Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 18, 2012 (CNA) - A former Lansdale Catholic High School lacrosse coach has been arrested and charged after allegedly making false claims of sexual abuse in anonymous e-mails to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“The cost to the men subjected to the false accusations is impossible to measure,” the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said in a July 17 statement, announcing Timothy Udinski's arrest on charges of harassment and stalking.
On June 21, Udinski told detectives that he sent the archdiocese seven anonymous fabricated reports, targeting officials associated with the Catholic school where he had coached boys' lacrosse. He said he made the false reports he was “furious” and “mad at the school for the way I was treated.”
According to the Distict Attorney's office, Udinski himself “was the target of unfounded accusations” of an unspecified nature. He was dismissed from his coaching duties after a series of heated arguments with players and staff.
After his dismissal, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received an Oct. 19 e-mail stating that Lansdale Catholic's head football coach had sexually propositioned a team member. The message accused the school's principal of failing to take action against the football coach.
In March 2012, two anonymous messages were sent to the archdiocese claiming that the high school's current lacrosse coach was involved in a case of sexual assault. A further message warned that the media would be informed of this allegation.
Later that month, a series of anonymous e-mails were sent to the archdiocese and local media outlets, containing allegations against the school.
Lansdale Catholic's lacrosse coach was accused of luring the underage team members with alcohol. The anonymous e-mails included calls for the principal's resignation and a jail sentence for the lacrosse coach.
Under questioning by detectives, Udinski said all of the allegations were untrue.
The admission came after an extensive investigation of the complaints, involving 97 interviews, 10 court orders and search warrants, and at least 184 hours of detective work.
The archdiocese says it took the accusations seriously, following up with civil authorities after receiving them.
“Each of these allegations, as is our practice, was immediately reported to law enforcement,” the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in an announcement on Tuesday, thanking District Attorney Risa Ferman along with detectives “who spent countless hours working on these cases.”
A preliminary hearing in Udinski's case will be held July 27.
Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2012 (CNA) - A Democrat-leaning Catholic group that has supported pro-abortion rights politicians is attacking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over controversial reports claiming he had stock ownership in a medical waste disposal firm that discards aborted unborn children.
Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, writing at the Catholics United-run group blog “Our Daily Thread,” cited Security and Exchange Commission filings apparently showing that Mitt Romney was involved in investment firm Bain Capital’s purchase of stock from the Stericycle medical waste disposal firm after his February 1999 retirement from management.
Stevens-Arroyo said “it is fair to ask what being ‘opposed to abortion’ means to a candidate who assisted this biowaste company in growing to be the largest in the country and made tens of millions from the deal.”
He charged that Stericycle “directly cooperated in abortion business” because abortion clinics would not have stayed open without waste disposal.
He then stated that Catholic opposition to abortion is “a fundamental principle of our doctrinal teaching” and noted canonical provisions that excommunicate any Catholic involved in the procurement of abortion.
Stevens-Arroyo questioned whether Romney deserves “a single Catholic vote” for allegedly owning a company that profited from abortions.
But the Romney campaign maintains he left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics full time.
The Obama campaign contends that since Romney’s name appears on documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in November 1999 that he was still involved with Bain Capital.
FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said July 12 “None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said.
It is unclear whether Romney could have known of Stericycle’s involvement in the disposal of fetal remains, as pro-life advocates’ own activism did not begin until recent years.
StopStericycle, a Philadelphia-based volunteer group opposed to the company’s involvement in abortion, formed in 2010. It is further researching Romney’s role in Stericycle’s ownership, the group’s director Michael Marcavage told CNA.
Stericycle’s accounts department has told StopStericycle researchers that its present-day clients include over 500 Planned Parenthoods, affiliates of the largest abortion provider in the U.S. The company’s website claims over 528,000 customers worldwide.
While the documents continue to be an area of controversy, Stevens-Arroyo himself was noncommittal towards criticizing President Barack Obama’s own position in favor of legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research in a July 16 e-mail interview with CNA.
“(A)lthough Mr. Obama coincides with Catholic teaching on many areas, I have considered that as a non-Catholic it is wrong to impose on him obedience to the Church,” Stevens-Arroyo said.
“As president, he takes an oath of office to uphold the law of the land and abortion is the law of the land. The right to an abortion has been enforced by every president, both Republicans and Democrats, since Roe v. Wade.”
Stevens-Arroyo did not give direct responses to questions about whether the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, whether doctors who perform abortions should be criminalized, and whether Democrats and Republicans should work towards that goal.
Catholics United, publisher of “Our Daily Thread,” is not known for criticizing President Obama’s support for legal abortion. It is one of several Democrat-leaning Catholic outreach groups founded after Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry lost the 2004 election and the Catholic vote in a campaign dogged by controversy over his support for abortion.
Catholics United has also defended Kathleen Sebelius, who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services. In 2008 Sebelius was rebuked by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City for her support for abortion rights and her acceptance of political contributions from abortionist George Tiller.
Though President Obama’s Catholic defenders are selective in their criticisms, the controversy over Stericycle could prove significant in the 2012 presidential election among pro-life voters skeptical of Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee.
The facts and the interpretations of Romney’s involvement in Stericycle are already politically charged.
An attack using Stericycle could discourage some pro-life voters already wary of Romney’s record. He supported Roe v. Wade as late as 2002, but he has said he changed his mind on abortion in 2004. He also backed embryonic stem cell research before turning against it and vetoing several Massachusetts bills that favored the research.
CNN correspondent John King reported on July 13 that insiders with Bain and the Romney campaign strongly believe that “either the Obama campaign or a Democratic ally” want to use the Stericycle investment against Romney late in the campaign but “cannot do so with any credibility” if it is certain that Romney left the company in February 1999.
Las Vegas, Nev., Jul 18, 2012 (CNA) - Arturo Martinez-Sanchez says he had no choice but to forgive the man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing his wife and young daughter in an April 2012 attack that also left him seriously wounded.
“I have to forgive him, to go the way of life,” the Las Vegas resident told CNA in a July 17 interview. “It's in the Bible … I forgive him because I believe in God.”
“The Bible says: You forgive this gentleman, and you are forgiven yourself. That's the way it is,” said Martinez-Sanchez, a lifelong Catholic who said his upbringing and education in the Church impressed on him the need to forgive Bryan Clay.
Martinez-Sanchez recently held a press conference to declare that he forgave the 22-year-old Clay, who is accused of raping Arturo's 38-year-old wife Yadira and their 10-year-old daughter Karla. Both were beaten to death with a hammer by the attacker, who also inflicted severe head injuries on the father.
Clay and Martinez-Sanchez did not know each other before the home invasion, described by a Las Vegas police lieutenant as “a random, savage act.” The 39-year-old father and his wife also had two sons, Christopher and Alejandro, who were spared in the attack.
Arturo underwent two brain surgeries along with extensive physical therapy. He still speaks with difficulty, and continues to receive six hours of treatment each day.
But he has summoned the strength to reopen the boxing gym he ran before the murders. And through his faith in God, he has set aside any form of hatred or desire for personal vengeance against the suspected killer.
Accompanied by his sons, he stunned listeners at the July 12 press conference with his response to a reporter who asked what he would say to Bryan Clay, given the chance.
“I would say, 'I forgive you,'” he responded. “If he kissed me on the cheek, I would kiss him back.”
“I love my Yadira. I love my Karla. I love my sons,” Martinez-Sanchez said at the press conference. “We all love Jesus. Through his strength, we will survive.”
If Clay is found guilty, Martinez-Sanchez expects him to be punished appropriately, with the death penalty if necessary. But this decision, he said, is not his to make.
“My command,” he maintained, is simply “to forgive him.” That responsibility was “something between me and God,” with “nobody else involved.”
After Bryan Clay was arrested, the murder suspect reportedly told police he wished they had simply killed him rather than apprehending him. Martinez-Sanchez says he has prayed for Clay to be able “to know God” and receive the mercy available to all who sincerely repent.
No one, he stressed, is without sin in the eyes of God. And no one, according to Christ himself, will receive his mercy unless they show mercy to others.
“As a believer in Christ, I know that God forgives all the sins of those who have faith in him,” Martinez-Sanchez said in his July 12 “Forgiveness Statement.”
“In this, I am instructed to forgive first. Knowing that God will forgive even murders if there is true repentance, Bryan Clay will stand in judgment before Him.”
His choice to regard Clay with love does not take away his pain, nor does it absolve the suspected killer of his responsibilities before the law and before God.
But for a victim of injustice, “forgiveness is not a choice that God leaves to us,” Martinez-Sanchez said in his July 12 statement. “It is a commandment.”
Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2012 (CNA) -
Patriarch Gregorios III, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, said he hopes Pope Benedict's visit to Lebanon in September will bring peace and reconciliation to Syria.
In a statement sent to the Vatican-based Fides news agency, the Eastern Catholic leader said Syrians “need the support of the Pope,” noting that the upcoming trip “will be of special help for Syria, so that the conflict may cease and the country may flourish.”
“For this we ask the help of all our Christian brothers in the Middle East and around the world.”
Patriarch Gregorios reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to promote dialogue and reconciliation amid the conflict that continues to cause bloodshed in the Middle Eastern country.
For this reason, he rejected the “campaign against the pastors of the Churches of Syria,” who are accused of colluding with the regime. He underscored “the credibility, transparency, loyalty and objectivity of the Pastors who are in constant contact with priests, monks, nuns and lay people.”
The pastors “promote the call for dialogue and reconciliation, the rejection of violence,” he said. “They work to protect the safety of civilians in the ongoing conflict, so as not to expose them to danger, to avoid becoming targets of attacks of one faction or another.”
The patriarch also said that there is no conflict in Syria between Christians and Muslims and that the victims are civilians of every religion who are enduring anarchy, insecurity and the increase in violence due to the arms trade.
“Christians live the same dangers, but they are the weakest link. Helpless, they are the most vulnerable to exploitation, extortion, kidnapping, abuse.”
“Despite this, there is no conflict between Christians and Muslims. There is no persecution, and Christians are not targeted as such, but are among the victims of chaos and lack of security,” the patriarch said.
Syrian Catholics “have raised their voices, demanding reforms, freedom, democracy, fight corruption, support for development, freedom of speech,” he added.
“Today we ask to stop the cycle of killings and destruction, especially against civilians in need, of all faiths, who in reality are the real victims.”
“The Church has always shunned sectarianism, without taking sides, and pointing to the ethical and evangelical values.”
Santander, Spain, Jul 18, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) -
On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patroness of fishermen, a Spanish bishop expressed solidarity with fishermen and their families amid the economic crisis affecting their industry.
In his July 16 message, Bishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora of Santander said Our Lady of Mount Carmel is “the advocate and captain of the seas” and that Jesus chose fishermen to be his “first evangelizers.”
“The men and women who work on the seas are aware of the saving presence of Jesus and his mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, during their long hours of hard and dangerous work,” he said.
“The problems facing those who work on the seas are aggravated by the persistent economic and ethical crisis,” Bishop Jimenez Zamora added.
He said their families often endure the prolonged absence of the father, the ups and downs of the fishing market, the importing of fish from other countries, and other problems.
During his remarks, the bishop offered a special prayer for the fishermen who have died on the seas during the last year and for their families.
“May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose image is carried about on the Cantabrian Sea, through our cities, fields and valleys, accompanied by the fervor of her children, be the star that guides us to Christ, the safe port of salvation,” he said.
Vatican City, Jul 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican is welcoming a largely positive report from the European body responsible for monitoring financial transparency, while also committing itself to further improvement.
“In this light, the report released today is not the end, but is rather an important passage of our continuing efforts to marry moral commitments to technical excellence,” said Monsignor Ettore Balestrero of the Vatican’s Secretary of State at a July 18 media briefing.
The Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism – Moneyval – found the Vatican to be “compliant” or “largely compliant” on nine of the 16 “key and core” recommendations for combating terrorist financing and money-laundering.
“The Holy See has come a long way in a very short period of time and many of the building blocks of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regimes are now formally in place,” concluded the Moneyval report, which was released on July 18.
“But further important issues still need addressing in order to demonstrate that a fully effective regime has been instituted in practice,” the report said.
Among Moneyval’s areas for concern was skepticism over the “workability” of the Vatican’s internal scrutiny body, the Financial Information Authority, which was created in 2010. Msgr. Balestrero said the Vatican was “grateful for this observation,” adding that they take “both the praise and criticism contained in the report with seriousness.”
The Vatican invited Moneyval to inspect its financial set up in February 2011 after passing new transparency legislation towards the end of 2010. “The last 19 months have been months of work and learning,” Msgr. Balestrero said with a smile.
“For the Holy See, this process is first and foremost a moral rather than a technical commitment,” he explained.
Msgr. Balestrero said that it is important for the Holy See to “use its moral authority to raise maximum awareness about the far too frequent transnational crime of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
He also said that while the Vatican is proud of its recent acheivements, it is also committed to further improvements. These include a review of all current Vatican legislation and a “risk assessment” of present procedures conducted by Moneyval.
Msgr. Balestrero described the Vatican’s effort up until now as laying a foundation and said that now what remains is to “fully construct a building that effectively shows the Holy See’s and Vatican City State’s desire to be a reliable partner in the international community.”
Denver, Colo., Jul 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his role as Denver's new shepherd, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told the archdiocese that his desire for the community is that they follow Christ above all else.
“My vision ... is the same vision that was given to us 2000 years ago,” Archbishop Aquila said during the homily of his installation Mass July 18.
“That is that Christ is always to come first,” he told the hundreds gathered in the Basilica Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, “and we are to proclaim this Gospel, we are to do whatever he tells us.”
He urged locals to not view their faith in Christ “as a private act,” but as a public witness of “choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him.”
A former Denver resident, Archbishop Aquila was installed as the fifth archbishop in the same cathedral where he was ordained a priest in 1976.
His appointment closes a 10-month vacancy in Denver, which was left when Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was assigned to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. An attendee of the event, Archbishop Chaput was was given a standing ovation when publicly thanked by his successor.
Other guests at the installation Mass included over 400 priests, former Denver archbishop Cardinal James F. Stafford, U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo M. Viganò, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
During his homily Wednesday, Archbishop Aquila told the packed cathedral that Catholics should live out the call to follow Christ by declaring “the dignity of the human person and human life” and by refusing actions that are in violation of natural law.
Specifically, he said that the people of the Archdiocese of Denver need to oppose the federal contraception mandate.
Announced in January by the Obama administration, the federal rule will require religious groups to provide health insurance that covers contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates employers' beliefs.
“If we truly believe in the dignity of the human person and human life,” the archbishop said, “we must stand opposed to the violation of conscience.”
He added that with defending the dignity of the human person also comes the defense of traditional marriage because it “preserves the dignity of who we are created” as men and women.
The new archbishop then acknowledged all the men and women religious in attendance, calling them “a complete counter-witness to everything that this world today stands for,” due to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
“You are a counter-witness to the evils and rampant rejection of the dignity of human sexuality and of chastity,” he told them, “You are a contradiction to the secularism that says you can live life and be happy without God.”
Lay people, the archbishop noted, have the crucial role of living authentically Christian lives in the midst of the world.
“If you are truly to be disciples,” he said, “you are not to be hidden in the world, but rather to be a bright light to the world.”
All Catholics in the archdiocese, he said, have a call to have “attitudes of docility and receptivity” as well as “trust, kindness and obedience.”