Archive of May 22, 2012

Chen arrives in US as family, friends remain vulnerable in China

Washington D.C., May 22, 2012 (CNA) - Chinese pro-life advocate Chen Guangcheng and his family have arrived safely in the United States, but reports indicate that his supporters may still be facing violence at the hands of Chinese government.

“America welcomes this extraordinary family with open arms,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who greeted Chen upon his arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 19.

Smith, who has held multiple hearings to raise awareness about Chen’s plight, said that after years of torture and imprisonment, he and his family will finally have the chance “to rest, recuperate, and recover.”

“His children can now begin the process of healing from emotional trauma no child should ever endure,” he added.

A self-taught human rights lawyer who was blinded by a serious illness in his youth, Chen had attracted the ire of Chinese officials by speaking out against the government’s one-child policy, which is often enforced through coerced abortions and sterilizations.

After spending more than four years in prison, Chen was placed under house arrest with his family in Sept. 2010. He was held without formal charges and said that he and his family were violently assaulted and refused medical treatment during this time.

Chen made headlines when he escaped from house arrest and was taken in by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on April 26.

On May 2, he left the U.S. Embassy and was transported to a hospital in Beijing, amid promises by the Chinese government to treat him and his family humanely and allow them to live and study in peace.

However, he quickly voiced fears that China would not keep its promises to him and his family. He told American reporters that he wanted to come to the United States to rest in safety.

After being offered a fellowship to study law and learn English at New York University's law school, Chen was permitted to travel to the U.S. with his wife and two children. Unlike most Chinese families, Chen was allowed to have a second child because he is blind. Chinese policy includes an exception to the one-child policy for some disabled individuals.

Rep. Smith said that Chen is “among the bravest defenders of women’s rights in the world.”

"Not all the Chens are free and safe, however,” he warned.

Since his escape, Chen has expressed deep concern for the safety of his extended family members, including his 78-year-old mother Wang Jinxiang, who remained in the village after he and his immediate family had left. Wang is reportedly now being allowed to leave the family’s home without being escorted by a guard. 

Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, told reporters that he had been beaten and interrogated by government officials for three days.

He said that more than two dozen men broke into his house and began to attack his wife and son, Chen Kegui, who defended himself with a knife and was subsequently arrested.

Chen Kegui has been charged with “intentional homicide” and could face the death penalty. He is being held by authorities in Shandong province, where he has reportedly been prohibited from seeing his lawyers.

Although Chen Guangfu was eventually released, he is reportedly still under close surveillance and prohibited from making phone calls or leaving his village.

His wife, who was also detained, is being charged with “harboring a criminal.”
Reports also indicate that Chen’s cousin, Chen Guangcun, was taken into custody with his son on April 28. No information on their current status is available.

Chen’s friends and supporters have also reportedly been targets of government retaliation.

Several of Chen’s supporters were detained during “investigations” by authorities in the days following his escape, including He Peirong, who played a pivotal role in moving Chen to Beijing after he had escaped, and Beijing-based human rights advocate Hu Jia.

Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, is reported to have been placed under house arrest by authorities.

Other supporters of Chen have reportedly been expelled from Beijing, including Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong, both lawyers who advocate for human rights in China. Jiang had previously said that he was beaten by security personnel when he tried to visit Chen in the hospital, resulting in damage to his hearing.

In addition, at least two of Chen’s other supporters have recently been told that their passports were invalid, apparently in connection with their ties to Chen.

"Over the last several days, several of Chen's relatives and supporters have been arrested and brutally beaten as part of the Chinese government's refocused retaliation,” said Congressman Smith. “They can't beat him anymore, but they are beating his relatives and friends.”

“The Chinese government must immediately end its deplorable retaliation against Chen's family and friends who remain in China,” Smith urged.

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Pope removes Italian bishop amid fraud accusations

Rome, Italy, May 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has removed an Italian bishop from ministry following the launch of a police investigation into alleged financial corruption within his Sicily diocese.

The Vatican’s official bulletin on May 19 announced that the Pope relieved the Diocese of Trapani from the “pastoral care” of Bishop Francesco Miccichè.

Bishop Miccichè, 69, had been in charge of the diocese on the Island of Sicily for the past 14 years. Since last year, however, Italy’s financial police have been investigating the disappearance of over one million euros (approximately $1,275,000) from two charitable foundations operated by the diocese. 

In June 2011 the Vatican asked a fellow Sicilian prelate, Bishop Domenico Mogavero of Mazara del Vallo, to investigate the situation in the Diocese of Trapani on their behalf. The result is Bishop Miccichè dismissal this weekend.

“It is clear that my superiors were unable or unwilling to understand what was going on in this diocese, leaving the clergy and especially the people of God at the mercy of petty slander” said Bishop Miccichè in response to the news May 19.

He strenuously denied any wrongdoing and described his dismissal as “an extreme measure” which he neither agreed with nor understood. However, out of “loyalty to the Pope and the Church,” he said he has committed himself to accepting the verdict “in a spirit of obedience.”

He also suggested that the decision is the result of “a conspiracy bore in and outside the Church” by those who do not like his vocal opposition to both Freemasonry and Mafia-sponsored crime.

Bishop Miccichè dismissal is the second time in two years that Pope Benedict XVI has removed an active bishop from ministry. In May 2011, the Pope axed Bishop William Morris from his post in Australian Diocese of Toowoomba. The move followed years of fruitless negotiations aimed at correcting the bishop’s abuses of Church doctrine, governance and liturgy.

The emeritus archbishop of Pisa, Archbishop Alessandro Plotti, will now act as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Trapani until a new bishop is appointed.

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Signs of hope one year after Joplin tornado

Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2012 (CNA) - As the residents of tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo. mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster that hit their community, a diocesan spokeswoman says they are seeing it as an opportunity for hope and continued recovery.

“We’re looking forward to just getting past the anniversary and continuing on our journey of recovery,” Renee Motazedi, development director for Joplin-area Catholic schools, told CNA on May 21.

“As a faith community we are looking forward to what lies ahead, to the opportunities that may come from such a disaster,” she added. “There’s a lot of hope there.”

The Joplin, Missouri tornado of May 22, 2011 killed 161 people and was America’s deadliest single tornado in six decades. It destroyed thousands of buildings including Joplin High School and St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center, a nine-storey building, took a direct hit from the tornado. Severe damaged forced the facility to be abandoned. Remnants of the Catholic hospital still stand, but they will be dismantled through the summer.

Today, the destruction area is “dotted” with houses and businesses that have rebuilt or are being rebuilt.

“In some areas, it’s a blank canvas,” Motazedi said.

Many public schools that are rebuilding will break ground on the anniversary of the storm, while plans for a new Catholic church are underway.

“That has become one of the bishop’s priorities so that we can better serve the Catholic faithful of the area,” Motazedi explained. “We’re all worshiping in one church where we used to have two.”

On May 22, Bishop James V. Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau will join Joplin Catholic schools students, staff and faculty, as well as parishioners, at the foot of the cross that was at the former St. Mary’s Church to pray the Rosary.

Motazedi said the cross has become an “icon” of the disaster.

“It’s a huge large steel cross that at this point looms over the landscape,” she said.

Fr. Justin Monaghan, the former pastor of St. Mary’s, has received “several poignant letters” from survivors who were trapped in the rubble of the tornado but could see the cross.

“The cross was the thing that gave them hope that they would get out,” Motazedi recounted.

An electric utility has purchased the St. Mary’s Church land to build a power substation, a significant act in a “grieving community.”

However, the church has retained ownership of the area around the cross and the cemetery property.

A 6 p.m. Mass will be said at Joplin’s other Catholic church, St. Peter of the Apostles.

Other community events include a 3.7-mile walk with several stops along the way, including groundbreaking at Joplin’s new public high school.

“Those stops all mark the future of Joplin,” said Motazedi. “They are significant events that show we are moving forward.

The elementary school attached to St. Mary’s Church reopened at a warehouse next to the area’s Catholic high school. Plans to rebuild the school, for preschoolers through the fifth grade, are on hold until plans for the new church can be made.

“The good things that have always happened inside the schools are still happening,” Motazedi said.

“My kids are students there and they have had a great year.”

Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri reports that its Repair/Rebuild Office has helped contribute to the rebuilding efforts, repairing more than 100 homes. It has helped rebuild two homes completely and nine houses are currently under construction.

The charity has nine case managers to help storm victims and has received a grant to hire another.

Gabe Tischler, the disaster coordinator for Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, recently told a disaster preparedness seminar in Baton Rouge, La. that local Catholic churches stepped up to help their neighbors.

The providential arrival of supplies and the support of volunteers has “reinforced my faith even more,” he said, according to the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

“When I first started this I was worried every day how we were going to pay for it and now I no longer lose sleep on it. It’s going to happen and it just happens.”

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Most Americans support religious rights, health care exemptions

New Haven, Conn., May 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new survey found that the majority of Americans support religious rights whenever they are in conflict with other laws, as well as the right to opt out of providing drugs, services and procedures for religious reasons.

The Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll, found that nearly three in four Americans, 74 to 26 percent, say that freedom of religion should be protected, even if it conflicts with other laws. Most Americans would also protect the First Amendment conscience rights of hospitals, health care workers and insurers.

“This survey reveals that the American people are fundamentally dedicated to protecting the First Amendment conscience rights of everyone,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson.

“Allowing people to opt out of these procedures or services which violate their faith is the right thing to do. It is also key to protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans and enjoys strong public support as well.”

The poll was released on May 22, a day after 43 dioceses and Catholic organizations around the country filed lawsuits in 12 different places to protect their First Amendment rights from the government’s health care mandate.

The survey also found that when asked about specific health care policies in relation to the First Amendment, strong majorities – 58 to 38 percent – would let individual health care providers and organizations opt out of providing abortion and abortion-inducing drugs (51 to 44 percent).

Analysis also showed that Americans believe health care providers should be allowed to opt out of providing in-vitro fertilization treatments that could result in the death of an embryo – 52 to 41 percent – and birth control pills, 51 to 46 percent. Those polled, 55 to 41 percent, also said medical organizations should be permitted to refuse to medication to speed the death of a terminally ill patient.

According to the pollsters, “the number supporting the right to opt out of providing birth control is particularly interesting given the fact that more than almost 9 in 10 Americans (88 percent) believe contraception is morally acceptable.”

Overall, the survey found that half – 50 percent – of Americans have heard of the debate over the government’s health care mandate. The mandate, announced by the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, requires employers – including organizations that are religiously affiliated – to provide free insurance coverage to women for services including sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and birth control.

The poll also showed that majority of Americans, 52 to 31 percent, believe that laws in the United States have made it more difficult to follow one’s religious beliefs in recent years. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans, 88 percent, also agree that religious leaders should speak out on issues of religious freedom.

Also, an overwhelming majority of Americans, 72 to 27 percent, said that forcing health care workers and doctors to provide abortion – when they object for religious reasons – is morally wrong.

Majorities also said that abortion, 58 to 40 percent, and same-sex marriage, 52 to 45 percent, were morally wrong.

The Knights of Columbus-Marist poll surveyed 1,606 adults from May 10 through May 14 of this year. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed by telephone with live interviewers. Numbers were selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation.

The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. To increase coverage, this land-line sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers. The two samples were then combined. The results' margin of error fell within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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Brazilian lawmakers consider anencephaly abortion ban

Brasilia, Brazil, May 22, 2012 (CNA) - Lawmakers in Brazil have put three bills up for debate in an attempt to overturn a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court on April 12 that legalized abortion in cases of anencephaly.

The Supreme Court voted 8-2 last month to legalize abortion in cases of unborn babies with the condition, which causes the brain to develop only partially or be completely absent.

Over 80 percent of Brazilians have said they do not support abortion in such cases and the country’s bishops have repeatedly voice opposition to any such proposals.

In response to the ruling, Evangelical congressman Marco Feliciano introduced the first bill on May 9 which specifically aims to curtail the power of the Executive Branch to promulgate Supreme Court rulings. 

He claims that Justice Marco Aurelio Mello, who wrote the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, announced his position to the media beforehand and violated the court’s norms for confidentiality.

On May 10 congressmen Roberto de Lucena, Salvador Zimbaldi and Joao Campos announced a bill similar to Feliciano’s, arguing that the high court has no authority to legislate from the bench.

The third bill, announced on May 14 by Congressman Nazareno Fonteles, calls on the Brazilian Congress to overturn the ruling. Fonteles said the court has “repeatedly” violated the Brazilian constitution, which states that only Congress has the power to enact laws.

“Rulings by the Supreme Court on matters that are clearly to be decided by the Legislative Branch have become increasingly more common,” his bill states.

According to Catholic attorney Ives Gandra Martins, who was cited in the first of the three bills, the bill put forth by Congressman Fonteles “could overturn this ruling, if the National Congress had the courage to do so.”

Pro-life leaders praised the sponsors of the three measures and called for support especially for the measure by Congressman Feliciano.

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Group launches tour to end abortion in Canada

Denver, Colo., May 22, 2012 (CNA) - A Canadian pro-life group is retracing the steps that abortion activists took in the country during the 1970s, but with the goal of repealing local abortion laws.

“We want to take the language for choice and then expose it,” Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Center for Bio-ethical Reform, told CNA May 16.

The group, which is dedicated to “making abortion unthinkable” by engaging the public in discussions about the reality of abortion, will undertake its most ambitious campaign yet on May 29 with a cross-country educational tour.

The New Abortion Caravan will follow in the footsteps of abortion activists who engaged the public with a nearly identical campaign, called the Abortion Caravan, in the summer of 1970 to gain free abortions on demand and repeal pro-life laws.

By using disturbing imagery, having women to share emotional accounts of their experience with illegal abortion and presenting the act as a fundamental women's right, the abortion advocates were able to achieve their goal.

The original Abortion Caravan, which visited provinces from Ottawa to Vancouver, significantly contributed to the repeal of anti-abortion laws 18 years later, resulting in free abortions on demand, paid for with Canadian taxes, through all nine months of pregnancy.

Gray is confident that the new tour – which follows the same route and is part of the organization's larger campaign called End the Killing – will contribute to Canadians overturning abortion laws in the year 2030, precisely 18 years from now.

“We can end the killing and we can end it in our lifetime,” Gray said.

She noted that using similar rhetoric as abortion advocates is key, adding that the New Abortion Caravan hopes to “shift the debate from an abstract notion of choice” to the reality of abortion as “an act of violence which kills a baby.”

During their tour, the group will use graphic imagery, give educational talks and provide testimonies from women who have had abortions to expose the reality of the violence of the procedure.

Whereas the original campaign ended on Mother's Day in order to present the movement as a women's rights issue, the new campaign will end on July 1, Canada Day, to frame abortion as a violation of human rights.

“If someone would harm a toddler, wouldn't you intervene to stop that act of injustice from occurring?”

In the same way, abortion, is simply the killing of children who “are just a little bit younger, less developed and more dependent than toddlers,” Gray explained.

Although the tone and imagery of the campaign may seem extreme, Gray said that her staff must be “good ambassadors” of the truth and love.

Above all, they need to, “communicate that harshness, which can't be changed, because abortion is harsh,” while at the same time practicing empathy, compassion and being good listeners.

Founded in 2001, the center now employs a team of 19 young Canadians who are dedicated to “making abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.” To that end, the group sponsors talks, demonstrations, and campaigns throughout the year that are meant to “engage the culture directly about who the pre-born child is.”

The organization has had surprisingly favorable feedback from various programs, especially with their high school talks.

“We find that we get such a positive, transformative response from students because they typically haven't been exposed to the pro-life message.”

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Ecuador judge won't register British lesbian as 'father' of child

Quito, Ecuador, May 22, 2012 (CNA) -

Temporarily ending a heated debate over the legal recognition of a British lesbian couple as “father and mother” of a baby girl, a judge in Ecuador ruled on May 22 that only the biological mother can be affirmed as a legal parent.

The baby girl, Satya Amani, was born in Ecuador to Nicola Susan Rothon by artificial insemination. Rothon lives in Quito –Ecuador’s capital – with Helen Louis Bicknell. Both are British citizens who legalized their union as a same sex “marriage” in England in 2010.

Last December, with the support of international Gay and Lesbian organizations, the couple sued Ecuador’s Civil Registry, demanding the right to register Satya Amani under both last names.

In Ecuador, as in most Latin American countries, children are legally registered under the father’s and mother’s last names, in that order. 

On Tuesday, however, Judge Vicente Altamirano issued a ruling stating that the legislation in Ecuador “does not contemplate a double maternal affiliation.”

“The laws pertaining civil registry specifically speak of ‘father and mother,’ ‘paternity and maternity,’ ‘man and woman’ in the Civil Code and even the Constitution.”

Altamirano’s ruling also stated that the decision does not translate as discrimination against the lesbian couple, since “no civil servant or public official has denied the right of  Nicola Susan Rothon, mother of Satya Amani, to register the child under her name.”

“The minor is the daughter  of Nicola Susan Rothon, meaning that the two, mother and child, share the same blood, so they must share the same last name, as clearly expressed by our legislation.”

“But what does Helen Louise Bicknell represent to the child that will be named Satya Amani?” the ruling added. “The answer is: nothing, since this British citizen has no kinship of affinity or blood.”

The judge's ruling can now only be appealed by the couple to the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.

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Two Philadelphia priests removed from ministry after abuse claims

Philadelphia, Pa., May 22, 2012 (CNA) - As a part of his ongoing effort to address cases of abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has found two priests unsuitable for ministry after reports that they each sexually abused minors.

Monsignors Hugh P. Campbell and George J. Mazzotta were determined to be unsuitable for ministry, the archdiocese announced May 20.

The announcement is not connected to the recent resolution of eight cases of priests who were placed on administrative leave after a February 2011 grand jury report alleged that the clergymen sexually abused minors or behaved inappropriately.

Msgr. Campbell, a 77-year-old retired priest of the archdiocese, self-reported in December 2011 that he had sexually abused a minor. The claim was reported to law enforcement and the priest was placed on administrative leave at the time of his report.

His most recent assignment was St. Maximilian Kolbe parish in West Chester, Pa. He retired in 2007 and moved to a private residence.

Msgr. Mazzotta, 73, was the object of a "substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor" in May 2010, the archdiocese said. The archdiocese reported the charge to law enforcement.

The priest's two most recent assignments were Stella Maris Parish in Philadelphia and St. Madeline Parish in Ridley Park.
Since the reported abuse against them, both priests have been barred from exercising public priestly ministry, wearing clerical garb, or presenting themselves publicly as priests.

Both have agreed to accept a supervised life of prayer and penance.

Announcements about the allegations were made at the parishes where the priests were most recently assigned. Counselors were present during the announcements.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has asked any victims of sexual abuse who need support or assistance to contact the archdiocese's Victim Assistance Office. The archdiocese said allegations of sexual abuse should be referred to local law enforcement agencies and the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations.

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Pope Benedict thanks God for 'dark nights' in his life

Vatican City, May 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has revealed to his closest collaborators in the Sacred College of Cardinals how the “dark nights” of his life have brought him closer to Christ.

“In this moment my words can only be a word of thanks; firstly gratitude to the Lord for giving me so many years; years with many days of joy, wonderful times, but also dark nights,” he said May 21.

“But in retrospect one realizes that even the nights were necessary and good, a cause for thanksgiving.”

Pope Benedict made his unscripted remarks at a private lunch at the Vatican with several dozen cardinals. The gathering was held to mark the 7th anniversary of his pontificate and also his 85th birthday. The comments were only officially released to the media May 22.

During lunch, the Pope told the cardinals that “we see how evil wants to dominate in the world and that it is necessary to enter into the fight against evil.”

He added that although the term “the Church Militant” is deemed “a bit out of fashion” these days, it is actually the phrase that best “possesses the truth.”

This evil, he said, manifests itself in many obvious ways through “different forms of violence” but, more subtly, it can also be found “masquerading as goodness, and thus destroying the moral foundations of society.”

Pope Benedict reminded the cardinals of St. Augustine’s maxim that “all of history is a struggle between two loves.” Either we love of ourselves and have contempt for God or we love God and have contempt for ourselves in martyrdom.

“We are in this fight and in this struggle it is very important to have friends,” he told them before thanking them personally for their friendship over the past seven years.

“Thank you for the communion of joys and sorrows. Let us go forward,” said the Pope, reminding them of the Christ’s promise “Courage, I have overcome the world.”

“We are in the Lord’s team, therefore in the winning team,” he concluded before proposing a toast.

Yesterday’s remarks are in keeping with several recent comments by the Pope in which he has alluded to the difficulties he has faced during his pontificate.

Earlier this month he used a Wednesday General Audience to thank people for their prayers and support since he election as Successor of Peter in 2005.

“From the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers at moments of greatest difficulty, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he told pilgrims in St. Peters Square May 9.

“Unanimous and constant prayer is a precious instrument in overcoming all of the trials that may arise in the path of life, because it is our being deeply united with God that allows us to also be deeply united to others,” the Pope said, before thanking everyone again.

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After Fr. Williams scandal, Legion head stresses accountability

Rome, Italy, May 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Father Alvaro Corcuera, the general director of the Legion of Christ, has asked forgiveness for his failure to act firmly enough towards a prominent Legion priest who fathered a child and has insisted that the Legion is improving its efforts to hold wayward clergy accountable.

The general director wrote a May 21 letter to the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members in North America about the situation "not to excuse my ineffectiveness, but to explain it -- and beg your forgiveness."

Father Thomas Williams, a television broadcaster, prolific author, and theology and ethics professor at the Legion's Regina Apostolorum University in Rome, issued a May 15 statement admitting that he had a relationship with a woman "a number of years ago." He apologized for the "grave transgression" and said he will leave active public ministry for a year.

Fr. Corcuera, the Regina Apostolorum University's former rector, provided new information about the timeline of the events. He said that he had heard rumors about Fr. Williams' misbehavior during his time as rector and inquired about them, but he believed Fr. Williams' denial.

After Fr. Corcuera became the Legion's general director in 2005, "early" in his assignment, he learned that Fr. Williams in fact had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child.

"I reviewed the situation with Fr. Williams, asking him to start withdrawing from public ministry," Fr. Corcuera said.

The general director placed restrictions on the priest's ministry in May 2010, but in his recent letter Fr. Corcuera said these restrictions were "not firm enough" because he was not asked to leave teaching. Fr. Williams was told to "fully withdraw" from all public ministry in March 2012.

"I also must admit that, in the midst of all that was happening I was not diligent in setting proper restrictions and enforcing them," the general director said.

His comments follow a May 15 Legion of Christ statement saying the general director and his council are "deeply sorry for not having acted earlier and more firmly."

Fr. Corcuera's May 21 letter stressed the need to reassure Legion and Regnum Christi members that "things are handled differently now."

He said that precautionary measures, possibly including removal from public ministry, are now taken when a "serious charge" is brought against any member of the Legion of Christ.

If there is a legal issue, it is reported to the authorities and the Legion cooperates with them "completely." Relevant issues are also reported to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Fr. Corcuera said that changes in the Legion's governance structure  are also moving away from the centralized style created by the religious congregation's founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel. After his death Fr. Maciel was exposed as a sexual abuser who also fathered children.

Reforms of the Legion's constitution, the general director said, will help minimize the chance of "future failings."

"However, we are fallen human beings; as a growing, international congregation, it is likely that some of us will fail to live up to our ideals. But when that happens, every person will be held accountable for his or her actions," he said.

He also called on priests who have engaged in abuse or sexual misconduct to "step forward" to be held accountable and "receive the assistance and the supervision they need."

Anyone affected by a Legionary priest should report it to the relevant authorities, he said.

Fr. Corcuera said that he is confident that with God's help the Legion can work to repair past injustices "in a way consonant with the justice and charity demanded in the Gospel."

He said he has always "esteemed and valued" Fr. Williams, which makes the current situation "so painful."

The general director urged Legion supporters to show "unity, charity, prayer and mutual support" in advancing the congregation's renewal. He specifically asked for prayers for Fr. Williams, for Legionaries who may be "a cause of scandal with their sins," and for any victims.

"God can always bring good from evil – let us be on his side in this effort!" he said.

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