a priestly collar and bishops’ attire – did much to undermine Catholic identity and teachings during his term of office.
Among the criticisms leveled were “communion services” being co-celebrated by lay people and priests and the widespread use of communal “general absolution” rites as an alternative to personal confession in the diocese.
Following Bishop Morris’ departure in May 2011, a vocal group of both clergy and laity in Toowoomba launched a campaign to support him and advance their agenda.
Despite such a legacy, Bishop Finnigan said he was “confident that the priests, religious and lay faithful” of Toowoomba “will give a warm welcome to Msgr. McGuckin so that his gifts and skills can flourish.”
The Diocese of Toowoomba, which is situated to the west of Brisbane, spans more than 188,000 square miles and has a Catholic population of roughly 77,400, served by 35 parishes.
Msgr. McGuckin’s ordination will take place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Toowoomba on July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict.
Rome, Italy, May 14, 2012 (CNA) - Recently leaked documents reveal the correspondence between four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, which show disagreement over reconciliation efforts with the Vatican.
The breakaway society gave its assent on April 13 to a statement of doctrinal belief presented to it by the Holy See but with some suggested amendments to the text.
It will now be for Pope Benedict XVI to decide whether the traditionalist group's response is sufficient to permit them back into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Newly leaked correspondence from early April, however, shows discord among the bishops shortly before the superior of the society, Bernard Fellay, delivered his response Vatican's doctrinal Preamble which was issued to the group in 2011.
The documents consist of a first letter sent by three bishops – including Richard Williamson, known for his downplaying of the Holocaust – to Fellay dated April 7. The group claims that a “doctrinal agreement with present-day Rome is impossible,” and that they therefore formally oppose “a practical agreement” with the Church.
Addressing the stance of some of the society's top leaders, who are more favorable to an agreement with the Holy See, the bishops said they are “leading the Society to the point of no return, to an irreversible profound division.”
In a subsequent letter responding to the group, Fellay condemned “the lack of supernatural vision and of realism” of those criticizing him.
After affirming that Benedict XVI is the legitimate Pope and saying that that God speaks through the pontiff's words, Fellay asked, “If he expresses legitimate will towards us, which is good, and that is not against God’s commandments, do we have the right to ignore or reject that extended hand?”
“The Pope has told us that the concern for fixing our situation for the good of the Church was at the heart of his Pontificate, and likewise that he was aware that for him and for us it would have been easier to maintain the status quo.”
Fellay said that the society in general “would much prefer the status quo for now, but it is obvious that Rome no longer accepts that.”
“There is a change in the attitude of the Church, backed by the gestures and the acts of Benedict XVI towards Tradition,” he added.
In his letter, Fellay expressed regret that he did not have the support and advice of the bishops who wrote him “in order to endure such a delicate time of our history.”
The Society has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Archbishop Lefebrve founded the Society in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
In 2009, Pope Benedict remitted the excommunications of the Society’s bishops and set talks in motion aimed at restoring “full communion.” The Pope said at the time that to achieve full communion the members of the Society would have to show “true recognition of the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.”
Society headquarters reacted to the leaking of the documents in May 11 statement, calling the move a “grave sin.”
The full text of the letters can be found at:
Lima, Peru, May 14, 2012 (CNA) - The attorney for the Archdiocese of Lima, Natale Amprimo, said Peru's Pontifical Catholic University has no right to tell the Vatican it must replace Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani as the negotiator between the Church hierarchy and university officials, as rector Marcial Rubio is requesting.
As controversy continues over the university's refusal to follow Vatican directives, Rubio sent a letter on May 9 to the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
In the letter, Rubio argues that the removal of Cardinal Cipriani as negotiator is “the only way to achieve the full peace that the University and the Peruvian bishops desire.”
As one of several moves that has caused concern among Vatican officials, the university had defied a ruling by the Peruvian civil courts to give the Archdiocese of Lima a seat on its board of directors.
An investigation of the university was carried out Dec. 5 -11, 2011 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest, who found the Lima-based institution to be at odds with the Catholic Church in several significant areas of policy.
University officials have been refusing to comply with the Church’s guidelines for Catholic universities, which were laid out the papal document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” The apostolic constitution was promulgated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II to clarify what is expected of an authentically Catholic university.
The Vatican had given the school until Easter 2012 to comply with the Church’s requirements for Catholic colleges, marking the first time the Holy See has set a deadline for a university to reform. However, the university has yet to fully comply, arguing that an unrelated dispute with the archdiocese over property rights is delaying the process.
In remarks to CNA, Amprimo criticized Rubio over the ongoing controversy, saying the “only thing left is for the University to say that it gets to decide who represents the Church in Peru.”
Amprimo lamented that the rector has described Cardinal Cipriani as a troublemaker and has accused him of offending the Pontifical University. The truth, he argued, is that university officials “do not want to modify anything, they don’t want to regularize their situation.”
“Rather, they wish to continue looking for a way to validate an irregular situation.”
Rubio, who said Cardinal Bertone has not responded yet to his previous letter from April 13, said a “comprehensive” solution to both the conflict over the university’s statutes and the lawsuit with the Archdiocese of Lima over the administration of the property donated by Jose de la Riva Aguero should be the goal.
The archdiocese has repeatedly rejected this proposal and has argued that the issues are separate. One refers to the modification of the university’s statutes and the other to how to interpret the wishes of Riva Aguero, who wanted the Church to be able to have control over the land he donated to the university under certain circumstances.
This last point has not been accepted by university officials, even though Peru’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the Archdiocese of Lima.
Amprimo said she believes Rubio is trying to confuse the public. “Instead of giving a clear and transparent explanation, the PCUP only offends and insults. When there is doubt, a resolution comes from clarifying things.
“It is very pretentious of them to say to the Holy See who should represent it and who the Cardinal of Peru should be.”
Rome, Italy, May 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome have won the clerical equivalent of soccer’s World Cup for the first time ever.
“We are very happy. We did everything we could, and by the grace of God we got to this final game and we were able to play well,” said seminarian and team captain Nick Nelson in a May 12 interview with CNA, just moments after lifting the 2012 Clericus Cup.
The U.S. team beat the undefeated (3-0) Pontifical Gregorian University team thanks to one goal from Scottie Gratton and two from John Gibson.
“I thought we played really well,” Gibson said, right after the final whistle was blown. “We started out a little bit flustered with the nerves a bits. But we calmed down, we played our game, we just played simple and smart football. We worked really hard, so I think we played well.”
Now in its sixth year, the Clericus Cup in the annual soccer tournament for the pontifical seminaries and universities in Rome. The United States team goes by the name of the North American Martyrs. Despite two runner-up finishes in previous years, the Martyrs had never before won the title – until Saturday.
“We have trained twice a week, first semester and second semester,” said Nelson, who was a member of the runner-up squad in 2010.
“So, the guys give a lot and sacrifice a lot for the team, in order to get this far. We are definitely very grateful to God and proud of what we were able to do.”
Saturday’s final took place on the Knights of Columbus playing fields, which are located behind the Vatican and in the shadow of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
On the coaching bench for the United States team was the seminary rector, Monsignor James Checchio, along with Cardinal George Pell of Sydney. He was there to watch one of his own seminarians, Lewi Barakat, who impressed the crowd by providing assists for all three goals.
“We have a great team, we have great men, they have practiced hard and worked hard,” said Msgr. Checchio, “so, we are really proud of them.”
“They’re making a really good contribution to the Church now, and even more in the future. I have no doubt.”
As the referee blew the final whistle of the match, the U.S. team ran to greet their numerous and noisy fans, many of whom were dressed in costumes for the occasion.
“I think that God gives us a gift to work on being able to praise him through sport and through our bodies,” Gibson remarked.
“We work hard at being good Christians on the field but also trying to win, so it’s going to be a great opportunity to praise God for this win.”
Phoenix, Ariz., May 14, 2012 (CNA) - Governor Jan Brewer drew praise for signing a measure into law that allows employers in Arizona to opt out of contraception and abortifacient coverage.
“We're absolutely thrilled that Gov. Brewer signed this important religious liberty legislation after many years of battling over this issue in Arizona and now across the country,” Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, told CNA.
Although the bill will not trump federal law if the controversial Health and Human Services mandate is put into practice, Johnson said he hopes the Arizona measure will “be an example for the rest of the country.”
Johnson explained in a May 10 interview that the bill provides a “better position” for “Arizonians who are interested in suing the Obama administration over the HHS mandate,” now that their religious freedom is protected by state law.
The Obama administration's contraception mandate, announced on Jan. 20, will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs even if doing so violates religious beliefs.
Catholic bishops from every diocese in the U.S. have condemned the mandate, warning that it threatens religious freedom and could force Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable agencies to shut down.
The bishops have also criticized the rule's narrow religious exemption which allows institutions to opt out only if they are non-profit organizations that mainly employ and serve people of the same faith.
Signed into law May 11, Arizona's House Bill 2625 expands the definition of “religiously affiliated” employers to any organization whose articles of incorporation state a religious motivation and whose religious beliefs play a significant role in its operations.
“In its final form, this bill is about nothing more,” Gov. Brewer said in a statement, “than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled.”
Although the Arizona Catholic Conference has been in favor of the bill since then-Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed it in 2002, Representative Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale) and Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) helped carry it through the Arizona House and Senate in its most recent form.
Johnson called the new law an “extremely important piece of legislation” not only for Catholics, but for all Americans who value religious freedom.
“It's also a very good time to unite with people of other faiths on this bedrock issue,” Johnson said, “If we don't do it now, we're going to to see much more serious erosion.”
This law comes after many private companies have filed lawsuits against the Obama administration for the federal mandate on the grounds of First Amendment violation.
The Arizona Catholic Conference called the law “very helpful” in a May 10 press release, for any religiously-affiliated employers “who have an objection to abortion inducing drugs and contraceptives.”
Arizona is now among the 20 states that allow employers to opt-out of contraception and abortifacient coverage in their healthcare plans due to religious beliefs.